Dogwood along the Merced River

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Yosemite’s [wikipop]dogwood[/wikipop] are my favorite trees in the park. While brilliantly pink in the fall, it’s their delicate spring blooms that people generally remember. Catching that bloom can prove to be tricky.

Last month many folks in the spring workshop had hoped to shoot the bloom but they were largely denied. A few blooms could be found throughout the park but barely any of them in really photographable locations.

Last week I made a last minute decision to head to the park and try to catch the bloom that I’d missed during the workshop. I was in the park for less than 24 hours but came back with some successful images nonetheless. I found this pretty scene along the Merced river about 100 yards upstream from the Valley View parking area (sometimes called Gates of the Valley).

By the time I made it to Yosemite, last Friday, it was already early afternoon. Although an approaching storm was forecast, the skies were blank and blue. After driving the valley loop to get an idea of the conditions I stopped at Valley View because I’d seen some dogwood starting to bloom two weeks previously. As my family walked downstream near the parking area, I grabbed my gear and started walking up the road towards [wikipop]El Capitan[/wikipop].

To create the image I used my Canon 24-70 and my Canon 5D. The bloom in the foreground was positioned in front of some other foliage hanging over the river. After finding my composition I started playing with apertures to see how they changed the depth of field (DOF). In bright sun the DOF preview button works really well. Since most cameras focus with the lens at it’s widest aperture, not the aperture that you’ve chosen, DOF preview is good tool to see what the resulting image will look like. The caveat is that it doesn’t work well with dim light or very narrow apertures. After some experimentation I chose f/4 to get most of the bloom in focus and maintain the specular highlights in the background.

This was only the 4th frame that I took during the trip. Stay tuned to see what the rest of the memory card holds.


3 thoughts on “Dogwood along the Merced River

  1. Doug,

    Left a message on Miranda site but wanted to find out are there any particular places along the river that would be better then others for dogwood shots. Going up just for a quick Saturday and come back on Sunday.



  2. Hey Neville,

    It all really depends on the bloom. If you don’t see what you’re looking for in the valley, take a walk up toward Mirror lake. You might be able to find something up that way.



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