Project Cottongrass: Cotton Moods
This is my first blog for NPP! Well there’s a lot to write about in the world of nature photography. Last year I took a chance again in the International Garden Photographer of the year (#8) 2014 competition after being runner up in the wildflower landscape category in 2013. I would like to share my vision and my process behind the winning portfolio.
The cotton grass plant can be found in the small boggy nature reserve close to where I live. There is a small fen surrounded by a forest. The white plant is a spectacular sight and contrasts with the dark colored boggy landscape. I watched the weather predictions very closely and I chose the best moments when the cotton grass would really stand out in the landscape.
Close to home
The last three years I’ve focused myself to photograph Cottongrass in landscape at a nature reserve close to home. As I’m an all-round nature photographer landscape photography is my “first love”. I really like to combine or take advantage of all kinds of subjects and put them in their environment, which really adds to the mood or brings the landscape alive. So I took this challenge on the Cottongrass. The white plums of the Cotton in bloom really stand out against the dark environment of the fen surrounded by dark trees. The density of the Cotton grass can be different from year to year. The ideal situation for wide-angle landscapes is a large density of Cotton. Since it’s close to where I live I can visit this place very often to check on the condition of the Cottongrass.
Plan your shoot
Every type of weather had it’s own mood and photographic possibilities. Don’t just go when the weather is sunny for example. Visit your spot at different hours of the day. Even long before sunrise and after sunset. On a very windy day I couldn’t get sharp shots of the Cottongrass and used it into my favor. Using a long shutter speed, the Cottongrass started to dance during my exposure.
- You could use al kinds of tools for weather forecasts and sunrise/sunset apps (like TPE – The Photographer’s Epheremis) to plan your shot in the ideal situation, but don’t forget to use your own eyes and just be there as often as you can. Know your spot by heart and translate your feelings and passion into photographs. The element of surprise can also work in your favor.
- Be prepared with the right type of clothing. I’ve used a wading suite to get close to the Cotton grass in the swamp.
- Use a headlight when you work in the dark hours so you can operate your equipment with your hands free.
- Use different kind of lenses from macro to wide to telephoto to make an interesting portfolio.
- Be inspired and have fun!
You can see the result in at IGPOTY.
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