Snowdrops – Harbingers of Spring

Snowdrops 2012 - click to enlarge

Snowdrops belong to the Genus Galanthus (greek for Milk Flower) – a native of Europe and Russia, and are one of the first of the bulbs to flower. They tell us Spring can’t be too far away, although they aren’t a reliable indicator of ‘when’ exactly it will arrive – routinely ours always seem to flower about the third week in February. In our garden (where all these images were taken) they’ve been out for 10 days or so but it wasn’t until yesterday that the brief snatches of sun coincided with my availability to get a picture. Retirement can be so hectic at times!

The image above was taken yesterday. Snowdrops are not that easy to photograph well – they grow in thick clumps as you can see. Clumps have depth and photographed horizontally (ie at ground level) they can end up looking rather messy and confused.

This is now the 4th winter that I have used a digital SLR and each year I try to find a different way to capture the development of Spring within our garden. It’s easy for it to be just the same old boring images – but I like the challenge of trying to find new ways of capturing the same bulbs/plants/flowers/blossom each year.

So, the images that follow come from the last 4 years of finding ways to capture the delicate beauty of Snowdrops.

Snowdrops 2010 - click to enlarge

A smaller clump, tight against a wall is easier to record. This is a different variety – the petals and flower heads more rounded than the normal lanceolate variety you see in the other images.

Concentrating on the outliers of a clump can result in an interesting composition (see below).

Snowdrops 2011 - click to enlarge

The next two images were shot with a long lens – a 500mm Mirror Lens. In the first one I carefully selected a viewpoint that meant a row of Snowdrops within the cluster would be at right angles to my line of sight with all the others diffused to a greater or lesser extent.

Snowdrops 2009 - click to enlarge

The doughnut shaped Bokeh (characteristic of Mirror lens images) are not too ostentatious in either of these two images.

Snowdrops 2010 - click to enlarge

In this second Mirror Lens image, I hunted again for a few isolated Snowdrops that formed an attractive composition with no distractions in the background.

Finally another image from yesterday – dew was still on the ground and I tried shooting towards the light.

Snowdrops 2012 - click to enlarge

I’ve softened the highlights by applying the dry brush filter in Photoshop to give this image a slightly painterly appearance.

If you are interested in Mirror Lens imaging then click here to go to a Photo Tips article posted last Autumn on Mirror Lenses.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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10 Responses to Snowdrops – Harbingers of Spring

  1. seekraz says:

    So beautiful…such clear photos.

  2. Len Saltiel says:

    Nice series of images Andy. That second one is my favorite. Have a great weekend.

  3. MaluC says:

    Your photos are lovely. Snowdrops are beautiful flowers. I like the waterdrops in the second image.

  4. ken bello says:

    Great shots, Andy. You’re way ahead of us in showing any signs of Spring. I particularly like the 500mm shots with the very narrow dof. It’s very effective on photos like this.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. I’ve done quite a bit of close work with the Mirror lens – there will be more through the the Spring season on the blog. The very narrow DOF can be difficult to handle as can the rather distracting bokeh. But the lens will produce something quite different and unusual and it’s fun to use.

  5. Wonderful post Andy. I really like the different perspectives that you have chosen. Spring started on March 1st around here. It was like God just turned on the “Spring Switch” and everything begin blooming.

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks, Phillip. It’s fun to try and do something different with these bulbs each year. The good news is it’s only a short walk down the garden to find them! It’s turned cold again here – even a few flakes of snow yesterday. Winter may not be through just yet!

  6. Jimi Jones says:

    Lovely work, Andy. Gets me fired up for Spring’s arrival. 😉

  7. Marc says:

    Some nice captures there Andy. My wife and I went to Hartland Abbey in Devon last week to shoot snowdrops but the Abbey was closed! Oh well, nice to see some here.

  8. theaterwiz says:

    Great shots! I am ready for spring myself

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