Whenever I fancy photographing but don't have time to head out to somewhere exotic, all I do, is open the backdoor and head into the garden. The garden at my parent's house was always one of my favourite places to photograph when I was learning how to use my first cameras, a safe haven in which I could experiment with a whole host of subject matter. So here are a few quick tips on getting started with photography in the garden, one of easiest places to access with a wealth of photographic opportunities.
Step 1- Keep it simple
First up, as far as equipment and gear is concerned, keep it simple. A single camera body with a zoom lens and maybe a macro lens (if you plan on getting up close) will be sufficient, there's no need for lots of filters, although if you have one, a tripod will be very useful.
Head out for a wander around your garden, even if you feel like you know it already, take some time to observe the plants and take it in, you may see if differently when you're observing as a photographer.
Photo by Aigle_dore
Step 2 - Engage with the subject
Once you've found a subject that has caught your attention, whether it be a flower, set of branches or a piece of garden architecture, but sure to spend time with it. Avoid just snapping a couple of shots and moving on, get involved with the shot, angle yourself so you have the best vantage point. Get low, shooting from the level of the plants. Try shooting from above, with a bird's eye view.
If you find a subject with particularly interesting detail, grab your macro lens and get in close. Single flowers or patterned leaves make for great garden macro shots. Try to fill the frame with the subject and avoid including any unwanted visual distractions that may detract from any pattern or symmetry within the image.
Photo by Jim The Chin
Step 3 - Variety is the spice of life
Don't get caught in the trap of just shooting close up of flowers. Although they will continue to grab your attention, it's important to try and capture a wide variety of shots. Try and capture some establishing shots that put the garden into context. Maybe involve some people or buildings, as this will also help add scale to the shots. Use any structures, such as arches or bridges to frame subjects and draw the eye to particular points of interest.
If you're shooting in a larger space in a landscape style, be sure to include foreground interest as well as the main interest to add depth to your shots. Look for extra features, which may enhance your landscape shots such as reflections in water or symmetry within the garden layout.
Photo by Ben Bawden
Step 4 - Time to shoot
Think about the time at which you shoot very carefully. The quality of the light will make all the difference in how your shots turn out. Shooting in the middle of the day won't work as the sun is shining brightly, and the overhead light will be too harsh. You can try shooting on overcast days, as the light won't be as intense, but you're best off shooting in the early morning or early evening, when the light will be softer and warmer.
Choose a day when there is no breeze, otherwise the delicate plants and flowers will be blown all over the place and it will be really difficult to capture a sharp image. On a still day, you should be able to capture a plant at 1/125, but on a windy day, you'll need your shutter speed set to anything from 1/500 above, which will start making overall exposure difficult.
Photo by Horrigans
Step 5 - Give it a go!
So now it's time for you to get out there and give it a try for yourself. Sometimes it's hard to find inspiration to photograph on wet or grey days, but work with the seasons. Make the most of those bright, crisp early winter mornings and those golden summer evening sunsets. Capture your garden as it grows and develops and you'll not only be inspired to take more photographs, you may also be inspired to spend more time tending your garden as well!