Flowers—Lines—Ice

A Dogwood Tree


I really don’t know what I think about this image.  I’d be grateful for some feedback about it or ideas for how to do better.  I have not touched the color here, so the blues and pinks are as they were when captured by my camera.  Does the composition work or is it a mess? I can’t tell if the depth of field works either.  I’ve been taking photographs of dogwoods all week and can’t seem to capture what I’m aiming for.  I want to get both up close and to show the shapes of the branches (and the wonderful blue sky peeking through them) at the same time.  Am I asking too much?

50 responses

  1. Lovely colours.. Now how to describe this…hmm maybe it would have worked better if the diagonal branch that goes from middle bottom to top right corner started at the bpttom left corner and ran along the bottom of the picture with the small branch with the 3 flowers to left running up the left hand side of the picture… making 2 sides of a frame ? Then I think I might have tried those 2 branches in focus with the rest a blue and pink Bokeh? or better still with just that pretty left hand branch in focus with it’s lovely 3 flowers..getting DOF is important in this shot

    April 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

    • Though you will need someone who’s a bit more of an expert on DOF to advise on that! I suppose what I’m saying is pick an interesting shape or line to focus on which will make the shot more unusual.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

      • Thank you so much, Helen. I really appreciate these ideas and your taking the time to offer them. I’ll go back to the tree and play around a bit more. I like your idea about the diagonal branch in particular.

        April 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

  2. Beautiful. A dogwood is popular in Japan. There is also a song related to the tree.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    • Thank you, Cocomino. I’m interested in looking for the song now. 🙂

      April 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

      • Here is a song called, “Hanamizuki(dogwood).”

        April 11, 2012 at 11:33 am

        • I’m listening and watching now, as I comment. What a beautiful song, Cocomino. Thank you so much for sharing it!

          April 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

  3. Well I ADORE pink dogwoods so I think it’s beautiful just the way it is….but then I’m not a photographer! Love the pink and blue and the sharpness of the branches though in your photo – I think I love the branch formations on dogwoods almost as much as the delicate flowers. I vote “WELL DONE” !

    Pam (and Sam)

    April 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

    • Thank you, Pam (and Sam). Like you, I really enjoy the branches, too. It’s the same with Cherry trees. They just have such wonderful shapes.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

  4. I like it!

    April 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

  5. You’re welcome.. I’ve had this same advise from a photographer friend.. that if you are photographing something “everday” that you need to get an angle that takes it out of the everyday if that makes sense 🙂

    April 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

  6. Since you asked….I like this shot. The first thing is that it is a bit different than what one usually sees. A wide angle view of the whole tree is pretty standard. So details are always welcome. The image is slightly underexposed. I like the change in blossom size. Yes, it is a bit of a mess. Generally, the eye looks for a part of the picture, which is the center of attention. At the ‘rule of thirds’ points you have the larger blossoms, which is why this picture probably works. I’d have preferred a face on view of the blossoms but you trade that off against the deep blue sky to which I am very partial. I do like the detail work. Keep experimenting, you’re close but not quite there.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

    • Thank you, Victor. This is very helpful feedback. I’m so grateful that you have taken the time to comment.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

