In English, Happy St. David’s Day!
Being Welsh, I thought I would mark St. David’s Day with an image of a daffodil, the national flower of Wales. After all, I can still remember having a daffodil pinned to my jumper before heading off to school in the 1960s!
I didn’t want just any type of image though, I wanted to try a technique I’ve known about for a long time but never managed to get around to using before – creating a black background without actually using a physical background.
This technique uses nothing more than the absence of light. It’s quite simple really, once you understand the principle. You don’t need a studio or any fancy lighting gear (I certainly don’t have any), just a flash that you can fire off-camera.
This week I paid a visit to the RHS gardens at Wisley in Surrey, where up to 6000 butterflies will be flying around inside the glasshouse. Officially opening on Saturday 14th January, I went a few days early after a tip from a fellow camera club member that they would be in place before the opening and hopefully not so busy. It certainly was fairly quiet and they may not have had all 6000 in flight, as I imagine most are still to be released into the glasshouse, but there were enough to provide a challenge at photographing them!
A change of perspective can often improve your results when out shooting, as discussed by Scott Bourne in his blog post I read recently, and most photographers are well aware of this. In my case, the change in perspective isn’t to do with moving my feet, or lying down or even selecting a different lens. It’s being unable to get out as much as I normally would due to a bad back. It’s not horrendous so I shouldn’t grumble, it’s just frustrating. When I think back to spring last year, I was out 2-3 times a week in search of bluebells.
The garden in question belongs to my friends who live near Vinhedo, which is about 50 miles (80 km) outside of São Paulo. They have a truly wonderful house and garden and this is the first time I have visited.
If there is one thing I have learned since starting in photography it’s this – the background is more important than the subject.
This was the first time I’ve attempted to photograph snowdrops. Nursing a bad back, I haven’t managed to do much photography lately, but this morning I headed out with just my Fuji X-T1 and a 60mm macro lens so I could travel light.
I’d seen some snowdrops in Richmond Park previously and I was lucky with the light. Although mid-morning by the time I arrived and the winter sun bright in the sky, these snowdrops were in partial shade with dappled light coming through overhead trees.
As well as heading into the Surrey Downs this spring, I also ventured down to Hampshire in search of decent bluebell locations.
I’d heard that Micheldever Wood was a lovely spot for bluebell photography, with some large areas where bluebells carpeted the woodland floor. A tip from Richard Thomas on Twitter gave me suggestions for the best parts of the wood to visit, as it covers quite a large area.
I went on a couple of scouting visits before the bluebells had peaked to get an idea of what the place was like and how far I’d need to walk. On the second visit, I took a bike to get around easier!
Seems like all I’m doing lately is photographing bluebells, but I suppose it is the season for it.
This year I decided to travel further than my back garden in search of bluebells. Internet research showed a couple of promising locations in Surrey within about 45 minutes drive from home.
So I started exploring in late March and weekly thereafter to check on progress. Places such as Ranmore Common, White Down, Leith Hill and Hatchlands Park.