By Elizabeth McGuire
The bluebonnets are here and that means it’s time for the quintessential Texas photo op! Bluebonnets only show their faces for a short time each year, so be sure to catch them before they're gone. Here’s how to best capture this springtime tradition.
1. Act quickly.
There is a small window of time when the bluebonnets peak, and when they do, you have about a week before other colors start to show up in the fields. So if you’re looking for a portrait in that sea of pure blue, grab your camera and be ready to go.
2. Watch the light.
Go out in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun isn’t too harsh. Better yet, shoot on an overcast day so the colors really pop.
3. Scout your location.
Find the biggest field you can, but also know that you can do a lot with a small patch of flowers. Crop your shot as tight as your can and watch for background distractions like roads, street signs or playscapes. A hillside can easily fill in your background, but be extra careful if stopping along a busy highway.
4. Bring friends.
If you’re photographing kids or dogs, place your subject in the front middle of a patch so you have both foreground and background flowers. Have them sit or kneel close to the flowers, but not so reclined that only their heads peek up from the flowers.
5. Dress appropriately.
Ask your subjects to dress comfortably in simple patterns or solid colors—in anything but blue, which will blend in to the bluebonnets. If you have a young or sensitive kid who doesn’t like sitting in scratchy flowers, bring a blanket along.
6. Get low and close.
When shooting, get down low and fill the frame. General advice is to be eye level with your subjects, but you’ll also need to experiment with your position so you can maximize the amount of background flowers.
Your first instinct will be to focus all your shots on your subject, but then try playing with other options like focusing on foreground flowers and letting your subjects run in the blurred background.
8. Know your gear.
If you have a DSLR camera, try a longer lens (anything between 50mm and 100mm works great). Experiment with your aperture somewhere between 3.5 and 5.0 for portraits and larger for landscapes.
9. Try close-ups.
If you’re shooting close-ups of the flowers, you will need extra patience on windy days. Even the slightest breeze can blur your sharp flowers. Use a wide aperture (a low f/stop like 3.5) and a fast shutter speed (at least 1/200) to freeze the action.
10. Have fun.
This should be the rule of any photo shoot! Remember that you’re outside… let your family wiggle. If you can’t get someone to sit still, try asking them to run through the fields toward you. Chances are these will end up being your favorite shots.
11. Watch your step!
If we watch where we step, we can allow the wildflowers to thrive! High foot traffic means lots of shoes passing through in a short period of time. Let's make sure every Texan gets a chance to see them for years to come.
Popular Bluebonnet Photo Spots
Check out these popular spots for bluebonnet photo opportunities! Do you know of a great spot and willing to share? Tag us in your photos on social media!