White Callas at Dawn

White Callas at Dawn

20×20 prints are $2,000
30×30 prints are $4,000

Our home in Oregon has beautifully landscaped property that we take care of. These calla lilies are ones that I planted and what you see in this photograph is the best they ever looked which was in June, 2003. The tallest flowers were almost four feet tall and they were planted on the edge of a steep slope with a rhododendron behind them and a tall deciduous tree in front of them, 20 feet away.

The early morning light is coming from straight overhead and although the light is soft there is considerable contrast because there is no fill light coming in from any direction. On this morning I was struck by how the calla blossoms seemed filled with light and the entire plant seemed to have an exuberant glow.

I used my Hasselblad camera with the 300mm Tele-Superachromat lens and Velvia 50 film to make this photograph. This lens has perfect color correction and is one of the sharpest lenses ever made so there is remarkable definition in the edge lighting on the leaves and the subtle pastel striations in the blossoms.

The image requires a lot of finesse to print. When deciding how best to print an image there’s more to decide than just the right contrast level. One has to consider the entire tone reproduction curve and how to make a Cibachrome print that will best convey the intent of the photographer and what inspired them to make the photograph. In this case, the glow in the white blossoms was of paramount importance. All the other shapes and tones would be the supporting cast in this production.

It took considerable effort and several re-dos on the contrast masking and printing but after two days of work I had the first good print finished on June 10, 2003. I clearly remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday and I had matted and framed the first print to give to her as a birthday present. She always loved white callas and even carried them as her wedding bouquet many years earlier.

On my way out the door I had a flash of inspiration and went over to the flowers, picked them, put them in a vase and took the Cibachrome print and the flowers over to her that afternoon. She was thrilled and for many days kept inviting her friends over to appreciate the beauty of the print and flowers with her.

Format: Medium (square)
Location: Oregon
Reference key: wcd