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Bluebells In Fog

For over 15 years I have had a dream shot in mind, a Bluebell forest full of fog or mist.

I have never managed to capture this in all the years of trying, I have either been busy when conditions have presented themselves, or they simply haven't happened, I have been incredibly unlucky.

bluebells fog

Many times over the years I have been crushed when fog eventually gets forecast and for whatever reason I just cant go, sometimes due to work commitments, or similar, it just always happens to fall on a day when its impossible to go.

I sit watching the pictures roll in from other landscape photographers who have had a "morning of a lifetime" as the fog graced their chosen Bluebell forest and they rejoice in the haul of pictures they have gotten from the day, and I have to admit, a twinge of jealousy will fill me.

Now I'm always super happy for people who put their effort in and rightly get rewarded, they deserve it but I cant help but sometimes feel a bit hard done by for not getting the reward despite putting in maximum efforts.

Its a really strange one as I have captured most locations I want to in optimum conditions and indeed in highly varied conditions but alas, Bluebells with fog had continued to elude me for 15 years plus of non stop trying.

Even the times the forecast had looked like it would produce the goods and fog was a near certainty, it simply didn't happen and I would go home wondering what I had done to deserve such a curse of bad luck.

Couple this with such a short window to capture this magical sight, roughly around 3 weeks at best and the odds were certainly stacked against me but it wouldn't stop me from trying, its after all what we as landscape photographers do.

So its the very tail end of April and I have a workshop coming up in a the first week of May and I'm busy planning where I can go to give my client the best experience possible, Thats when I saw it, there was a possibility, a small one of fog on the day of my workshop.

Usually this would be great news ! It certainly would be for the workshop at least but here's the issue, I don't allow myself to shoot on a workshop unless specifically demonstrating something as the client is paying for your time and they deserve your absolute attention, not to pay for you to go on a shoot.

The reality of this meant that once again I would potentially be missing out on a dream shoot of bluebells in fog, the curse had once again struck with sickening timing.

I watched the forecasts constantly in the run up to the workshop keen to make the right call and it was 50/50 between a bluebell forest and the new forest, both were looking like they had potential for fog and either could be a good bet.

As I have said before, I care deeply about my workshop clients having the best experience so I decided to get up extra early and at 2am I was racing down to the New forest to see how it looked so I could make the best decision for them.

As it happened it had some small misty patches but nothing spectacular and it firmed up my decision to head for the Bluebell forest I knew.

I picked up my client around 4 am who I will simply refer to as "S", Now "S" has been on many workshops with me, she's one of my best clients, and certainly one of the most enjoyable to shoot with, Its fair to say that we have become good friends in that time rather than a client.

It doesn't matter what you suggest, she is up for it. No adventure is too tough, no distance is too far for her, she's happy for you to change the plan at the very last second and she's great fun to be around and loves her landscape photography (As well as being very good at it), so it's actually a real pleasure to be out with her and share a few laughs and a days photography.

In the car on the drive up we discussed the possibilities of a foggy bluebell forest and the potential there was and how we were both very excited about it.

I had two different bluebell forests earmarked to check, One is quite a messy forest to be fair but if there was fog there then it wouldn't matter as it would hide a lot of it and it had some really nice old trees full of character, the other was a far neater forest with some interesting trees but it was at a much higher elevation, and this was my banker in case the other one wasn't foggy enough.

I was really worried there wouldn't be fog there as on the drive up it had seemed quite sparse but as we got to around a mile away the fog started to thicken.

We arrived at the first forest and peered inside, BINGO it was full of fog and looking really very good ! I was super happy for "S" as I knew she was about to get some great shots, but I was a little gutted that I wouldn't be shooting as I was being paid, once again I would be missing out on my chance of a foggy bluebell forest.

foggy forest
As we went in....

We got "S" set up with her first composition, at this point it was still quite dark but we were keen to get some shots in just in case the fog cleared which it can do fairly rapidly at this location.

I was still gutted that I wasn't shooting and that was when "S" gave me a look, are you not going to get the camera out ? she told me she insisted and I couldn't do it fast enough, finally I was going to get my chance at foggy Bluebells thanks to her kindness.

There was virtually no chance of a sunrise as the fog was quite think and low cloud was blocking the sun but as it was getting lighter there was a beautiful soft light forming around the tops of the trees and we occasionally saw a flicker of warm light dancing across the canopy as it broke through the thick cloud for a split second.

The forest canopy had the most wonderful shade of green that only spring can give, its so vibrant and lush and contrasted so well with the blue/magenta tones of the Bluebells which were in full swing.

We had struck gold and we both walked round working up compositions, each seemingly better than the last and with the fog looking fantastic, rolling in with a not to thick, not too soft nature too it making things perfect for shots.

dorset bluebells
fog rolls in over bluebells

Fog makes everything so subtle in the forest, it adds a wonderful level of separation for the subject and brings more emphasis to what you want to feature in the composition, we were like two kids with the keys to the sweet shop.

After around 40 minutes the fog started to move out a bit so we went in search of other areas within the forest that we're still holding pockets of it locked in by a prison of trees.

It became quite clear that the area we had originally been photographing was actually the best area (About half the size of a football pitch) but it was rapidly emptying of fog.

We had a decision to make, we either move on to the next location and hope it was foggy there still being higher up, or we wait it out here and hope that more fog rolled in.

After about 30 minutes we noticed areas starting to get fog again and eventually it moved in with far more gusto and started filling up the forest again and we positioned ourselves ready to shoot a nice old oak tree which while not huge, was obviously very old and full of character, I have to admit to becoming quite obsessed with this tree during this trip, I really wanted to nail a shot of it covered with fog.

misty bluebells
Older & Wiser

The fog toyed with us for a while and didn't really return to the levels of first thing but it was still very nice and gave us some wonderful pictures, and again with this simply stunning soft nature to them. Natures natural diffusion.

bluebells mist
Waiting for it to happen.....

This cycle was repeated for several hours as the fog rolled in and out of the forest, every-time we thought it had just about finished and we should leave it started again and kept us going with more shots and the chances to experiment with different focal lengths to see if we could improve our results.

bluebells & fog
Long Lens Bluebells

We talked at length about this specific Bluebell forest and the fact that it wasn't perfect, full of debris etc but we both came to the conclusion that we both actually preferred it to the really neat, well kept forests which almost look too clinical because it was a a far more realistic representation of the average UK bluebell forest.

It's a funny thing, you spend so much time in pursuit of perfection, but do you actually need it in the end, in this case it seems not ?

dorsets best bluebell forest
the fog was just right

We ended up spending around 3-4 hours at this spot enjoying every minute of it and when we finally left there was still fog rolling in, but we had got the shots we needed and we headed off to the next location, this was the "Banker location" that was at a higher elevation.

As we drove up the sun came out and we drove through the fog level out into clear blue sky.

The planned forest was completely devoid of fog and yet this one was meant to be a dead cert.

Its funny how things work out and how it actually all went our way on the day thanks to careful planning and a large degree of luck, we just hit it right and ended up in a pocket of fog while all around seemed to be largely clear and ended up with not only "S" getting amazing shots and having a great experience but also for me, achieving an ambition of finally shooting a bluebell forest in the fog.

A massive thank you to "S" for letting me capture these moments and for the great company she always brings, see you again for Autumn !

foggy bluebell forest
ancient bluebell forest

Thanks for reading and as always, Happy shooting.

Daniel Wretham

If you would like to know more about how to find and photograph bluebells you can read my article HERE

And if you would like prints of bluebells you can get them from HERE

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