As spring bulbs emerge from the snow, and birds start their warbling and courtship dances, photographers are gearing up to make garden shots. Fields of wildflowers and pretty blooms in patio pots lure everyone from amateurs to the most experienced photographers. Those patient enough may even catch candid shots of bees and butterflies. So, gear-up and tie your hiking boots, because you’re about to start braving cloudy days and drizzle as you go about garden photography.
With high-level photography, it helps to keep things as simple as possible. Some of the best garden photographers shoot with an ISO100. This provides images that have excellent quality, with less noise to distract from the shot. These shots, when done in RAW, give you the opportunity to work with images for better processing. Depth of field is controlled through the Av mode. This can create multiple shots from one spot, with a simple change of depth of field.
Consider the Background and Foreground
The foreground is easily overlooked for the photographer who is “target fixated.” You see the bloom you want to shoot, and may be totally unaware of the small leaf in the upper corner of the shot. This can create havoc with your focus and with the layout of your photo. Watch the foreground.
You also need to watch the background. Distracting elements in the background should be removed. Don’t get so wrapped up in your setup that you fail to notice a piece of trash under a bush in the background. In addition, the background plants may be pulled back or manipulated slightly to help the composition of the shot, directing the eye around the final photo as it would travel in a fine painting.
Flash lighting is usually your worst enemy in garden photography. The better use of time and equipment would be small reflectors. You mostly need soft, diffused light to bring out the best in the shot. Believe it or not, cloudy days are actually better for garden photography because the natural light is already diffused. The reflector can lighten shadows that could overwhelm the shot. It can also make the target of your photo “pop”. Some photographers use a gold-tinted reflector in order to warm up the picture. Having a well kept lawn can also help reflect the light on a less that sunny day, so why not look into lawn treatments.
Depth of Field
If you want to really concentrate on the details of a particular plant, a shallow depth of field is required. A wide aperture can help to accomplish this. Work to set the white balance so that the colors you wish to enhance are complimented. For example, a bright green may turn out better when the camera is set for a cloudy day.
Experiment with Different Angles
Take a towel or mat with you so that you can get down on the ground. Kneeling in front of a flower can get you at just the right angle to play up the image in your viewfinder, rather than making it look like the camera is towering over it.
Time and determination can give you a chance for the best chance at successful garden photography.