Dogwood flowers

Having grown up in Pennsylvania where dogwoods are everywhere, I learned the truth about dogwood flowers.

Everyone, including me until I wised up, thinks that Dogwood tree flowers are huge. That, in turn, is based on the assumption that the white things there are petals. They are not.

Those are bracts.

A bract is a modified leaf, typically associated with a plant’s flowers. They often enclose the real flowers, and may provide protection for the flowers during some phase of their growth.

In the case of Dogwoods, the bracts are the show; the flowers are small and not very showy. Yes, those round-ish little things in the center of the bracts are the actual flowers, in a cluster.

But enough science. I just love dogwood in the spring. Everything about it is subtle and well-shaped: the double (maple-like) branching making a subtle symmetry, for example. The open nature of the branching: airy, delicate, artful.

Who cares about bracts? I suppose they are critical to bractologists, but mostly I ignore the science and enjoy the pretty…flowers. :)

Technical info: Shot with the 120mm macro lens on the Phase One XF with IQ3 100 digital back. Unlike every other lens in the Phase One lineup, this one lets me get in close. The ‘flower’ is huge, so I had to shoot at f/14 just to get 2/3rds of it in focus. I tried different central focus positions; this one, with the front edge just in focus, as well as the real flowers (well, nearly; good enough at this size!), and part of the trialing bract, struck me as the most attractive.

That left me with 1/160th of a second for the exposure, just enough to freeze everything in a light, wafting breeze. ISO 50, for smoothest possible detail.