Re-interpreting Bluebells

The Bluebell season is in full swing in the UK (and very late) but apart from the briefest of visits to a local site to check on their status, I have yet to take a single meaningful image due to the poor weather. Today’s images are therefore from a previous year.

Bluebells are one of the Icons of Spring. The classic but rather hackneyed image is of a haze of blue under a canopy of Beech leaves.

Post295_DSC_9617_RSMClick on any image to see a better quality enlargement – it really is worth it.

This type of image is taken a million times every year. Each year I try to see how I can produce something that is a little different. Getting in close, going long or wide with a different lens, experimenting with depth of field for instance.

Two days ago I was looking through last year’s images in a nostalgic way and decided that this year (if I ever got the opportunity) the way to go was via Blur. Previously I have experimented with panning during exposure to produce vertical blur. Tricky to master and producing unpredictable results. The easier way is to do it during processing using Motion Blur. It also allows for a selective blur, using a layer mask to leave the green canopy sharp but the bluebells blurred.

So, here is my re-interpretation of the first image – firstly the entire original image, and secondly, a selective vertical crop.

Post295_DSC_9617_BlurPost295_DSC_9617_BlurCropYour comments are always welcome, let me know what you think. And do remember that if you like what you see on this blog, you need never miss a Post if you subscribe – complete the box in the Rt sidebar or use the RSS button.

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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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35 Responses to Re-interpreting Bluebells

  1. I very much like the original image and the first uncropped motion blur. I’ve never really used motion blur and not really considered how to use it. It’s nice to see it used creatively to produce a really interesting image. Great stuff 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks. Like all gimmicks, motion blur has only occasional use but I liked the semi-abstract result while working to retain clarity in the Beech canopy. Did you see I had re-blogged a fantastic Mural of Einstein on my blog by Mike Fiveson? I think you would like it.

      • I agree about gimmicks like motion blur but you showed great restraint and the image works because you maintained the clarity of the canopy. It’s quite an engaging image because it forces a bit of a double take! Yes – Thanks for the Einstein. I visited the site and found some interesting images. Cheers, N

  2. Len says:

    Very nice reinterpretation Andy. It is a great shot to begin with. The light from above is great and the tree trunks are cool. I like the landscape version showing the trunks.

  3. I think you did a great job Andy. I really like the vertical crop one. I always do my motion blurs in camera but never
    really experimented in post. I really like the results. Great job.

    • LensScaper says:

      Many thanks Edith. In camera blurs are fun but difficult to get right. The advantage of doing them on the Mac back home is that you have total control and I rather liked the idea of retaining clarity in the top half of the image and blurring just the trunks and the bluebells. It’s something I’ve never tried before but one never stops learning (as you will know) and it’s now another card up my sleeve for some future event.

  4. ken bello says:

    I like both versions of the motion blur. If it’s considered a gimmick in post processing than I guess it’s a gimmick in camera as well. But then so would so many other photographic tools we use to express ourselves.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. If I was to argue the point (but I see no necessity to do that really!) then I suppose one could say that ‘in camera’ blur is something that could have been done in the film era, whereas blur in post processing is a result of the digital era. Either way I think by ‘gimmick’ I imply that everything has it’s limited place. We have to employ these options in carefully selected scenarios.

      • ehpem says:

        Hi Andy, I like these too. It helps that you started with a great shot.

        I think that getting stuck on whether something could be done with film ignores the potential of digital, not to mention the developments that took place during the 100+years of the ‘analogue’ era. They are only superficially the same and as has always been the way in photography we should learn from the past and explore the future.

        • LensScaper says:

          Thanks very much for that comment. Purists tend to do all they can ‘in-camera’ and I admire that tenacity to ‘get it right’ that way. But nowadays I always view the captured image as merely the first step in the evolution of the final processed result.

  5. Simply lovely, I prefer the Realist view not the Impressionist one but lovely capture.

  6. Gracie says:

    Very cool! I love both the original shot and the horizontal one. There is something about that second image that keeps me staring. Love how it was done.

  7. This is a nice way to introduce the blur whilst still leaving part of it crisp to provide a reference point for the viewer, something that cannot be achieved in camera.

  8. Sherry Galey says:

    I have never tried this in post but you did it well. The first mage is stunning. My favorite is the horizontal crop but all are compelling.

  9. These look great, particularly enlarged. Love that carpet of blue beneath the trees.
    I like the horizontal crop best. Nice!

  10. Marcie says:

    Love the creative blurr effect. It’s absolutely magical!!!

  11. theaterwiz says:

    Very cool, I love the contrast in the first shot, the blur is a nice touch on the others, clever idea

  12. ShimonZ says:

    When I pressed the like button, I thought I’d sleep on it before I said what was on my mind… I have to tell you that I prefer the first picture, even if there are already a million like that. Why blur such beautiful flowers, I wonder… but maybe I’m too old… Please don’t be offended. I vote for the first… and think it beautiful.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much for commenting, Shimon. There’s room for all our opinions, and you are certainly not alone in preferring the ‘straight’ image. They are beautiful flowers in full bloom and deserve to be shown exactly how they are. I hope to have the time to put some of those up later this week, which I know you will enjoy.

  13. ehpem says:

    I like the blurred shots, it helps to make me look at elements of the pictures that are important, but which I might miss in focussing too closely on the flowers. Like the beautiful canopy and the tree trunks. The ‘straight’ shot would be lost without those elements but I find I am inclined to forget that kind of thing when I get a bit too focussed, such as on the blue. Which makes me think that the first shot might be very good in, *gasp*, black and white.

    • LensScaper says:

      One of the joys of a Bluebell wood is the way the luminous Beech leaves add another layer of colour to the scene. My first reaction to the idea of a black and white conversion was to think: ‘that can’t work’! I was wrong actually – Depending on how you set the sliders during the conversion the resulting image is surprisingly good. I am experimenting with the Topaz modules and will see where this leads me – there may be something to post next week. Stay tuned.

      • ehpem says:

        I don’t have Topaz, but I am still learning Lightroom 4 and finding recently that the colour sliders (filters I guess) in a black and white conversion can be very satisfying indeed. Though sometimes I go too far with them!

        • LensScaper says:

          When I was a B&W photographer in the 1970s and 80s an Orange filter was permanently screwed on the front of every lens I used. It always livened up the skies and lightened the foliage.

          • ehpem says:

            I ride the bus with a photographer sometimes. I have seen him with his camera around town for at least 30 years. He still carries a Nikon film camera all the time, with what looks like about a 28mm lens, with a red or orange filter. We have not talked much about what he shoots (people, landscapes, townscapes?), and so on, but I should quiz him a bit.

  14. Helen Cherry says:

    marvellous work.. I have a few bluebell wood shots myself to come ( with not many bluebells though !)

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