Garden Photography Techniques
We have already looked at the skills required to successful garden photography, here we are going to take a look at the techniques of doing some of these tasks. Techniques and skills are similar and perhaps some of what we have below could have been included within the skills page.
To master the skills of garden photography it is necessary sometimes to employ techniques and come up with useful tools to allow you to get that image you want. For instance:
To do a good panorama you need:
Most digital cameras have an ability to produce very large quality pictures and therefore we can often produce the results we want just by sectioning the image rather than having to take something special.
Tools of the Garden Photographer
As well as your camera kit, there are other gadgets and devices you can use to help, some of these include:
Reflectors can be used to help control the amount of light on the subject. You can use them to redirect the light source into shadow areas or as a shade against too much sun.
Diffusers often like a Reflector or a centrepiece of a bottle top set, is a piece of material that can be put between the light source and the plant or other item that scatters and softens the light.
Light Tents can be used to control the amount of light or diffuse the light if the sun is too strong, but will also act as a good wind break in breezy conditions. Of course the light tent in use here would have to be those with no base, so that you can put it over the item you are trying to capture, and this may not be practical in public or private gardens as other plants around may get damaged. In your own garden however it is an option, and may be possible in others if you get permission first.
Flags to Block the Sun. Something like a Flarebuster. This is a simple, versatile, lightweight, flexible arm attachment for the camera that shades the lens from glare. It mounts directly onto most standard hot shoes, and is firmly attached to the camera with a-ring-tightening system, much like a flash unit. It is perfect for supporting a variety of attachments, in addition to the lens shade, such as vignettes, filters, props or special masks. It can be used with many accessories that you already own. The clamp on the other end allows for fast easy changing of masks and filters without threading or turning. It comes in kit form which includes a connecting screw for attaching it to the tripod hole on the camera, or on the tripod itself. The arm is flexible but firm, allowing for unlimited positioning combinations. It is also ideal for hard-to-shade zoom lenses. It folds easily and stores in any camera bag or pocket. Of course you could make up your own similar design to suit your needs.
Many garden photographers have a simple stick or tripod arrangement that holds some blocking device, this could be a bottle top set (often a diffuser with a reversible zip on jacket) that duplicates as a reflector set.
Water Spray. Water globules on flower heads or leaves can add a different dimension and focal point to an image. Also the water spray can add a sheen to something that may look a little dull in texture normally. Used wisely it can give a pleasing image. Garden centres and the like sell water sprayers for gardeners to give a light watering to their more delicate plants, so look out for one of these and have one at hand. Using water sprays has to be done with some caution as water globules on plants can act like lenses in bright sun and mark them.
Plant Labels. Plant labels are useful as it enables you to make a note of what you are photographing particularly when doing close up images that may be used in more technical publications. However they can also be a headache. Apart from the obvious of being unsightly in the shot, they are also usually white and this can give highlight problems. One tip is to try to position the label out of view or failing that have a brown or green serviette handy to position over it. Choose the correct colour to compliment the colour of the stem of the plant.
There are other skills mentioned in another of our articles, so take a look here for the other things to look out for.