We may be getting close to spring, in the Pacific Northwest, but it looks like winter is holding a pretty steady grip. We are again experiencing some pretty awesome snow storms in the Cascade mountains but also some relentless rain in the Willamette Valley. This can only mean one thing for all of you flower lovers…muddy and sloppy flower time. If you plan on visiting any of the numerous tulip festivals throughout Washington and Oregon, you better plan on bringing your rubber boots and rain jackets. There is nothing more messy than walking along the rows of flowers that other people and machinery have trampled on. However, we may get lucky from next weeks forecast and just maybe get some sunny skies that might dry up some of the standing water that otherwise would be rows of flowers. However, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I took this picture while visiting the Woodburn, Oregon tulip festival last year. It was also pretty muddy then as well. There weren’t a lot of photo opportunities due to the weather conditions and extremely muddy and flooded spots all along the grounds. March can be a really tricky time, in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s too bad that some of our best flowers sprout during the month of March. It’s especially bad if we get a late start on winter or a second winter since it always takes place in March.
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.
Spring is in the air and it feels like it outside. On the last day of February…… it’s sunny, warm and you can even see snow capped mountains in the distance. It’s already shaping up to be another standard Pacific Northwest Spring like debacle! Debacle you say! why yes! I say that because the forecast for tomorrow is calling for a severe storm system to move in and blanket most of the state with rain in the valleys, snow in the mountains and much colder temperatures in the Cascades. Government Camp may only get a high of 17 degrees even though today it’s partly sunny and much warmer. However, this isn’t any different from all the other years in the Northwest. People in Chicago, IL have a saying… if you don’t like the weather just give it a few hours. That’s nothing, compared to our seasons in the Pacific Northwest. We can have Spring weather on one day and then winter the next. This is much different than just rain one day and then sun the next. We experience complete seasonal changes within just a day. However, I’m totally ready for the Spring weather as well as hoping that we get some descent snow storms in the mountains, so I can revel in both worlds. I’m ready to take out my 50mm prime lens, for some great tulip shots and get out my 17-70mm lens so I can take it up to the mountain while snow shoeing through some rugged powder. Another great thing about the Pacific Northwest is that it’s really easy to experience several seasons on the same day since you can admire in the spring flowers while taking in the views of snow capped mountains.
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.
Tulips have some of the most amazing colors and magnificent features. However, sometimes changing them to black and white offers you the chance to showcase their features without their colors stealing the show. This photo was taken of red and yellow tulips sitting side by side. I wanted to created a really interesting profile so I rested on my stomach and tilted my camera up towards the sky and tried not to get as much of the flowers in the frame without having any distortion. The sun was at a perfect angle, which was at about a 90 degree angle and the light was coming through the flowers as well as their stems. There were no clouds in the sky which allowed me to perfectly cast the tulips as though they were floating in mid air. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I was trying to get the most panoramic photo as possible as well as create a large field of view so I set the focal length at 14mm so there wouldn’t be any of the flowers out of focus. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0 due to the high glare and overexposure of the sky. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I attached my warming and CIR-PL filter and I wasn’t using a tripod since the camera was only a few inches from the ground.
[/caption] There in nothing more beautiful and energizing than photographing tulips in the early months of Spring in the Pacific Northwest. However, finding a perfect sunny day can be somewhat difficult and challenging. I took this shot last April but unfortunately the tulips were very stressed due to the rainy and cold weather that stunted their growth. Last Spring was unseasonably cold, rainy and muddy, which created a very challenging situation for the many photographers that frequent the tulip festivals that dot the Northwest. I took this shot while kneeling down in the mud and positioned my camera towards the sky hoping to get a good shot. Since I was in such a peculiar position I wasn’t able to use my tripod so I had to be sure to keep a steady hand and keep it level. I was using my Sigma 50mm prime/macro lens which helped capture the shot. I attached my warming filter in order to maximize the color of the flower and take advantage of the suns rays. I was only about 8 inches from the flower which allowed me to get a good focus on the center tulip and it stem but kept the rest of the tulips out of focus. The shutter speed was 1/99 second and the aperture was set at F-4 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3.
[/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.
[/caption] I couldn’t help but return to the Woodburn tulip festival again. This time I wanted to concentrate on macro shots and photographing the many insects that pollinate the flowers. I tried to look up the names of the insects but it seems tulips are pretty complicated little guys. I believe the Syrphid Fly is one of the main pollinators. I took several pictures of them. However, I decided to post this macro shot taken from the side. The pedals on this tulip had fallen off, which allowed me a great opportunity to get this shot. It clearly show’s how intricate and diverse these flowers are. However, most of my macro shots were taken from directly above the tulips. You can view some of them on my business facebook at PNW photography LLC. Again, I used my 50mm macro/prime lens and attached a warming filter along with my UV fiilter. I kept my setting at auto which increased the F stop to 4.5 and I set my ISO at 200 since it was pretty overcast. I didn’t use a tripod. It’s very difficult to get some of these shots without crouching and my tripod was just to cumbersome and time consuming.
[/caption] I decided to post this picture on my blog in order to show just how great the day was. This has tulips, snow in the mountains and incredible clouds. This isn’t my best or favorite that I took but I really wanted to show off just how incredible the scenery was. I may not have taken the best photos of a tulip farm but I’m sure there aren’t very many photographers that have a combination of the three in their portfolio….Except for the other photographers that were here the same day as me, of course. The entire day was spectacular. On this shot I had set my camera to normal exposure. The F stop was set at 7.1 since the clouds were changing constantly. Sometimes the clouds would obscure the sun but then it would suddenly appear and drown out the color of the tulip filed. The focal length was at 55mm. I used my warming filter and CIR-POL on each of my lenses. I used my 55-250mm telephoto lens throughout most of the day. the ISO was set at 100. I made very little changes while using photoshop. Mostly I just darkened the clouds when needed and occasionally cropped a little, in order to take out some of the people. I was able to use all of my lenses pretty regularly all day while photographing….18-55mm, 55-250mm, 50mm macro/prime lens and my 18-24mm wide angle lens. I would highly recommend a trip to the festival if your in the area. A lot of the tulips weren’t even out yet so I’m sure that the rest of April will be even more spectacular. It’s also a great place to bring the kids and there is plenty of food. I plan on returning as much as possible this Spring.