Bluebell photography tips, hints and inspiration

Bluebell photography tips, hints and inspiration

bluebells photography
bluebell photography



Bluebell photography hints, tips & 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!


Tip 1: 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.

Tip 2: 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.

Tip 3: Consider your perspective

You can see from the examples that your perspective can really change the overall feel of the shot. If you shoot from low down you can create a beautiful purple blur at the front of your image. If you shoot from a standing position you can have a carpet of bluebells across the entire shot. It is also important to think about the variety of images you offer your client from a bluebell shoot – close up portraits can also work well because of the dark green and purples in the background.

Tip 4: Lens Choice when photographing bluebells

My preference for bluebell photography is a longer focal length as it helps to create separation and reduces contrast from the often bare trees behind.  A longer focal length can also create that more magical feel which works well with the bluebells. I use both my Canon 70-200 2.8L and my 135 2.0L.
photographing in the bluebells

Tip 5: Editing challenges specific to bluebell photography

I have come across two main editing challenges when photographing the bluebells:

1. Strong blocks of dark colours in the background from tree trunks. I try to remove these from the shot by changing my position, but if this isn’t possible, I often use a gradient map in photoshop to reduce the contrast (see tutorial here).

2. 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. I will use a magenta photo filter painted over the affected areas to remove these.

Tip 6: Styling your family – what to wear

Clothing choice is very important when shooting in the bluebells. Your base colour pallette 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 complementary colour palettes.

Tip 7: 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 the 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.


Hemel Hempstead bluebell photography
Bluebell photography colour pallette

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Looking for more inspiration for your bluebell photography?

Take a look at some of the incredible bluebell images from a collective of UK photographers below. I have included images taken in the bright sunlight, at golden hour, of families and pets with details of how they were shot.

KW Photography
KW Photography

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 Hart Photography

This image was taken at 7pm with my daughter in Coronovirus lockdown. We found a very small patch of bluebells right next to our home and this was taken on the Canon 70-200 at 2.8. To see a before and after edit of this bluebell image just scroll to the end of this blog post. 

Sarah Hart Photography
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
Little Bunny Photography
Julie Peart

Photo by Julie Peart. Taken at 6.30pm with 100mm lens on the Canon 6D

Amanda Powell Photography
Vikki Brotherton Photography

VB Photography Taken at 8,30am with a 70-200 lens, 320 ISO, f.2.8, 1/800ss

Sarah Greer Photography
Helel Hoffman Photography

Captured by Helen Hoffman Photography Taken on a cloudy day,  F 3.2, ISO 320, 1/1000ss

Roberta B Photography
Nature Nurture photography
angels with dirty faces photography
But Natural photography
Sarah Capon photography

Sarah Capon Photography taken just as it began to snow!

Sarah Capon photography
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.


Sarah Capon photography
Taken by Fiona of Nature Nurture Photography around 5pm on the 70-200 Canon lens.
Sarah Capon photography
Shot with Sigma 70-200 (at maximum zoom 200) in the afternoon (around 4pm) by Ania
Sarah Capon photography
This image was taken at around 10 am – the sun was already quite high but we managed to mostly avoid the dappled light. Mum and daughter had the sun behind them. The photographer kept strictly on the natural pathways in the forest, but due to the low angle at which they were shot, it appears as if they were sitting and running amongst the bluebells. Shot at 70mm 2.8 on the 70-200. www.umoyaphotography.com
Sarah Capon photography
This was taken at around 10.30 am on 70-200 at 2.8, shutter speed 500 and 800ISO as we had a lot of trees around.Anna Kireeva Photography
Sarah Capon photography

Shot on the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 by Kerry Unwin Photography


Dog in the bluebells

Shot by Nina from 3 boys and me Photography on the Canon 5dmark4 and  70-200 f2.8 at f2.8 1/200 iso 250. The dog was speedy and she was lucky to get this shot, but isn’t he handsome! She used Photoshop to remove his lead



baby in the bluebells

Photographed by Paige Anderson Photography this image was taken on the Nikon D3400 on a 50mm lens in Sumner ponds in barns green West Sussex. It was taken at about 2 pm. Her eyes 😍 

