Words and Pictures

THE GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Andrea Jones (Timber Press Β£17.99)

The postman arrived to find me wobbling at the top of a step ladder, peering through a piece of black cardboard with a square cut out of the middle. “I’m composing photos of my garden,” I heard myself saying. Oh dear. How mad does that sound! I rather sheepishly climbed down and made him a cup of tea while he chuckled away. 

Over tea and biscuits in the potting shed, I explained that my new photography workbook recommended using a piece of card to practise framing a view.  It works close up, as well as for landscape views. I just had to learn how to squint through the cut out square- while up a ladder, and while keeping my balance. The postman declared it could all end in tears.

Anyway, as he continued his round, laughing as usual, I went back to my new book. Andrea Jones has produced a fabulous masterclass giving hints and tips on the best ways of capturing the garden. 


 Some of the ideas were a complete revelation. I had never heard of making a viewfinder to try out different angles. And I had never thought of looking down on my garden- or looking up.  Most of my photos are straight shots, taken from a standing position. So I tried it out on these tiny species rockery tulips. Looking down: 


Looking up. A worm’s-eye view. 

I haven’t quite got the best shot. They are so tiny, I needed to move some of the stems out of the way.  But it’s still an interesting view. I shall work on the idea. 

And here’s another photo I took from a standing position. A glorious garden at Burghley House near Stamford, open for the NGS scheme. 


And the worm’s-eye view, crouching down amongst the flowers: 

Over the past 25 years, Andrea has built an international reputation for her photography of landscapes, gardens and plants. Among the many awards, she was voted Photographer of the Year by her peers at the Garden Media Guild. Her website for more information is andreajones.co.uk

Andrea suggests making a plan of action- rather than just casually wandering  around the garden taking random shots (like I do now). Some of the best ideas I gathered from the book include:

Use a compass – a smart phone has a compass app- to get an idea of the light direction and potential shadows.

The best light for taking photos is the “golden hour” the first hour after the sun rises and the last hour of light before the sun sets. Use an online sunrise and sunset app to estimate the time. 

Tripods make a world of difference for taking good photos. But if, like me, you are using a camera phone, a small piece of tack or Plasticine can be used to position a phone temporarily on a secure surface to avoid camera shake. I tried this on top of the garden gate. 

If taking shots in bright, contrasty light, use your body to create a shadow and reduce the amount of light reaching the plant or subject of the photo.

Other headings in the book include: Photography in all Seasons, Photographing Pets and Wildlife, Working with Weather, Light, Macro, Micro, and Close-up, Essential Kit, and Catching the Moment. 

I am working my way through the rest of the book. There are 10 inspiring gardens featured with step-by-step lessons on observation, storytelling, composing, and editing. Andrea’s book helps you take your photography to another level, whether you are using a smart phone like me, or have the latest DSLR. It’s a master course on capturing the magic of gardens. 

Unfurling. My Black Parrot Tulip. A favourite this spring. Except, my foot is also in the photo. Sigh. I still have some work to do then. 


Thank you to Timber Press  for supplying The Garden Photography Workshop-  in exchange for an honest review. I will leave you with my cat Grace who shares my home- and garden- and who sits very patiently while I practise my new photography skills. 


Do you enjoy taking photographs of your garden? 

16 thoughts on “Words and Pictures

    • Thank you Andrew. What you don’t know is that I only get one ok-ish photo out of every 20 that I take. All the others have missed the flower in the frame, are out of focus, and have a cat’s tail in the corner. I love taking photos and sharing them though, so I’ll keep practising πŸ™‚ x

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  1. A good, informative, post and lovely pictures, especially the one of Grace.
    I use my old point and shoot Nikon Coolpix to take plot pictures for the blog otherwise I rarely take photos. xx

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    • Thank you for your kind comments Mike. I always love seeing what you’re doing on the plot. The other reason I take photos is so I can take my garden with me wherever I go. I seem to spend more time than I would like sitting in hospital corridors at the moment. Have a great week. Enjoy your garden x

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    • If there is Gill, I need one too :)) Thanks for reading and getting in touch. And for your kind comments. I forgot to say, need new knees as well as new camera equipment! Love karen x

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    • Thank you Cathy. I must admit, I now need to invest in some of those knee pads! I did once see someone lying on the ground taking photos of snowdrops. Thought they were mad at the time. I expect I’ll be copying them now πŸ™‚ `Thanks for reading and getting in touch. x

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      • Ah yes! I have one of those! You can turn it upside down and make a little seat, or the other way, it’s a padded kneeler with side handles. Wonderful invention! Why didn’t I think of using that. Only thing is, it sometimes tips you head first into the border….. πŸ™‚

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  2. The tulip picture is very good one, you wouldn’t know what type of camera it was taken with. I take a huge number of garden photos both in my garden and when visiting gardens. Producing a blog encourages it.

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