Redbud on the Rocks

Redbud on the Rocks

An American Redbud shows off its color against the muted tones the surrounding rocks and trees.

Among all the flowering trees that make Spring really special, my favorite is, by far, the American Redbud. I’ve had a scene in my head for a while now that I’ve tried to find, but I don’t think these trees grow in the type of area I have in mind (a small Redbud tree in a slight clearing surrounded by taller, darker, trees, lit as with a spotlight from the sun above). I think the Redbuds prefer to grow in the open, or on the edges of more dense tree populations, not in the middle of them.

And then I came across the scene above while on a hike along Goose Creek near my home. This has many of the elements of the scene I had in mind: a lone Redbud against a darker background while lit by the sun as if in a spotlight.

I returned to this scene three times to try to get the shot. The first time, I was foiled with a sunrise that got clouded out JUST as the light was about to hit the Redbud. The second time, my planned position for the camera was under water due to 3 inches of rain that caused Goose Creek to rise up almost out of its banks. Third time was the charm, however, with late afternoon light being blocked from hitting the rocks behind the tree too brightly, yet allowing light to hit the Redbud just right and the waters of Goose Creek having receded just enough for me to be able t0 position my camera where I needed it to go.

Because I was having to shoot across the width of the creek, none of my Fuji GF lenses were long enough to frame the scene as I wanted it. So, using the Fuji large-format adapter G, I attached my Fuji GFX camera to the back of my 4×5 field camera (think old-fashioned accordion-like wooden camera) and used my Schneider 210mm APO lens, which, until I’m able to acquire the new Fuji 250mm GF lens, is the longest lens I own that I can use with the GFX.

The image above is completely uncropped, as the Schneider 210mm lens was able to give me exactly the framing I wanted: I used the taller foreground trees to either side of the Redbud to frame the edges of the scene and keep the eye from wandering out of the image. The pink of the Redbud tree itself is positioned to use composition as well as chiaroscuro (light and shadow) to draw the eye immediately to it while the rocks behind the Redbud form a triangular shape which is always a strong graphical element and helps keep the eye from wondering away.

Taken with a Fuji GFX medium format digital camera on a Shen Hao 4×5 field camera using a Schneider 210mm APO f/5.6 lens. ISO 100, 1/13th sec. @ f/16 1/3.

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