Sakura Zensen

Well, the cherry blossoms are currently blooming, and I figured, what better time to photograph them? They are only in full bloom for a couple weeks, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, they are quite beautiful. I tried a couple different techniques here, the first of which was using my Sigma 50mm with a very shallow depth of field, so most of these shots were taken between f/1.4 and 2.8. My 5D was also used for all of these. I had contemplated using film, but I didn’t, so here are the first of the digital shots with the Sigma.

The next gallery contains a few images using first my 24mm f/2.8 prime, and then my 70-200 f/4 L. I purchased the 24mm about a few weeks ago to replace my Sigma 12-24mm. The Sigma was an awesome lens, it just didn’t really fit my needs. I don’t typically use a lot of wide-angle stuff in my photography, and like to travel light, so the large and very heavy Sigma got left home most of the time, collecting dust on my shelf. It was also extremely wide at 12mm, to the point where composition really takes a back seat to subject matter. Luckily I was able to find a good home for it with artist Saturnin, whose website can be found at The 24mm f/2.8 prime lens is much smaller, extremely light, 2 stops faster, and even a little sharper, so I now take it with me everywhere I go.

After taking these vibrant, full-color images, I decided to switch it up and go for some black and whites. The first two images were taken in full color with the images from above, but were edited in Photoshop to mimic a deep red, or even infrared filter on black and white film. To do this, I used the Channel Mixer adjustment tool, clicked the Monochrome box on the bottom to desaturate the image, and then tweaked the individual RGB channels. To darken the sky so much, I lowered the Blue channel by 100%, and compensated by bumping up the Green and Red channels by 50% each. The red channel was at 100% originally, so that brought it up to 150%. This effectively blacked out the once-blue sky, and turned the light pink cherry blossoms completely white.

The rest of the images were taken with a Red 25 filter on my Sigma 50mm, still using the 5D. This resulted in the digital images being completely red, but after desaturating them and giving them a quick levels and contrast adjustment, I was left with what you see here. To be honest I could have probably gotten the same look by just doing the Channel Mixer setting above, with the values left at defaults with Red at 100%, but I like doing as much of my photography as possible in-camera. 95% of the pictures I post on my site only receive a quick levels, white balance and/or contrast adjustment.

If I get a chance to shoot some more of the cherry blossoms before the flowers all fall off next week I will update this post, so stay tuned.

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