Garden photography tips from the Devonian Botanic Garden

When he’s not tending the beds in the Devonian’s Kurimoto Japanese Garden, seasonal gardener Paul Swanson is snapping photos of the plants and vistas at the Devonian Botanic Garden. Swanson is studying photography at Toronto’s Ryerson University, and when he’s at home in Edmonton, he practices the skills he’s learned at school as staff photographer at the Devonian. When I visited the gardens in mid-May, Swanson told me about some of the tricks photographers use to make plants look pretty as a picture. Here are his top three tips.

1. Get low

“We tend to take shots at eye level,” says Swanson, “because that’s how we see them.” But to add another perspective, he says, get low to the ground. “Sit down,” Swanson says, “Shoot from underneath the flowers.”

Shooting straight makes an interesting composition.

Shooting straight makes an interesting composition.

Shooting from underneath the flowers creates a more dramatic perspective.

Shooting from underneath the flowers creates a more dramatic perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Shine a little light

A sunny day may be perfect for people, but for photos, the light is harsh, casting deep shadows on sunlit petals, which heightens the contrast so much that the camera is unable to take in the nuances of light and shadow. In these situations, Swanson recommends doing what the pros do: cast some light on the shadowy areas.

 

Photographers use reflectors like the one Paul is using in this shot to cast some light on these tulips.

Photographers use reflectors like the one Paul is using in this shot to cast some light on the shadows on these tulips.

A sheet of white paper works just like a reflector, and it’s handier than a professional reflector.

A sheet of white paper works just like a reflector, and it’s handier than carrying a professional reflector.

This photo was taken without a reflector.

This photo was taken without a reflector.

This one was taken with a sheet of white paper used to bounce light onto the shadows of the petals of the geranium.

This one was taken with a sheet of white paper used to bounce light onto the shadows of the petals of the geranium.

3. Frame it

It’s sometimes difficult to portray the subject of a photo in its context. To do this effectively, says Swanson, frame it. “Shoot through a fence post or grab a tree branch,” he says. “And use it to frame something like a fountain.”

A shot of the fountain on its own.

A shot of the fountain on its own.

Here, the fountain is framed by the branches of a nearby tree.

Here, the fountain is framed by the branches of a nearby tree.

His best advice? Be adventurous! What are your tips for garden photography? Post a comment and share them with Garden Making readers.

 

Photos courtesy Paul Swanson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


5 + 8 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to top ▴