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Under Dogwood

I was out of town until Sunday afternoon and was very sorry to have missed Zoe Strauss’ show, although Albert covered it well. Between that and last week’s trip to Centralia, photography briefly claimed center stage in my life. For a couple of hours, I photographed dogwood flowers. My mission was to capture the feeling of sitting in the shade of a large tree in full bloom under a blue sky. 60-odd snaps later, I feel I learned something and came away with one satisfying picture—although it doesn’t capture the feeling.

I quickly learned that shooting the whole tree just didn’t work, at least not for any reasonable enlargement. Then I tried isolating a section of the canopy:

Dogwood flowers 1

[1] A small section of the dogwood canopy.

I couldn’t get that to work, so I got a stepladder and decided to move in closer.

Dogwood flowers 2

[2] This is a cluttered mess. The flowers merge with background.

Dogwood flowers 3

[3] From this angle, the flowers are more distinct. Better, I think, but not much of a composition.

There was a breeze, so I slowed down the shutter to try and capture the effect.

Dogwood flowers 4

[4] Whoa! I got more blur than I bargained for.

Dogwood flowers 5

[5] That’s better, but I’m getting distracted from my quest. Must, ahem, focus.

Instead of trying to include a lot of flowers, I decided it would be more effective to show only a few.

Dogwood flowers 6

[6] A small group of flowers, here set against a blurry background.

Dogwood flowers 7

[7] Here is the same group of flowers, but a slight movement of the camera puts them in front of the quieter background of the canopy of flowers.

Dogwood flowers 8

[8] Instead of a smooth blur in the background, I started to want something bolder, something that included other parts of the tree if possible, added to the composition, and complemented but didn't compete with the flowers. Here, the trunk takes up space between groups of flowers.

Dogwood flowers 9

[9] A variation on the same idea. I like this one the best of all of them. It looks less self-consciously “composed” to me.

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