Crocus in the Rain

Crocus after a rainstorm. Focal length: 75 mm at f-16.

Crocus are wonderful little flowers, and are always the first flowers to bloom in our yard in the spring. A couple of years ago I bought a bargain bag of 100 assorted crocus bulbs and planted them along my sidewalk and in a small garden next to the house. These crocus are from that bargain bag.

The difficulty with photographing crocus flowers is that they are very short. It’s relatively easy to stand and shoot down at them, and the overhead view is good for showing the internal structures of the flower, but I think that the overhead shots aren’t always very artistic, even when the details of the flower are crisp and clear.

This year spring has been very fickle. Today we’ve had snow, sun, and more snow flurries — and it’s April already. I would have run outside to photograph the crocus in the snow, except that the little flowers have come and gone already. A couple of days of very warm weather followed by freezing temperatures did them all in. Crocus don’t last very long anyways, but this year they were out only about a week. This photo is from Thursday a couple of weeks ago. It had rained most of the day and was fairly chilly, so the crocus didn’t even bother to open up that day (they need both sun and warm weather to open).

I haven’t done a lot of work with flash photography, but the instant feedback of the digital camera and its built-in flash make it very easy to experiment with different exposures and f-stops. I took some photos without the flash, but had to use a longer exposure time to compensate for the overcast weather. Because I was hand-holding the camera, those images weren’t as sharp as I wanted, or else I had to open up the aperture to get the speed fast enough to get a sharp image. Bad combination: not enough detail or too dark or fuzzy. But I was too lazy to go inside for the tripod, and even with the tripod getting down low enough for the crocus is a problem.

Using the flash allowed me to crouch down close to the flower and hand-hold the camera, keep a good depth-of-field (f/16) to get maximum detail on the crocuses, and get a sharp image. My first shot was a bit overexposed (too much flash), so I adjusted settings to get approximately 1/3 power from the flash. This gave me the best exposure: the raindrops glisten and are crystal sharp, the color on the flowers and surrounding grass are correct, and there is enough visual texture in the photo to get a really good feel for what the little crocus look like.