The bluebonnets are coming. Sometime in the next weeks, you’re going to want to take pictures of your family in the bluebonnets. It’s tradition, after all.
6 tips for photographing wildflowers
• The quality of your pictures has more to do with the quality of your lenses than any other factor, including the type of camera you are using.
• Take closeups with a tripod.
• Go early; stay late. Wind is one of the greatest challenges for the wildflower photographer — late afternoons and early mornings are less windy than midday hours.
• Get low. Position your camera at the level of the wildflower you are photographing.
• Check out the background and foreground — and do some minor gardening if necessary.
• Auto settings can be a good starting point, but experimenting with camera speed and aperture settings can yield creative results.
— Joe Marcus, collections manager and native plant information specialist at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
We also would add:
- Make sure everyone is well-rested and fed before you go. Don’t try to create magic when magic isn’t possible.
- Look carefully where you step. Snakes like to hide among the flowers.
- Try to avoid damaging too many flowers. Look for bare spots among the flowers to step and sit.
- Be safe by the roadside. We know you like to stop on MoPac Boulevard and Loop 360, but that’s not the greatest place to stop, unload your children, take a picture, and then get back in the car. It’s better to go to a park and walk a little.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
- Watch out for bees and fire ants and other stinging things.
- Watch out for feces — both the dog kind and the wild animal kind.
- Think about replanting the wildflowers you damaged. We know you’re going to hurt at least one flower in this process. Clear your conscience by planting seeds in fall. You can even make seed balls with the kids. Here’s the Wildflower Center’s recipe:
Compost (dry humus)
Sand or fine crushed granite
Dry red clay, finely powdered and sifted (not gray or white clay)
Seeds of native plants
Put 1 spoonful of fine or sifted compost in your mixing tray or bowl. Add 1 spoonful of sand. Add 3 spoonfuls of dry red clay.
You may choose one or more kinds of seeds. Pick up the seeds by pinching them between your fingers and place them in a spoon until it is full, and add the spoonful of seeds to the mixing tray.
Mix all the dry ingredients, turning and sifting to coat the seeds with sand, clay and compost.
Slowly add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of water, a little at a time, until the mix is sticky like cookie dough, but not watery.
Roll the “dough” into marble-sized balls. The clay will make the balls sticky and slimy to help them hold their shape.
Repeat to make as many seedballs as you desire.
Let your seedballs dry undisturbed for at least 24 hours.
Seedballs may be stored in a cool, dry place until you are ready to spread them.
When you’re ready, select a sunny spot in your yard. Scatter at least 10 seedballs per square meter (about 11 square feet). You do not need to bury them or water them. They will lie dormant until the right amount of rain falls. The rain starts the germination of the seeds, and when the plants are mature, your yard will explode with beautiful native flowers.
– Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center