Looking for Contrast

29-Death ValleyFlowersIn the spring of 2005, Death Valley National Park was experiencing an explosion of flowers.  Thanks to a very wet winter, wildflowers that had been dormant for decades were blooming.  We had scheduled our trip as a tag-on to a family visit months before, and were able to experience this natural event first-hand.

Taking photos of flowers seems like it should be easy.  After all, don’t you just drive along the road, stop when you see a pretty scene, and get out and shoot?  Well…..yes…. driving along and noticing pretty scenes is certainly what gets you there.  When flowers are this prolific, though, getting a shot that has interest and dynamic qualities takes some observation.

Look at this scene for a minute.  What do you notice?  Here’s what I saw.  The contrast of yellow flowers against the white salty field and  blue shadows on the hills certainly makes the flowers stand out.  Still, though, as a sea of flowers, they looked flat and uninteresting.  I could see a few curves in the floral landscape, but nothing strong enough to stand out.  I could tell if we drove down the road to look for angles in the pattern of flowers, I was going to lose the light and the shot.  I studied this scene for a while before I saw the one yellow flower sticking up above all the rest, standing out against the white background.  That lone flower added the dynamic quality and interest I wanted.  That was the shot that told the story of the flowers.

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