  7. Dad

    Hi Melanie, I like the photo, as is, but composition is not one of my strengths. Still, while the colors are intense, I’m thinking it’s time for you to get a circular polarizing filter. It will enhance the blue sky and give more saturation to colors, as it supresses the effect of scattered light on objects. It will also greatly enhance sky/cloud contrast, when they are in an image. The trade off is about 2 f-stops.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    • Hey, Dad. Thanks. I do have a polarizing filter, so I’ll try it when I’m out with the tree this next time. Thanks for the suggestion.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  8. This is a tough one. Alot of the smaller leaves have a shadow cast on them and that’s a bit distracting. Perhaps changing your position and focusing in on one of the larger blossoms and throwing the background out of focus might provide more of a focal point.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    • You’re exactly right, Edith. The shadows are a problem in this image. I’ll try what you’ve suggested and see how it turns out! Thank you so much for the idea!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  9. Hi Melanie, I’ve always loved dogwoods. We had a beautiful pink one when we lived in Fairfax, VA and we have planted a white one here in Omaha and hope to see its first blossoms later this spring. As to my thoughts on your tree…
    I like that you’ve chosen a window that includes sky only through the leaves and blossoms and none around the edges. I keep looking for a particularly emphasized, attention-grabbing focal point and it’s hard to find one. The “rule of thirds” could be a good starting point, but don’t take it too literally; let the available palette of possibilities play on your imagination and artistic sensitivities. You’re shooting from below and it appears that all the blossoms are facing the sky. You might want to try a ladder to get up to a point where, with an ultra-wide-angle lens, for example, you could get one whose inner details are in good focus as the center of attention and its fellows in the background. Another suggestion is to put on your favorite long lens (around 300 mm) and play around with tightly-cropped individuals, shooting from the ground and also from your ladder. Does your camera have a DOF preview button? That will help a lot with how much will be in focus and how much bokeh you have in the surroundings. And, yes, the untouched image is a bit underexposed, but I’d suggest brightening only the highlights, not the midrange tones—that will keep the sky a nice, dark blue. Oh, and while you’re up on your ladder, get really intimate and do some of that might macro stuff that you do so well! Can’t wait to see more!

    April 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    • Thank you, Gary, for all of this great feedback and your wonderful suggestions. I love the idea of getting up there with a ladder. I can see how that would really allow me the kind of access to this tree that I really want. Now I just have to access the family whose yard this tree is in if they mind my setting up shop up there. 🙂 I should mention, too, that I am still working with a compact camera (I’m still learning how to SEE and understand light…. I’m still very much a beginner) and have not yet bumped up to a DSLR, so I don’t have the ability to switch lenses, as you suggest. But repositioning myself will make a big difference I think. Thanks again! I’m so grateful for your input.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  10. My feeling is that th photo has a lot working for it—love the colours especially—but there are still some foreground/background issues that are affecting the composition.

    You’ve got stuff going on in the foreground, but it’s slightly out of focus, so it doesn’t work as the main focus of the image. At the same time, it’s not out of focus enough to allow the background to “step forward” and become the main focus. As a result, the composition of both foreground and background elements are weakened—both are carefully composed but they’re fighting with each other.

    The spacing of the flowers in the foreground overall works well but a little unbalanced—I think it needs to either move a bit to the left so the flowers relate to the image frame, or to the right, so it’s more clearly asymmetrical.

    The use of foreground branches and flowers to frame background works well but loses effect because of the foreground/background issue.

    Another approach would be to keep both foreground and background in perfect focus (ha!)—then your composition could work more effectively with the contrast in sizes between foreground/background elements, which it can’t do when one is even slightly out of focus. But if you did that I think you’d likely need to exaggerate the size differences.

    Hope this makes sense!

    April 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    • It DOES make sense, skadhu, thank you! This is a huge help! I’m really eager to try what you’ve suggested. I’m very grateful, thank you.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm

  11. Love the vibrant colors and the composition!

    April 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    • Thank you for commenting, John & Lois. I have a few ideas now for other ways to approach the tree that will allow me to get closer to what I’m envisioning. Can’t wait to get back out there and try again!

      April 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm

  12. What composition? and what about the colors?
    This photo is just wonderful in it’s details, colors and everything else. Different? Maybe, No rule of 3? Who care.
    Beauty just exists, not calculated.
    Am done with my ranting 😀

    April 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

  13. Thank you so much, Francis. This is certainly how I feel when I see these images “live” in front my eyes. 🙂 Rant anytime. You’re always so welcome here.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

  14. My style: choose one leaf or a few on a branch for the foreground and let the background do its blurry bokeh thing. This is tricky with the Lx5, if that’s what you’re using. I would try using “flower focus” controls to see if the camera’s algorithm has been engineered for closest-object focusing. If you’re using a DSLR with conventional twist focus or sufficient focus point selection, then aperture selection defines what you’ll get in depth of field.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  15. Yas

    I think this is a lovely, and I honestly can’t criticize the composition. But then again, I also struggle in capturing this kind of photos! It isn’t an easy feat… but I believe what truly counts is capturing the elaborate beauty of nature, something which you certainly achieved in this photo. 🙂

    April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    • Thank you, Yas. I really appreciate your comment. There is something particularly difficult about this kind of image, when there is so much to capture in one shot. I think with practice, I’ll have a better understanding of what I need to do to make it happen.

