Virginia Bluebell Bonanza

Every year in mid-April, a few wooded areas in northern Virginia (as well as Maryland) are briefly transformed with dazzling carpets of blue.  It seems only certain places, usually bordering a stream or the Potomac River itself, have the perfect conditions for a magical wildflower, the Virginia bluebell.

Madeira 10

Virginia bluebells & other wildflowers along Potomac River side channel, 2009

The plant has a fleeting existence above ground.  They appear when only a few weeks of warm weather remain before the life giving sunlight is blocked out by the emerging leaves of the overhead tree canopy.  On the Virginia side of the Potomac, large tracts can be found in public places such as Riverbend Park along the Potomac River and Bull Run Regional Park along Cub Run.

Another location, which requires permission to enter, is the Madeira School, located in McLean, Virginia along the Potomac River.  One morning last week, when the blooms were at their peak, I tagged along with fellow photographer and blogger Stacy Fischer who did have permission for a photo shoot at Madeira.  Please check out her report by clicking here.

Here are a few iumages from that morning.  Some technical notes are included at the bottom keyed to the numbers in parentheses.

Madeira 02 (1888_89 PAN Crop) - Copy

View from a bluff above the Potomac as it exits Mather Gorge (1)

Madeira 06 (1835_36 PAN) - Copy

The trail leading to Black Pond (2)

Madeira 09 (1822_23 Auto Align) - Copy

Bluebells, with Black Pond in background (3)

Madeira 08 (1749_51 PAN) - Copy

Black Pond, spring fed and almost completely encircled by a bedrock terrace (4)

Madeira 05 (1773 ) - Copy

Outlet stream from Black Pond (5)

Madeira 04 (1742_43 Aligned) - Copy

Moss covered log and bluebells

*Some technical notes:

Image 1: Telephoto image cropped for equivalent of 250mm view;

Image 2: Two images combined with Photomerge in Photoshop

Image 3: Two wide angle(36 mm) images; one focused on flowers, second on pond & rocks, then supermimposed on each other in Photoshop. Masking technique used to reveal only portions in focus.

Image 4: Three images combined with Photomerge in Photoshop.

Image 5: Single image, but difficult lighting required 6 Curves Adjustment layers and two Gradient layers in Photoshop.

Image 6: Two telephoto (200 mm) images; one focused on log, second on bluebells, then supermimposed on each other in Photoshop. Masking technique used to reveal only portions in focus.  Should have taken two more images because log on right side and moss on left side are not sharp.  There is very little depth of field with telephoto images of close objects, even at F/16.

Thanks again to Stacy for inviting me along.  I’ve been an avid fan of her Visual Venturing Blog since I discovered it early last year and her AfterBefore Friday Forum series has been great fun.

32 thoughts on “Virginia Bluebell Bonanza

  1. Pingback: Bluebells, Blogging Friends, and the Fuji X100T | Visual Venturing

  2. These photos of the bluebells are so lovely. I felt almost as if I were walking the path with the bluebells on either side of me ! Thanks so much for sharing !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robin, as you already know, I love your photos from the hike! I particularly love the shot you went back for, of the path leading up to Black Pond, actually showing the pond as well. And I’m so glad you took a zoomed-in shot of the bluebells. Duh – something I forgot to do 😉

    Thanks for sharing all your technical information. I keep learning from you – photo merging and superimposing! I know you’ve done this before, but this time it’s going to stick in my memory 🙂 Thanks, too, for the shout out. I think we’ve provided a wonderful view of this glorious place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Stacy. I really appreciate your comments. I thought it was a great outing also. I thought your images were great, myt favorite was the path showing the Potomac River on the left with the bluebells in between.


    • Hi, Vanessa: The tulips should be in good shape and you can find them at the Smithsonian Castle Enid Haupt Garden (Independence Avenue side), in various locations around the US Capitol Building, and in the so-called Tulip Library over by the parking lot for the paddle boats on the Tidal Basin. Good luck!


  4. I didn’t know the bluebells were short-lived. What a treat to get to see them up close and on such a perfect weather day.

    Your photos are stunning. It was also interesting reading your notes at the end. As an amateur , I realize there is much to learn.


  5. They are so beautiful. There is a place on the back side of Quantico Marine Corps Base between Manassas and Stafford I used to look forward to passing on my home in the early spring because the woods were carpeted in the lovely blue of the bluebells. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I’m not familiar with that area, or at least I didn’t know there were bluebells down there. I did a quick search and saw that you might be referring to Prince William Forest State Park or possibly the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area. Any additional details on their location would be most appreciated.


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