Bluebell photography tips, hints and inspiration
April and May are always incredibly busy months for child and family photographers because of the emergence of the bluebells. Last week I ran a bluebells workshop for professional photographers and we photographed a number of families and children together working on our light, composition and editing. I thought it would be a good time to share some of my top tips for delivering a great set of bluebell images for your clients.
I also wanted to take an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic images which I have seen from other professional photographers for inspiration – enjoy!
How to find your nearest bluebell wood
The National Trust has a number of bluebell woods on their land but these are mainly used for visiting families and not for professional family shoots. Therefore I would begin by scouting for smaller local woods close to the well known larger woods, as bluebells tend to migrate across areas. A starting point is to visit the National Trusts bluebell page which lists bluebell woods all over the country. Top bluebell woods in Hertfordshire include Ashridge and Heartwood.
Choose the time of day you photograph wisely
Bluebell photography is especially tricky as these flowers tend to grow where the light is dappled. Also at this time of year the trees are quite bare so you can often be faced with very bright patches of light which can create unevenly lit images. Ideally you want to photograph very early in the morning, or late into the evening when the sun is lower. If this isn’t possible then shooting when it is cloudy can actually be a positive. You can see from the examples below how different an image can feel depending on which time of day it was taken.
Consider your perspective
Editing challenges specific to bluebell photography
- Strong blocks of dark colours in the background from tree trunks. I try my best to remove these from shot by changing my position but if this isn’t possible I will often use a gradient map in photoshop to reduce the contrast (see tutorial here).
- Green colour casts. With my family often sitting on the ground you can get a lot of green bouncing onto their skin, especially in the shadows. To remove these I will use a magenta photo filter painted over the affected areas.
Styling your family – what to wear
Clothing choice is very important when shooting in the bluebells. Your base colour pallete in all your images is going to be quite an acidic green and a very vibrant purple/ blue. Ideally your clothing needs to fit with this colour scheme and I tend to use neutral tones such as cream, grey, light pink etc. One excellent tool for generating colour palettes is coolors. Here I locked in a typical bluebell palette and then all you do is press the space bar to generate complimentary colour palettes.
Protecting bluebells for future generations
Our bluebells are a protected species so paying attention to where you sit your subjects is very important. Look for patches/areas that have no bluebells or use pathways. If you shoot from very low down it is easy to make a path disappear in camera. Alternatively you can use the pathways to create some lovely leading lines to your family. As small children are often tempted to pick the bluebells one great tip from Deborah Longmore Photography is you can order a bunch of artificial bluebells from Amazon or Ebay.
Bluebell photography inspiration; a UK photography collective
3 minutes of inspiration from photographers from all over the UK.
From light and bright newborn and baby images, colourful child photography full of laughter, to beautifully edited fine art children’s portraiture, this video illustrates how different photographers can create such varied images from a similar background.
To see the individual images, and to see details of how these shots were taken see below.
Inspiration corner; bluebell photography from around the UK
Behind the scenes with Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography. A newborn baby in the woods. Says Karen ” We had a heat pad to keep her snug and there was another photographer close by. I used off camera flash to give a little pop of light on the baby. Shot at 1/200 f 3.2 at 190mm ISO 100. Edited in Photoshop give it a dreamy look , sort out the stray bluebells and wonky headband. I was very low down and shot through the leaves to give the misty effect at the front”.
Sarah waited until an hour before sun set to get warm light. In post, she bumped the saturation of the bluebells slightly, lowered highlights on the face and removed a few distractions in the foreground (twigs and brown leaves). Sarah Hart Photography
Photo by Julie Peart. Taken at 6.30pm with 100mm lens on the Canon 6D
VB Photography Taken at 8,30am with a 70-200 lens, 320 ISO, f.2.8, 1/800ss
Captured by Helen Hoffman Photography Taken on a cloudy day, F 3.2, ISO 320, 1/1000ss
Sarah Capon Photography taken just as it began to snow!
Shot by Lisa from Wild Goose Photographics ISO 100 70mm f2.8 1/640 . Taken about 9.30am on 24/04/16 on a sunny day at Everdon Stubbs in Northamptonshire.
Taken by Fiona of Nature Nurture Photography around 5pm on the 70-200 Canon lens.
Taken a chilly day with hail by Little Hat Photography
Estelle Hughes PhotographyEstelle Hughes Photography
Deborah Longmore Photography Taken at 2pm on a very sunny afternoon with minimal shade on the d7000 with a 35mm
Taken by Anna of Anna Backlund Photography this was taken on 13th April 2017 at around 6.30 pm so it was probably a bit too sunny just before the golden hour. She used her Nikon D750 with 70-200 2.8 lens taken at focal length 200mm , ISO 500, shutter 1/1000.
Taken by Rachel Hughes. Camera settings: F-stop f/2.8, Exposure 1/400, Focal length 200mm, ISO 1250. Lens: Nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Body: Nikon D750