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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Trouble With Tribbles.....I Mean Trillium, Part 1

I think you probably have to be at least 40 years old to get the weak joke reference in the title. Well, either a ‘regular person’ over 40 or a rabid Star Trek fan. (Kirk: “Scottie, let’s get this post back on course.” Scottie: "But, Cap’n, I’m given her all she’s got.”) All right, I'm sorry, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Six weeks or so left to winter.....please let it be over. Some folks just thrive out in the cold. Me, I despise it. I try to force myself to get out and photograph, but I find it exceedingly difficult to do so. Every winter I say that this is going to be the year I get out into the cold and get some really great winter images. I do go, but it ends up being only two or three times. I enjoy myself when I go, but it is exceedingly hard to motivate myself to get out there.

But it is almost over, no matter what the groundhog said, and that makes my thoughts turn to the multitude of gorgeous spring wildflowers that we are blessed with here in Western Pennsylvania. And the first ones to emerge are generally Trillium. For those who are unfamiliar with them, take a look here. (As an aside, finding that page is truly fate. I couldn’t believe the page started with a Star Trek reference. It just happened to be the first Trillium website that came up when I Googled 'Trillium'!)

The purpose of this post is to ask for some advice regarding a problem I have with photographing the flower. I ask for advice now, before they emerge, so that I might have some assistance in solving the problem.

However, before I explain the problem, let me first state that I am about to break a taboo; one that I actually think should be broken much more often. I am about to show you some bad photos. These are some of my duds that I would never plan to show an audience. But reviewing failure is, I think, an important step in self-improvement.

Trillium grows in large patches. When you look at them, your mind sees a field of unbroken flowers. But the camera sees differently. I think I see a 'sea of unbroken white flowers' with trees ‘poking up’ between them. The camera’s reality is that the flowers are spaced far enough apart in the field so that there is ‘too much’ space between them to give an image the feel of ‘a sea of unbroken white’. In addition, since they are among the first flowers to emerge, there is always a lot of ground clutter (dead leaves etc) that can be seen between them. What I seem to end up with are images that look like this:


Mediocre Trillium Images

Not at all compelling, not particularly good, and, additionally, they don't convey the feel I am looking for at all. I have made successful close ups of the flowers, but I would like to portray the larger scene as it feels to me.

I have tried using a wide angle lens, but then there seems to be too much empty space filled with clutter, even if I move up very close to a foreground flower. I have tried a long lens to compress the space between flowers, but then I get too few in the frame to give the ‘large never ending sea’ feel.

Perhaps there is no good solution and this is just the way that nature has given us these beauties, to be enjoyed as they grow. But if anyone has any ideas that I might be able to use to help convey what I am after, I would certainly appreciate it.

Oh, and will someone please add to the comment section what a ‘tribble’ is for those under 40 or I’ll be forced to do it myself!