Lights and Tones Blog

ON LOCATION: 22/04/18 - Bluebells at Foxholes

Finally Spring has arrived. Last week we had three days with temperature rising above 25 degree Celsius. Nature was waiting eagerly for this. These unusual hot days boosted everything. You can see daffodils, tulips, shrubs and trees in bloom all at the same time. Bluebells and Wild Garlic started to grow and develop their flowers. It's been almost a year when I last time used my lenses for macro photography. After a long cold and wet winter I really wanted to go out to lie down in the woods and just enjoy photographing these small wonders. For me Bluebells mean the start of the macro season and then they are soon followed by Wild Garlic. Although Sunday afternoon was a bit windy I still decided to go. Because of the wind I rather picked a bit denser woodland, I drove to Foxholes. I really like the place as it has a lot to give all year around. I only go to take macro photos when there is a chance for the Sun showing itself. It can make a huge difference for me. I had luck the sky was beautiful only partly covered by clouds. The Bluebells have just started to emerge only the very early ones are showing some petals yet. There is an advantage of this. You are not lost within a huge flower field not finding the needle in the haystack. And you have more space to duck down and to stretch your tripod if needed. I'm using two long tele lens for macro purposes. Both of them are manual only. I don't use autofocus at all. The depth of field is so small sometimes that autofocus never finds that part which I'd like to see sharp in focus. The longer tele is a very old type, Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO Tele Macro. It has Nikon mount, I use it with a cheap adapter. 400mm focal length combined with 1.6m of minimum focusing distance gives you a kind of a dreamy look I really like. But this lens almost always requires tripod or at least a bean bag. These two photos were the bests with this lens. Just look at the fine bokeh the lens produced.

The other lens I use I bought for portrait shots. It's the Samyang 135mm F2 ED UMC. It's an incredibly sharp lens even wide open. But its minimum focusing distance is only 80cm. Last year I tried it for macro and took some nice photos of Wild Garlic. I decided to use it more for this purpose so I bought a set of macro extension tubes. Using a 20mm ring brings down the focusing distance to about 50cm which is much better with smaller subjects like Bluebells. As it's a fast lens there is a chance using it without tripod. Together with the sensor stabilisation of the Sony A7II it works really well. 1/50s and even 1/25s shutter speeds can easily be handled. These speeds give you a possibility to stay at lower ISO's. I used the lens between F2 and F2.8 to get nice foreground and background blur.

I spent about one and a half hours in Foxholes woods and I really enjoyed it. I managed to took some nice photos, it was quiet with nobody around. I could let go all the problems of the weekdays. I definitely recommend for everyone to get out and take some macro shots of these little wonders. Next time I will visit the area around the stream at the edge of our village where Bluebells and Wild Garlic grow together.