by Guest Blogger Nick Cesare
When the natural philosopher Ibn al-Haytham created the first camera obscura by projecting light through a small pinhole into a dark room, he probably could not have conceived of how much his technique would evolve and the position it would take in our 21st century lives. We use cameras to capture everything from the incredibly personal to the incredibly public, and always for the same reason: to keep a fragment of these moments untouched by the passage of time.
So why photograph your garden? Your plants will change and fade, often sooner rather than later. If you’re growing vegetables and herbs you’ll probably chow down on your garden before long, but with photographs you’ll always have the image of that particular garden. And not just the final delicious product, but the entire journey to that point. Your garden is, after all, more than just a set of plants in their mature stages. It’s a journey from fragile seedling to robust herb. How wonderful is it to review your garden’s development? Sliding from one frozen moment to the next, each capturing a different stage of your garden’s life.
You should photograph your garden so that, when the first frost of winter arrives and the leaves turn brown with age, your journey doesn’t end there. And so that you can prove to your friends once and for all that you totally grew that absolutely huge pepper last year!
We often think about where to plant for the best access to water, sunlight, and good soil, but location is equally important for photography. Try thinking about where you’re going to put your garden this year in terms of backgrounds. When you photograph your garden, what’s going to appear behind it? Try to avoid capturing things like:
- The road. Don’t let the bright colours of your garden be marred by things the dingy grey of the road out front.
- Other gardens. If you’re planting multiple sections of garden, try to avoid photographing one with others in the background. Having more of the same object that you’re trying to focus on can be distracting to the eye.
- Old fences. Younger fences with their vibrant reds and browns can make a great contrast for the lively greens of your garden, but old greying fences can serve as a downer for the entire photo.
- The ground. Photos from above that plaster your plants against the ground are not flattering. Try to photograph from a level where a nice section of horizon is in the frame. This rule can be bent when dealing with seedlings and other low-lying plants and it gets easier to follow as your garden grows higher.
If you can’t find an angle to photograph on that avoids these things, then it may be worth rethinking the positioning of your garden. But what’s good to photograph against? Plenty of things. Your house can be great, depending on the colour. Make a judgment call by finding something green to check against your home from a distance, although most homes are likely to work well with garden greens.
Scenery of all sorts is great. If you can get some nice mountains or rolling hills in your photos then you’re golden, but if you don’t live in Tuscany (as it is most of us) then you might try to capture a segment of the city. Buildings in the distance can be great. Trees and other interesting features of your lawn are good too, just try to avoid the bland parts.
If you’re really in a pinch and can’t find any nice angles, maybe try arranging some gardening equipment in the background. This will serve to distract the eye from whatever you’re trying to avoid and give a nice DIY vibe to your photos.
Surprisingly little. The days of needing an expensive camera and a small fortune in lenses to produce compelling photographs are long gone. Many amateur photographers can get by with a decent quality camera phone these days. Even some professionals are producing high quality photographs with commonplace equipment.
Beyond the camera itself some photo editing software can be nice to give your pictures that intangible boost. These days there are plenty of free options out there if you’d rather not drop the cash for Photoshop. Apps like Instagram will also give you some tools for last minute touch-ups.
There are some modern avenues like Facebook and Twitter. Try creating a garden album on Facebook and update it with new developments whenever you get some nice shots. You can also tweet your favourites out, but it’ll be harder to present your full set of photos on Twitter.
You can also go old school and display hard copies of your photos. This method is great if you want to get a little creative with your album. Plus a wall full of garden pictures is a great conversation piece.
Good luck on your gardens, everyone! Let me know how your pictures came out in the comments.
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