Native Oddity

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Four-petaled Trillium

Occasionally mother nature does something odd, like put four parts on a plant that usually has only three. This four-petaled western white trillium (Trillium ovatum) is one such oddity. Trilliums usually have parts in threes — flowers, leaves, sepals. Like four-leaf clover, four-petal trilliums are quite rare. I think I’ve seen one sometime in my past, but can’t recall just where and when. Whether, like clover, they bring good luck is open to question. But I’ll take the optimistic view and say “yes.”

I spied this plant growing in the gravel along side of Mt. Baker Highway just below the lower lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area on a family tourist drive to the mountain in early June. I drove on past, with my family admonishing me to keep my eyes on the road. How on earth they think I can spot cool plants without watching the roadside is beyond me.

Later, on our way down the mountain, I stopped so everyone else in the car could see this special trillium. I only had my iPhone with me that day, so I snapped a couple of photos and we continued on our way home. The next day I returned with my big camera and spent the time necessary to get publication-quality photos. This is one of those.

This unique specimen was literally in the gravel thrown to the side by the snow plows, so the background was dull grey. I stood my tripod in the ditch and worked the plant to create several images, using both my 90mm TS-E tilt/shift lens and 100 macro. The frame here was made with the macro. One of the things I consider important in creating any photo is to make sure the background is clean. In this case, there were a few dead sticks that created distractions that were easy to remove. The next issue was the dull grey of the gravel. I looked around on the roadside and found a couple of small hemlock boughs and placed them in the background to provide a little soft green behind my subject. If I hadn’t just admited it you’d never have known. Subtlety and naturalness is important.

The light on this Monday morning was soft under high clouds, which made exposure easy. I did a little contrast adjustment and added a slight vignette in Lightroom, but what you see is what I saw.

Keep your eyes open as you’re hiking, biking, or driving around. You never know what interesting thing you’ll spy if you’re open to the possibility.

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