English Bluebell Woodland

The National Trust had predicted a brief and limited display of bluebells this spring, owing to an extremely dry winter. My mother, a keen gardener, was among the first to dismiss this suggestion, followed by a number of Brighton-based photographers. It would seem that this year's bluebells are simply a trifle tardy in their arrival.

Nate Wood is on the southern flank of a 360 hectare woodland near Polegate in East Sussex. I was fortunate enough to visit this location during a cool and unsettled Sunday evening, which meant that the indigenous crepuscular and nocturnal animals could begin feeding an hour early. Indeed, the absence of people led to a sighting of Roe deer in neighbouring Abbots Wood. I observed three of these beautiful, petite mammals running through the woods; their winter coats replaced by a lightweight reddish-brown coat of summer.

Photographing bluebells is harder than you think. The best approach is to use a moderately long telephoto lens, shooting from a low angle to compress the carpet of bluebells. I find a wide aperture provides a smooth background and allows the viewer to focus on the primary visual elements. Lighting is provided by the early morning or late evening sun, for warm, soft textures and vivid colours. The use of a tripod, remote trigger and ISO 100 is essential for maximum image quality. My success rate in starling and deer photography is far higher than it is with bluebells. These delightful woodland flowers are easy to photograph, but difficult to photograph well. Obtaining an image matching the standard seen below is double-edged sword. Although this photograph has been lavished with praise on Flickr, people come to expect such a high standard all the time and the work required in order to maintain or exceed those standards results in long periods spent in a horizontal position.

English Bluebell Wood

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