I began photographing the Cherry Blossoms around 2006. It is a photographic rite of passage for most DC photographers. Capturing these beautiful flowers with landscapes in the background becomes more difficult each year. I took my iconic shot “Sunrise through the Jefferson Memorial” in 2007 and looking for new creative shots is always my goal.
I was scheduled to do an engagement shoot and it was cancelled at the last minute. It worked out well because this was the peak day for the Cherry Blossoms. This unexpected free time was an invitation to exercise some creativity.
I carried the latest Canon camera and a great lens. Yet, I pulled out my iPhone and used the Instagram app. The simplicity of the device freed me of the complexities associated with a full-frame DSLR. It ironically became my best image.
Last year was a disappointment. A cloudy day greeted me after I arrived downtown at 6:00 AM. The dreary sky robbed me of a memorable sunrise and my camera began to malfunction. This year I avoided the sunrise and went to the Tidal Basin an hour or so before sunset. Since, this is the most popular time around the Tidal Basin, the challenge is finding people-free spots so no one photo-bombs my images. Getting up close, capturing details using the Macro function makes this an easier goal and the sun’s soft colors would reward me with beautiful images.
People travel from around the country to see the flower show. Capturing images apart from the basin can be keepers as well. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is very rewarding. The waterfalls are beautiful and adding people to the image provide great results.
As the light fades, my favorite time of day appears, Twilight. It also signals my time to depart. Before I left, I used my flash to softly light the blossoms with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. It capped a satisfying evening for me.
I’m not in DC this spring. Therefore, I missed the Cherry Blossoms. However, I did such a great job last year. Why should I try to top perfection :-). Also, I decided to cancel a trip to the Netherlands to photograph the tulips at the world-famous Keukenhof garden near Amsterdam. Therefore, I decided to make the best of my local flora opportunities. The flowers are blooming here in the United Kingdom as spring is in full swing. Vibrant yellow colors from the rapeseed plant line the motorways as we drive around the country. However, the flower du jour is the bluebell. This is a beautiful blue flower that grows abundantly in many forests throughout the United Kingdom. It has been featured in the newspapers and on television. When the flowers are in full bloom, the forest grounds are peppered with bluebells. This Saturday was an unusually warm day. Deborah and Jordyn went on a shopping trip to a London mall. I dropped them to the meeting spot to gather with the other shoppers and now the day was mine to enjoy. I researched the bluebells and I had some forests I wanted to visit. After a week of deliberation and research, I drove 40+ miles to the Heartwood Forest. This particular forest was mentioned in the local paper for the quality of their bluebells. There was one major problem with the journey and I hoped it would be resolved by the time I arrived. The weather was mostly sunny with clouds playing hide-n-seek with the sun. Unlike the other 99% of the people in the world, I didn’t want today to be sunny. I was hoping for a nice overcast day so the sky would be an enormous softbox to illuminate the forest grounds. When the sun is bright, the trees cast strong shadows. The ground has bright areas where the sun hits directly and dark areas caused by the trees shadow. This wrecks havoc on a photograph. The contrast is so great that consistency is lost and the viewer struggles to view the image. However, I had a few hours before I had to pick up the girls. Therefore, I planted my camera on the tripod and I waited for the sun to hide behind the clouds. I planned my image composition when the sun was shining. At last, my patience was rewarded with the clouds hiding the sun. The overcast provided soft light giving the images a consistent tone. Therefore, while many dread going outside during an overcast day, I use it as an opportunity to photograph flowers, people or other subjects not requiring a bright blue sky. To see more of these images, please visit my Flickr page. -Roger