Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The first snowdrops

click photo to enlarge
As a child I always looked for the first snowdrops that make an appearance in early January, and I continue to do so as an adult. When I was younger the small white flowers signified the first noticeable appearance of new life in the new year. I now know that other plants such as winter flowering heather and winter jasmine produce flowers before the snowdrops open their petals, but I still see them as the first step in the long march out of winter into spring. To a child the name is appealing and prompts the comparison of the crowded banks of flower heads with the way large flakes settle on the grass at the beginning of a fall of snow. To my adult mind the English name is so much more decorative, descriptive and appealing than the Latin Galanthus nivalis.

The first snowdrops have appeared in my part of the world, next to the foundations of a sheltered old house wall where they grew last year, perhaps benefiting from the leakage of warmth into the nearby soil. In a couple of weeks large drifts of the flowers will fleck garden borders, the churchyard, the sparse grass under the trees, and the banks of the stream that meanders through the village, giving me the opportunity for a wide-angle, contextual photograph. In the meantime here's a hand-held close-up of some of the "early birds."

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 1/30 seconds
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On