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Go down in the woods today. Bluebells

It's blubell time again when all photographers go off in search of the ultimate bluebell photograph. I'm not going to claim that I've found it but I'll just point you in a few directions.

Bluebells are mauve but such is the force of the word BLUE that we NEED them to be BLUE. It's an English cliche and there's a ritual to it. It's part of the myth of Olde England that, come this time of the year, all our woods are filled with bluebells, just as the beach can only be approached down a winding road in a Morris Traveller and that it snows at Christmas. So pictures of bluebells are made almost as an offering to our audience, just as Christmas dinner would be, and they have to be just right.

Until digital photography and digital manipulation arrived the photographic magazines at this time of year were filled with advice on how to get your bluebells blue. The main thrust semed to be that you should photograph them, unfiltered, in the shade, so that the blue light would impart its blueness to the mauve flowers and they might turn out blue. Alternatively, dawn or sunset light would cover them with a golden glow and would disguise their mauveness. Now, of course, I can just choose the colour they are, and make sure it's blue. It's depressingly like the recent panic to buy petrol - you don't want to join in but you have no choice.

Is that the age old problem solved then? No. Because bluebells must come in "swathes". The frequency of this word's usage goes off the scale in April. Lots of bluebells are simply not enough and they can't be interrupted by brambles and twigs; they have to be a homogenous sweep across the woodland floor. Only then can our cultural panic subside, secure in the knowledge that bluebells have been "done" for another year.

Sadly, I've never come close to finding the perfect bluebell picture but, cynical as I may appear, I do find them as lovely as everyone else does and I would love to find that perfect bluebell picture. Failing that though, this picture was in Beckland Cliff Wood near Hartland in North Devon, one of two woods I discovered the other day that belong to the Woodland Trust. Have a look also at Northdown Wood near Tiverton, and Chenson Farm Bluebells (which is privately owned but opens for a few days this time of year), north of Crediton. Or you could just look at all my images of bluebells by clicking here.

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