Capturing in full bloom – some tips for spring photography

With the sun beginning to make more of a regular appearance, and with trees and flowers beginning to bloom, it’s a sign that winter is once again behind us.

For photographers, any season presents its own wonders waiting to be captured. At springtime especially, however, there’s so much light and life beginning to show following the cold and rather unforgiving elements of the winter months.

It feels as though it was only yesterday we were writing about photography tips for autumn and winter, which is evidence enough of the ephemerality of the seasons.

They come and go so very quickly, so grab your camera and make the most of spring while it’s still here!

 

First thing’s first: think spring, think flowers

Make budding blossoms and daring daffodils the focus of your shots. There is plenty to choose from this time of year so experiment with different locations featuring different colours and types of flowers.

Fields and other mature woodlands offer the perfect subject matter as they are usually exploding with colour. Bluebells often litter our landscapes during springtime, so use these to fill the foreground of your shots.

Get up close in order to fill the bottom of the frame. Wild flowers and thrifts growing along clifftops and headlands make a stunning foreground feature for coastal shots when used in this way.

Sharpness is key as you want to keep everything in focus, so use a smaller aperture and capture a third of the way into a scene for optimum composition and detail.

Getting in close is not always the best option, however, particularly if you want to get the most out of scenes featuring carpets of flowers. Rather than exaggerating gaps between the flowers, try using a longer lens and standing further back from the scene. This should compress any gaps and make the flowers look dense and neatly packed.

Getting the lowdown

Wildlife also means wild animals.

Mastering the low angle is perhaps one of the most important pointers when shooting animals. The low angle usually captures the animal within its environment and from its own perspective.

This aesthetic is important as it conveys a quality of intimacy with the animal and the habitat that you’ve captured it in.

Longer lenses are key so that you don’t have to get too close to the animal.

The gambol of newborn lambs in a field is the ultimate springtime scene, but try not to attract their attention as this could result in scaring them away, or at least make them aware of your presence. Keeping low and still is vital.

Don’t forget your waterproofs or a blanket – or else be prepared for dirty knees!

Wonderful weather

Quite often during the spring (or at any point in the UK calendar actually), the weather can be highly unpredictable. Mist is very common for this time of year as warm and cold air collide.

Mist can create the most atmospheric of conditions for photography and can offer a divergent perspective against some of the more typical seasonal images associated with this season.

Try and find the edge of the mist so that you can capture the light shining through it. Early low light is diffused by the mist, creating a softer tone to your shots. Set your alarm clock early and be quick – as these conditions only last a short time and occur in the hour before sunrise.

For the best light and the best colour, seek out that ‘golden hour’. Referring to the hour following sunrise and the hour following sunset, these are the points at which the sun is low in the sky and takes on a golden shade.

This can be the perfect lighting conditions to photograph wildflowers, as it is easier to control the highlights and the saturation of your shots.

Living landscapes

British landscapes especially, are at their best during springtime.

Planning your excursions can help you to build up a knowledge and keep track of the best locations for your photography during each season.

Spring flowers are perennial though, which means that you can rely on their return year after year, giving you numerous opportunities to hone your skills. And as they say, practice makes perfect.

Make the most of the footpaths and byways in the countryside to capture views in all their splendour, but don’t be afraid to stray from these and look beyond the hedgerows and embankments for the more unusual perspective.

For spring scenes featuring long lines of trees and hedgerows beginning to burst into colour, remember those leading lines. Ideally the viewer’s eye should be led from the bottom left of the image towards the centre or top right.

Foliage is fresh and often unspoilt during this time of year, so it is sometimes good to focus on how the harsh woodland outlines of winter are softened and rejuvenated by this growth.

Marvellous macros

While landscapes are an important part of any photographer’s portfolio, sometimes getting up close and personal with your subject is equally as rewarding – if not more so.

Macro and telephoto lenses reap the best results for this kind of work, but experimenting with your camera’s focal length can also be rewarding if you use your distance to influence your composition.

When shooting macros of flowers, try standing over or even under it to capture different perspectives. Look out for the more abstract images, such as the details of petals and textures of the leaves. Focusing on certain shapes and patterns of light that fall over different parts of a flower can provide stunning material.

Take care when choosing the composition for your image. Often (but not always) flowers/ plants that are tall and feature interesting stalks will work best when shot vertically, whereas those that are wider benefit from a horizontal frame.

 

Consider some, if not all of these tips when out and about with your camera this spring, and see what visual narratives you can create.

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