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Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Discovering North Yorkshire through Photography and Video

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide. In May, Bluebells and Crimson Clover photography may be on your mind. Bluebells can be seen frequently in North Yorkshire, especially in woodland that makes a scenic backdrop. Farmers grow Crimson Clover as a protein rich food for grazing ruminants such as sheep and cattle. These small red almost strawberry looking flowers make fantastic photography on a bright sunny day. View the video below and the photos here.

Bluebell Photography

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

There are actually several varieties of Bluebell but if you are planting them in your garden, aim for the English Bluebell instead of the Spanish Bluebell as they are a more vigorous plant. In any case, they tend to flower mid-April to late-May. Half of the worlds Bluebells are found in the UK so they are commonplace at this time of year. Interestingly, colonies of Bluebell take around 5-7 years to establish from seeds. When shooting these clusters of flowers, it is illegal to pick them in the UK. Footfall damage can be significant because it can take years for them to recover. In any aspect of landscape photography, it is important to leave a zero footprint and leave everything intact for the next person to enjoy, or even photograph!

Bluebells like soil that is moist yet well drained. They grow to around 30cm or 12 inches if you prefer. They are commonly found in wooded areas in Scotland, England and the United States. If you are desirous of planting some in your garden, it is important to plant the bulbs 2 inches in the ground before the first frost, and they should be planted 12 inches apart from each other. Just think of it as horticultural social distancing.

Calling the Bluebell Photography Shots

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

You may be wondering why I have got up so early to take photos of a subject that is going to be available any time of day. Well, there is a couple of reasons. Firstly, early morning you can sometimes find a mist which can add drama to your images. Sadly, there wasn’t much in the way of mist to get attain any creative woodland scenes. Also, we are in week seven of the Coronavirus Lockdown, and during the day it can get busy with local dog walkers achieving their daily exercise. Just think of this as human social distancing.

Early Morning Moon and a Sunrise

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Photographs of the Moon

On my short stroll to the Bluebelled wooded area, I noticed the large sinking white moon in the distance. Unfortunately, some cables were in the way which would spoil any photo taken. Still, when you encounter an opportunity to include the moon in a scene, use a long lens and a tripod. A wide angled lens would just return a pinhole of a moon. If you are using a 100 ISO then set your shutter speed to 1/125 second. If you are using a 200 ISO then use 1/250 second. You will also need to use a f-stop of around f11. Yes, this means you will have to use the fully manual setting on the dial normally indicated by an M. You may think because it is dark, that you require a longer shutter duration. Remember however, that the surroundings may be dark, but the moon is not. Therefore, use a faster shutter speed. We’ll go into this in more detail in a future vlog.

I took this photograph of the large full moon I witnessed. However, notice how the lines of the cables spoil the shot entirely. This of course hinders what would have been a perfectly good photo.
I took this photograph of the large full moon I witnessed. However, notice how the lines of the cables spoil the shot entirely. This of course hinders what would have been a perfectly good photo.

Photographs of the Sunrise

As for the sunrise, this is a different story. For one thing, you might want to set your White Balance to shade in order to add a warmer tint to the image. Still using a tripod, achieve a focus lock by aiming your lens above the sunrise, and with the button still half-way, recompose the shot and then press the button fully to take it. Use an f-stop of around f16, but whatever you do, do not zoom your lens directly into the sun itself.

When taking a shot of a sunrise, use a tripod and a two second timer. Also, set your white balance to Shade to give it a warmer look, and set your aperture to f16 for a sharp image throughout the scene.
When taking a shot of a sunrise, use a tripod and a two second timer. Also, set your white balance to Shade to give it a warmer look, and set your aperture to f16 for a sharp image throughout the scene.

Important Points to Keep in Mind with Bluebell Photography

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Every photographer makes mistakes

This footage was not taken with a low ISO which is why the film is grainy/noisy. This is why you should use an ISO less than 200 early morning and in other low lit senarios. Grain is a term used in film photography whereas noise is a more appropriate term used in digital photography.

In a low-lit environment such as this, having a narrow aperture will automatically increase the shutter duration. Fortunately, it is still this morning so there will less motion blur in the shot. In any case, because the shutter duration is extended this will incur motion blur if handheld which is why you must use a tripod or another stable surface to place the camera.

Photographs of Bluebells in their Colonies

If you are planning to take a shot or two of clusters of Bluebells, then ensure you use a small aperture such as f-16 so that you attain a sharp image throughout. In woodland, and especially at this time of day, you will need a tripod or somewhere steady to place your camera. This is because taking a shot at f-16 in low light will extend the shutter duration, and that lengthy duration will record any handheld motion. You will also need to use either the inbuilt timer or a remote for your camera. This is because when you press the shutter button, the tripod will shake. A two second or so delay will counteract this problem.

The cluster or colony of Bluebells in this scene was taken in a low-lit environment in woodland. Therefore you desperately need to use a tripod and a two second timer. Again, use f16 for a sharp scene throughout.
The cluster or colony of Bluebells in this scene was taken in a low-lit environment in woodland. Therefore you desperately need to use a tripod and a two second timer. Again, use f16 for a sharp scene throughout. Don’t forget to keep your ISO very low!

Photographs of Bluebells Up Close

If you are planning to take a closeup, you can either use a macro lens or simply just zooming in with a long lens will suffice. This will blur the background creating a shallow depth of field. Of course, you can set your aperture value to a wide setting using the lower f-stop numbers. This reduces the focus area in your shot and will blur the background behind your subject. Regardless if you are taking a close up or a broader scene, it is recommended to get quite low so that you are not looking down on the Bluebells, but rather across them.

