bluebell magic

by julie posted May 12, 2014

Some things just keep you coming back year after year, like blossom, or autumn leaves.

It’s torture, spotting that tantalising blue shimmer so often from the back of the bike where I can do nothing but take a mental snapshot as we whizz past, daydreaming of the time when I would get to spend as long as I want shooting their perfect little nodding heads with those whimsical curling petals, before they disappear again until next spring. I’ve struggled to shoot bluebells before and tried to let go of that preconceived vision of the photo that sums up everything that’s magical about a forest covered in them, so I couldn’t resist having another go when we visited the woods at Ballinspittle yesterday.

I don’t think I’ve seen them en masse like this before, at least not outside the botanic gardens. I had brought the 50mm 1.4 which I tend to use 90% of the time but I ended up not switching from the 100mm macro at all, which is kind of the opposite of the typical bluebell forest shots you see taken with extra wide lenses but if I had attempted to recreate one of those, it wouldn’t have felt like mine at all.

So instead I tried to use the flattening effect of the longer length to emphasise these little winding paths that led into the forest. Unfortunately (or should I say ‘uncomfortably’) the best viewpoint is as close to the ground as possible and unlike Ryan I don’t have a camera with a fancy flip out viewfinder so I spent a lot of time crouching and squinting and attempting to get that sliver of focus in *just* the right place.

When you see that abundance of colour it’s difficult to decide how to attack. I tried the ‘fill the frame with as much as possible’ approach:

There was another version at f8 but I just can’t seem to embrace the overload of detail in those so I defaulted back to a shallow depth of field.

I feel like the first real lesson I learned in taking photography beyond those awkward “what am I supposed to be looking at in this random photo full of stuff” shots that we all (mostly) begin by taking was to divide and conquer. Choose the star of the frame and cut out, blur out or otherwise eradicate any distractions.

Step 1: find the most bluebell-ish bluebell to represent the absolute bluebell-est atmosphere you can imagine.

The natural background of the green stems and other ferny stuff in the background is nice to help show off your chosen superstar bluebell.

But I also quite liked the ERMEGHERD BLERHBELL nature of this one with the nearly solid colour in the background. Maybe a slightly more delicate balance of the two?

I think I’ve possibly taken this actual photo every single time I’ve shot these things. I’m not going to fight it.

As lovely as they are it was also beautiful to see the fresh green ferns.

Together, they are probably the epitome of foresty magic.

It’s probably what I’d think of if you asked me about my ‘happy place’.

I ripped through 8gb of memory cards faster than I would even at a wedding and I could keep posting until you’d get sick of scrolling, so you should be thankful they are edited down to my favourites.

If you have a forest nearby it’s definitely worth heading out in search of a bit of bluebell magic for yourself, because as nice as the photos might be, it’s the act of photographing them that makes you appreciate them most.


6 Responses to bluebell magic

  1. I was totally just about to write ERMEGHERD BLEWBEL, but you beat me to it.

    Those first two pictures are insane. They look like they don’t even exist in the real world. I would so love to frolic there in an Arwen dress.

    • I was trying to write all grown up and everything but… nah.

      Must resist putting on my wedding dress and heading back out there… it’s kinda the same colour :o

  2. These are absolutely lovely! I love how you talked about your process and why you switched to a particular aperture and such. I, too, went to a park this weekend, and I tried to take some photos of the trees and the like. I’m not sure if I captured it exactly as I saw it, but I would love to go back and try again. :) Thank you for such your beautiful photos!

  3. I love this! So beautiful. Totally agree that they’re the epitome of foresty magic.

  4. Ahrg, I’d just like to go there right now! Truly so beautiful!

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