The last time I visited the Skagit Valley tulip fields was back in 2005. And I left in a huff after capturing some really cool photos because I (and a number of other people, photographers and non-), were yelled at by what I assume was the foreman of the tulip pickers. We’d parked before they opened and our bodies were in the way of the pickers (they weren’t, I’m here to tell you). We all understood the deal and that obnoxious cretin didn’t have to yell – all he had to do was simply ask us to please move our cars because the parking area was not yet open. That would have done it and none of us (read: me) would have been bent out of shape. I vowed never to return and I wrote a letter of complaint to the organizers of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. There was no sign, no nuthin’ telling us the area was not open. And apparently none of the tulip field owners or the tulip festival organizers were photographers, else they would have known that sunrise and sunset shots of the fields are the best, so there should be at least one field allowing people (who might buy their bulbs or their cut tulip bouquets) to come and set up their tripods.
Fast forward to 2012. I decided – now that I understood most parking areas were not going to be open at sunrise-thirty AM – this year would be a good time to break my promise never to return, and actually go back to the tulip fields.
Although I try to have no expectations, I guess for the tulip fields, I had way too many. I do admit to being tired on the day of my arrival, having driven a little over 3 hours from Mt. Rainier National Park up to the Mt. Vernon area (about 60-70 miles north of Seattle). I did capture some really nice images (I think). But….well….it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. When I lived in Seattle some 17 years ago, I remember there being more than just 3 fields, which is the number of tulip fields I found that day of my arrival (Ok, I didn’t look too hard, I’m sure there must have been more). Only one of those fields was open and available to the public: Tulip Town.
Quite the little enterprise, is Tulip Town. For $5, you can park your car, enter and walk through a huge tent full of cut tulip bouquets, a couple of food stalls, a couple of art gallery-type stalls, a few tables and chairs, and then find yourself out among a couple of small tulip fields. Although walking between the rows was prohibited, people were allowed to get as close as possible to the flowers. They even had a tractor trailer to ferry people around (for a fee, I believe).
It’s been a very cool spring up there (ironic, since it’s been an exceedingly warm spring here in SE Texas), so the majority of the tulips were not in bloom or only just beginning to open up.
The red and yellow tulips were in full bloom, so I have a lot of red and yellow tulip photos.
The day was sort of ho-hum, but I could discern a little bit of detail in the uniformly-spread cloud cover, so with my Lightroom 4 gradient tool, I managed to get that slight detail/drama to show through in some shots.
For these images, I used a 70-200mm lens and my trusty 24-105mm lens (for the close ups). I don’t have a macro (next on my “to buy” list) at this point in time, so no really close close ups.
I left satisfied with my image captures. No dramatic sunrise or sunset with the mountains and foothills in the background. No barns surrounded by tulips. That was ok, though. I got photos of my favorite flowers and I was content.