The snowdrops and crocus are starting to make an appearance and Spring is most definitely on its way. To help you capture some magical moments in the garden this year, award-winning photographer, Andrew Maybury shares some of his trusted tips and techniques.
Light is always a key element to be thinking about when you take photographs outdoors, and one that’s changing all the time. You need to think about where the light will be falling at different times of the day, and this will vary greatly throughout the year.
Also, the overall structure and design elements of the garden will play a big part in how you compose shots. Have a walk around the garden and notice how each area appears from different positions. I’ll often take shots on my phone while doing this and then refer back to those throughout the shoot – or post them on Instagram if I like them enough!
Get down low (and be prepared to get wet and muddy!). If you’re photographing plants that are close to the ground then try getting down at their level, so that you’re looking towards them, rather than down onto them from above. This will often mean kneeling or even lying on the ground, so good all weather clothing is a must – especially at this time of year!
There’s potential to photograph at any time of day, depending on the conditions, but there’s usually a special quality to the light within the first couple of hours after sunrise and the time leading up to sunset, so most garden and landscape photographers prefer to shoot as much as possible during these hours.
When the sun is low in the sky it can really bring a garden to life by giving a sense Garden of space and emphasising areas of interest. Daytime sun that’s high in the sky is usually very harsh, causing unwanted shadows and often making the scene look quite flat. There are ways to control this harsh light, such as using diffusers for close up work, but they’re not much use on a whole garden!
Composition is a tricky thing to put into words. There are various ‘rules’ that, if followed, are supposed to result in a good composition, but I think a lot of it is intuitive at the time – certainly for me anyway. I’m not a horticultural expert so tend to be drawn to views that appeal to me visually, rather than because they include certain groups of plants. I like looking for lines and symmetry – gardens can be quite architectural in that way. I also try and pay attention to what’s on the edge of the frame so that nothing is being cut off at an awkward point.
You certainly don’t need the latest camera or loads of lenses to make great pictures, but I would definitely recommend that you gain a good understanding of the equipment you do have, as this will allow you to concentrate more on the creative side of photography.
Have a go, be creative and enjoy spending some time in the great outdoors.