Low-lit Scenes and ISO

Another vital point to remember in low lit situations, is to set your ISO to 100-200. This will reduce noise in your digital image. Remember, that the ISO regulates the sensitivity of your cameras sensor, and if set too high, the signal becomes distorted and will reflect in your image.

Bluebells and Composition

As far as composition is concerned, simplicity is often the best way forward. Too many distracting elements in your shot will more often than not result in horrendous composition. It is similar with audio, if you have too many people talking at you at the same time, you can’t make sense of it. Too many elements on the image and the brain will find it difficult to comprehend and attention is lost. The best method is to find something in the foreground that gently leads the eye up to your subject. This also turns a flat 2 dimensional digital photograph into something more 3D, creating infinity in your shot. It is also a good idea to ask yourself “how can I make this more interesting?” at the time of composing. Composing a shot is not just about getting elements in the correct place artistically, but it is also a means of storytelling. It is that element to photography that holds peoples attention. Aim for the wow factor!

Bluebells and White Balance

If you are shooting in RAW format, which is strongly recommended, you can manipulate white balance in the editing software. However, it is best to unshackle yourself from photographic laziness and get it correct at the time of shooting. It is so easy to simply use auto white balance, but as mentioned, with a sunrise you can set it to shade in order to give the shot more warmth. Daylight setting renders a more bluer image. Remember that white balance is about temperature, so consider the colours you are hoping to bring out in your shot.

As Far as Crimson Clover Goes

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

At midday on the same day, I took my friend and business partner Alfie with me to take some shots of a local field containing Crimson Clover. Yes, I agree, this is somewhat hypocritical of me as I said I would never take Alfie with me owing to his photobombing. However, it is important to give your dog plenty of exercise so I’ve allowed the studio mascot to come with me on this occasion. In addition, as I was out of bed very early this morning, I needed someone to nudge me out of a midday siesta.

Noontime can be a little difficult on occasion because you can have too much light which causes prominent shadows. Woodland is often difficult at this time because of the contrasting light, the skies are rendered a big white glow and yet amongst the trees it can be very dark. However, this didn’t apply so much today, yet the breeze had picked up considerably.

Crimson Clover

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Crimson Clover is found predominantly in Europe, yet it has recently been introduced in the US and Japan. You may wonder why a farmer would go to the trouble of growing Crimson Clover in an entire field. Well, in actual fact, Crimson Clover is very protein rich and is used to feed grazing ruminants such as sheep and cattle. However, it also grows naturally too. They also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and magnesium.

I find that the flowers look similar to upside down strawberries, or at least from a distance. Crimson Clover is not very tall which makes photography slightly more tricky as you have to find the correct height. The flowerhead is also small so it can be difficult to receive a focus lock, especially when they are swaying to and throw in the wind. It comes as no surprise to find a field full of them here as last year another protein rich bean specifically for livestock was grown in the next field along.

Important Points to Keep in Mind When Shooting Crimson Clover

Bluebells and Crimson Clover Photography Video How to Guide

Not so Many Requirements

As we are shooting in brilliant sunlight, we don’t really need to have a tripod. As there is plenty of light, we can achieve a fast shutter speed even using an f16 aperture value which is relatively narrow. However, although we do not have light to worry about, as the wind had picked up, the flowers were swaying rapidly. Therefore, in such cases, you may find that you need to set your camera on shutter priority. This is so you can freeze frame the flowerhead as it is swaying by choosing a super fast shutter speed or say 1/1000 sec for example. Otherwise you could be left with something like this.

What is the issue with this shot? Well, because a super fast shutter speed was not employed, the camera has picked up motion blur from the swaying flowerhead.
What is the issue with this shot? Well, because a super fast shutter speed was not employed, the camera has picked up motion blur from the swaying flowerhead.

I tried to keep the f16 f-stop and quickly took a shot when the wind had abated. Admittedly, it was 50/50. If you did decide to use a super fast shutter, then don’t forget you might have to boost your camera’s ISO to compensate. What you set it to depends on how bright it is, but don’t go too high as it will return noise. Also, every camera is different in quality, so what might work on one camera may not necessarily work on another.

This shot of a Crimson Clover flowerhead is much improved after waiting for wind to abate. However, you can still detect a slight motion blur in the shot if you look very closely.
This shot of a Crimson Clover flowerhead is much improved after waiting for wind to abate. However, you can still detect a slight motion blur in the shot if you look very closely.

Crimson Composition

As we have a field full of Crimson Clover, it gives us many variations of composition. For example, you could choose to take an abstract portion from the field and fill your screen with Crimson Clover’s. You can also search for another element and combine it with the Crimson Clover beside or in front of it such as this large tree.

If you are taking a close up shot, it’s not good to use the bullseye composition and have the subject smack in the middle of the scene. Try moving your subject to the left or right depending on which direction the flower is leaning. Also, extend your lens right out to achieve a blurred background and a sharp subject. You can also adjust the aperture wider to narrow the focus area and blurring the background behind the subject.

A little further along I noticed a farm in the distance. The way they have been sown has left lines or stripes leading towards the farm. Therefore you could use the rows of Crimson Clover as a means of leading the eye up to the farm in the distance. On the opposite side of the path through the field, I noticed some trees with varying colours in the distance. Again, I could use these leading lines, taking the eyes for a journey to the trees on the horizon.

You can take advantage of the rows of Crimson Clover and allow the lines to lead the eye towards the farm on the horizon, ensuring that the farm is not directly in the centre of the image.
You can take advantage of the rows of Crimson Clover and allow the lines to lead the eye towards the farm on the horizon, ensuring that the farm is not directly in the centre of the image.

Now we have taken some shots today, it’s time to develop them in our digital lab!

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