Dogwoods are my favorite tree. They are one of the definitive things about the Spring that reminds me of growing up in Tennessee and spending time with my grandparents. We'd often go on family drives to look at them blooming and this signaled not only a transition of seasons but also that it was about time to play soccer outside again after the drought of the Winter.
This past week, I was privileged enough to get to teach an afternoon workshop for the Harbor Gardeners. On of the things I love about teaching is that it makes me more mindful of my own work and process. The focus was on how to make better images in your own backyard or while visiting someone else's. My usual explanation includes using groupings of three in a composition. It is a holy number in western culture with its association with the the Trinity. This changes from one culture to the next, when talking about Native American holy numbers a good generalization is four. I say this because it was on my mind while working with this image. I had a branch with ten or so blooms on it and using three just wasn't working out for me. After the fact, I realized that the problem was that I've internalized dogwoods with twos. It signifies my two sets of grandparents, the changing between two seasons, the relationship between me and my wife and so on. So, always consider your own motivations with respect to composition as "rules" should be considered more like guidelines.
Anyway, I wanted a blue painted background to make the dogwood flowers really stand out so this is a mixture of a teal, royal blue, and black. As with the previous shot like this, I used a razor blade to paint the matte board surface. The scored lines were created by dragging the corner edge through wet paint. It kind of looks like something Eric Carle would do. I miss reading those books to kiddo.
There is a lot of trial and error with this process. Not only does it take playing around extensively to get the articulation right for the flower but when I get something I like I then have to move the background around into various positions.
I've started using Helicon Focus to make the focus stacking easier as depth of field is really important to get not only the flowers themselves sharp but also to make sure to capture the texture of the paint as well. It's actually a much easier piece of software to use than I had expected it would be. It's relatively inexpensive considering the amount of time it saves and I'd always rather reduce my photoshop time in favor of working on the next creative piece.
Until next time,
"May the stars carry your sadness away.
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty.
May hope forever wipe away your tears,
and above all may silence make you strong."
Chief Dan George