Spring is officially here and the tulip festivals are being celebrated all over the western parts of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the best tulip farms are located between Western Washington and Western Oregon. There are over 50 places to go take in the majestic beauty of the flowers but one of the easiest to get to, if you reside in the Portland area, is the Woodburn Tulip Festival. It’s a very nice drive and pretty easy to get to. However, you will be surprised if you haven’t been to the festival over the past two years. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that their entry prices have skyrocketed and the annual parking pass has gone from $15 to $40. You also have to pay $5 per person, which is much more than the $5 per car entry the last time I went. They have really cashed in on the tremendous increase of out of state residents that need to get their Festival fix. It also didn’t help that the parking lots were completely packed and you were lucky to be able to walk along the pathways without bumping in to a family or two. It also didn’t help that it’s still pretty early and the tulips were pretty sparse and need about two more weeks before they will be out in full force. I normally just go to get some really good pictures but I was impressed to see that they really increased the amount of rides and events that they offer. They almost tripled the amount of rides and added several tractors along the walking paths so families could take more photos of their kids with the flowers in the background. It’s a great place to bring your kids and they even allow dogs to walk along the flower paths. I probably wouldn’t recommend that you visit during a weekend since it would be pretty crazy and since we went on a weekday, I could only imagine what the weekend will be like. Since the tulips were not out as much as I would have liked, I ended up attaching my 50mm prime lens and concentrated on getting some close up shots in order to avoid having a million people in my panoramic photos and a sparse row of flowers standing out like a sore thumb. I highly recommend that you visit but plan on shelling out some cash if you have a large family.
I never thought that I would see the day when tulips would begin to spring up out of the ground and completely grow to their absolute potential during the month of January. However, that’s exactly what I have been noticing along some of the neighborhood’s in NW Portland, Oregon. I’m sure that older tulip bulbs can probably start to grow earlier but in January? I have noticed that some of my tulip bulbs, that I planted last year, have started rearing their heads but they are only about 2 inches high. The ones that I saw the other day were about two feet tall and had completely bloomed. The photo shown on my blog was taken at the Woodburn, Oregon Tulip Festival and I took the shot on April 1st.
[/caption] The weather hasn’t been very kind to the tulips all across the Pacific Northwest this year. The heavy rains have created a lot of stress and the colder weather hasn’t allowed the spring flowers to flourish very much. While visiting the Woodburn tulip festival I was concerned that it might be too muddy as well as finding several stunted patches of tulip. This year I decided to take a different approach while photographing the tulip fields. In fact, I spent most of the day in the Tulip garden since they were more colorful and seemed less stressed. I decided to get as low as I could to the ground and try to get a panoramic photo with as many tulips in the frame as possible without too many distractions in the background. Unfortunately, the tulip fields were too muddy and the bottom parts of the tulips weren’t as photogenic. On the other hand, the garden was surrounded by grass which allowed me to lay on my stomach or crouch on my knees in order to position my camera up at an angle. I decided that it was better to position the camera on the ground and then just point the camera towards the sky with the tulips in the foreground. This allowed my to get much lower than using my tripod and I was able to completely rest it on the ground to ensure that there would be no camera shake. I used a bubble level in order to ensure that the photo would be perfectly aligned with the ground. I took this photo at about 11:10am and the sun was at a perfect 90 degree angle on the right. I wanted to create a look that made the tulips look enormous as though they were towering over the landscape so I adjusted the camera as close to them as possible and simply pointed the camera at about an 80 degree angle. It took me several try’s before I got the shot I wanted but I spent a good part of the day perfecting this method. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 14mm so I could get the most panoramic photo as possible without having any vignetting in the corners. I had the camera in Normal/Program mode so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3.
[/caption] who is ready for some spring flowers? Over the past week I have been taking my 6 month old Australian Cattle Dog on some long hikes in Forest Park, which is within the city limits of Portland. The rain has been so relentless that my puppy is muddy from chest to paws. But as I hike along the muddy trails I can’t help but think about how many spring flowers must grow along these trails in Spring. This started me thinking about the many festivals that take place all around the Pacific Northwest. The photo shown here was taken at the Woodburn Tulip festival last April. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. The only filter I was using was the UV filter. Since I don’t use a tripod when using my macro lens, I don’t want to have any camera shake while using a CIR-PL. A PL lens eliminates the amount of light that enters the lens, so this will cause a very shaky photo unless you’re using a tripod. Since I try to include as much light as possible when using my macro lens, I am able to get within only a few cm from my subject and avoid any camera shake. It also eliminates the need for a tripod. This also makes it more enjoyable to crouch around the flowers as well as speeding up the process. Since a macro lens focuses on only parts of the subject and then blurs the rest of the subjects in the photo, I try to find the most interesting area to take the picture. I usually try to focus near the middle of the photo as well. In this instance I focused on the orange tulip, which caused parts of the photo to be in focus but the rest to be out of focus. I was trying to keep most of the tulips in focus while blurring the background. I was about 3 inches from the nearest tulip when I took this shot. I set the camera to its close-up mode and set the manual setting on the lens at Full. The F stop was at F 5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/200 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0.3 due to the brightness of the sky and the fact that I wasn’t using the CIR-PL. One of my favorite parts of photography is taking photos of flowers. The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful flowers in the world along with some of the most diverse species ever seen. However, visiting some of the many festivals gives you the opportunity to take photos of an endless supply of flowers.