With the approach of spring, there are few sights to see in all of nature that have more simple beauty and tranquility than Iowa woodland wildflowers. Carpeting the landscape of Iowa in verdant blooms and perfume, Iowa woodland wildflowers first emerge from the ground as small bits of color that protrude amidst the dead leaves and twigs of the previous autumn. Within the course of only a few weeks into spring, the first ephemeral wildflowers, the fastest growing of all, will provide the first colors before their brief lifespan is up and they begin to fade.
Ephemeral flowers such as bloodroot and Dutchman’s breeches must soak up enough light to begin fertilization and reproduction before the tree line grows and leaves block out the sun. When filming a nature video, these are certainly the easiest Iowa woodland wildflowers to shoot, as they bloom at a time when there is enough natural light to provide full illumination and no competition from other blooms. Most photographers do not use verticals for shots of these earliest flowers, as they derive most of their simple beauty from the stark contrast of dead leaves around which they grow from. Often times, only one flower may be in the shot, rising from the memory of winter: a cameraman may blur the background, but a real-to-life image of the dead woodlands carpet may be just as compelling.
As spring turns into summer and flowers have longer days to soak up the sun. This leads to a mass growth spurt as the entire forest floor turns into a beautiful tapestry of colors, ranging from the soft purples of wild geraniums to the simple whites of Virginia waterleaf to the vibrant reds of columbines. When thinking how to film nature shots in the late spring or early summer, many camera artisans turn towards mass shots over a wide angle and against a much farther scene. The summer videography should focus on the larger picture, for example, using an image of an entire hillside carpeted with blooms or a riverbank flanked by a multitude of uniform color.
While April showers do indeed bring May flowers, May flowers are certain to result in mass numbers of insects by June. While layering yourself with bug spray and enduring the whining of mosquitoes may be somewhat annoying, this gives the chance to capture the height of Iowa woodland wildflowers fertilization season by filming the flowers with their insect pollinators. The scent of a Sweet William flower, for instance, attracts ornate butterflies and clumsy bumblebees. Nature video often transposes an individual flower against a visiting insect: this requires a camera with very strong focus, zooming in to see the pieces of pollen stuck to a bug as it seeks nectar.
When choosing to film nature scenes with Iowa woodland wildflowers, plan the different shots to be based on both plant and scene for optimal effect. Some flowers, such as wild strawberries, only grow in acidic soils with heavy tree cover and decay, meaning that they will automatically be part of a deep woods shot. Others, such as a purple vetch, needs more sunlight and can be found along prairies or grasslands.