Cherry Blossoms 2017: The Shadow Side

I always look forward to the arrival of the cherry blossoms at High Park. I don’t make it ever year, but each time go I try to think of a different way to capture their fleeting beauty. In 2011, I arrived with a photographer’s meetup at sunrise, in 2012, I focused on the people, and in 2015 I tried out daytime time-lapsed photography.

This time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to try, but after a few photos I decided it might be interesting to only shoot the blossoms on their shadow sides. Perhaps it was because the barrage of people shooting with their backs to the setting sun made it crowded to shoot from the sunny side—who knows?

In any case, I did find myself wanting to step around and turn direction to get the blossoms with direct sunlight many times. It’s easy to argue direct light makes for better photos. Each time, I managed to keep myself in the shadows.

There’s something about the translucency of the blossom petals that make shooting from this side interesting. Of course, this works best when the sun is low; I was shooting during the hour before sunset.

Every photo in this gallery except the first one was shot from the shadow side.

Cherry Blossoms 2015

For my third time experiencing the short-lived beauty of the Cherry Blossoms, I had camera in toe once again. The first time was a dawn-time photoshoot, and the second time I decided to focus on the people. This time, I used a neutral density filter to increase shutter times dramatically. This gave some of the photos a strange look, with people blurred as they moved, and the slight movement of the trees emitting a ghostly glow.

Cherry Blossoms: People in Bloom

For my second time taking photos at High Park during the spring cherry blossoms, I decided to focus on people taking in the natural beauty. Given the millions of people in Toronto, and the hordes of them who come to the park to see the blossoms, two of the strangers I candidly shot turned out be close friends of a co-worker. Small world indeed.

For the final photo, I tried a little experiment with zooming out during the short duration of the photo.

Cherry Blossoms 2011

This was the first time I had heard of and gone to see the Cherry Blossoms in Toronto’s High Park. The trees were a gift from Japan in 1959,  and every spring, they bloom forth in stunning pink and white, only to disappear as fast as they emerge. High Park posts daily progress of the blooming when the time comes.

For this photography meetup, we decided to meet before sunrise to capture the blossoms in the first available light. The extraordinary thing was just after sunrise, when professional photographers seemingly appeared from nowhere, lights and cameras in hand and set to action with models in gowns. Of course, we all flocked to take advantage of their pro setups.

By mid-morning, the park was bustling with people, and the fancily dressed ones still showed up.