Victorian Tulips

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Beds of the Empress. Dense beds of tulips flank the front walk of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 400mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500.

As promised (more than once) I am finally beginning to post about last month’s trip to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Before the actual photo tour began, my friend Barrett Lowe and I spent an afternoon and a morning wandering around Victoria with our cameras. Of the many things to photograph, there were tulips in remarkable quantity and variety. The image above may seem like it has a lot of tulips, but this barely scratched the proverbial surface.

While the image above was taken with the longest focal length I had available (400mm) to compress the near and far flower beds together, the workhorse was my 24-120mm. While not a macro lens, it is pretty close with a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.39. What this means is that it can take an in-focus picture of an area of about 2.5 by 4.0 inches, which is fine for almost every flower picture that I typically want to take. It is impressive that a general-purpose lens can do this:

Translucence. Sunlight illuminates tulips in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 96mm, 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

While it is nice to be able to mix in some of those tight closeups, most of my images were a bit further away. With so many flowers to choose from, I was able to find some that were spotlit by patches of sun:

Tulip Stage Right. A patch of sun highlights a tulip in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 88mm, 1/6000 sec, f/4, ISO 500.

Some that had opened when their neighbors hadn’t:

Early Bloomer. One open tulip faces the afternoon sun in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 120mm, 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

Some that stood above the rest:

Tulip Rose. A deep red tulip stands above its fellows in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 110mm, 1/4000 sec, f/4, ISO 500.

And some that I was able to isolate with a shallow depth of field:

Analogous Tulips. Densely-packed tulips catch the afternoon sun in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 98mm, 1/8000 sec, f/4, ISO 500.

A number of these images were made wide open at f/4 to minimize the depth of field. Admittedly f/4 is somewhat middling as apertures go, but it was the best I could do and at such close range it does the job. It is also worth noting that when getting down low to the flowers, the tilting screen on the back of the camera saves a lot of contortionism and lying on the sidewalk!

Downtown Victoria also has a lot of flowers planted next to the street, too, which makes it easy to find nice subdued backgrounds for portraits of individual flowers:

Street Tulip. A single tulip stands tall above pansies alongside a street in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 120mm, 1/750 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

There were also some interesting star-shaped tulips that I found on a side street under a blossoming tree:

Stars and Petals. Pale pink blossoms from a tree overhead cover the ground beneath purple tulips in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 56mm, 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 500.

Despite most of the heavy lifting being done with the 24-120mm (and most of that at the long end) I did use the wide-angle zoom a bit, too. I like the way that the perspective makes it seem like the plants are exploding outward from the center of this image:

Flaming Tulips. A group of bright tulips catch the morning sun in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 14mm, 1/350 sec, f/2.8, ISO 64.

This image is a little on the busy side, but I think the light hitting the central tulips, their color, their striking shape, and the shallowish depth of field is enough to carry the day.

I apologize for the complete lack of discipline in showing nine images instead of my usual six, but I tried to make up for it by keeping the commentary light. Next week I will shift to an architectural focus and sometime thereafter move on to the natural landscapes of the actual workshop.

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear which of the above are your favorites.

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4 responses to “Victorian Tulips”

  1. A bit different! I like these. Great colours.
    (Please note the mature absence of comment about pronunciation of the key word!)

  2. Flaming tulips wins for me. I like the way the lines fan out from the most in-focus group of blossoms.

    There is an amazing group of tulips out in Oak Bay, Willows St, near where my aunt used to live. House is on the corner, which allows cool compositions. Oops, bloom over, and you’re gone anyway. Maybe next year!