Secrets of a Bluebell Wood

The low, red evening sun reached into the forest, illuminating strips of bluebells in a magenta glow, while monolithic shadows cast by tall, slender beech trees preserved slithers of blue in their wake. I am always a little sad when the bluebells finish. They signify many things: the emergent growing season; lighter evenings; the end of winter and an overall sense of emotional renewal. Completing an entire week of bluebell photography reminds me of being immersed in an absorbing book or film and finding reality disappointing when I've finished.

Bluebells are a deceptively difficult subject and people normally competent in landscape photography, will often be left with disappointing results. The obvious beauty of native Bluebells carpeting a woodland floor leads many photographers to think emotionally, to the detriment of technique, composition and lighting. Cameras are merely pieces of equipment, designed to record subjects in front of the lens. Great subject matter will not automatically lead to great photographs. It is therefore important to look beyond the subject and craft sunlight, shadows and tones into a coherent narrative. I've been in love with forests since childhood. Only during the last few years have I acquired the skills to share that love with others. I always tell my students that while one can learn technique, love of the natural world can never be taught. 

Bluebell Wood

Pheasant & Bluebells


Evening in a Bluebell Wood


Anonymous said…
Hi Alan,

Is there a single post of all blue bell images. I was looking for a single link to show some friends. There is one of Spring 2011, but it has other images besides blue bells as well.

A single blog of Blue bells over the years would be so perfect.

Alan MacKenzie said…
Thank you, Jyoti. I had thought about producing a timeline showing how much my photos of deer, bluebells, butterflies and starlings have improved over the years, but I don't have any plans to show my entire collection of bluebells. It's interesting looking back at photos taken in the past. Some have stood the test of time, while I can see how awful others are.

Some bluebell photos still look great:

But this photo shows how much I've improved:

If you wanted to see all my bluebell photos on one page, you could search through my photostream on Flickr.
Anonymous said…
Hey Alan,

I could do that... But if I had to show someone your images to show what Friston forest floor looks like in full bloom... I'll have to give them multiple links. Which kind of takes away the jaw dropping factor which is there when one sees multiple images on the same page. So had asked. :)


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