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Don't flatten those flowers fools!

It's bluebell season here in the UK, and for many of us that's quite exciting! Some of our woodlands become transformed for a short period - their usual green and brown hues overshadowed by brilliant purple/blue carpets.

(Thank you Sandie Powner for this amazing shot! Go check out her work!)

These special flowers are found at their highest densities in ancient UK woodland. In fact, they're one of the best indicators (along with wood anemone) that a woodland is indeed ancient! Sadly (especially in the West Midlands - thanks a lot HS2!) a lot of our ancient woodland is under threat - and so are our bluebells. Habitat loss and invasion from their Spanish cousins means that bluebells become less and less common every year. This is a sad state of affairs - not only because they're a sight to behold, but also because they're vital for a lot of our important wildlife like bee's, who benefit massively fro these early spring flowers and the food they provide.

Where the bluebells do still remain, they understandably draw a lot of people to the woods, whether its just to appreciate their beauty while its here or to make some memories with some vibrant colour! The issue is this usually means a lot of damage occurs to these special flowers - I don't mean the odd accidental squashing at the side of a path I mean a lot of people are full on flatteners!

So what?" I hear you say... "It's only a flower it will grow back next year"...

But here's the thing... you say that, so does the next person, and the next.... and before you know it the majority of the once beautiful flowers are now squashed beyond recognition!

That's troublesome for several reasons...

What was a beautiful sight is now a trampled mess - it's ruined for anyone who wanted to see it, and that's just selfish!

But, more importantly, these flowers have received irreversible damage. Trampled bluebells take YEARS to recover - if they do at all - the damage to their leaves means the plant is unable to photosynthesise for that season which weakens to bulb - next year the plant is even weaker as it failed to produce enough energy last season and this becomes a vicious cycle, eventually meaning that individual plant dies off. The bulbs themselves are protected by law under the wildlife and countryside act 1981, so trampling them isn't illegal - but it is highly unethical!

Now photographers.... listen up! I love bluebell photos as much as the next photographer - but here's the thing... (and this may come as a shock to some...) YOU DO NOT NEED TO TRAMPLE THE FLOWERS TO GET A GOOD PHOTO!!

We all like that purple, we all love the look of our family or dogs sat amongst it, but they don't actually have to be sat amongst it! During my bluebell shoots this year I have seen SO MANY trails made by people (most likely photographers) leading to logs for people to sit on for photos, big flattened circles where people have plonked themselves down to get a "great shot" - but it's just not needed! I've also seen countless images on Facebook and instagram where dog photographers (some very well known!) have done exactly the same and it sets a VERY BAD EXAMPLE!! People see you do it and replicate it!

Instead...use paths, (leading lines and all that!) use converging paths if you want to have that "in the bluebells" look...

Here's some examples of what I mean...

This is a classic path through bluebells in a woodland... a great place for photos

Get nice and low and your image will be assaulted from both sides by purply blue goodness...

Pair that with a nice wide aperture and BOOM!

this is the exact place these 2 images were taken...

Bertie here is lying dead centre, and Jemima (yes she has 3 legs...) is sat a little further up with her bum on a path that comes in from the left!

Converging paths also let us "surround" the dogs with flowers...

Here Berties mum walks up one path while I stay on another...

get down low again and voila! The path disappears!!

and this is where these images were taken...

So as you can see, you don't need to be a total trampler to get nice images... because if you are, give it a few years and your favourite bluebell spot won't be there anymore... and that's not great for anyone!


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