Jacaranda Blooms

Hello NPN community,

As we have been sheltering at home, my appreciation for landscape versions of small scenes, abstracts, flora, and more has grown significantly. Having been alerted to a local Jacaranda (tropical tree from South America) bloom in a very urban cityscape, near my home, I broke out my wide-angle lens, with the intention of capturing the grandiosity of the blooming trees. This image really spoke to me, as the shape of the tree felt iconic and I was astounded by how many flower blossoms I could capture in the background of the frame. It almost looks like a tree against flowery wallpaper, but still feels alive and vibrant.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

I shot this hand-held, which introduced some camera shake. In hindsight, I should have shot at a higher shutter speed or took the time to set up on a tripod, but I thought the 1/50 sec would be sufficient. I tried to reduce the appearance of the camera shake blur by sharpening, adding some local contrast, and dodging/burning. If you zoom in, you’ll see it for sure, but my primary concern is that it may feel over-done when it comes to the contrast introduced in the tree bark. I’d be grateful for the opinion of others, in this regard.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I was considering cloning out the top-left intersecting tree branch, so that the one parallel to the ground is removed and the up moving upward remains. I feel it would make the image read a bit more clean. What are your thoughts?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

I wanted to bring out some shapely form in the sun, so I stopped down to f/22, in order to create a sun star. Because the sun was so bright, it came across as being closer to white. To introduce some color, I created a masked overlay of orange-yellow tones.

Camera Settings:
Canon 6D
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L USM II
35mm - f/22 - ISO 100 - 1/50 sec

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Lovely photo. Regarding cloning out the crossing limbs, they don’t bother me at all. The weight of them balances nicely the other two large limbs on the right. The tree trunk is dark enough that I don’t think it is too contrasty. My suggestion for improvement would be to lighten the blue sky…it seems too dark to go with the bright sun, an artifact of camera exposure. Also, maybe a bit more yellow color in the blown out highlites. Here is my attempt at lightening the blue sky:

It could possibly be even lighter…


Hi @Tony_Siciliano, thank you for your valuable feedback and compliments. Much appreciated!

I didn’t really think about the weight of the intersecting branches balancing those on the right. That’s a great point, so I think I’ll nix the cloning plans.

I also appreciate you confirming the tree trunk is not too contrasty. Initially, I had dodge a bit too much and it was more obvious. I dialed it back and I think that helped, but having a second pair of eyes on it make me that much more certain.

Regarding your suggestions for improvement, I was on the fence about increasing the mid-tones of the sky. In fact, I already had a masked levels adjustment ready to handle that. I kind of like it dark, but when I see it against the black background of the NPN page and your example, I agree that it could be brightened. However, the bright sun actually did make the RAW file darker, because it was essentially making it look like a brighter version of a silhouette. I’ve also tried to add some more yellow tones to the sun star.

Here’s a new rendering, based on some of your suggestions and other nuances:

Hi Jimmy, very nice study on shape and texture. I brought your original into PS and added a white border all around and I also think that the sky is also a bit dark. I love the rework though. I think it is appropriate now. My suggestion is only to clone out that triangle of branch on the very LLC of the frame. But other than that, this is a very fine take of SoCal Spring. I’d like to think that they are our SoCal version of sugar maple in the North East in Fall. You have showcased it well.

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Hi @Adhika_Lie, thank you for taking the time to offer your positive feedback, play around with the image in PS, and offer suggestions for improvement. It’s much appreciated!

Ha! I did not even notice the triangular branch on the LLC. When I read your comment, I thought you meant a smaller off-shoot branch and I could not find one that was clearly in the shape of a triangle. Then, like a “duh” moment, I saw the very minuscule triangle of a branch you were talking about. I’m so glad to you noticed that and pointed it out.

Cheers to your sugar maples and wishing you good shooting! I see that you are in L.A. If you ever want to go shoot together sometime in Orange County or L.A. or the respective NP’s when everything opens back up, feel free to hit me up!

Here’s the final rendering of the final image, which made it’s way to social media today, and included the cloning of that elusive branch:

I like the darker blue, as it gives more of a moody feel to this unique and striking image. It would make a good painting and I don’t need detail in the trunk to enjoy it. I like the tangled branches, as it gives a wilder feel to this.

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Hi @Kathy_Barnhart, thank you for sharing your perspective and feedback!

To be honest, I go back and forth, between the original and final image. The lighter blue colors in the final image are more soothing and create a nice contrast with the purple flower blossoms. However, I feel like it also washes the sun out a bit, and the reduce contrast may have less impact. I think the beauty is just in the eye of the beholder, but your additional input is greatly appreciated.

I also agree about the “tangled branches” giving it a wider feel. My initial instinct was to clean it up, but others also pointed out how the left and right are more balanced with the intersecting branches on the left.

Cheers! :slight_smile: