The moment when snowdrops start appearing through the final snowfalls of the year, Mother Nature seems to go into overdrive, and it’s almost as if not a week goes by without something new, different, and exciting appearing in gardens and parks.
As a photographer it’s my favorite time of the year. The light seems fresh and crisp, and the sun remains fairly low in the sky throughout the day so to my mind it feels a little more gentle than the harsh sunlight of high summer.
To me it offers a little more freedom to the photographer. On many occasions you can abandon reflectors and diffusers and shoot with impunity. It’s almost as if the golden hours just after and just before the sun rises and sets seem to last so much longer.
That is not to say that everything becomes simple and easy. Everything tends to be on a much smaller scale as spring emerges, and getting up close and personal with either a macro lens or a macro diopter opens up a whole new world. Everything from wasps and bees collecting pollen through to spring rainfall collecting on leaves and flowers. There are two major difficulties with this type of photography: light and wind. Don’t be afraid to give your ISO levels a little boost or invest in an off camera flash and some radio triggers.
Erratic spring winds are my chief nemesis. Working at close quarters with bugs and blossom can rapidly become very frustrating as even the slightest of movements can throw off your focal point and leave you with a less than optimal picture. I’ve been shooting at a pretty standard ISO 400 with a shutter speed in the region of 1/800 of a second to ensure that I get more pictures. Sure, you’re going to get more noise in your picture, but to my mind a little more noise in a picture as opposed to having no picture at all is a simple choice to make.
Another thing a photographer should never be afraid to do is get down and dirty. When shooting flowers and bugs, you should be down at their level. If you don’t have to brush yourself down after a photo session, you’re not doing it right, in my opinion. In order to give your close up subjects a sense of scale, you should be at their level. When shooting a blossom, try to get up at its level, and conversely, when shooting stuff on the ground get down there and shoot from the ground up.
I try—wherever possible—not to shoot with a tripod. It gives me more freedom, although sometimes I wish that I had the discipline to be a little more structured and spend the time setting up my tripod and lighting—but I am always worried about missing a picture!
But spring is not all about little things. It’s a time that sees the return of migratory birds. It’s also a little easier to spot and photograph creatures like pheasants and deer in fields that will in just a few short weeks be filled with crops that reduce your chances of getting that great shot. I’m certainly not an experienced wildlife photographer, and I don’t really have a lens with a long enough reach to get great wildlife shots, but I do know that you need to be as close as you can get, so patience and an understanding of how your subject will behave is critical to getting that killer shot.
Lastly, the sky in spring offers a wealth of opportunities. With the sun lower in the sky, you can capture superb cloudscapes that are lit wonderfully. In mid-summer with the sun high in the sky, it’s difficult to get an optimally lit shot.
In spring, it’s as if Mother Nature is doing the work for you. All you have to do is spend a little time working with what she has given you and you should end up with a fist full of photographs that really encapsulate the wonders of spring!
About the Author:
Brian John Jones is a stock photographer and small holder originally from the UK (bjonesphotography dot co dot uk), now based on the Hungarian Great Plain.
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