Finally we got to visit our favourite Bluebell Wood two days ago. This is Dockey Wood on the Ashridge Estate not far from Berkhamstead. It’s the best Beech wood with Bluebells that I know, and we have been visiting this wood for several years now.
We were later in the day than usual, and that assisted the amount of light in the wood. The Beech canopy progressively excludes light as the trees come into leaf. Late in the day, with the increasingly oblique slant of the sun, light was filtering between the trunks of the trees resulting in better light penetration. If you were to visit this wood in another two or three weeks you would find it a dark forbidding place. This is a wood that is a delight, but just for such a small fraction of the year.
There is nothing quite like the haze of blue that a carpet of bluebells creates. It is a wondrous sight – guaranteed to lift anyone’s spirits. Each year I try to find something new to say about Bluebells through the images I take.
This year I decided on two main approaches: to capture images of bluebells in their relation to the Beech trees of the wood; and to try Blur (in camera) to give an impressionistic feel to this icon of Spring. Finally I took the Mirror Lens for company.
Creating blur in-camera without a tripod and without ND filters is far from easy (Yes, I realize I’m making life unnecessarily difficult, but I enjoy the challenge!). The camera movement has to be swift and truly vertical and well-timed. My failure rate is about 75%. My slowest shutter speed was 1/15th. Of the images I captured with in-camera blur, none were satisfactory. all needed the addition of a little Motion Blur in processing to smooth out the initially rather jagged results obtained in-camera. In one image blur was created entirely during processing. See if you can spot the difference. The results I obtained on this shoot, I think, demonstrated that attempting Blur in-camera is really not worth all the trouble, unless you are a purist. One final point about in-camera motion blur – if you use a wide-angle lens you are likely to get quite marked pin cushioning to elements at the vertical edges of the image. This can be easily corrected in processing.
Finally, just the one shot through the Mirror Lens (the last image in the gallery below) – more to demonstrate the problems with this lens than for any other reason. This is from a separate wood on the Estate and I had an image of this type in mind. But…isolating Bluebells with a backlit forest behind results in the typical donut bokeh for which Mirror lenses are famous or infamous. In processing I toned these down a little with Gaussian Blur but they are still prominent. Whether they intrude excessively is always ultimately down to whether the main subject of the image is strong enough to hold your attention. In this case, I think it is doubtful,
Enjoy the gallery that follows. Click on the first image and then navigate through.