For whom the bells toll - at what price, photographing bluebells?

Posted on 1st May, 2015

​My apologies for the slightly dubious title of this blog but, on those rare days when a little title gets into my head, there it stays! ;0) The subject of this blog is quite a serious one though.

Yesterday evening I paid a little visit to some beautiful woodland between Leeds and Harrogate. I’d only visited for the first time last Spring and had enjoyed a wonderful display of bluebells, set in some atypically tidy beech woodland - we tend to do more messy woodland here in Yorkshire! ;0) The whole wood is gorgeous but there is one corner that has a particularly fine display and last year there was a little track going off the main footpath that allowed access to these flowers - or so I thought. However, a week or so after my visit, I heard that that section of woodland had been sealed off with barriers and signs asking people not to enter. There had been signs of over zealous photographers trampling the flowers and I assumed this to be the depressing cause.

Returning for the first time yesterday, I wondered what I would find and, as I approached, could see the same little track/path leading off down the side of the wood. However, just a couple of yards or so down this little path was a large sign stuck to one of the trees - asking people to go no further and pointing out that the site is protected. Clearly many had been ignoring this sign and it’s a sad indictment that I’m assuming it is photographers who have been doing the ignoring - it’s hard to see who else though. Clearly the track is not a true path, but has been made by people going down there. The light was gorgeous and I knew there would be some fabulous compositions further into the woods but I am not prepared to get a photograph at any cost and set about doing the best I could with what was at my disposal. Yes you have to work a little harder to try to find something that will work but is it so hard to respect nature and respect a sign clearly telling you to keep off? As it was, I found a couple of compositions that worked pretty well, without going beyond the sign and without trampling a single flower. Perfect? No! But then neither is nature. It doesn’t stop it from being absolutely lovely though.

Blubells in mixed woodland, Rougemont Woods - Fuji X-E2 and 23mm lens
Blubells in mixed woodland, Rougemont Woods - Fuji X-E2 and 23mm lens

Seemingly having exhausted my options in that small patch, I started to make my way back through the wood, searching for any compositions that might successfully show the more typical mix of trees and flowers you see here. I found one such view that I felt worked well (above) and left the woods feeling content. Aside from anything, it was just wonderful to walk through the trees, the place to myself, listening to the birds sign and smelling the wonderful scent of our native bluebells. The scent of the masses of oilseed rape on my way back through the field was less pleasant - but I couldn't resist a quick 2 frame focus stack, looking back towards the woods.