As a gardener, I’ve learned there are a number of factors, many of which are completely out of my control, that influence how ‘good’ a growing season will be. Some years, I’ve seen off-the-chart clematis blooms while others, not so much. And it seems when one particular plant species is underperforming, sure enough, another will out-do itself.
For example, this year the peonies in my garden didn’t quite fair so well with less-than-normal yields on each plant and short-lived blossoms that faded quickly. However, in direct contrast, the dogwood trees are simply stunning!
Our tree is 12 years old and it is completely engulfed in flowers. It looks lovely by day as the sunshine strikes the white pointed bracts and ethereal by night, when subtly lit and reflecting into the dark water of the pool below.
“The Flying Nun” (White Kousa Dogwood, Cornus kousa) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/1000s, ISO 320
The challenge for a photographer, especially one like myself who has been shooting flowers for more years than I care to admit , is to capture the beauty of nature in a unique manner. Type in ‘kousa dogwood flower’ in any internet search engine and pages upon pages of image results will display, many of them looking exactly the same. Sigh. Where’s the creativity, people??!
“Yamaboushi” (White Kousa Dogwood, Cornus kousa) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 320, Built-in i-TTL Fill Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, +1.0 EV
So, I set out to shoot these beauties in a manner I’ve not seen before. I admit it took alot of walking about and much contemplation (studying backgrounds, lighting and camera angles) to achieve what I wanted. What I love about the first image is the way the light is cradled inside the delicate cup shape created by the white bracts, causing it to literally glow against the darker background.
What I love about the second image is the soft tones and curves that focus our attention on the true flowers (considered ‘ornamentally insignificant’) which are the small yellow-green inflorescences in the center. (Surprised? ) Those same bracts now appear as fluid as fabric, gathered and held together at the center by Mother Nature’s very own version of ‘bling’.
All in all, a doggone good day for shooting an old favorite.