‘Tis the season for magnolia flowers! I always like taking my camera out in May and June when these giant flowers are in full bloom around campus, especially at Theta pond. I’ve taken many shots of magnolias over the years but there’s always something special about seeing these gigantic bursts of color often tucked away beneath brilliant layers of unfolding white petals. I don’t recall seeing magnolia flowers before moving to Oklahoma but now that we live here, and have lived here for well over ten years, I still never grow tired of looking at them or taking their photograph.
Every year I try to see these flowers a little differently or look for a bit more creative way to showcase them in a picture, and for this shot I used a lesson I have been learning (albeit slowly) over the last several months. It helps to get closer, but not too close, and help your viewers see your subject not in isolation but framed against larger elements of the image. Especially a colorful background, if at all possible. That last part is a little tricky with magnolias because of the enormous white petals that surround the bright center, but it was that challenge which led me to take the shot you see here.
I used my D750 and 50mm lens, natch, but augmented it with a +4 closer-up filter and a somewhat smaller aperture of f/4.8. Sharpness is a good thing, especially when shooting up close, and too often I have made the mistake of sacrificing extreme closeness with subject sharpness. I’m learning to dial it back a bit and quite like the results which you can see here: nearly the entire center portion of the flower is in focus while the petals in the foreground and background are not, and the points of light far in the background are brilliantly rendered heptagons that give a nice sense of context to the image. It took several attempts to get this shot but I’m very pleased with the result, and I hope I can snag a few more magnolia images before the season is over.