maternity shoot in the bluebells
Shot by Carrie from Devonshire Photographic on Sony A7iii in Guildford in May. Loved this maternity session so much fun 😀📷
dog being photographed in the bluebells
Lili the boxer. Taken in the “bluebell woods” Risca South Wales at 8.30 in the morning on a Fuji XH1 50-140mm at 63mm F2.8, SS250 ISO1600
sisters being photographed in the bluebells
Shot 4pm, waited for cloud cover. Sat the girls on a little box in a clear area and got down low. www.sweetbaby.photography
little boy in the bluebells
Shot at Ditchling Common, East Sussex at approx 4pm. It was a partly sunny day, but finding these bluebells out in the open at least helped eliminate the issue of “hot spots”. I turned my boy away from the sun to avoid squinting and any risk of stark contrast on his face plus shooting this way gave the beautiful back light that plays on his hair. Shot on Nikon D750, 85mm lens at f5, 1/800, ISO 100.
Taken by Laura Douglas Photography this was a maternity photography session in West End Woods in May. My camera settings were f2, ISO 250 and shutter 1/800 with an 85mm lens.
Golden light in the bluebells
Taken by  Joanna Sawers at the start of May around 7:30 pm in the evening this is a wonderful example of how shooting in golden hour can create a lovely ambiance in an image
baby photographed in the bluebells
Taken on Canon 5d mkiii, 35mm lens f/2 ISO 200 1/200 sec at 2pm in May 2022
Bluebells and Butterflies photography
Whispering Willow Photography
Little Hat Photography by Laura

Taken a chilly day with hail by Little Hat Photography

Little bunny photography
Stephanie Chapman Photography
Sally Masson Photography
Estelle Hughes Photography

Estelle Hughes PhotographyEstelle Hughes Photography

Carly Sinden Photography
Claire Connold Photography
Deborah Longmore Phootgraphy

Deborah Longmore Photography  Taken at 2pm on a very sunny afternoon with minimal shade on the d7000 with a 35mm

Amanda Voller Photography
Katie Lister photography
Katie Lister photography
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 Nina from www.3boysandmephotography.co.uk  f1.8, 1/400 ISO 100 on my 50mm 1.4 canon lens (cannon 5diii)
Taken on the 15th April last year at 3 pm in the afternoon


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

” Taken at 6:30 pm, my daughter and I were the only ones in the woods and it was magical! Shot from down low so you can’t see the plastic bag she was sitting on, as it was a little wet underfoot 🙂 “


Taken by Clare Harding Photography around 8am in a very low to hide the paths and bare patches that the girls were stood on.

Taken by Louise Ferguson Photography of her daughter on the Canon 5dMkIV. Her camera settings were ISO – 100, f1.9, 1/100, shot in early April, mid-afternoon in our local woodland. Sussex.

Taken at about 3.30pm in West Sussex, 85mm f/4.5 1/200 ISO 250.  www.brightography.com

Bluebells tend to flower a little later in Scotland and this image was taken by Nadine Boyd in Mid-May. Shot on the Canon 5D MkIV at 4pm and my 135mm lens. My settings were ISO 200, f2.8 and 1/500. 

examples of bluebell photography

This bluebell image was taken in a copse near Basingstoke by Sarah Dutton. It was shot on a Canon mark 5d Mark IV. Sarah has been photographing the brother and sister since newborns and loves to capture the relationship between them

Little girl in yellow top sitting in the bluebells
Photographed by Bernadette Early Photography This was taken on a walk-in Derbyshire with a Nikon D750 70-200mm lens. She loves this lens for its creamy background.
protecting the bluebells on a photoshoot
“This was shot on my 85mm lens which I love! In Beckenham Place Park early morning to avoid the sun.” Image by Tessa Clements 
little girl running in bluebells in Beaconsfield
Taken about 10 am in South Buckinghamshire by Jenny Kaye Photography on a Canon 5d IV and 24-70 mm lens at f 3.5 1/320th and ISO 400
family portrait in the bluebells
The Cook Family have been coming to Minah Photography  for a few years now and this year they added to their family with their new pup Teddy! “He is so fluffy and was definitely happy to be photographed. It’s been my pleasure to capture these memories over the years for them.”
little girls potrait in bluebells
“Shot at 6pm on my nikon D610 with 70-200 lens at 200 and 2.8f. I upped my ISO to 800 as it was a little dark and shutter speed 1/320” By Anna Kireeva Photography 
Bluebell photography ideas

Kate took this image during a mother / daughter shoot ; they had booked her to come to their beautiful garden in the East-end of Glasgow. When she arrived, she was asked if she wanted to also take some shots in the woodland area at the back of the house. They ended up hiking through some pretty wild undergrowth to get to the bluebells but it was worth it! 

It was an evening shoot at the beginning of June (the bluebells were VERY late in Scotland last year). It was a lovely cloudy warm evening! The best kind!  www.katemcallisterphotography.com
Bluebell photography examples

Shoot in the morning in the bluebell woods in Hampshire, Nikon 1.8, 1/400 85mm lens. The little boy is on a path collecting eggs in the forest to try capture a more natural picture.    www.laurawhitephotography.com

little girl in the bluebell woods

Here’s an image playing hide and seek in my local village at sunset using my 85mm. www.amypitfieldphotography.co.uk

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Bluebell editing – before & after

A number of photographers also asked if I could share a before and after edit so here is my latest 2020 bluebell image.

