Bluebell Scouting

At this time of year, I quite often head out into the Surrey Hills in search of bluebell woods that I haven’t been to before. When I’m there, I try to find compositions that I think will work well when the bluebells are flowering.

This usually means a very slow walk, being careful to avoid trampling the flowers, and always looking around to spot vistas as they open up to my line of sight. I’ll be on the lookout for wide views, long views through the trees suitable for the compressed perspective of a telephoto lens, close-up details for macro shots and always careful to check the background. I’ll also be looking for where the sun will be to find optimal lighting, but with a large bluebell wood you can often find angles at any time of day, so this only applies if I find a particularly good viewpoint.

I also take a few sample shots, mentally imagining the green of the bluebell leaves magically turning to the blue of the flowers yet to bloom. Some of these translate into decent final images but quite a few don’t – either the lighting fails me or the flowers are spread too thinly when I return.

I do two things to help me pinpoint a certain location that I want to return to which might be difficult to find next time. I record my walking route using the Viewranger app and take a photo with my phone so the GPS coordinates will be logged and added to my route. You can see an example of this here where I have three images plotted.

On my latest trip, I quickly tried some freelensing – detaching the lens from the camera body and angling it slightly. This moves the plane of focus so it is no longer parallel to the sensor, which can give interesting results. It can also allow light leakage giving intentional flare in the right conditions. Would you be able to tell which image below used this technique if I hadn’t noted it?

Here are a few test shots that I will try again in a few weeks, including my first sighting of a wild flowering bluebell this year:

(click any image above to view in a gallery with EXIF data, aperture not recorded due to the use of an older lens)

All images were made handheld with the Fujifilm X-T1, and an old Pentax K mount 50mm f/1.7 lens I bought around 1978! I use a fairly cheap adapter from K&F Concept to mount this on my Fuji camera.


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1 thought on “Bluebell Scouting

  1. Pingback: Bluebell Retrospective | 47 Photography by Martin Griffett

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