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Canon EOS 20D; 70–200 mm, extension tube, 2.8 L USM lens; ISO 100; fl8 at 1/20 second; Bogen tripod

I am looking forward to spring wildflowers this year. With all the winter rain we’ve had, I really hope those gloomy days will translate into a magnificent bloom across the state. I’ve already seen hints of it in Middle Tennessee.

Fortunately, you won’t have to go far to find wildflowers. Tennessee’s 56 state parks and natural areas offer incredible opportunities. Many of the 1,100 miles of trails maintained by our state’s park system will be lined with wildflowers throughout April and May.

Photographing delicate spring blooms like this pink lady’s slipper is a challenge. As a member of the orchid family, this plant has a long stem that moves easily with the gentlest breeze. Movement will result in less-than-sharp images.

Lighting and composition are other considerations. I find the most success just after sunrise when the air is still. Delicate beads of dew that have condensed on blooms, stems and petals overnight will sparkle as the first rays of morning sunlight filter to the forest floor.

As light streams through, you may find a spotlighted bloom against a shaded background. Such an opportunity presented itself to me in Colditz Cove State Natural Area near Allardt. This image uses such lighting conditions to beautifully showcase the structure of this delicate flower.

Take care in your exposure as the dark background may fool your camera into thinking it needs more light, leading to an overexposed flower.

You may want to take knee pads to help you improve your composition by getting down on “eye” level with your subject. Please take care to kneel on the trail and not crush nearby plants.

Take only photographs — leave only footprints!


“Pink Lady’s Slipper” by Robin Conover

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About Author

Robin Conover

Robin Conover has spent the last 23 years documenting the people and places of Tennessee with The Tennessee Magazine. After graduating from Murray State University, Robin began working for magazine in October 1988 as a communications specialist and photojournalist. She now serves as TECA vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. Her interest in preserving the environment and Tennessee’s beautiful natural areas has led her down many miles of trails to capture thousands of images. Robin is currently a board member of the Friends of Radnor Lake, a nonprofit in Nashville. Robin’s images can be seen in greeting cards, calendars, books and at a few fine-art shows she participates in each year.

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