Join Caroline Jensen as she walks you through her ideas for prepping for early spring photography. Learn her #1 secret for abundant arrangements with minimal flowers too!
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Hello. Hello everyone. My name is Caroline Jensen, professional photographer and Sony Artisan. Welcome to the program. I have been away from this podcast for almost four weeks, and the reason is I had a terrible virus that struck my vocal chords and I couldn't talk. I still am struggling a little bit with it, so if I sound a little bit raspy, that is why.
But I am happy to be back because I have a topic I really wanna talk about and have wanted to talk about for several weeks, and that is prepping for spring photography. There is a lot that needs to be prepped for in order to have beautiful pictures in the spring. One of the main things that you need to do in the autumn is prepare for spring, and so I wanna walk through a few things that you want to do right now.
If you were listening to this podcast in the autumn, the first thing that you need to do is plan what you want to grow for the spring. Now, if you are in a southern zone, if you are in an area of the world where you have a lot of sunshine and you have mild winters, then this really isn't going to be too applicable to you because you're going to have a variety of things to photograph year round.
But if you live in a really crazy winter area like I do, I live. zone four, and that is an estimate, as some winters, we actually have zone three type weather, which is getting down into the negative forties, negative thirties below zero, which is really crazy. And our springs are very late because of it.
A lot of people, I get jealous when I'm on Instagram and Facebook and places like that in the early spring when I see people with their beautiful tulips and daffodils that are blooming in late February, early March. That is not. My life here at all. We don't really start to get things that are blooming until May or sometimes early June.
There are some ways though, to kind of circumvent this and have some pretty things to photograph early on if you plan in advance, which is what this podcast is all about. The first thing that I want you to do is find a place to get your bulbs and rhizomes. That is the fastest way to have some early spring color.
Now, if you're a flower farmer, you have already done all of this back in June and July, maybe early August. You have put in all your orders for your autumn bulbs and rhizomes and, and, and plant roots that you're going to plant out in the autumn to have it ready. And growing by spring. If you are a regular gardener, then probably you are picking up things at the store at this moment, and now is the time.
The best place that I have found to buy bulbs and tubers and rise homes and things that are really great price point is Costco and Sam's Club. Costco and Sam's Club are those big box stores, membership stores where you can buy things in bulk. And Costco particularly, at least for me, has been one of the best places to buy daffodils and tulips.
They usually run about $13 for 50 bulbs, which is crazy, that, that, that's very close to wholesale prices. Also, the, another place that you can find things are the hardware stores, the big hardware stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards. Now is the time to start scoping the aisles. They often have them down main aisles in bins sometimes by the checkout.
But they usually have pretty good prices. They aren't always the most unique varieties, which you would have had access to had you ordered them earlier, maybe wholesale or from a catalog. But the thing that it is a benefit with these big box stores is a lot of times they will clearance them out at the end of the season.
They want to move them. They don't want them hanging around. And sometimes you can snag a great deal sometimes when you get early into autumn when it's kind of getting to that do or die zone where you must get these things in the ground before it freezes so hard that you can't work the soil. Uh, so that is what I have been doing the last few years in addition to the bulbs that I order early summer.
The thing that you want to look for in order to have great subjects in early spring is to look for the ones that have the earliest blooming period. Snow drops are great. There's some kinds of aria that will bloom early in the season things that are other, other things that are early are like irises, although here's the thing, sometimes roots and rhizomes and on different plants bulbs, te tend to bloom wonderfully in the spring and predictably. But things that are more established and perennial, say like an iris or a peony or a daily or something like that is going to take several years to establish. So you may or may not have blooms on those, so just keep that in mind.
But in future years, you will have an abundance of Blooms early on if you plant those early bloomers now and get them ready to go. Now, there are a lot of different plans and they bloom at different times, of course, and sometimes. You might not know when something is going to bloom because if you're putting boots in in the autumn, they might be midsummer, bloomers.
So just pay attention to the back of the box or the bag and see when that is going to bloom for you, or if it's going to bloom at all the first year. Sometimes you have to do a bit of Googling to see if something is going to take several years to establish, a good one to think. In, in that range of p Andes and day lilies, p e and day lilies are two of my favorite types of flowers.
