Texas Living

A Photographer’s Guide to Bluebonnet Photos

By Matthew Shelley 3.30.13

Spring is on the horizon, and soon the ephemeral Texas bluebonnets will blossom and blanket the landscape, inspiring many of us to break out the camera and put together a family portrait or a lovely photoshoot of the kids as they play.

The fields around Texas highways become a major attraction for bluebonnet photo sessions, and while most people are comfortable snapping photos, I thought I would offer some professional tips to make your photos truly shine. If you’re making a roadside stop this spring, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Roadside Safety

Be careful when parking along highways, and make sure it’s legal to park there. Also be aware as you walk into the pasture of bluebonnets that the warmer temperatures also signal springtime for snakes — and they don’t make for great photos.

Lighting and Timing

The hour just before sunset is called the magic hour, and for good reason. Skin tones glow and eyes pop in photos. It’s every photographer’s favorite time, as the light is the softest and creates a wonderful glow behind whatever you’re shooting. Early morning is another good time. Be sure to keep the sun behind your subject to get a nice backlit glow; the fewer shadows on the face, the better.

Equipment and Angles

Portraits in bluebonnets are best shot with your lens zoomed in as far as it will go; this brings the surrounding landscape and your subject together and makes them pop within the frame. Wide-angle shots can also dazzle, but be aware of the framing of your subject. The more you can understand the outcome based on the settings, the better you’ll become at manipulating and adapting the scene. That means have fun and take lots of shots.

The only way to get good at photography is to take a lot of pictures, so start snapping!

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