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  • Chris Nowell

Spring time

Bluebell woodland
Bluebell woodland

This year spring is looking fantastic, from the first yellow colours out in the rapeseed fields. To the woodland becoming covered in a carpet of blue from those strong scented bluebells Plus that wonderful sound of the morning chorus echoing across the land we are very much in a special spring.

Macro bluebells

Over the last few years or more specifically just before the pandemic was kicking off the weather forecast or rain fall wasn't very kind for the spring flowers. The bluebells and wild garlic were still flowering as always but it wasn't the carpet of blue the landscape photographer was looking for. We are never really guaranteed the perfect conditions the best light or decent rainfall but whatever it is that these flowers need they received this year and you can see that just perfectly in the flowers across the landscapes this Year.

So let's look at the imagery I have captured over this spring season. There is no denying that out of all of the seasons autumn is my absolute favourite. I get excited with the ever changing colours the misty mornings and the leaves falling out of the trees, but at the same time spring brings new excitement new growth new colours new smells ,therefore spring is new it's exciting it's pleasant it's gentle it is plain and simple fresh.

The rapeseed fields

Now I appreciate that the first colours of the year actually come from snowdrops crocus or other flowers such as this. However I am not a macro style landscape photographer I do not get much enjoyment out of those nice blurred out images nicely zoomed in to a gentle flower. For me I prefer a bigger open landscape view to photograph. So my first sign of excitement actually comes in those country fields those first yellow shoots of rape seed Ping over the countryside. I am also very fortunate as to where I live is a good rural Derbyshire area surrounded by country fields. I do not need to walk very far to have the countryside all to myself.

This area in particular is called Barlow Lees common in between Dronfield and Chesterfield. Barlow is a very pleasant drive through kind of town on your way to Chesterfield however for me it is a pleasant area to go for a quiet walk and hopefully capture a few little pleasant images. At the same time however this location in particular in the photo below has always been somewhat of a torment of mine.

Yellow rapeseed field

Just before the pandemic was kicking off a friend and I would often walk around these fields at a very quick pace for some training and exercise. On a number of occasions we would enjoy a quick glimpse at looking at this area in particular with the river down at the bottom producing lovely misty mornings. Put myself in this location however with my tripod and camera and the perfect elements never seem to appear. That being said however it's a nice location nice and quiet and the rapeseed this year was looking very bright indeed.

Next was the trees and the new growth. It seemed to take a long time for new shoots to appear in the Woodlands and I think this was down to the dry spell followed by the much-needed rain. Although it continues to be quite dry this year and I could see this clearly in the cracks in the garden in some exposed areas. However once I started to notice those new shoots of trees appearing I was quite excited so I needed to get out with the camera. After all as landscape photographers we are always looking for new compositions.

Silver birch trees on a misty morning
Silverbirch trees on a mist Silver birch trees

I'm looking forward to going back to this location soon in fact as I visited again not that long ago and there was new growth as mentioned and green everywhere. Plus there is an abundance of Heather across the mall and meaning this area could be very colourful indeed towards the back end of August.

However more recently over the last few weeks I have been looking for those bluebells. It's a fantastic time of year to see new bright green foliage everywhere across the Woodlands. Plus with that amazing scent of bluebells and wild garlic with a sensory overload for that I must say spring it's up there as one of my favourite seasons. So again I needed to think about visiting locations I had already photographed but as a landscape photographer we always need to look for new locations we are never finished in this game.

Gentle woodland walk
Gentle woodland walk

I visited a number of local Woodlands as I started to get excited with the abundance of bluebells this year. In fact I would say this is one of the best years I've ever noticed but perhaps that is because as a landscape photographer you see it more when you're looking for it the average person perhaps doesn't notice the light beaming through the trees or the interesting photograph something different on the floor. I am quite lucky where I live to have a number of small Woodlands to enjoy and pretty much have the whole place to myself. Of course I would prefer a huge woodland which would take me a full day to explore but for the purpose of a quick trip in the morning to photograph some local Woodlands I am lucky to have some good locations on my doorstep.

My local Patch

In the end after much location scouting and many hours out just myself and the dog I narrowed it down to 2 locations to photograph. Both in the Dronfield area and both of them pretty much in walking distance although on one of them I did have a friend come along with me.

Frith Wood Dronfield

This location is a very pleasant woodland indeed. It is home to all obvious types of woodland wildlife birds badges squirrels just to name a few, it it has it all. It is a popular location for the dog walker the person trying to get out and enjoy some countryside walking all that friendly group of people meeting up for a walk. Again it is surrounded by countryside at one end and Dronfield at the other end meaning there are roots to go further a field if you wanted a really long walk. But if you just want a quick walk or trip to take some photographs then it works perfectly and I did this straight from the school run one morning and spent some time waiting for the light.

Frith wood Dronfield
Frith Wood Bluebells

On the occasion I visited this woodland it definitely wasn't the best conditions I could've asked for but at the same time it was good enough and to that end it was a good start for photographing this year's bluebells.

