Delicate Dogwood
North Carolina

Delicate Dogwood

20×24 prints are $1,500
30×40 prints are $3,000

In the spring of 2000 Ruth and I went on a month long photo trip to the Appalachia forests. Aside from areas that we were already familiar with, we always explore new areas that might have potential.

We found this tree when we were on a very circuitous one lane forest service road in the mountains. This dogwood tree was deep in the woods, next to the road which was elevated at this point. The only light the tree received was from above the road so it had spread its branches in a wide net to capture every available photon.

I set up my 8×10 camera and set the plane of focus to match the blossoms, using the back tilt. Although the camera was pointed down, the only vertical trunks are in the middle of the photo so diverging verticals wasn’t a problem. Because the thread like branches are so delicate, the blossoms swayed a bit even though the air seemed still. I used my 240mm Apo-Sironar-S lens at f/22 for a 1/8 second exposure on Velvia 50 that was pushed one stop to give a little faster shutter speed. And made one back up exposure the same way. “Wiggle bracketing.”

I first made Cibachrome prints of this 10 years later, in 2010. It’s very difficult to print even with the right density of contrast mask. There’s a lot of dodging and burning to even out the brightness level of the hundreds of white blossoms.

On the finished Cibachrome prints the delicate dogwood blossoms seem to hover and float over the deep russet-burgundy hued forest floor.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: North Carolina
Reference key: ddw