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  • Chris Nowell

The first signs of spring

Both spring and autumn are highly exciting for all photographers especially landscape and nature photographers. With spring now just around the corner those dark days are soon behind us. The garden birds are busy making nests as well as singing loudly in the mornings to attract the right mate. As the days continue to become earlier in the mornings the local farmers continue the harvesting of new growth. With this the first signs of spring bulbs are now pushing their way out of the ground starting with the snowdrops. Followed shortly by the colourful crocus daffodils and much more. Then excitingly comes my woodland favourite the bluebells of which I really cannot wait. ]

However let's go back a few steps and discuss the snowdrops and a few tips to help you capture these gentle little flowers.

When possible I always highly recommend the use of a tripod or similar items for stabilisation and the ability to step back and create the scene. If this is not possible however you can be creative with other items such as beanbags books anything really that's going to give you the right height level or composition ability for your photograph.

The use of sidelight is very helpful when photographing flowers. If it is directly into the Sun or light source you are possibly going to have issues with lens flare or exposure difficulties. Backlit is doable however can sometimes produce shadows in the wrong place therefore I highly recommend sidelight casting gently over the flowers for the best images. What I mean by this is positioning your tripod or self to the left or right of the Sun position will cast perfect shadows across your flower or object.

This works very well when photographing large clusters of flowers or individual stems that is up to the photographer or artist. Other ways of producing light can include a flash gun although this can be very difficult when photographing flowers outside. A standing light source on a tripod is a great source of light and you can also use more than one if needed and again

that works very well indoors or out. Individual or group reflectors both soft or warm light are also a fantastic way of boosting the clarity on the flower. Finally if you wanted to keep the cost down you could be creative with tinfoil or make your own lightbox using a number of pieces of white paper followed by the torch on a smart phone as the source of light.

Depth of field

Adjusting the F stop on your camera can allow for a nice shallow depth of field creating a more sharp image where needed. This is helpful to blur the background and keep the main object in the focus. Alternatively shooting in a high F stop useful for landscape photography can keep as much detail in focus as possible.

A quick example of this can be seen in the photograph above. The bottom image was shot using F4 to create a slightly more blurred photograph where needed. With the top image being shot in F 13 just two show the difference this can make for your photograph. After this your desired Shutterspeed and and further settings need to be adjusted to create the best photograph this is just a quick example.

A very good idea for photographing snowdrops bluebells or any wildflower in the morning. Is to look for water droplets on the flowers. Alternatively it's always a good idea to have a small spray bottle on you if you know you are going to photograph this sort of activity that way you can give it a gentle spray and produce that water droplet effect.

There are a number of good locations to photograph snowdrops across Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park. Have a look around your own garden or ask your friends however here are a few locations to help you on your way.

Hopton hall just outside Matlock is open from the 1st of February this also offers a Great snowdrop walk for you to enjoy.

Hardwick Hall. I would advise checking out if this place is open but it's another great location for photographing snowdrops.

Calke Abby can offer a gentle walk around the location and neighbouring fields with free access for you to photograph snowdrops.

There are many more other locations across the Peak District National Park however if you check out on Derbyshire life online or let's go Peak District National Park for example you could also find other locations to see these gentle little spring bulbs. Check out the link below in the image to find that information out yourself.

To finish off let's look at a bit of colour for inspiration in the form of those wonderful crocus and bluebells.

In a few weeks there was green stems pushing their way out of my garden will fill the ground with colour. With that brings back the arrival of the honey and bumblebees of which I cannot wait to see them once more. Plus to go with the fact I have extended our wildflower meadow to twice its size they're going to have a lot of pollinating to complete. With it all working together the insects the plants and the birds one perfect way of life.

Then comes one of my absolute favourite times of year that of the bluebells. Filling the woodland floor with bright colours and gentle aromas pollen the bluebells are one of my absolute favourites to photograph although I've never really achieved anything award-winning perhaps this will be the year for me.

Overall I believe my absolute favourite is those rich autumnal colours however there's nothing like the sound of the morning chorus. Followed by shards of light wrapping themselves around the thick trees in a quiet local woodland. For me the light in the morning is much more gentle and there's nothing better then composing a peaceful photograph in your local wood.

The snowdrops are most probably at the best now to that end I encourage you all to get out with the cameras easels whatever you want using and create something special at your next available moment. After this it won't be long till those colours change from white to blue to purple then yellow and many other colours throughout the flowering year. Photography painting whatever form of art it is or just being out enjoying the great outdoors have a great weekend and stay safe

Chris Nowell photography

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