Have you ever found early success with something, been convinced you could do better, only then to find out maybe you can’t?  Haha, me either!  🙂

Just kidding.  That’s absolutely the story of this week’s image.

One of my favorite images from last year was this image of rhododendron blooming by a stream.  I absolutely love that image, but if I’m honest, there are a few things I have wished were different about it since last year.  I stumbled on this idea very late in the rhododendron blooming season though, so I never had a chance to find the perfect, better scene, to reshoot it.  Well, fast-forward to this year, and I’ve been more or less obsessed with shooting stream scenes with rhododendrons, basically since the first blooms began appearing in the lower elevations, all the way through to just a couple weeks ago, when the rhodis finally started disappearing from the higher elevations in the park.  

So what was wrong with last year’s image?  Well, if you’ve been following along with my photography for any amount of time, you know I’m a sucker for a good stream scene.  While last year’s image was clearly by a stream, the “action” of the stream was too far away from the blooms to be terribly compelling.  Basically there’s enough stream there that you get the since of place from it, but not enough that you’d think “oh, what a pretty stream!”.  That image was all about the blooms and the light.  So this year I set out to find that perfect marriage of blooms and cascades, and what I quickly discovered was this; while rhododendron do very definitely exist beside streams, the blooms tend to be higher in the bushes (i.e. where the sunlight is), making them devilishly hard to compose in a compelling way next to a cascade.  So what I found myself looking for, was a very specific thing.  A high rock to stand on to put my camera near blooms, which also created a scene that you could see blooms further into the scene (also fairly hard to find), while also having in it a nice cascade!  Well, I can tell you from personal experience that that scenario doesn’t exist many places, and while it was a LOT of fun trying to find it, it was also fairly frustrating to find, time and time again, that a scene that looks perfect from one side of the stream, is actually not once you get over to it because the blooms are just too high.

Anyway, this week’s Picture of the Week is my 2020 version of rhododendron blooms by a stream.  I’m betting by next summer I’ll have forgotten the frustration of finding this scene, and go looking for it again.  🙂

More summer flowers next week!

–Dan Thompson

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Thunderhead Prong, Tennessee, USA

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