 This was taken at 7pm right next to my home in Surrey. It was shot on my Canon 70-200 at 2.8 aperture and as you can see the light in the final edit is the same as it was straight out of camera.

For my edit I changed the hue of the greens in Adobe Camera Raw and then I flipped the background to remove the road. I then used curves to add some more depth to the shadows.

I do offer free shooting & editing tips in my Facebook Group and you can subscribe to my blog below. I also offer 1-2-1 and group editing training. 


    Spring Photography, hints, tips & inspiration

    Spring Photography, hints, tips & inspiration

    Spring family photography tips, hints + inspiration

    As we leave Winter and head into Spring, there is a collective sigh of relief from professional photographers all around the country. As the temperature begin to warm, we are able to utilise the abundance of floral and green backdrops and start embracing the golden hour again.

    With this in mind I thought it would be useful for me to write a Spring photography blog, with my thoughts on how to tackle some of the challenges we face when shooting at this time of year.

    As well as sharing some of my own Spring photography, 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!

    • The qualities of Spring light

    As we leave Winter and the number of hours of sunlight begins to increase, we can be faced with a harder/crisp light at certain times of the day.  (Now for the science part!) This occurs because the seasons change according to the Earth’s tilt as it orbits the sun. Wherever you live in the world, Spring/ Summertime means the sun is shining directly overhead and the light quality will be like a splash of brightness. When summer turns to Autumn/Winter we see the golden light because the earth has tilted, now the rays of light we see are longer, slanted beams that cast long shadows.

    Ideally, all of my Spring photo shoots would begin 2 hours before the golden hour, but as we know this is not always possible or practical. Those of you who have trained with me will know I encourage shooting later into the day so you can offer your clients a wider variety of images but if this isn’t possible you will need to look modify the light.


    To do this you have a number of options.

    1. Modify the light using what you can find on location. Look to use what you have around you to break up the light (make it less harsh/bright) such as trees, buildings or walls. This is my preferred method as I like to travel light whilst shooting. This also means if you chose your location wisely you can naturally backlight in the middle of the day and not have blown highlights.

    2. Use a scrim to soften the light. Most reflectors allow you to unzip and remove the reflective cover, leaving you with a translucent white material which you can use to soften the sunlight. The only issue here is you require a second set of hands to hold it in position whilst you shoot. If you don’t have an assistant on the shoot with you (which I don’t) you can always recruit the parents or even older brothers and sisters to help out. As a side note, I do not purchase expensive reflectors as I have found some children like to use them as giant frisbees 🙂

    3. Use on or off camera flash to overpower the sun and light your subject to balance the light. When I’m shooting, I like to move locations and run with the kids, so this is a little at odds with my personal style. That said I think it’s an important part of your repertoire to know how to use on and off camera flash well when shooting outdoors. If you are interested in learning more then I would advise looking up Gary Hill here.


    Children spring shoots
    Hemel Hempstead children's photographer
    • Location scouting in Spring

      The good news is to create beautiful portraits in the Spring you don’t need a great deal of space. If you plan to utilise the blossom as a backdrop,  then you only need a small tree and some clever framing. If you are shooting in the daffodils or bluebells you just need a small dense patch and a considered perspective.  Fiona from Little Love Photography sent me a great behind the scenes example which is shown further down the page and below there is an image of me at the location of a recent blossom shoot.

      For larger groups of children or family images, I would look for areas with lots of lovely greenery behind, knowing that they are dressed in a way that ensures they stand out in the image.


    Spring photography Nina Mace
    • Clothing colours when shooting in the Spring

    There are 2 options I consider when it comes to advising families what to wear for their Spring photo shoot.
    If I am likely to move locations and change the colour in the backgrounds I lean towards a neutral palette with a hint of colour. My second option uses the colour wheel where I introduce some brighter colours using an analogous or complimentary colour strategy.
    Either way, I know its most likely my backgrounds will contain green, so this is what I will use as my start point.
    Below is a 1 minute video which I share with my clients to give them ideas of what to wear on the shoot itself.  If you would like to generate your own colour palettes then visit the Coolor website here.
    • Creating Spring tones in more urban spaces

      Over the next year I plan to embrace local urban spaces more and here clothing colour choices can really affect the overall feel of a shot. Below are a few images taken during a recent 1-2-1 mentoring session and you can see how the pastel palette works really well with the white washed and coloured houses. The aqua green colour the little girl was dressed in also popped really well against the red letter box.

