On this warm April afternoon, my friend Charles Needle and I had just finished teaching an exhilarating Callaway Gardens workshop. During workshops, I like to be completely present with the students, so I make it a policy not to photograph. By the end of a workshop, this self-denial usually results in a surplus of creative energy. When I finally open the floodgates, exciting ideas gush out.
The azaleas this year were phenomenal! I’ve never seen such density of color. I seem to recall exclaiming to Charles that we had an “azalea emergency” on our hands—the flowers needed immediate attention. In every direction, there was a beautiful composition. I found it difficult to know where to begin.
Before discovering the intimate scene that you see here, I focused my attention on the cluster of azaleas between the trees. To convey the feeling of exploding springtime colors, I attempted a series of long-exposure rotate and zoom compositions. The swirling flowers were beautiful, but I knew this area had more to offer, so I stepped back and framed the scene to include the three trees. I carefully composed to create separation between the trunks. With the idea of the long-exposure rotate and zoom compositions still lingering in my mind, I devised a plan. I would use Photoshop’s incredible masking capabilities to swirl the azaleas while keeping the trees stationary.