Seasons and Sight: Photographing Bluebells

The older, and the more invested in photography I've become, the more I've noticed the turning of the seasons. The world has a rhythm; it flows from birth to death in a continuum, and for me, everything is intrinsically linked to this cycle.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/10. ISO800. 1/50.

It was three years ago that my eyes began to open, notably after I'd partially lost my sight. On my 28th birthday I painfully lost vision in my left eye and it took three months, nights of agony and several misdiagnosis to regain my sight.

Losing my vision, as a photographer, was one heck of a wake up call. When I regained full vision, it was springtime, and after the fear of permanent damage, I felt like I'd be given a gift; a chance to perceive the world in it's full glory. 

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/2.5. ISO200. 1/40.

I became aware of the blossom, the fresh spring smell and the vivid greens that began to cover the bleak branches of the wintering trees. Life was awakening after a frosty sleep, the world was welcoming me back into it's abundant array of colour, scent and scene. The planted seed of wonderment grew in me as the daffodils and snowdrops grew against the green. Ever since I can sense the changing weather, I can see the blue of the sky dip from deep to crystal clear. It's my honour to witness the glorious march of nature, always in the moment, indifferent to the frivolity and occasional ridiculousness of human struggle.

Fujfilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/10. ISO800. 1/60

For me, the seasons are signified through colour and the lack thereof. In spring, living in the UK, it's evident in the rich, ethereal hues of the bluebells as they cover the forest floors, creating scenes straight from enchanted fairytales. This year, they were on time, even a touch early than anticipated, compared to last year's late show. And this year, I wanted to explore...

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/2. ISO200. 1/90.

Much like the partial loss and return of my sight, and erring on the ever positive side of this existence, I believe that the best of things can be found at the end of long journeys. The images of Bluebells you can see came through both luck, perseverance and a desire to see where difficult roads might lead. This woodland is a proverbial pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, except the rainbow was an uphill struggle through sloppy, slippery mud. One might have been inclined to stop upon sight of the first batch of bluebells, nestled amongst the ancient woodland; but to keep marching on, to believe that there's something special at the top of the hill, that's where the reward is.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/13. ISO200. 1/8.

This place, near Wotton Wawen in Warwickshire, is magical. Just standing amongst the bluebells we witnessed a tawny owl, deer, rabbits, but mostly the eerie quiet created by the stillness of nature. My trusty X-Pro1, with the gorgeous Fujifilm tones, accompanied me to capture this magical quiet, this brief display of beauty. I deployed both of my lenses, the 35mm f/1.4 and 18mm f/2, but mostly the 35mm covered everything, from the vast expanse of forest floor to the details in the individual flowers against a background of beautiful bokeh. Not once did I yearn for my bigger DLSR, although I should really invest in some Seven5 filters, as I did miss the flexibility of my Lee Filters.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 35mm f/1.4 @ f/8. ISO800. 1/50.

The low light lay across the sea of blue, purple and occasional white. Rich warmth mixed with cool tones, the sun splitting through the trees, long lengths of sunlight drenching swathes of the scene and ignoring others. The conditions were perfect; a spring evening that felt more like early summer with little cloud cover. We stayed until the light faded and the comfort of fish & chips spurred us back down the hill towards home.

I am graciously part of this continuum. I will happily take the long, muddy road if I can witness such glorious scenes of nature's best. I'm grateful to be part of collaborative community where I can share these shots, my methods, my locations and hope to engage with others. Mostly, I feel lucky that I was reset into the seasons, that they are my sundial, that I can see the beauty in each of them.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + 18mm f/2 @ 14mm. ISO200. 1/3.