    Spring photography colours

    • Editing challenges specific to Spring photography

    The biggest challenge when it comes to editing my Spring images photography I have found to be Green colour casts. With a family of children sitting on the ground you can get a lot of green bouncing onto their skin, (especially in the shadows under their chins, noses and in their eye sockets). If you have a global colour cast (the entire image is green) then I can just correct the white balance in Adobe Camera Raw. If the green is only appearing in the shadows I would first try a magenta photo filter painted over the affected areas at a low opacity. 
    • My lens of choice and shooting perspective

    Spring to me is all about beautifully blurred backgrounds and a light bright feel when I am shooting. I am using my longest focal length lenses including my 135 and 70-200. I use these longer focal lengths in any natural environments such as woods, fields, in the blossom etc. I am shooting at the longest focal length I can with the lowest aperture usually around 2.8.
    If I’m shooting in a more urban environment I will also use my 85 1.4mm as I find this handles particularly well when shooting straight into the light (better in fact than my longer focal lengths). The end result is less grainy than my 70-200 and I like having the lower aperture to create additional bokeh.
    When I am photographing flowers on the ground I am most often lying down and shooting through them to create a carpet of flowers. The only time I might position myself a little higher is with daffodils as they have such long green stems.  Blossom on the trees can create a wonderful framing opportunity and also fun for the children to try and catch the falling blossom.
    Finally, something I try very hard to avoid is any blown sky or very bright patches in the background of my images. Ideally, I want my subject to be the brightest part of my image so I am looking to get this right IN CAMERA, rather than deal with this in Photoshop.  To do this I am often changing my shoot position and will have my camera as close to the ground as possible to remove any bright patches of grass.

    Spring Photography: A UK collective

    Inspirational Spring images from photographers all throughout the UK
    Children’s Photographer Nina Mace



    Press play to watch 2 and a half minutes of Spring inspiration from photographers from all over the UK.

    Includes a selection of images utilising daffodils, bluebells and blossom. Maternity, baby, child and family portraits, 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: Spring photography from around the UK

    A really great example from Little Love Photography from Fiona Norman of how you don’t need lots of space to take successful Spring images!

    Amanda Dalby Photography
    These images were taken by Amanda Jane Dalby Photography shot on her Canon 5D Mark III.  Floral images taken with my Canon 85mm F1.2, and the sun flare was shot with my old nifty fifty.
    Little girl in blossom
    This image, taken by Amanda Powell Photography, was shot on 70-200mm, f2.8 during golden hour (around 5.30, pre clock change).
    Spring Greenery
    Taken by Dandelion Photography a different perspective on Spring as “Spring is little more moody up north in Cheshire” 🙂 Both shot on 85mm lens @ f2, last week both very close to 6pm.
    Helen Hoffman Photography
    Johanna Birch Photography
    Johanna Birch Photography
    Little girl in pink flowers child photography

    Images taken by Katie Lister Photography shot at 4pm on the Canon 135mm and f/3.5

    Scotland wedding couple in bluebells

    Images taken by Ayrshire Photographer Kellee Quinn Photography  

    family photographed in daffodils
    Photographed with the Canon 70-200mm at 200mm f3.5 by 4 ever Photography by Linda Casey 
    family photographed in daffodils
    girl in yellow flowers
    Image taken on the Canon 135mm at Golden hour. What you can’t see on the yellow rapeseed shot is that we were all wearing wellies and ankle deep in mud…but anything for the shot eh? I must spend hours driving round looking for pretty fields! Louise Dobson Photography
    Girl in daffodils

    Taken mid-day on the 70-200 by Jo of Lunaria Photography

    Girl in daffodils
    Kids in Blossom

    Taken by Children’s Photographer Nina Mace shot on the 70-200 at 2.8 approx 30 minutes before sunset.

    Kids in Blossom
    Sunflare images
    boy in flowers
    Girl in red dress

    Taken by Elaine Rolfe Photography. Shot at about 4pm, in a lightly wooded area with a Canon 135mm f/2  and Canon 5D Mkii

    Helen Hoffman Photography

    Helen Hoffman Photography

    Jess Richardson Photography
    Jess Richardson Photography
    Judy Laing Photography
    Judy Laing Photography
    Estelle Hughes Photography
    Estelle Hughes Photography

    Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

    Spring maternity shoot
    Spring maternity shoot
    Spring maternity shoot

    Little Love Photography by Fiona Norman

    maternity spring shoot
    maternity spring shoot

     75mm, ISO 200, F2.8 1/640 by Traci Habergham Photography

    I hope you have found this blog of use and look forward to seeing many more Spring images from you all :-). If you are interested in learning more about becoming a children’s photographer I offer 1-2-1 photography mentoring or group workshops.