If you’re a fan of nature photography, gardens are an amazing subject. Always changing and alive with nature, you can use your garden to showcase the beauty that all four seasons provides.
Spring gives us new leaves and freshly blooming flower bulbs to capture in pictures, while summer has intense shades of greens, sharp sun rays through trees, and a riot of colour. Autumn is a rich season for photos, with leaves in every imaginable shade of brown, yellow, and orange, all complemented by lower, golden sunlight. And don’t assume winter is a poor season for taking nature photography; there are lots of interesting things to focus on, including frosty leaves, sunlight through bare branches, and the skeleton structure of your plants.
If you don’t have a garden, there are lots of other ways to practice your nature photography. You could head out to your nearest park, do some research on public gardens in your area, explore your local botanical gardens, or visit a green-fingered friend or family member. These are all great places to capture garden nature, while also being a perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors and immerse yourself in the natural world.
Garden photography is ideal for practicing landscape, macro, still life and nature photography. Here are some tips to help you get the best results.
Use natural light to your benefit
To benefit from good lighting, you should aim to take your photos either in the early morning or towards sunset, and on overcast days. Clouds diffuse sunlight, which will make for an easier subject to photograph.
Avoid shooting during the middle of the day. When you shoot in direct sunlight it can create hard shadows, and shooting in flat light will prevent you from getting the best out of your photography.
Your garden looks different at different hours of the day, so don’t be afraid to play with natural light and see what works best for your specific location.
Take garden photos all year round
As the season changes, your garden and lighting changes too. Each season is beautiful and unique in its own way, and having an eye for the small changes will provide you with lots of inspiring photo opportunities.
To showcase each season, you can adjust the subject you focus on. For instance, during autumn you could focus on landscape photography with the warmer tones of the leaves on the trees, and during spring you could focus on macro photography with all the new leaves and flowers. Just make sure you adjust your shooting schedule to work with the amount of daylight hours.
Practice your editing skills
Taking an amazing photo is one thing, but bringing it all together with some tweaking and finishing touches is even better! This is where an editing app is an invaluable tool.
You can enhance colours, fix mistakes, and size your photo for print or social media. Adobe Photoshop is a popular choice, and there is also good freeware such as GIMP available. While using editing software may be a little daunting at first, once you get the hang of it you’ll find it a great investment in your journey as a photographer. There are also plenty of short and intensive online picture editing courses and tutorials to help you gain all of the benefits from the software.
Show context and vary the subject
One photo can tell a whole story!
Use the subjects in the garden to create your shot, add context, and play with angles. Flowers are amazing subjects, and photographers often spend all of their time focusing on these alone. However, there are many other interesting subjects that you can choose with garden photography.
For example, you could lay out some gardening tools and plant pots to create a still life shot, or try including the garden shed in some photos to add a more real-life effect. It’s also nice to humanise your photos by including gardeners in some shots – maybe an earthy set of hands working their magic in the soil, or holding tools or plants. Humanising garden photography is a great way to showcase the idea that gardening can be both a lifestyle and a therapy.
The most important tip of all is to have fun, both with creating a shot and with the editing process. It’s a hobby after all!
Nature photography is a great way of expressing yourself creatively, and your garden provides you with a fantastic resource to experiment and develop your photography skills. Use the weather conditions and the changes that nature brings to play around with techniques, get inspired, and simply enjoy yourself. Observing your garden (or any other garden) through the lens of a camera allows you to see nature happening and changing right in front of your eyes, and as a bonus you’ll also have a gallery of photographs to enjoy again and again.
Have these nature photography tips inspired you to grab the camera and head outside?