Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

9 Tips for garden photography

I had started to play with and learn more about photography early in 2007. Then I was reading an entry on a garden blog on why people stay or leave after first viewing your blog. Bad photography was one of the main reasons people bounced immediately. So I made learning about photography a higher priority. I’ve come a long way, and have a long way to go as you’ll see in some of the sites I link to for inspiration. Here’s my best tips and resources I discovered this past year.

1) Don’t shoot standing up. Climb up something, go down on the ground, or go sideways, but avoid standing shots except for landscapes.
( up )

( sideways )

( down )

2) If your camera will let you adjust the aperture do so. Smaller apertures ( higher f stops ) will bring your subject into focus and blur the rest so the subject really stands out. But because you have a small aperture holding the camera steady is even more important in these shots.
( shots with small aperture )

Aperture and F-stop explained

3) Do use Photoshop or Gimp to clean up your photos. A few tweaks can make a huge difference.
Gimp ( Free and available for Windows/Linux/OSX )
Straighten out your pictures with Gimp
Clean up and sharpen photos in Gimp
3 step clean up in Gimp

4) Imitate the experts. Try to re-create a few of your favorite photos. You’ll learn a great deal about their techniques and be able to apply some of those to your own shots.
A photographer’s garden blog
Flickr set Bokchoyboy
Flickr set Sleepless 14
Flickr set Rosemary
Dedalus11 Nature Set

5) Use the light. Dawn and sunset give your shots an added color dimension.
( dusk )

6) There are no good photography books, or at least I haven’t found one yet. I have found good web resources.
Digital Photography Blog

7) Take lots and lots of pictures, the film is free.

8 ) Use the macro button ( flower ) on your camera for flower close ups. Some of my best macro shots were taken from a distance away and then zooming in, rather than close up. When taking a macro of a flower open the aperture so that as much as possible comes into focus. ( macro taken close up )

( macro taken with zoom )

9) Hold the camera steady, use a tripod, a table, lean against a tree, lean on a fence prop your arms tight against your body when you shoot. You can’t take a good shot if the camera isn’t steady.

One of the things I most enjoy about garden photography is that is is like having a microscope. I can take high resolution pictures, view them full size on my computer and it is like looking at my plants under a microscope. I find all sorts of things I never knew were there.

Another note for my garden blogger readers: People want full shots, not just close ups of plants. So be sure to include some full plant shots or full garden shots in your blog. And if anyone remembers who had the blog entry on garden blog photos a few months back let me know so I can put in a link.