One more Dogwood over the Merced

Ok, last one of the Dogwood from my last visit to Yosemite in May. This one is much less original, more accessible and often photographed, so not so much reflection of a photog’s creativity, but more about presenting the scene as best you can in post.

I can understand those who may pass on cliche or often photographed scenes, and I often do, but there are those scenes that just call to you and no matter how many times they’ve been photographed, you’re compelled to capture the beauty for yourself. I had photographed with the 4x5 and posted on NPN a number of years ago. I’m happy with this rendition too.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Always looking for tweaks and feedback on color, saturation, luminosity etc., Spent a bit of time on different aspects of this. I wanted the flowers to be accurate and true and I usually strive for the frothy water to also be neutral. I used a b&w layer set to Luminosity blending mode to adjust the brightness of the green/yellow leaves) and also worked the blues and golds in the water. Would like to know how those all balance out.

Edit: Looks like the leaves/dogwood tree in general is lit with fill flash. Does it look like that to you? If so is it detrimental? or no biggie?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any pertinent technical details:

Nikon D800E, Nikon 28-300mm at ~170mm, f/18 1/3s ISO 100, tripod of course. TK’s processing stuff in PS CC18


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This is lovely, Lon. The colors are gorgeous and I like the diagonal flow of both the water of the Merced and that of the dogwood branches. The colors look realistic to me. My only suggestion would be just a bit more room at the top for that dogwood bloom. This may be oft photographed, but it is still worthy of being in a portfolio.

This is really beautiful Lon. I think your processing is excellent on this one, and the composition works great for me. I only wish there was a bit more color separation between the leaves and the yellow/green reflection toward the top of the photo, but that’s tough to do when they are such similar colors.

This is another nice image from Pohono Bridge. I have never had success there, but you always seem to come up with great images there.

I really like the composition. The warm/cool color contrast is very nice. I am having a little trouble with the yellows at the top. Due to their brightness, my eye is drawn there, but to me, the stars of the show are the lower Dogwood blossoms, leaves and branches. I don’t have a suggestion as to how to deal with it, assuming you might desire to.

The processing is real nice as it is, though.

Very beautiful, Lon. Color balance, saturation and luminosity look spot-on. Only thought would be consistent with Ben’s comment on getting a bit more separation between the leaves and the golden reflections in the upper portion of the image.

Lon, my first impression is that there are loads of nice warm to cool colors mixed in, and your comp and framing work well in general terms. My second impression is that the river and all the nice blooms of the tree are kind of “fighting” for attention, possibly due to similar luminance. Odd because your slower shutter speed by default should work to soften the water so as to create some separation, but I’m guessing that f/18 could have been the Achilles heal that brings the details of moving water back into focus more than I might prefer, of course that’s a personal preference. Hope this makes sense to you.

I really like this Lon. I did notice the flowers appeared to be illuminated but in a good way so I would say the flash was a good idea. The reflection and highlights on the water appear a bit muted; perhaps by choice, but it would be interesting to see how more contrast / brightness in the upper right and lower areas of background water would look.

Lon this is my favorite of your recent series, the vertical composition and 45 degree angle of the tree create a very dynamic flow in the image. The use of flash is not very noticeable, and looks very natural. I agree with Preston, the brightness of the yellow (and the one bright dogwood flower) in the upper right corner keeps pulling my eye up and away from the rest of the image. Perhaps a crop just below that one bright flower, this would retain some yellow for contrast, but would eliminate the very brightest parts of the URC.

I don’t care if this is a tripod hole location. The light, color and water are pretty special, and together they create a nice image.

Lon, another fine look at one of your Dogwood portraiture’s along or leaning over the Merced. I’ve always liked the angle placement of these with the URHC entry point of the actual limb(s).
You no doubt have these locations dialed in for TOD, TOS, and prevailing weather conditions too. I do of course recall your excellent work with the 4x5 on these locales but find that one would be very hard pressed to tell the media difference between any of them in the end. Very nicely done !..:sunglasses:

Thanks everyone for your keen observations and excellent feedback.

I agree with the comments both relating to the colors and separation of the leaves and water in the upper section where there is more of the gold/yellow. I agree and will try and work in those changes. Interesting because I did use a b&w layer set to luminosity to adjust the brightness of the green leaves (I actually darkened them some when brought them closer to the waters luminosity. Also struggled with the color/saturation of the gold/yellows, so that needs work as well. Great feedback!

As far as more room up top, there is! there is another whole set of branches. So the difficulty is in finding that line that best allows for the crop, but not having so much cramped or cut off - and without having to do some major clone work. More good feedback.

@Bill_Leggett - also excellent observation about the competition between the dogwood and the river - I also think they are both deserving on their own, without competing with each other. Honestly, at the time, my goal is really just finding the right aperture and SS to get the most detail, while getting lucky enough to stop some movement in the leaves. In hindsight I could have opted for f/8-11 and gotten good detail in the dogwood, but then would have had to put on a polarizer or ND to blur the water enough. It’s always a compromise.

@Richard_Wong, just wanted to clarify that I was worried the scene might look like fill flash was used… but actually there was NO flashed used. Sorry if I gave that impression.

Thanks again for the comments and suggestions. When/if I get some time I will most certainly incorporate those suggestions. For me, this is one of the biggest values here. Sure, I like to share my images just like everyone, but I’m here to learn and improve too!

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Ah maybe I misread that flash comment. Looks good though, I like that the flowers stand out.

It’s interesting to see how images of the same subject are all so different. This version is more zoomed out, something that’s less common with this subject. The processing of the leaves has been handled differently. The greens are brighter and more saturated giving it a more artistic look than a natural look. I think that works well as the tree stands out from the background more completely.

The composition looks solid as well, given the nature of the subject. The only negative thing from me is the subject of choice. Usually these are shot with branches forming graceful sine waves across the background and this lacks that ‘poetic’ element. I can imagine how difficult it must be to find the perfect branch in the perfect light.

I really like the lower half of the image, the upper yellows don’t go with flowers as well.
I did not notice the flash but I think the whites are hot probably because of the flash.