And p e will reliably bloom after the third year, generally if you planted them right. And the same with and midsummer, p e Bloom, usually around May or June, depending on where you are located. And they come every year reliably. So that is something that I also plant out in the autumn as well.
Something to keep in mind though is when to plant these, some zones require you to plant things in the autumn so that they can have a cold period throughout the winter in order to establish, the, the rhythm of their cycle. Peonies are a great example for that. They need to have that cold, hard freeze in order to produce in the following.
And so they may need to be planted in the autumn. Things like lilies can sometimes be planted in the autumn or in the spring. It just depends. So to, again, make sure to read the back of the bag or the box to plant them at the correct time. But for early spring season, Blooms look for the bulbs that have.
The earliest bloom time. I've already mentioned snow drops. There's several varieties of snow drops that have various, various pedal structures, like double varieties or single varieties. Also, there are some species of windflow. Just look to see what is an early spring bloomer and get those in the ground asap.
When you are getting all this ready and you're prepping for the, the following season of photography, One of the my main tips, this is one of the main reasons I wanted to get on here today and share this is start scope scoping out and looking for little tiny vs. Little tiny vs. I like to go to antique stores and look for things like toothpick holders child's playhouse dinnerware sets that might have little vs. Or little cups and saucers. Sometimes things like shot glasses are a good option. The reason being is they become the cutest little vs in the spring. When you don't have an abundance of blooms and you have just a very small assortment of blooms, say you have silly, that's blooming.
It can, it can be quite invasive, but I have a lot of it and I love it. Kind of blends in with the grass. I just mow it down in the summertime and it just dies back and goes away till the next year. The little tiny blue purple flower, some of them are white with blue stripes. They're really pretty, but they're tiny.
And when you start to collect these blooms in early spring, And put them in, say, a toothpick holder, that's a crystal. I found some lead glass crystal toothpick holders at an antique store for a couple dollars each. I put a little bit of sand or stones in the bottom to hold the plants steady, and I just start to fill these tiny little VS with all of the beauty that I can find.
Another one that's good to plant is a perennial that comes early spring are Columbine. Columbine come in a myriad of colors and they have really unique paddle structure. Very interesting for photography and I'll have more detailed audio descriptions on how to photograph things that have unique pedal structures.
You know, in the season that they are blooming. They are such a fun thing to photograph in these teeny tiny little vs. One of the benefits of photography is scale can be massaged a little bit. If you're using a macro lens or using a lens where you have a very close, minimum focused distance, you can take a tiny vase that's maybe an inch and a half tall and put dozens of tiny little flowers in it.
Maybe put some grasses, maybe some dried seed heads that are left over from the winter within that little vase, and you can have an opulent, abundant full flower arrangement in minia. And if you focus really close, meaning you have a lens where you can allow this little vase to fill the frame, you will have quite a stately picture that could take a prominent place on the wall, and people may not even realize the scale of these tiny flowers.
So that is my main trick, is making sure that there is something blooming as early as possible so I can start to make these tiny arrangements early in the season. By the end of the season, I'm doing sunflowers and daily lilies, and which I wire and put into arrangements. Just a tr a trick there. I'll, I'll tell you more about that when we get to Day Lilly season next year.
So at the end of summer, I have huge flowers. You know, sunflowers have massive stems, and I end up with arrangements that are in the three to four foot tall range. Whereas in the beginning of the season, my flower arrangements might be four inches tall and tiny, but I can continue shooting all through the season because there's something blooming that I can put together in acute arrangement and create beautiful photos.
If you are a person who likes to shoot out in nature, which is great, I like to do that as well. These tiny flowers are awesome for macro lenses. Here's a couple tips for shooting in the spring and getting ready for that in the fall. When you're planting your bulbs, give yourself ample space to sit or place your camera.
One of the problems I have run into is that I have such an abundance of bulbs spread all over my garden beds, that I really don't have a place to spread out in order to photo. If you have a grassy area, plant your bulbs along that grassy area so that you can lay down a towel or an indoor outdoor blanket or some kind of, you know, rug or something like that so that you're not laying in the wet, muddy snow.
Uh, which I found very inconvenient last year. Give yourself a place to, to set your camera on the ground so that you can shoot really close and really on face level with these tiny flowers. If you're, if you're photographing blue Squi, for instance, they only stand of a couple inches tall, maybe three, four inches tall, and so you can hold your camera.
