How to create beautiful Garden photographs

by Doug Bascom, Professional Photographer and Master Gardener, who originally shared these tips in 2012 via Seeds for Thought, a newsletter by the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State.

1) IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BOX. We all have great hopes that, if we only had a bigger and fancier camera, that we would take better pictures. Unfortunately, cameras are simply boxes with buttons that record light. Most cameras, including common “point-and-shoot” cameras (and even cell phones!), are capable of recording excellent images. Get good with what you’ve got and only invest in more expensive gear when you are able to fully utilize their features.

2) WHEN THE LIGHT IS RIGHT. While sunshine and bright blue skies certainly warm the soul (especially here in moisture-rich Washington), they can often work against creating the best images. Direct sun produces a harsh and unflattering light and our cameras —try though they might —-are simply unable to record details in both bright and shadow areas as well as your eyes. Try photographing on cloudy days or during the “edges” of the day (early morning or late afternoon) for better photographs. Diffusers and reflectors are also excellent, portable additions to your camera gear that will allow you to soften and reflect the light from your garden in beautiful and natural ways.

3) LIKE A ROCK. Consider a sturdy tripod for sharper images and better compositions. Tripods force you to slow down (a good thing) so that you can deliberately frame your images and will stop camera movement (a bad thing) to increase the sharpness of your photos. This is especially important when you seek to enlarge your prized pics in order to razzle and dazzle your friends!

4) IT’S NOT OVER — UNTIL IT’S OVER. There are many computer software programs available that provide you with the tools to enhance your photographs after you have taken them (Adobe Lightroom, Elements, Photoshop etc.). They allow for you to adjust exposure, image highlights & shadows, contrast, color saturation, etc., in your images to bring out the best photographs. There are also many online tutorials, as well as classes available, to learn how to fully utilize these programs.

Most importantly, grab your camera and get out there & play – and have FUN in your garden! There is a wealth of color, details, amazing designs and surprises that await!

Doug Bascom, Whatcom County Master Gardener (2009).
Professional Photographer: www.dougbascomphotography.com