Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: A Photographers Perspective

March 16, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

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It’s a riot of color, an assault on the senses, a full-throttle thrill ride. Being surrounded no, enveloped by fields of tulips and daffodils, stretching out to the horizon, is a fantastic sensation. The bright reds, pinks, oranges, greens, purples and yellows are literally shouting out loud. The smell of the moist earth and feel of the soft muddy soil add a tangible feel to the scene. It’s a completely sensual orgasmic rush of luminosity, hue and saturation, a virtual carpet of brilliant, vivid and radiant flowers…
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And the skies….here in Skagit County the spring skies are filled with drama. Gray mixed with blue, threatening mist and shafts of sunlight, voluptuous clouds hovering overhead; all give an ethereal quality to the scene.
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After the initial euphoria slightly subsides I am off in a frenzy of shooting. Grabbing my tripod I am off at a brisk pace, looking for the right angle of light, evaluating the shape of clouds, concentrating on foregrounds and backdrops, racing against the fading (or growing) light, trying to capture some part of the awe and wonder of it all.
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My emotions run wild as I shoot, from anxiety (trying to get to the right spot for the perfect light), to exhilaration (from just being out here). I am focused in my calculations of aperture and shutter speed, considering the variables of wind (are the flowers moving?) and considering use of a filter. All of my frantic efforts are interspersed with an incredible feeling of calm and wonder of just how fantastically beautiful it all is…

Daffodil Reflections

Then, as the light fades out, I reluctantly pull myself away, slowly. Only a few more shots…taking several steps back towards the car, then a new shadow presents itself and I am again shooting…until, finally I am able to end off, done for the day.
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I review my efforts, considering my choices, already contemplating my next voyage to the flowers…excitement builds as I drive home, quickly loading the images on the computer and reveling in my good fortune (or bemoaning my bad luck) while I look at the images.
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Though I lived in or near Seattle for 15 years (1980 to 1995), I never once visited the tulip festival. Those years I was a captive of wrong thinking: that work took precedence over beauty. I left Washington for 10 years, traveling across the globe always dreaming of my return…7 years ago I moved back, this time to Skagit County.
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Now I am making up for my mistakes, visiting the Tulip Fields 15 to 20 times each spring. Usually I am there on weekdays, in the early morning or evening, trying to avoid the crowds while chasing the light…

The web site for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival provides an overview and has a link for the most current maps and bloom stages.
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The Tulip Growers, RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town have their perspective visitor centers where you can park, view tulips and shop for all manner of cool tulip-related stuff.

Visit Skagit Valley has a whole host of links and information for those visiting for the first time, offering a wide range of activities that one can add to the Tulip Experience.
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Here is a link to a gallery of Tulip Festival prints.
As for me, I am content here and especially now: the coming of spring ushers in the glorious tulips, and then, as the snow in the mountains melts and the trails open up I am off for a series of enchanted journeys into the Great North Cascades


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