Mountain Arnica and LupineColors on the opposite side of the color wheel make great contrasting combinations, like this Mountain Arnica (Arnica latifolia) blossom set against Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius). This pair also shows a contrast between the radially symmetrical ray flowers of the Arnica and the pea flowers of the Lupine. Spiky vs. rounded. Sharp foreground vs. soft-focus background.

The Arnica and Lupine combination is prevalent mid-summer in the subalpine meadows of the North Cascades. Pretty much every meadow will have at least some patches of these two, in various combinations. This pair was photographed in the shade along the Skyline Divide Trail on August 15. On a clear day there are spectacular vistas of Mount Baker from Skyline. On this particular day the sky was hazy bright so it photographed nearly white, which isn’t very appealing. I shot the cover of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest from Skyline a few years ago.

This photo was made with a 100mm macro lens set at f/4 to keep the background soft. I also shot variations at f/5.6 and f/8, but like this softer version best. I don’t often like to line everything up in the center of the frame, but here the subject is very symmetrical and the main focal point is below center so I think there’s a nice balance to the frame.
We’ve had so many cloudy days this August and into September that I may not get back to Skyline while there are still flowers blooming. Maybe I’ll get up there for fall foliage.

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