Skagit Valley Tulips – 2015

Tulip Sea

Tulip Sea – 35mm, 1/15, f/8.0

These photos were taken at RoozenGaarde, which is a good sized tulip garden with different landscaping and arrangements. Definitely more interesting than a field of rows and rows of tulips.  The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a seasonal spring event, and I believe there are several tulip growers in the valley.

In the photo above, I was pushing my shutter speed limits again, trusting the image stabilization built into the EF 35mm f/2 IS lens.  The photo might have been a bit sharper at a higher shutter speed, but the petal edges in the foreground are sharp enough.

RoozenGaarde windmill - 35mm, 1/180 @ f/16

RoozenGaarde windmill – 35mm, 1/180 @ f/16

This was the hot spot to take your picture, and even on a weekday there were plenty of tourists.  I don’t mind a bit, but always find it amusing when Japanese tourists single me out of the crowd to request I take their pictures with their cameras, figuring the guy with the backpack and big lens must know what he’s doing.  The truth is that just because you can afford a fancy camera doesn’t mean you know how to use it.


Peachy Tulip - 35mm, 1/30 @ f/8.0

Peachy Tulip – 35mm, 1/30 @ f/8.0

I’m still learning how to shoot flowers to make them interesting.  For example: I’ve known for 20 years that using a wider aperture blurs the background more, but getting the aperture setting just right for each situation is still tricky.  My lens was capable of f/2.0, but I used f/8.0.  Why do that on a macro/closeup photo? I’m using a full-frame sensor EOS 6D, so with a 35mm prime, I have to get considerably closer to the tulip than I did with my EOS 7D with an APS-C sensor.  When you get closer to the subject, depth of field gets shallower. Even at f/8, the smaller tulip, which was only slightly behind the larger one, is quite soft.

One more thing I learned in college, taking photography as an “elective” for my business degree: Color contrast. The above photo makes use of this concept by placing a peach colored tulip (warm color) over the green stems and leaves (cool color) in the background.  This helps focus attention on the focal point by making it stand out. By comparison, tulips with other tulips behind them blend together and don’t have the same impact. Look at the very top of this tulip, versus its sides, which are more clearly separated from the background. So choosing a good angle and background are very important.


Tulips in Shadows - 35mm, 1/20 @ f/8.0

Tulips in Shadows – 35mm, 1/20 @ f/8.0

Here we see the Canon’s in-lens IS system shining again. Holding the camera out at arms length and using the Live View screen to compose, I should not be able to get a sharp shot at 1/20 of a second.  Except I did here, with Image Stabilization turned on.


Tulip Colors - 35mm, 1/45 @ f/11

Tulip Colors – 35mm, 1/45 @ f/11

Here’s another example of color contrast.  Purple is a cool color, and yellow and orange are warm colors.  Combined, they create an impact that all yellow tulips would not.

Also, I used f/11 here, which I normally reserve for landscapes. But if I had used a wider aperture setting, not all of the two star tulips up front would be in focus.  And I still have a blurred background, though not nearly as much as f/2.0 would have produced.


3 thoughts on “Skagit Valley Tulips – 2015

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