I know that spring has finally arrived when the crocuses start to blanket the hillside on Evening Island at Chicago Botanic Garden. I love this time of year! To be outdoors photographing nature again after our long winter is exhilarating. It is wonderful to watch the emergence of spring; each day brings new blooms to capture.
The crocuses have just emerged this week but keep in mind that they don't last long. I've spent a couple of days this week photographing them. A few quick tips. Take a variety of lenses if you have them. I use everything - my 100mm macro, my 180mm macro and, of course, my arsenal of Lensbaby lenses, which are perfect for photographing these flowers. I search for a pleasing clump - I particularly like to find the purple 'Remembrance' crocuses in a cluster surrounded by the golden yellow crocuses to provide a blurred backdrop and pop of color. Make sure you have a diffuser to soften the light and a tripod helps if you are shooting in higher apertures trying to capture the details within the crocuses. My tripod extends all the way to the ground because it has a tilting center column, which is essential when shooting low. A Platypod is another great gadget to get you down low and steady your camera. You will likely need to raise it slightly with the included spike feet to get you at the perfect angle. Most often I am shooting handheld, however, lying flat on my tummy, my elbows on the ground keeping my camera steady. Most importantly, take a large garbage bag to sit or lay on. The ground in spring can be wet and because the geese frequent this hill, they leave lots of surprises behind. There is plenty of room between the clumps of flowers to carefully lay a bag.
Controlling your backgrounds can be one the challenging parts of photographing crocuses. Because the grass is brown and not attractive this time of year, I am most often shooting in lower apertures to blur my background and create a watercolor look to my image. I'm pretty hands-off when it comes to flowers but it's ok to pull stray bits of brown grass and dead leaves out of your image.
Enjoy spring and get out and enjoy the many treasures that are emerging each day! More bloom reports to come as I'm at the Garden as much as possible this time of year.