Spring in Seattle is when all the tulips bloom, especially the big farms in the Skagit Valley. Spring on the blog is when the searches for tulips in Skagit Valley exceed the searches for bokeh.
I was digging in the archives and came across this. Check out the date – serious blast from the past!
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Two things about this shot. First off, it isn’t from Seattle – it is from the Keukenhof outside of the Hague in Holland. The gardens there are an amazing mix of all sorts of flowers, but most notably tulips. I have some other shots but lost the opportunity for some great ones when I learned that my camera battery gives little warning before giving up. The second thing is that (as you can see from the info above), this was shot on my old Canon Powershot S400. Not an SLR and although it was good at the time, really not even a good point and shoot! If you’re careful and pick the right subject, it doesn’t always matter. Make sure you hold steady and definitely shoot outside if at all possible – there is usually so much more light than inside that few things will improve your picture quality as much.
This isn’t my favorite shot in the world – I don’t like how close to the center of the frame the subject is – it makes the balance feel funny. I do like some aspects of it like how the background blurs as you get farther out and how close the main tulip is, but most of those flaws were mine, not the gear. Shoot with what you’ve got – just remember to shoot!
When you see the fields of tulips in the Skagit Valley, it’s hard to translate the feeling into a picture. The beauty is there, but the sweeping view disappears. Of course it was cold and of course there were too many people and of course I didn’t put in the effort to be diligent and bring a tripod, but I decided to pull together some panorama action anyway. Sure it’s lumpy, but what do you think?
Also, I’m going to try something a little different here. Thanks to the wonderful features of Photoshop CS4, there is a built-in flash-based panorama generator. Want to see it, click the link.
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When you see the fields of tulips, looking out over all the different colors is pretty nice, but some of my favorite pictures were down close with just one color. Pink works pretty well.
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This one comes from my 100 mm macro lens. I love the shallow depth of field, which devolves into solid pink. On the Digital Rebel XT I shoot with, you’ve got to multiply the focal length by 1.6, so I have a 160mm lens which means I was probably 5 feet back from the flower in question. With overcast sun shooting at ISO 200, you still have plenty of light to freeze any movement in the breeze, but late in the day or inside, this isn’t the perfect lens for hand-held shooting. Sometimes it’s nice to try to figure out what else you can do with the lenses you have. Macros are great up close, but that’s not all they can do.
I don’t really associate Washington and Tulips, but I guess someone does. Every year in April, a bunch of farmers band together to make the Skagit Valley outside of Mount Vernon worthy of the name “Tulip Festival”. I can’t say it is a *ton* of fun. I can say that every 5 years or so, it is worth going and the fields are pretty darn cool to look at.
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I suppose my problem with the “festival” is that it is really a group of totally independant farms that allow you to traipse around a bit, possibly buy some popcorn or tulip postcards and charge you four or five bucks to park. I’m not totally knocking it though. This picture comes from a farm that proclaims itself as “Tulip Town”. They grow tulips of every color and looking out over all of the rows, I can’t really think of anything else like it.
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Every year I forget how miserable I get when the sun never really comes up in the morning. We call that half of the year winter. I also forget how much I like it when spring starts showing up. It was sunny for the last couple of days around here (if you ignore that rain last night) and I think spring is coming. I dug back in the vault and pulled out this picture from a couple of years ago. Old camera, old lens, appologies and all that. The colors are great and the scene is cool, but my favorite part is the rows. Rows and rows and rows. I’m sure it’s an OCD thing.