holt_1123_029.CR2Luther Burbank was one of the most famous plant breeders of all time and had as many as 3000 trials a year at his 15 acre Gold Ridge Experimental Farm in Sebastopol, California.  He is best known for the Shasta Daisy and Burbank Russet potato, but he produced hundreds of fruit hybrids, successes such as the plumcot and failures such as hybrid citrus that were cold hardy but the “fuzzy orange fruits have about the same size, hardness, and juiciness as golf balls”, according to the Western Sonoma County History Society that now oversees the farm.

On are recent visit I found this unnamed hybrid crabapple in full bloom.  It is said to have small edible fruit, but it is sure a show stopper for a photographer.  The deep pink, almost red blossoms are stunning, and I was determined to make a special photo.


Now that I am teaching more photography, I keep my dud pictures to show the process of “working” the scene.  Often I grab a first quick photo (above) just to get the feel of working with a subject.  This is purely a record keeper that documents the location and establishes a digital train of thought for the editing process once I begin reviewing a whole shoot in post production.

The first photo is almost never the best one as I look for better angles, better compositions.  With close-up photos I look for ways to separate the flowers from the background, a way to silhouette and outline the blossom.

For crabapples, and most fruits, the flowers are in clusters on the fruiting spur.  I want to illustrate this feature, so that gives me a framing task for my work.


Looking for just the right composition is part of the fun of a photographer and when the light is cooperative and the wind quiet, I can get lost in the looking and incremental progress of making a better, then a still better photograph.

I finally found “the one”.

holt_1123_008.CR2An angle that shows an explosion of flowers from the spur, like angels unfolding.  With a bit of backlight to give the colors some extra luminosity, the photo fell into place.  I moved on to other parts of the garden and didn’t look back.