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Tips for Photographing your Garden

Before the season’s over don’t forget to record the way your garden looks now, so that you can remember what worked well and what didn’t, what empty spots need filling in, and so on.  Plus, you’ll be able to relive your garden next January when it’s covered in snow (assuming we ever have snow again).

Photographing your garden is actually most helpful when it’s done regularly – at least once a month – and when it covers all parts of the garden and includes wide shots as well as close-ups.  If you file the photos away by year and month, you’ll have the pleasure of tracking your garden’s progress, or looking back to discover a particularly effective container combination you forgot you ever did.

If you’d like to take your photos to the next level, I have a few tips for you from noted garden photographer David Perry. I learned them at a free seminar he gave to 65 garden bloggers who gathered in Seattle to tour gardens, network and just have fun.  David, who’s headquartered in the Seattle area, is noted not just for the quality of his shots but for his winning ways on the speaking circuit and in the hearts of middle-aged women everywhere.

So under a tent at the Bloedel Reserve (which is ridiculously beautiful – here’s just a taste), David gave us some great tips:

  • Carry an umbrella for rainy days AND bright, sunny ones.  He loves the Popabrella,  just 20 bucks from Amazon.
  • Another way to block overly bright sun is with a thin plastic cutting board.
  • For shooting close-ups, the first tip is to not use your zoom.  Next, use a tripod if you have one with you but if you don’t, use the wide stance David is demonstrating in this photo.
  • To highlight a subject in the foreground it’s helpful to throw the background out of focus, an effect that’s called Bokeh (news to me!).   That can be accomplished in-camera by using a wide aperture, or in the editing stage by using a feature in Photoshop or other software (though not with the Picasa program I use).  I see that PC World likes the free GIMP program, which includes a Bokeh effect feature.
  • Another thing that brings attention to the object in the foreground is to place it (if possible) at a greater distance from the objects in the background.
  • Sometimes having a blurred object in the extreme foreground, like a few leaves, brings more attention to the subject.
    Example of backlighting.
  • Hate the effect that flash has on your photos, but there isn’t enough light to turn it off completely? Solutions include using the camera’s menu to switch to fill flash (which I’ve never used – doh!), and putting a Kleenex or a piece of plastic over the flash. A piece of colored paper could also be used – in a color like orange that would warm up the photo if that’s the effect you’re looking for.
  • David’s favorite point-and-shoot is the Canon G12 10MP. Takes great stills and HD video, too.
  • Finally, in a counter-intuitive move, shooting toward the light can create some really nice backlighting.  See how pretty backlighting makes this glass of beer?

Posted by Susan Harris.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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