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At the end of January whether it snows or not, tiny bursts of life appear in the English countryside. Snowdrops, or Galanthus nivalis as they are known to men in white coats.

They are a very early flowering bulbous plant, which are the harbinger of the coming spring. For photographers they are a god-send, a beacon in the blandness of the mid-winter countryside. They can be found all across the UK and I happen to live near one of the best places to see them; a small village known as Compton Valance.

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This is one of the locations I run snowdrop photography workshops – one of my winter series. And this year while preparing, I was lucky enough to do a recce on the day we had a lovely dumping of snow. Actually, it was the day after it snowed and it wasn’t particularly easy to reach the village which is in a steep valley.

The snowdrops were just starting to flower and a few were pushing through the snow cover which gave me the chance to get the shots I’d been after for several years. Snowdrops and snow are not as easy to find as you might expect. As a subject I love them. They don’t move for a start which enables me to work with interesting angles and compositions.

I work mostly with a 60mm micro lens, which gives me the reach to provide soft foreground details and compress the background plus work in close with the small blooms.

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I also, as I do with the fungi I shoot, work with a ZigView viewer that allows me to keep the camera on the ground and still see the image I’m taking. The low angle get’s the view at ‘eye level’ with the subject, but creates an intimacy with the image that a straight snap shot never achieves. It’s one of the most valuable techniques in the natural history photographer’s arsenal.

If you’d like to learn more about my approach consider booking either a course or a workshop. Details are on my website at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/workshops.html

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