If I could get all the elements I would wish it would be things like a gentle amount of missed in the woodland zero wind and a bit more light casting shadows through the trees but this doesn't happen very often so to that end we make the most of what we get as landscape Photographers and we enjoy just being out with the camera.

Stubbing Wood

At this woodland again quite local I spent quite a bit more time in fact I had three trips to this location and probably had two days of decent light the first day wasn't great so I put that down to my first trip just to do a bit of location scouting. When you are not lucky with the light and the cloud cover is just so thick these occasions can be perfect for location scouting and looking for new compositions basically there's always something to keep yourself busy as a landscape photographer.

Therefore after my second trip here and confirming I am happy with the compositions I had already spent a few hours searching for it was only a few days later that I was ready to set off with the camera once more back to this local woodland in the area of the travellers rest pub in Apperknole.

The bluebells this year at this woodland were probably the best I've ever seen it in this location. Each year I come to this location and sometimes walking away without an image however this year I was very happy indeed.

On the two occasions I was here taking photos I only walked away with one image on the first morning which was this blue pathway in the morning shadows in the image below.

stubbing wood with gentle morning shadows
Stubbing Wood at Dawn

I very much enjoyed photographing the gentle soft Bluetones and some soft morning light wrapping itself around the shadowy beach trees. The dark pathway leading uphill is not something I normally photograph but for this occasion it definitely works. I wish the sound was available in photography because the morning chorus was very pleasant to enjoy. I heard two occasions of buzzards soaring over our heads. The continuous sound of sparrows and blackbirds Robbins and many many more. For my first trip to this location after my scouting mission I was very much impressed with the conditions and could not wait to return in a few days when we had the light once more.

Stubbing Woods

Because I had already explored the woodland and confirmed my compositions the moment I had this special light on my last occasion here I knew exactly where I wanted to go make my way over the bridge and head to my two compositions ready to photograph my two favourite images.

Stroll over a woodland bridge
walking to the top of the wood

There's no denying that I wish there was a little bit more rain over the last few days of photographing this image. It would've made the rivers and streams look a bit more magical and we could've even had the fog which makes any woodland or tree area look fantastic. The low clarity of a woodland with the fog is a absolute gem to photograph. That's not to say I'm not happy with these images because they are very special and quite nice but fog is just a gift in a forest.

Returning to the final two compositions at this woodland I had one downside in that the first image was a bit difficult to capture due to the increase in Wind speed. Unfortunately there was just a bit of movement in the trees which I could've played around with and tried to improve with the camera but in the end I quite like the motion. And finally the last image was another special shot with a fallen down tree and a pathway leading you to nowhere.

Exploring through the woods

fallen tree

Eckington Woods

My next adventure saw me visiting this local woodland with two friends. I tried to time it correctly as last year I know we arrived here very early and in fact it was too early as we had to wait for nearly an hour for the light to appear over the hillside. On reflection it still took a long time and in fact I could've done with another extra half an hour but that wasn't possible so I had to make do with what we had.

This place is good because the rivers never really go dry. We did not really get the mist I had hoped in fact I can't remember the last time I had really good morning mist but it was okay because the aim for this location was to photograph the wild garlic. The wild garlic is always ready to shoot about a week or two after the best of the bluebells. Therefore it was fair to say it was time to crack on with these images and get those boots smelling.

Wild garlic
Wild garlic

I really enjoyed photographing the above composition. The light was slowly trickling down the trees also with the reflection on the water at this bend to the river it had a lot of good elements to photograph. We had two dog walkers as I remember who engaged with a friendly good morning but apart from that we had the whole place to ourselves. Which just really helps the calm and relaxing chain of thought for landscape photography. It's just really good to have no distractions for the step-by-step process of taking a photograph.

Wild garlic
Wild garlic

I walked a little bit further up the hill but to be honest the best of the garlic was in the same sort of area which made it a bit easier just to quickly grab some images so overall I am not too disappointed. Nice to get a few images of the wild garlic somewhere different as this has been on my planned list for about a year. But at the same time I am aware that there are better areas to photograph for the world garlic there are huge Woodlands to photograph but at the moment just to stay local and just for a quick trip out I was happy enough with these images.


To finish up I would love to remind you all that the Dronfield hall barn photography competition is now live.

Themed hope when you rebirth in nature, this is available with three age categories with each age category receiving a £50 discount code at Vanguard photo UK plus a film camera and film from Harrison's cameras Sheffield.
For full details click on the Glass ball photo below. There's no better time to get inspired and get out with your camera with a great reason why.

Plus you can now book your place for one of the two workshops also with the Dronfield Hall Barn. The first workshop is aimed to photograph the best of the heather and wonderful Woodlands in the area of Padley Gorge and millstone edge. With the second being in the same sort of area however aimed at those autumnal colours and the surrounding landscapes. You can book your place now for a full day of landscape photography with me and one of instructor and full details can be found in the two images below.

Landscape photography workshop

Landscape photography workshop

kase filters uk

Vanguard photo UK

Thank you

Chris Nowell photography

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