Thursday, November 14, 2013

Garden Photography--How to Snap Your Own Flowerporn

How to take good photos of the garden?  Nature photography is no longer the sport of the titled or the photojournalist.  Backyard paparazzi are sprouting up like weeds.  At a county farm market brawny men crowded around an array of pale violet globe thistles, snapping away. 

Cellphones clicked nonstop at the Holland, Michigan Tulip Festival.  Instagram was buzzing with blooms that afternoon!

Smartphones are the latest garden implement.  Nursery employees see a growing number of shoppers using the camera function to identify everything from desired plants to disease. 

Whether using a Nikon or an IPhone, the strategies for fabulous garden photos are the same:

1.  Lighting:  Timing is everything.  Early morning or late afternoon, when the sunlight falls at interesting angles, yield the best and most interesting shots.  Afternoon sun washes out the vibrancy of color. If a scene is well lit, do not dally.  Optimal light lasts only for a few moments.  The shifting sun or a passing cloud change the scene quickly.  A favorite springtime shot was taken in Lowe's parking lot, as melting icicles on cherry buds glistened in the momentary sunshine.

2.  Focus:    Use a foreground focus for most shots to make the petals POP!

3.  Subject:    The perfect bud might not be the most fascinating.  Look for plants that are remarkable,
discarded implements, or interesting foliage.  Insects on a blossom create curiosity.

4.  Angle:   Get down in the dirt.  Belly shots show an angle that cannot be appreciated from above. 

5.  Background:   Pay attention to the background, even if it is in soft focus.  Keep interference at a
minimum and avoid intrusions like lawn mowers and AC units.  Not all is a distraction as abandoned implements, rustic ruins and faded patinas are now the rage.

6.  Chronicle all seasons:  No time of year's off limits.  The sparkling snow and brilliant blue skies on a sunny January day produce spectacular scenery. 

Tell a story--pictures are for paintings.

Digital photography has opened up a global creativity formerly limited by the cost of film, inconvenience of development and the need to get thirty six good clicks.   Search the hashtags #floweroftheday or #gardenporn on Instagram.   There are no "amateurs" any longer. 

The greatest gift of fingertip photography is that we now scour the world in a limitless way, with an enhanced eye for beauty.  Photo sites like Instagram and Facebook have allowed the everyday user to share the splendor of ordinary days from Moscow to Motown.

Still, it's tough to get a Chrysanthemum to smile and "say cheese."

More Articles of Interest:

Rockery and Roll -- Xeriscape Gardening

Colorado Wildflowers -- Tiny yet Tenacious