with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Azaleas in Bloom, Bellingrath Plantation, Alabama

Azaleas at Bellingrath Plantation Garden, Mobile, Alabama, by Lorelle VanFossen

The azaleas in bloom are spectacular across the south. These are from the Bellingrath Plantation Gardens near Mobile, Alabama.

Scrub flowers like these are hard to photograph. Closeup, the challenge is depth of field. Further back, it’s the clutter. It’s hard to keep the images simple while being interesting to look at.

This flowering azalea image works because it uses the basic rule of thirds, putting a strong visual resting point in one of the crosses of the tic-tac-toe corners of the image.

I took great care to ensure that no bright spots of sunlight or background distractions were in the background, which would pull the eye away from the focal point, especially if they were out of focus. While there is a small sunspot that could have been a distraction in the background, I moved around to let it become part of the background clutter. This is critical when you have a potentially busy subject. Make sure you exclude anything that could be a distraction.

I worked with a medium aperture setting to let the background fall out of focus, but the depth of the foreground grouping of flowers to stay mostly in focus.

For more on background control, see Background Magic and Background Magic Part Two.

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