Spring is finally here! Well, at least in meteorological terms and that means we should soon start to benefit from warmer temperatures and lighter nights. Personally I’ve found recent weeks to be very depressing and when I think about it, the weather in the UK over the past few months really has been appalling. Not only has it been cold but we have faced storms named Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. Eunice managed to wreck havoc on the country and has actually been one of the worst storms we have seen in decades. Hundreds of people were forced to batten down the hatches as wind speeds reached up to 122 mph with the strongest gusts being recorded at the Needles on on the Isle of White.
Anyway I guess the main point of you being here is to read about photography so lets move on…
The First Signs Of Spring
As we say goodbye to the darker nights and blandness of the winter landscape I look forward to welcoming new life and a spot of colour back into our world. Generally speaking one of the first things I notice about spring is the increase in wildlife activity in my garden. This is shortly followed by the small buds beginning to appear on trees and wild flowers such as snowdrops growing beneath our feet.
Spring is an exciting time that brings oodles of photographic potential and in my opinion is one of the best seasons to explore nature and make some beautiful images.
Snowdrops are one of the first wild flowers to appear in the UK. These delicate white little flowers usually start to appear anytime between January and March and mark the soon to be season of spring. My first sighting of snowdrops this year was during the last week of January whilst I was visiting family in North Wales. Only a small cluster, growing in a secluded and shaded area of the garden. Nothing really worth photographing as its still too early however a reminder of something to look forward to in the coming days.
Snowdrops In The Park
Last year I spotted a rather large carpet of snowdrops in one of my local parks. Unfortunately it was too late in the season to make a good photograph. I am not sure but I think either a spell of bad weather with strong winds had damaged the stems of the snowdrops or someone had carelessly trampled the wild flowers before I had chance to visit with my camera. I made a mental note of the location and decided it is best to return next season to try and make my image.
Fast forward to February 2022 and I find myself frequenting the same area of my local park. I find daily walks to the same place allow me to really monitor changes in nature and give you the best chance of photographing snowdrops in their prime. It’s surprising how fast these little white flowers grow. One day they are barely protruding from the ground and yet the very next day they are a good few inches tall and beginning to bloom.
It’s Not Always How You Remember
Despite there being a large carpet of snowdrops in my local park last year this years crop is quite sparse. I won’t deny the fact I was a little disappointed as I had hoped for a similar display this year. Trying not to dwell on the situation I soon realised I needed to adapt to what I was seeing around me. Therefore rather than trying to capture the non existent carpet of flowers I had visualised it was going to be more rewarding to focus on a single cluster of snowdrops.
A light breeze fills the air and the tiny white flower heads of the snowdrops are dancing in the wind. Luckily I managed to locate several clusters of flowers hiding behind a large tree and shielded from the wind. Having spent around 15 minutes making various compositions I finally found a composition I liked.
For this image I used my telephoto lens zoomed into 200mm. Shooting at the lenses widest aperture and closest focusing distance I am able to throw the immediate foreground and background out of focus thus creating some aesthetically pleasing bokeh. I processed the image in Lightroom where I subtly reduced the clarity and vibrance sliders to give the image above.
Snowdrop Photography Tips
Regardless of if you use a mobile phone, compact camera or state of the art DSLR it’s possible for everyone to make fantastic images of snowdrops. Check out my tips below to help you improve your photography and make an image you would be proud to share.
- Think about the time of day. The light is more pleasing during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset when the suns elevation is a lot lower and shadows are longer helping to add natural contrast and depth to an image.
- Drop down to your subjects level and look for an unusual angle.
- Get Closer to the flowers and fill more of your frame with the subject.
- Photograph on an overcast day for natural diffusion of light.
- Look for flowers shielded from the wind to reduce the chance of motion blur within your scene.
- Consider using a mini tripod for additional stability. Important when using longer focal lengths where camera shake is more prominant.
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You don’t need anything other than your camera to photograph snowdrops, however if you do want to invest in gear then the following accessories are a good starting point without spending a fortune. You may also find this post of interest where I share my favourite 5 accessories for landscape photography.
Mini Tripod / Beanbag
Mini tripods and beanbags allow you to get much lower to the ground than a regular tripod. The additional stability will help to eliminate camera shake and will also allow the use of slower shutter speeds in low light or dimly lit locations. I’ve tried several mini tripods over the years and found this one to be the best.
More often than not I find leaves and petals are unbelievably shiny which can be distracting. Using a polarising filter will help to reduce glare, make the colour of the leaves pop with increased vibrancy. Polarising filters come in a range of sizes and there are plenty of options for regular lenses as well as mobile phones.
Reflectors are possibly the number 1 of accessories when shooting flowers. A reflector will bounce back fill light into the shadows and dark areas of an image. You can make a very cheap yet effective reflector from a piece of stiff card covered with silver foil. Alternatively if you prefer to buy something more substantial this pocket size popup reflector is an excellent choice.
And on that note I am going to wrap up. I hope you have enjoyed reading and found this post of interest. Feel free to leave a comment below with some feedback. If you are not already signed up to my blog pop your email address in the form below and I’ll send you a short message next time I publish a post.
Until next time, Ciao for now….
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