Every winter, I seem to wait on pruning my trees until winter is almost over. And now the Magnolia has started to bloom.

Magnolia soulangeana flowering deciduous tree, after light pruning in winter

I really do enjoy pruning, and every tree is a different piece of sculpture that changes with every pruning. This Magnolia soulangeana has a special place by the entry to the garden, and I have kept it as a small wide tree.

To keep it from getting too tall, I always have to prune back the new branches that reach for the sky.  This year, because I did wait until the tree was about to flower, I had to snip off flowering branches.

(not quite a) Before and After Slider


So I brought a couple branches into the house and my wife made a simple bouquet.  Like many flowers destined for a bouquet, it is best to cut them before they’re fully open and let them open in place, in an arrangement.

Then, as I looked closely, I realize the flowers were quite extraordinary.  Magnolias have huge flowers and the petals unfold to reveal remarkable flower structures.

Magnolia soulangeana simple bouquet of flowering winter branches

Yowza ! I need to photograph this ! The soft light coming in through the French doors made the whites glow and I added a simple white reflector to fill in the shadows.

But then as I studied it, I felt that the reflected light flattened out the whites and I could not really see the subtleties.

I tried removing the reflector and learned a new lesson about photographing the white flowers.

Before and After Slider

Sometimes the texture of the flower is revealed in the shadows, not in the highlights.

And sometimes you don’t want to see textures, the silky feel of the whites do better with fill light.

Magnolia soulageana flower isolation with photoshopThe fully open, “Look at me!”, flower became an extraction.  I removed the branches, darkened the background, and created a glowing rendition.

And all I set out to do was prune my magnolia.