#foundwhilewalking: bluebells (a virtual tour)

Over Easter I had a whole week off work and I was raring to go do stuff with it.  This was the first break I’d had since finishing my MA where I’d had enough energy to really want to make loads of plans and get out of the house, so I did!  It had been ages since I’d felt like going on rambling exploratory walks armed with my camera, the kind that are not humble walks at all, but really mini adventures.  As with my previous #foundwhilewalking post on Amsterdam, the aim is to present a collection of my observations articulated through a series of photographs.  If you want to, you can see the full sized photographs (plus a couple extra) here on my flickr page.

One of my walks started as a trip to Abbots Wood to see the bluebells, this being something I haven’t done for years.  My trip became an epic wander in glorious sunshine that ranged the entirety of the green woody space within which Abbots Wood is situated.  I walked right up to the north perimeter, just beyond which there is a stadium, and as far west as possible, coming across the A22 which borders the west side of this patch of access land.  According to my trusty OS map (which of course I did not consult until after I was home, where is the fun in never getting lost?)  I wandered through Abbots Wood, Wilmington Wood, Gillridge Wood, Folkington Wood and Gate Wood.  I found bluebells aplenty and they were every bit as awe inspiring as I remembered.  It was a perfect day for a meandering stroll, which I took completely at my own pace and as a wonderful excuse to spend the afternoon lost in my own thoughts and responses to the beautiful surroundings.

I really like this shot even though I took another similar one with slightly crisper focus over the whole flower head.  Something about the vividity of the blue and the slight fuzziness as a result of the focal distance I chose makes me feel a need to look again and a bit closer, pulling my attention right in to the photograph and not easily relinquishing it.  This is how I felt about experiencing the bluebells themselves.  As you can tell by the photo, I insisted on getting pretty close for a look.  Having a camera in your hand is an excellent alibi for wanting to get on hands and knees and inspect things very closely.

This is the same flower head (the brighter one right in the middle of the shot) as in the last photo.  I am surprised by how much lighter than the other flower heads it looks.  It must have been in full sunlight with no shade, probably what made it such a good photographic subject for a close up.

I really liked the vivid green of this bracken and I am always fascinated by the way the new leaves are curled up.  It was the precision of the way the curled, finger-like fronds leapt out at me that attracted my eye.  In the photo, the speckley sea of what look almost like blue brushstrokes stretching out into the distance behind really makes it.

The few below are all variations on a theme.  I spent even more time crouching down over the flowers and playing about some more with focal depth.  I promise I did plenty of walking, I managed to cover a reasonable distance but I also spent plenty of time taking photos from difference angles and at different distances.  I really enjoy focusing my attention on small inspiring details and trying to see them from as many different perspectives as possible and find it very relaxing to absorb myself in this way.  I think the first is my favourite, especially as the flower stem seems to appear out of nowhere, because it fades into such a soft focus before the eye can trace it too far away from the flowers.  I also really like the third, however, because the eye is drawn to that flower in the middle and the delicate curves of the petals as they fold back on themselves are emphasised.  The others nearer the lens, unusually, end up framing this detail and I like that.

I took this photograph because I found it interesting to look at a flower head that hadn’t fully opened yet.  I’m curious about why the two flowers towards the base of the stem are fully opened and yet the others are not out at all and noted the slightly more violet shading of the unopened buds.  As I look at this photo again I want to reach out and feel the texture of them, they look less delicate but perhaps more elegant than the curling petals of the opened flowers.

The photo of the horseshoe impression is not that great, but in trying to take it I edged closer and closer to the squidgy, unstable section of mud in which it resided.  Eventually the inevitable happened and my foot suddenly plunged several inches downwards in to squelchy mud.  Somewhat panicked, I yanked my foot out and almost lost balance completely.  I was glad no one saw me as I would have looked like a right tit, all to take a photo of an impression left by a horseshoe – not even a particularly worthy subject!

I purposefully fiddled with the exposure on this one, it wasn’t that light in this wood and the next photo does the lighting levels more justice.  The quality of light, however, is better captured in this one.  There was something sparkling and very much alive about it, particularly the way it lit up the new green leaves on the trees.

Eventually, I finally came across what I would describe as a proper bluebell glade.  This was right up towards the northern perimeter of the woods I walked through.  Sadly the photo can’t capture the fragrance, which on a warm day in the middle of a sweep of bluebells can be almost overwhelming.  The sun filtering through the tree trunks and picking out sections of the woodland floor made for a beautiful scene.

What a lovely place to be for an afternoon.  After spending some time in the proper bluebell glade I wound my way south-ish again, going as far as the western perimeter, deciding I didn’t want to be reminded of the presence of th A22 and rambling my way back to the car park.  I got slightly worried about not finding my way back to the car park when I realised how far I’d roamed, but getting lost is always part of the adventure for me.  I returned home tired, but refreshed and with lovely renewed memories of wandering through bluebells in the sunshine.


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