Pacific Dogwood Flowers at Big Trees

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

Popular saying. 

On Mother’s Day, May 8th, and on Mon, May 17th, I walked the South Grove Trail at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park with a composition on my mind: I wanted a shot of the blooming Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, against the trunk of a Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum.

If you are a photographer, you will understand how ambitious this project was when I let you know that both days were sunny and with wind gusts at about 8-10 mph. That’s right, too much light in the sun, dark under the canopy, and the Dogwood flowers were definitely dancing in the wind. And why didn’t a chose a better day? Well, in two weeks there had not been a better day, and the flowers are not going to last much longer. After a total of nine miles hiking (both days combined), carrying about 15 pounds worth of equipment each day,  the picture above, depicting a fallen flower of the Dogwood on the roots of a dead Giant Sequoia, is also valid interpretation of my initial “vision”. 

I got several other pictures on those two days, including a few wildflowers and a photo of the most exquisite parasitic plant, Sarcodes sanguinea, also known as Snow Flower. I will share that on a future post.

Location: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Arnold, California, USA;

Equipment: Nikon Z50, Nikon Z 50 mm 1.8, diffuser;

Settings: f/7.1, 0.160s, ISO 250;

Tips: The park has two trails with Giant Sequoias, the North Grove, popular and heavily trafficked, and the South Grove, more remote and less frequented. It also has other, lesser known trails. Among those, my favorite is the Lava Bluffs trail in the spring, for the wildflowers. The Dogwood flowers are usually prime by mothers day. Be flexible. If the day is sunny, the light is harsh, the wind is blowing, look for details that you can photograph near the ground, next to rocks and trunks of trees. A diffuser will allow for great photos of details.

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

8 thoughts on “Pacific Dogwood Flowers at Big Trees

  1. I think it’s a great interpretation of the original vision. I like the appearance where the flower petals cross each other!

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  2. How ofter would you say you head out with a specific kind of picture in mind, versus going out just to see what you’ll find? Of course the former can include the latter, as happened in this instance when you found your Sarcodes sanguinea.

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    1. I usually do not have a picture in mind. I was also after the Sarcodes. I participate in a local photography Facebook group and I knew that the snow flower was out. It is not a rare appearance in Calaveras Big Trees, but getting the timing right can be tricky.

      Like

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