Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finding Balance

Dogwood in Bloom over Merced River, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California  2009

Dogwood in Bloom over Merced River,
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2009

0.4 sec at f/16, focal length: 131mm, ISO 800, Aperture Priority, +2/3 EV
- May 11, 2009 7:53pm PDT. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/4L, Tripod Mounted

On monday evening, I had the pleasure of meeting Art Wolfe. He was at the Ansel Adams Gallery for a book signing, as well as a reception for some of his prints that were on display. I only spoke briefly with him since it was so busy. And to tell you the truth, I spotted these dogwood on my way in to the park and I was eager to get out and see what I could make happen before the light got too dark.

If you're ever in Yosemite during dogwood season, the ideal time to make an image like this would really be in the morning before the sun starts to filter into the valley. Once the sun comes up, things start getting windy and it becomes difficult to make a sharp image of the blossoms while still rendering the rushing water as nice and silky smooth. It's also a good time since the light will still be soft.

As I was there in the evening, long after the sun has had its chance to kick up all kinds of wind, it took a little more patience to make this image. I had to find a balance between an f/stop that would give me enough depth for all blossoms to be in focus, a shutter speed slow enough to create the smooth water while at the same time fast enough to stop any motion of the blossoms caused by wind, and lastly, an ISO that allowed for a proper exposure with the combination of both the chosen shutter speed and f/stop. Thank goodness the 5d mark II does such an amazing job with noise at higher ISO's!

It can be a tricky thing, as well as a test of patience, finding balance to create what you have envisioned. Make the effort, it pays off.



  1. John,

    A truly wonderful image. The first words out of my mouth when I saw it were "Oh, Man". That's 70's speak for "dude this photo rocks" (as my daughters like to say).


  2. amazing! didn't see the spider at first although i'm not a big fan of them, I love the photo.


  3. Thanks Jeff and Bo!

    Speaking of "70's speak", I just got back from "The Dead" (as in The Grateful Dead minus Jerry) and "Oh, Man!"

    Sorry about your spider experience at Lewis Creek. You should've met me in the park the night that I made this image. No spiders on your personal self, just the trees.

  4. Beautiful photo! I love it! You have a lot of nice photos on your website and here on your blog.. I will definitely be back... :) Have a great weekend...

  5. Nicole and Michele,

    Thanks for your comments and thank you for visiting my blog. Please do come back often, you're always welcome here!

  6. Really curious how come different people to very similar images. Comment in flickr. Greets!

  7. Great image. Elizabeth Carmel did a very similar one, and it was one of her best sellers. The last image in the numbered series sold for $4k.

    I'd like to see a landscape variation of this with just the bottom grouping of branches/leaves.

    Very nice work!

  8. Hey Juan and Bob. Thanks for checking in and for your comments.

    I think that so many photographer's create this same image, as far as the subject and the background go, because it is really one of the best, most compelling ways to simplify the composition and "feature" the subject. Take a look here at one of my previous posts of dogwood in Yosemite Valley. Not too easy to find a simple background around all those trees. And Bob, I'll post a couple of alternate compositions for you. I did try out what you're suggesting, just thought this was the best. But I'll let you decide.


  9. I'm heading up this weekend hoping plenty of Dogwoods are still in bloom. I have never photograped them before, so I am excited. Nice work John.