make a 1m long print with just your phone
Use your phone like a scanner for large scale panoramas.
Beginner & intermediate photographers.
A camera and a bluebell.
You see a woodland carpet of bluebells and snap a few photographs - how often are they slightly disappointing? Follow our 4 straightforward tips to improve your bluebell photos.
It's always all about the light. If the sun comes out, stop what you're doing and start taking photos. Ignore your friends and catch up with them when the sun goes behind a cloud. A splash of sunlight will lift a dull photo beyond recognition:
To get the highlights round the bluebells, shoot into the light. Don't worry about flare and overexposure - the tree canopy will shade your camera. Find the sun, position the bluebells between you and it, and start shooting.
Think about the background, your viewpoint, and always the rule of thirds. It's tempting to hold your camera at head height and shoot a wide scene in front of you, hoping to capture the expanse of bluebells you see. But before you press the shutter, check the background isn't distracting, think whether a higher or lower viewpoint would be better, and consider whether your point of interest might be best on one of the 'rule of thirds' lines. Have a look at our composition tutorials if you need a reminder: viewpoint, rule of thirds.
The following 2 photos are of the same group of bluebells. The first was taken with the camera at head height. For the second I was lying on the ground with the camera at bluebell height.
Both of these photos were carefully composed to deliberately incorporate a leading line in the first, and a rule of thirds placement in the second.
A woodland floor is a dark, dark place, and even if your eyes get used to it, your camera won't be fooled. You will need a much slower exposure than you think. If you leave your camera on auto, check that it can cope - you may need to increase the ISO to allow a fast enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake. Have a look at our introduction to exposure tutorials if you need more information.
My technique is to set my ISO quite high (for the overcast photos it was 640), set my aperture how I want it (for the blurry background it's at f2.8) and then check the shutter speed is 1/60th or faster. If it's not, I up the ISO until I can't go any faster.
I generally don't like talking about cameras and equipment. I strongly believe that in any setting, a photographer should concentrate on the light and the composition, and not get swept up in worrying about having the right camera or the right lens. Use what you've brought and enjoy taking photos.
However. I couldn't take the photos I wanted in my overcast woodland with my iPhone:
With my 70-200mm zoom with a nice wide aperture, I got better photos than with my phone. My advice is to play to the strengths of the kit you've got with you - don't try and replicate the bottom photo with a phone, but go for some nice wide angle shots.
Call ahead to find out if bluebells are at their peak. I was shooting at Hatchlands Park (National Trust, Surrey) on 20 April (2012), and the bluebells aren't at their best yet. The volunteers on the front desk are very helpful and happy to advise photographers over the phone whether or not it's worth coming.
The Photographers Resources website has a fantastic list of Where To Photograph Bluebells (UK) which was updated in March 2012. Follow this link.
[update] The National Trust has a #bluebellwatch hashtag on twitter where you can submit up to date photos of bluebells as they come out. Check out their Bluebellwatch map to see where bluebells are out near you.