Learn the se­cret to great gar­den pho­tos

For this is­sue’s ap­pren­tice fea­ture, N-Photo reader Mar­i­lyn Tyzack and pro Philip Smith got to­gether in the won­der­ful grounds of RHS Wis­ley to ex­plore pho­tograph­ing gar­dens. Check out their bloom­ing lovely day…

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The Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety (RHS) has been run­ning for over 200 years, and is the world’s largest gar­den­ing char­ity. The gar­den at RHS Wis­ley cov­ers over 240 acres, so pro­vided am­ple pho­to­graphic op­por­tu­ni­ties for Mar­i­lyn and Philip. Ar­riv­ing early in the morn­ing, they picked up their Nikons and went over to their first flo­ral spot to get their eye in.

Tech­nique as­sess­ment Aper­ture-pri­or­ity

Philip says... I asked Mar­i­lyn to get her­self set up and show me her first steps. Luck­ily, her very first step was to choose a set­ting that I al­ways stick with – aper­ture-pri­or­ity. Man­ual mode is great for those that want full con­trol over the im­age, but the only set­ting we’re re­ally go­ing to be chang­ing to­day is the aper­ture, to con­trol depth of field. It’s best to keep things as sim­ple as pos­si­ble and let the cam­era choose the shut­ter speed.

Tri­pod or no­pod?

Philip says... I al­ways shoot with a tri­pod. I’ve made an ef­fort not to rely on it as much re­cently but I find this very re­stric­tive be­cause hand­hold­ing the cam­era forces you to change your ap­proach to shut­ter speed. Mar­i­lyn finds the op­po­site is true, and told me, “I don’t like to be tied down to one spot, I feel it lim­its me.” I en­cour­aged Mar­i­lyn to use her tri­pod for most shots so we could make fine ad­just­ments to com­po­si­tion with­out af­fect­ing our sharp­ness with slower shut­ter speeds.


Philip says... Be­cause I mostly work on a tri­pod I never have to worry about sen­sor sen­si­tiv­ity (ISO), so I keep it at its low­est set­ting (100) to pro­duce the clean­est im­age pos­si­ble. Mar­i­lyn was shoot­ing at ISO200, which doesn’t make much of a dif­fer­ence, but since we were putting her Nikon on a tri­pod, I said we might as well use the low­est pos­si­ble ISO to cre­ate the best qual­ity pic­tures.

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