      April 12, 2012 at 2:02 am

  16. I like it just the way it is. The depth of field works for me. The flowers are floating towards me.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    • Thank you, Jennifer, for your kind words. I’m so glad the flowers look like they’re floating!

      April 12, 2012 at 2:03 am

  17. The photo looks wonderful when I click it to full screen and resolution. In the blog itself I think it comes off as a bit unclear (which it is not) I wrestle with this all the time. Perspective is key to communicating intent and I have so many photos I love when 4000×4000 but 249×249 is such a different image and could be argued it is indeed not the same image because of scale change.
    Colors are right on (for my male eye)

    April 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    • Michael, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m really grateful. I don’t know how you do it (have you found some secret blogging dimension where there are extra hours in the day?!) I do think that the image is diminished by the WP crunching, and does perhaps look a bit better when clicked to full screen, so thank you for mentioning that. I’m curious about your parenthetical comment that the colors are right for your “male eye.” Is this something that’s come up before, that women and men see colors differently?

      April 12, 2012 at 2:09 am

      • women see 25,000+ shades of color, males see on average 15,000-17,000 shades. This is not an absolute yet I know I do not see nearly what my wife does.

        April 12, 2012 at 3:57 am

  18. After a few days I came back here and have to say that you shoot some stunning photos. I really love them, especially the dandelions. But the colour of the flowering in this photo in contrast to the blue sky is great, too!
    Greetings from Germany. 🙂

    April 12, 2012 at 8:08 am

    • Thank you so much for these kind words. You just made my day. It’s so wonderful to have this visit from you. I was blown away by your Reflection shot. Really fantastic!

      April 13, 2012 at 1:36 am

  19. Melanie, this photo is a beauty; I don’t know why you don’t know what to think about it 🙂
    The composition is beautiful, and the colors are really really pretty, and they contrast very well.
    I would only add a little bit of light or brightness to make the colors stand out more, but I gotta say that this is one of my favorites.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:45 am

    • Thank you, Pablo. I’m grateful for the feedback. I agree with you entirely about the light. It’s underexposed, as Victor mentioned, too. That’s something I can work on in Lightroom. As always, thank you for taking the time to comment!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:15 am

  20. I’m partial to blues and pinks. I wouldn’t change a thing about it — if feels as if I’m sitting in the tree looking up at the sky. I love the “messy bedhead” look of trees in their natural state.

    April 16, 2012 at 6:58 am

    • Thank you, Shannon, for your visit and your kind words about my photograph. There is something striking about the combination of blue and pink. I love your comment about the “messy bedhead” look of trees. 🙂 I think that’s one of the things I find appealing about them as well.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

  21. Well I see you got some comments !!! lol

    The colours are gorgeous…pink against blue works….if it were me I would focus on one bloom and throw the rest into blur the create a bokeh. But thats just me 😉

    April 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

  22. I really like it – regardless of whether or not the exact composition, technique etc. is “perfect”, it’s a engaging, eyecatching image and for me, that’s what sells it 🙂 Nice job!

    April 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    • You are so kind. Thank you. I’m just catching up on comments and see you have left several. How wonderful of you to visit. I’m behind on WP and very eager to visit your blog. I’ll look forward to getting to know you better. 🙂

      April 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm

  23. I like your dogwood tree.The pink and the blue is such a good combination..
    And the song is very beautiful.
    greatings
    marylou

    April 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

  24. elmediat

    Beautiful colours & composition. It does look better in the larger size.
    It might be a bit better balanced/stronger, if shifted slightly to to the right, so that the vertical branch is off centre and the blossoms in the V of the meeting branches would be centre and draw the viewer’s gaze further into the depth without tension/competition from the dark branch in the foreground.
    At first I thought the image was somehow a bit dark/heavy. On further consideration I realized it was the same experience as when as a child I would look up into my father’s cherry trees & being surrounded in blossoms . I could almost smell them. Thanks. 🙂

    April 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

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