Western Columbine, Aquilegia Formosa
In my career as a landscape and nature photographer, I’ve done a lot of staring at and studying flowers. Parsing out the details of specific wildflower groupings and deciding if they were worth the $10 it will cost me for a sheet of 4×5 film and processing is an important part of my occupation. During the peak seasons, I “scout” for scenes 5-6 days per week. I’m always hoping to find an elegant expression of nature which will hold up well when displayed in the 2 dimensional world of fine art photography. I rarely event out my camera. While the human mind recalls the beautiful, captivating,and stimulating details of an outing in nature, Film captures the positives, and the negative aspects of a scene. I’ve stared at individual specimens of Western Columbine thousands of times, analyzing their composition and assessing whether they would translate well to film and then prints. Usually they don’t.
Western Columbine, like most Oregon wildflowers, are only at peak bloom for a day or two at which point they are scarred with dropped blossoms which, in a framed fine art print, appear forlorn and somewhat despondent. During some years, Western Columbine also can be infested with aphids. As an avid gardener, I despise aphids. They leave sticky, gelatinous, debris where they’ve preyed upon plant life, which, to say the least, is un-photogenic. I know this is a morose way to analysize a truly elegant wildflower but the translation of a nature scene to a framed print can be a fickle process.
I stumbled across this magical specimen of a Western Columbine, Aquilegia formosa while hiking along Bull Springs, in the Skyline Forest near Bend, Oregon. This plant created a fantastic arrangement. Full, vibrant, symmetrical. It is the largest ,most well formed individual specimen of Western Columbine I’ve ever seen. It was truly stunning and had a soft foreground texture of Ponderosa pine needles with an unobtrusive background of even more wildflowers. Free of aphids and with nearly every blossom at its peak, it was simply the most impressive Western Columbine specimen I’ve ever encountered.
Upon discovering this wonderful specimen, instantly unloaded my 4×5 film camera and composed the image you see here. I’m glad I did. The prints of this image are gorgeous. Exceptional detail, vibrancy, and depth make for fine art prints that were definitely worth the $10 exposures!