Ever seen 75,000 tulips in one place?

Correction:  Have you ever seen 90,000 tulips in one place?

Actually, I don’t know the exact number, but I believe that the Biltmore Estates boasts the latter number as part of their annual flower festivities.

Fortunately, I live in Asheville (actually, I’m about 15 minutes north of the city, but my studio / gallery is in town), and it is relatively easy for me to make the ten-minute journey across town any time I want to visit the famed Biltmore Estate.  Of course, it also helps to have an annual pass such that I don’t have to pay the pricey entrance fee every time I go!

Biltmore-Estate-tulips-2

Biltmore Estate Tulips

If you’re into nature photography, and have a particular love of flowers, then I highly recommend that you add to your bucket list a trip to Asheville in mid-April.  The gardens at the Biltmore are bursting with colorful tulips from one side to the next.  Yes, there really are tens of thousands of them, and if you time it right, most specimens are in fantastic condition (i.e., not much, if any, Photoshopping needed to touch up any defects!).

Though “floral photography” isn’t necessarily my passion, I do have a lot of fun with it when the opportunity presents itself.  And, it just so happens to present itself in a big way every year at the Biltmore!

Here are a few things to consider when setting up for your flower / nature photography:

  • If you don’t have one already, add a macro lens to your gear bag.
  • Experiment with depth-0f-field, from a very shallow DoF, to a very deep DoF, to points in between.
  • Use your depth-of-field preview button to give you a real-time view of your DoF
  • Use a sturdy tripod!!!
  • Also, use a cable release (or a remote; or, try the two-second self-timer if you don’t have either of those).
  • Another useful accessory may be a polarizing filter to deepen the color contrast of  your flowers and skies.
  • Take advantage of the magical and warm morning and evening light.
  • Avoid super-sunny days, as the contrast will be too high in most cases.
  • If you are shooting on a sun-filled day, make use of a diffuser (better yet, pick up a five-in-one reflector kit).
  • Consider the use of fill flash if shooting in contrasty light, or into the sun.
  • Bring a water spray bottle to add droplets to dry flowers.
  • Fill the frame, especially if you are using your macro lens, or a long telephoto lens.
  • If shooting wide, be aware of distracting elements in your composition.
  • Get dirty!  Flowers are typically low to the ground.  Notch the tripod legs down, and get low.  Better yet, get the wide angle lens out and lie 0n the ground, shooting upward.
  • Bracket your exposures.  Bright skies can fool your light meter, causing under exposure.  If you’re not sure how to get a perfect exposure, then take multiple shots with your auto-bracketing function.
  • Finally…  Keep it simple!

Here is a sample of what I captured at the Biltmore in 2013: CLICK HERE

I also had some fun last year at the Biltmore:  CLICK HERE

Biltmore Estate Tulips

Biltmore Estate Tulips (2013)

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