Coton Manor, Northamptonshire, England by Michael Elkan

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Picture Story

In spring, fresh new leaves emerge bright green and English beechwoods are then bathed in translucent green light that diffuses through the forest canopy. While this is unfolding in the air above, an incredible wildflower spectacle is emerging below. Carpets of bluebells cover the forest floor with a violet-blue glow that complements the iridescent green canopy above.

I was rewarded by doing a little online research before visiting England from Canada. From a photographic point of view, I was looking for the densest carpet of bluebells I could see. This meant finding a publicly accessible beechwood of mature trees, with little other ground-cover. Having discovered a suitable location in Northamptonshire, timing became important. Fortunately, this subject looks amazing for a couple of weeks in April and May. On arrival, I was therefore able to wait for an overcast day to vividly capture the green and violet colour palate by limiting the dynamic range and avoiding distracting sunlit patches in the image. Because this is a popular destination on a private estate, all visitors were required to stay on designated trails and no tripods were allowed. The photographs I made were, therefore, handheld using high ISO with an electronically stabilized lens.

I found my composition in the repetition of the vertical tree trunks playing against the receding horizontal striations of blue on the forest floor. On the left, I captured the bunch of green leaves against a pair grey trees. This gives the viewer a focal point in the composition. Finally, I cropped the captured image to a cinematic aspect ratio of 16:9. This emphasizes the horizontality of the blue tonal variations against the vertical of rhythm of the trees. It also visually balances the tonality and colour contrast in the image by raising the virtual horizon above the centreline.


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