How to Find and Photograph Kentucky Wildflowers

Thomas Barnes

University of Kentucky Press

256 pp., $29.95

Mary Carol Cooper


Thomas G. Barnes, Ph.D, full professor in the Department of Forestry at the University of Kentucky, has done it again! His newest literary endeavor, How to Find and Photograph Kentucky Wildflowers is yet another unique wildflower book with a creative theme in mind.  Tom’s new book stands out/sets up as a “sort of” field guide that focuses on finding, appreciating and photographing wildflowers in Kentucky.  So……………………..


What better way to enjoy “wildflowers” than to photograph them?


If you are a wildflower enthusiast and a photographer, this is the book for you.  If you are neither a wildflower enthusiast nor a photographer but have always thought that you might like to learn more about both photography and wildflowers, How to Find and Photograph  Kentucky Wildflowers  will certainly inspire you to get a move on with it.


The first section of this book covers “how to photograph” and the second section covers “where” to do it. Tom discusses all points from finding wildflowers to his own thoughts on equipment, how to use this equipment in the field, and the elementary principles of visual design. He encourages you to begin thinking more creatively about how to photograph the wildflowers you find.


The book begins with an introduction to macro and micro photography and moves on to terminology, shutter speed, aperture, and all the basics.  Next he covers color, light and visual design elements of photographs (form shape and space).  He then moves on to composition.  This is my downfall, being a point and shoot junkie and not paying the least bit of attention to what is really going to be in the photo—thus, this is the book for me! We point and shooters can learn loads from this insightful book.  You more serious photographers can add to your knowledge and pick up new ideas and ways of looking at your own photography.


The remainder of the first section covers all of the equipment needed and, even the equipment to leave at home.  The wrap up gives pointers on how to control variables like wind and background in the field, and he offers ideas on saving and storing files. There is also a nice section that gives pointers on how to be “photographically “ prepared when you happen to be lucky enough to come upon a wonderful creature such as a butterfly or tree frog.  One of the wonderful benefits of photographing and searching out wildflowers is the other critters that go along with them.


The first section gives an enormous amount of information, all illustrated with many, many beautiful photographs which also serve as examples of good photos made exceptional by using Tom’s techniques.


In the second section, Tom lists his favorite places to find wildflowers.  He starts, as he did in his Kentucky’s Last Great Places, in Eastern Kentucky then travels to Central Kentucky and on to Western Kentucky.  This is a wonderful resource for all of us who travel the state looking for wildflowers. Areas are set up according to name of place, what wildflowers one would find there, about when they bloom, how to get there, the trails available and whether they are easy, moderate or strenuous.

This is a wonderful guide for any outdoor enthusiast, whether you plan to photograph or not.


Tom concludes with the idea that maybe the last (or maybe that should be the “first”) best place to photograph is your own backyard.  Wildflowers are very easy to grow and give hours and years of pleasure to homeowners.  Those of you who have sun and shade can grow many types of wildflowers.  The wonderful part is that you know when they bloom, you know where the sun will be and you can simply walk out your front or back door with your camera and there you are —taking beautiful, breathtaking photographs!


How to Find and Photograph Kentucky Wildflowers is a  “must have for all wildflower enthusiasts.   I imagine, after reading Tom’s newest book, you will look at photographing wildflowers in a different light (no pun intended)!  You will, at least, think about and implement many of his ideas the next time you look through your lens.