Pink and White Dogwoods, Kentucky, 1991

Pink and White Dogwoods, Kentucky

Dogwood blossoms have caught my eye for many years and yet there have been very few occasions when I’ve photographed them. All the conditions have to come together to make a worthwhile image; not only to create a worthwhile, moving composition but it also requires the cooperation of the lighting, wind and weather.

The large, flat Dogwood blossoms are held aloft on very slender, thread-like branches and even the smallest breeze causes them to gently sway in the wind, making it impossible for large-format photography.

I had been watching these trees for several days but either there was too much wind or the light was too harsh for the delicate effect I wanted to convey. But finally on this morning, all the conditions were right for just a few minutes.

It was about 6:30 in the morning and the sun had not yet risen enough to bring harsh light to the forest. The wind was practically non-existent but there was a gentle stirring in the trees overhead that made me wonder whether the breeze would pick up before I could get the image recorded onto my film. Small puffs would cause the blossoms and branches to stir for several minutes at a time.

There are actually two blooming dogwood trees in this photograph: a pink one and a white one. The positioning of the camera was quite critical to give the impression of one spiraling tree with layer upon layer of pink and white blossoms. Even moving the camera a few inches resulted in a different composition. The deep forest beyond provided the natural backdrop and contains an intriguing combination of warm and cool muted colors.

I had time for only one exposure before the wind started moving the blossoms and a few minutes later the sunlight intruded upon the scene. It has remained a difficult image to print properly, especially to convey just the right balance of luminosity in the white blossoms while still holding as much detail as possible.

The final print has a peaceful, almost dreamlike quality to me and gives me the feeling one gets when watching a fine ballerina in a performance like“Swan Lake.” It reminds me that the world is full of hope and joy and the image embodies a peaceful feeling that I try to maintain within myself, even in the midst of the tangled world around us.

20x24 " prints are $6,000
30x40 " prints are $12,000