BY DAISY DICKINSON
Whether you’ve recently discovered green fingers or are a seasoned Monty Don, your garden or local green space offers the perfect photography playground for taking your time and practising new photo tips.
Consider your output
Are you shooting for an online gallery or blog, for a printed album, or maybe you’re doing it for the ‘gram? Have a think about where you want to share your images to help you decide how to shoot them. If you’re a new gardener – like me – you might want to document your progress by creating a photo journal. I decided to consciously shoot a mix of landscape and portrait orientation images for my gardening instagram account to keep the grid interesting.
The devil is in the detail
There’s a wealth of detail to discover in your garden and by arming yourself with a dedicated macro lens like the M.Zuiko Digital Ed 60mm F2.8 Macro, you’ll be able to get even closer. Such a versatile lens to have in your arsenal – and great for portraits too – you can quickly switch between a range of focal lengths in a 1:1 scale using the focus dial on the side. Look for pollen on flowers, intricate patterns on leaves, or droplets of dew shimmering in the light. Don’t be afraid to get in close and create something abstract.
Set the scene, go wide
While macro photography in the garden is one of my favourite ways to explore, there’s just as much to be said for showing scale and setting a wider scene, too. Consider grabbing an M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, or something wider like the M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO and start to capture subjects in situ, this could be a spade against a wall or a collection of pots to show progress. If you have a lovely tree, stand back and fill the frame. When you’re shooting wider, remember to check to tidy unwanted extras from your frame like discarded gardening gloves or mess before pressing the shutter.
Fake it ‘till you make it
If you’re keen on capturing some beautiful still life flowers, but don’t want to uproot your floral subjects from their beds, consider getting creative with your backgrounds. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you can’t bring a bit of studio know-how to your toolkit. Something as simple as a piece of card or coloured paper, propped up gently on a pot can totally transform your overall picture.
Beasts of burden
Whether friend or foe to your plants, insects and bugs make such great photographic subjects! The trick with any type of wildlife photography is to learn the habits of your subjects. If you’re snapping pictures of bees, wait a while and observe how they behave, and how long they stop on flowers before moving on – this will help you set up and get ready to press the shutter at the right moment. To increase your chances, access the super control panel menu on your Olympus by hitting OK, then select Sequential High, or Low to snap a burst of images to choose from. If you want to be totally stealth-like, which is great for bird images, make sure you use silent mode. If you’re shooting with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, turn the dial to AP to access this mode.
Make a masterpiece
The pace in the garden is usually a pretty relaxed one, making it a great space to try something new. If you’re using the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, twist the dial to AP and tap to select Multiple Exposure, a method previously done by winding film back on older 35mm cameras, you can achieve this similar double image in-camera. Once selected, simply shoot one frame, then another and they’ll be combined into one picture automatically. Overlapping flowers looks great with this technique!
Time to shine
Observe how your garden looks first thing in the morning, and throughout the day. You’ll likely be familiar with the terms blue and golden hours, and they are great times to try capturing the same scene but lit naturally in a different way. Think about silhouettes in the evening, or how backlighting with natural light will look on a delicate leaf or pea pod.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself in the frame, or involve a friend to give a richer narrative to your garden story. If you’ve dug up some decent potatoes, or harvested a hefty handful of spinach, focus in on the detail and include this human element, too. If you’re shooting on your own, use the flip screen on your Olympus to make this easier.
Make a splash
My absolute favourite cheat, and way to really add sparkle to your shots is by using a watering can to give the appearance of dew on plants. Give them a good soak and see where the water collects. Bold leaves like broccoli at the allotment provide the perfect backdrop for wobbly blobs of water. Grab your macro lens and experiment with the light behind and in front to see what you can capture. You could even use a torch, or the light on your phone to manipulate further.
This is a really simple tip, but so effective. Fill your frame with colour, and enjoy the absolute wonder of growth in your garden. You could even give yourself a mini-project of searching for different hues of the same colour family in your garden, to eventually display together for a greater overall effect. Think about your depth of field for this type of capture, and set a higher aperture to see more of your scene in focus, or select a wider aperture to hone in on just a detail, like a single flower.