“Dwarf Larkspur” by Robin Conover
Canon EOS 6D, EF 70-200 mm,
2.8 L IS USM lens at 200mm
ISO 200, f5.6 at 1/60 second, Bogen tripod
Spring is one of the best times to roam the Tennessee woods. Monet’s landscapes might even pale in comparison to the palette created by countless wildflowers emerging from the newly awakened soil. The shades of emerging leaves paint the entire landscape with tiny green highlights as the wildflowers on the forest floor add thousands of colorful blooms.
Wildflowers in all shades thrive here in March and April. Capturing the reawakening of nature is always a challenge, but it can be equally rewarding. Changing weather patterns with frequent windy days make early morning the best time to capture delicate wildflowers while they are still. Cool nights often leave dew on the soft petals, adding depth and another level of interest.
Many wildflowers like bloodroot and spring beauties close at night. They open as soon as the early morning sun hits and begins to warm them. This is the opportune time to photograph individual flowers. Any dew will begin to reflect the sun, and pollen may be visible inside the delicate blooms. As the day wears on, these fine details may disappear.
Photographing wildflowers often requires being eye-level at the ground. I sometimes take a gardening knee pad for kneeling. I also take great care not to trample anything just to get a photograph of one individual flower. While it’s tempting to tromp through a patch to get to one perfect specimen, it’s the wrong thing to do. I photograph them all from existing trails or vantage points and leave the least amount of impact possible.
I take a strong lens, possibly an extension tube or a macro lens to get as close as possible. I also usually take a polarizing filter to lessen any glare on the wet leaves. It will cut out some light, but the tradeoff is worth it. Using a tripod is necessary to capture the sharpest images with the most depth of field. It will also slow you down some, forcing you to more carefully compose your image than you might without it.
Whether you capture that perfect image or miss it, don’t forget to just enjoy the simple act of being in nature and experiencing the sights, sounds and taste of spring.