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Photographing Snowdrops

The snowdrop season has not quite arrived here yet, but statistically it should be here soon. About a meter of snow still puts a damper on the snowdrops arrival. I have not kept an exact chronicle on their arrival each year but I can see from my picture folders that in 2005 I have the first pictures of snowdrops from March 26th, in 2006 they are from April 16th, in 2007 already on March 13th of, in 2008 March 10th(!) and in 2009 they flowered at least on the April 19th. Last year work kept me so busy that I did not get a chance to photograph them at all.

Snowdrops are among the hardest flowers to photograph. They tempt us by being the earliest and they flower in attractive drifts, easily in several places in the garden if some effort to spread them around has been made.  However, they are small, white and flower very close to the ground which neither makes them the most comfortable nor the easiest targets.

 I took several years for me to get even slightly satisfied with my snowdrop pictures. These are some of the things I have learned:

  1. Wear the kind of clothing that allows you to lie on your stomach in damp and frequently a bit cold spots.
  2. Choose a day with some nice hazy spring light. Sunny, but not too bright light is very nice.
  3. Edit: and by that I mean be prepared to clean away dead leaves, twigs and yellow leaves on the snowdrops that might pop up from beneath other leaves.
  4. Try to find a nice backdrop.
  5. Find a nice direction for the light.
  6. Consider whether a reflector or some shading might improve the setting.
  7. Get close and get down, snowdrops are small and low, setting up a tripod and zooming won’t get you the right angle.
  8. Try to get a bit of an upward angle towards the flowers, this might mean putting your ear literally to the ground.
  9. Choose which flower/flowers should be in focus.
  10. Take a lot of pictures with several variations.
  11. Try to find some place where you can find both snow and snowdrops in the same pictures and shoot away.
  12. See if adjusting the white balance might improve things if you get bad colors. Take a few slightly overexposed shots as well, some of them turn out nice, but remember that overexposure is more likely going to be a problem with the intense white of snowdrops if the sun shines brightly and the snow might produce a bit of an extra glare.
  13. Repeat and practice: it took me about five years to get consistently nice pictures of snowdrops; fantastic are still a way ahead.

Tässä oli hiukan mietintöjä lumikellojen valokuvauksesta, niiden kuvaaminen ei ole kovin helppoa.

Lite funderingar och slutsater jag dragit om snödroppsfotograferingen. Det är inte lätt att fota dem.

But they are pretty – Mutta ne ovat niin kauniita - Men de är så vackra…

The Intercontinental GardenerMarch 11, 2011 - 19:26

Wonderful pictures, all. I agree with your list, especially the first point! Have a great weekend. Ja sama suomeksi, och samma på svenska…

HAMarch 11, 2011 - 21:13

Yes, the first point is the most important :-) As you understand Finnish, in short: kurahousut, saappat ja sadetakki! Hyvää viikonloppua!

Ninni/fotografiaMarch 13, 2011 - 20:22

Åh vad mycket fint du bjuder på här! Snödropparna är ju otroligt vackra och du har lyckats så bra med att få till fina bilder. Tack för tipsen!
Jah återkommer med all säkerhet…jag lägger din adress ibland mina favoriter.
Ninni

HAMarch 13, 2011 - 23:16

Tack så mycket! Snödroppar är en härlig utmaning!

[...] ten different spots in the garden. Now I’ll just have to wait for some sunlight and try and follow my own advice on photographing them. These pics are  a little dull, but they show [...]

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