Prairie crocuses have always been one my favorite wildflowers. Not only do I enjoy looking for them in the outdoors this time of year, I also like photographing them.
Crocuses are among the first flowers to bloom here in spring, providing welcome colors to drab hillsides and fields that have just awakened from their long, winter sleep. These flowers vary in color from light mauve to dark purple, and sometimes, shades of blue. Under the right light conditions, their colors can be soft or muted, almost pastel-like – perfect for creating blurred images. It’s these conditions I’m always on the lookout for.
Crocuses are a couple weeks behind schedule this year, thanks to all the snow that blanketed our landscape until late April. These wildflowers are out in full force now but will be gone before long. With this in mind, I’ve been getting out a bit more as of late, in hopes of finding the right light to photograph in, and the right flowers to photograph. It’s not as easy as one might think. You need sunlight, but not too much or it will be difficult to make a decent exposure. Diffused lighting is preferred because it is flat and uniform. Calm conditions are best, as even the slightest breeze will create the type of blur you don’t want.
Scouting an area the day before can help you locate crocuses but there are no guarantees they will be there when you return. Many times I have found perfect specimens to photograph, only to find them gone the next morning. At first, I was perplexed but after close inspection I discovered what was happening to them. The flowers were being nipped off selectively by deer feeding during the night, leaving the silky stems and leaves intact and undisturbed. It appears deer like these wildflowers as much as I do, maybe more!
More Crocus Photos
Did You Know?
The prairie crocus was adopted as Manitoba’s floral emblem in 1906. It’s also the official state flower of South Dakota. In 1970, the prairie crocus was featured on a Canadian dollar coin, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the accession of Manitoba. In 2010, the Royal Canadian Mint featured a cluster of prairie crocuses on a 99.999% gold coin. The crocus image on the coin was designed by Ontario artist, Celia Godkin. The coin sold for $350 and only 1,400 were minted. Today, they are offered on coin collector websites for upwards of $3,000.