While you're on your stomach on the ground and get really beautiful pictures, you can also hold your camera low as well, but you usually need a place to sit and it's muddy and messy. So try to create paths or give yourself little areas to sit. I can't tell you how important that is. I ended up having to basically squish plants in order to get myself into the situation where I could photograph these little tiny flowers.
It was kind of, kind of funny, uh, when you think about it, but just planning in advance as you place these to give yourself a place to shoot. Another thing to think about is color palette and what you like. There are minimal colors really early in the spring unless you are diving into the world of tulips, which have an infinite variety of shapes and textures.
But if you're looking for, Perennial perennials like, bulbs that come back year after year. You kind of limited to things that are in the white and maybe pale blue range. , but think about the color palette you wanna have. What, what do you wanna photograph and, and choose, you know, based on that. You might wanna do a little bit of research, even though places like color blends.com, a great resource for buying bulbs is already done for the season.
You can always look through their website to get ideas of what colors are available. So when you do say go to those big box stores, you can kind of have an idea what you're looking. . One of the things that I like to think about is the texture of the various flowers that I am planting when it comes to tulips.
For instance, I absolutely love parrot tulips. Parrot tulips have feathery type pedals that are so gorgeous and they photograph so well the little folds of the feathery type pedals catch the light and the shadows and make for very dynamic images. I also really like double tulips as well, although they are harder to photograph, they kind of come across as a big blob unless you craft the light in a way to give definition and separation between the pedals.
My favorite pedals to shoot are actually aging pedals. If you get some of these feathery tulips or these double tulips that are so beautiful, , Sometimes they're called p and e style tulips. Wait a little bit, wait until they are like at their end of their life cycle, basically the pedals are almost ready to fall off.
They start to curl and twist and fall away from the center of the, of the flower, and they make the best photographs. I find that the. Tulips where they're kind of tight and just barely open are beautiful and mass. If you want a shot of color in your home but not as interesting to photograph. So start to look for the various varieties of tulips.
Look for different shapes there, there are tulips that have bell shapes. They have feathery, want, parrot type tulips. They also have very feathery and I don't know what they're, what they're called. They are pedals that literally look like they have fringe. I guess they're called fringed tulips. Look for the word fringe.
I believe that's probably what is in the title. , the packaging. I also like the really wild ones. There's one that looks like an ice cream cone where it's kind of green on the bottom and has white pedals in the middle. There are some that have striations, often called Rembrandt tulips, and they are really fun to photograph as well.
Have fun and don't really worry too much about. Keeping to a distinct color palette with two lips because there's so much variety. . Where I try to interject more intention is in those early spring perennials that come back year after year and, and make sure that I have a variety and not just all blue or all white, even though that's really pretty, It can be kind of a bummer when you're, when you look back and say, Oh, that could have gotten some that had a little bit of pink or, or a little bit of a blush tone or, or whatever.
I, I had. Abundance of white this past spring and most of my, um, makari were white and those are, uh, also called grape high synth, except I had the white variety and I wish I had more of the blue. So just, just think about all of that in your planning while you're prepping over the winter, over the cold.
Dark, deep winter, start to look for those vs. And also think about your setup for photography. If you're thinking about doing strobe or l e d lighting, find yourself a place that you could make a dedicated spot to shoot. And it doesn't have to be large. Where I shoot is tiny. It's about five feet by seven feet, and it's a countertop that's maybe.
Two feet by four feet. It's just a very small countertop, and I prop up foam core as backdrops, or I do have some from replica surfaces. Really, I just stick to black and white foam core. And then I use L e D lighting to light my plants. And I have it sort of off in the back porch where we enter. So I can cut my flowers, come in from the cold, arrange them really quick, take a picture and be done.
So start to think about your place for photographing these as well. If you're thinking about making tiny arrange. I will have more information as we move into the season of spring next year, this winter, I hope to cover a lot of topics about prepping and getting ready for spring, but also I'm going to be touching on some fun photo projects that we can do during the cold winter season to keep the thrill alive until we have some living blooms to photograph.
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you have a wonderful day. We'll talk to you soon.