The Morning Call

A per­fect time to pho­to­graph gar­dens

As weather cools, turn a cam­era on your sur­round­ings

- By Kather­ine Roth Gardening · Lifestyle · Arts · Photography · Hobbies · East Coast · New York City

The coro­n­avirus has led more peo­ple to spend time out­doors, and many find them­selves walk­ing the same paths and gaz­ing at the same trees or shrubs day af­ter day.

Au­thor and self-taught land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher Larry Lederman sug­gests look­ing at your sur­round­ings anew by turn­ing a cam­era on them.

Fall and win­ter, he says, are the per­fect time to take up land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy.

There’s the gor­geous fall fo­liage but also the beauty of the bare trees and their shapes.

Lederman says to start pho­tograph­ing now and then watch the year-round trans­for­ma­tion of the land­scape.

His new book, “Gar­den Por­traits: Ex­pe­ri­ences of Nat­u­ral Beauty,” ex­am­ines 16 East Coast gar­dens through­out the sea­sons, of­fer­ing in­spi­ra­tion for novice land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers.

“There’s some­thing to be said for shift­ing one’s fo­cus to­ward land­scapes, par­tic­u­larly trees, many of which are at their most beau­ti­ful in the fall,” says Gre­gory Long, who was pres­i­dent of the New York Botan­i­cal Gar­den for more than 25 years and wrote the book’s fore­word.

That shift in au­tumn is “lib­er­at­ing,” Long says, “par­tic­u­larly when the fo­cus is not so much on hedg­ing and weed­ing, but more about beau­ti­ful trees and wind­ing paths.”

Lederman started out by tak­ing long walks through the Botan­i­cal Gar­den every Sun­day morn­ing, mak­ing a sort of pho­to­graphic in­ven­tory of the trees.

His ad­vice to those try­ing to

shoot beau­ti­ful land­scape pho­tos:

Be­gin in fall or win­ter, and watch as the year un­folds.

To get a good sense of a gar­den or land­scape, Lederman rec­om­mends start­ing to pho­to­graph it in the win­ter, when “ev­ery­thing is bare and you can see the bones of the land­scape. Af­ter that, ev­ery­thing is a sur­prise,” he says.

“Some gar­dens are truly sur­prises. It’s like watch­ing

a wave come in. It builds up force, builds up more force, and sud­denly you are in­un­dated with this burst of light and color,” he says.

“Some gar­dens have rooms, some have paths that let you wan­der, guid­ing you in so you can con­tem­plate, es­cape and won­der. My job is to see that in a way that’s new and in­ter­est­ing, and com­mu­ni­cates the whole aura of the space,” Lederman says.

Prac­tice look­ing, then look­ing again. And again.

Take your time, Lederman em­pha­sizes. He spends two to three hours at a time in each gar­den, even in rain or snow, some­times go­ing straight from gar­den to gar­den, gear in tow, for a full day, ob­serv­ing light­ing, shadow and com­po­si­tion.

“If you take pho­to­graphs of your gar­den and you fin­ished and say you’ve done it, you haven’t even started,” he says. “Try it again the next day, stand in a dif­fer­ent place, and re­ally look around and take your time. Think about where you want the sun, and what you want to em­pha­size, what you want to in­clude or ex­clude. Then change your place again.”

Think about com­po­si­tion; what do you want to in­clude or ex­clude in the frame?

“The frame is ev­ery­thing, and your job is to fill the frame,” Lederman says. It’s the dif­fer­ence, he says, be­tween a quick snap­shot and an artis­tic pho­to­graph.

Con­sider or­der and bal­ance, and pay at­ten­tion to where your eye wan­ders.

“You can take pic­tures of a gar­den and it looks like a mess, just a lot of flow­ers or some­thing. But that’s not the art of it. The art of it is to give you a way in, and a sense of en­chant­ment,” Lederman says.

His pho­tos tend to in­clude a gar­den path, which guides the eye in, or some­times a wellplaced stone wall.

Keep an eye out for the idio­syn­cra­sies and emo­tion of a place.

“I aim for images that cap­ture both the quirk­i­ness of the tree along with its in­her­ent el­e­gance and beauty. I’m look­ing for a sense of place, then I try to cap­ture the vis­ual qual­i­ties of it that give you an emo­tional feel,” Lederman says.

Re­flec­tions in a creek or pond, moss cov­er­ing stones, a daz­zling gar­den gate, an ar­bor or a branch lean­ing way over in a cer­tain way — there’s a lot to see in a great land­scape, he says, even when the leaves have fallen and the col­ors faded.

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 ?? LARRYLEDER­MAN/THE MONACELLI PRESS PHO­TOS ?? Pho­tos from the book“Gar­den Por­traits: Ex­pe­ri­ences of Nat­u­ral Beauty”by Larry Lederman.
LARRYLEDER­MAN/THE MONACELLI PRESS PHO­TOS Pho­tos from the book“Gar­den Por­traits: Ex­pe­ri­ences of Nat­u­ral Beauty”by Larry Lederman.

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