I have written before that I find wandering around our home garden with my camera relaxing. Unlike photographing people, animals, scenics, sports, or almost any other subject, garden plants are just waiting to be looked at, and it’s not necessary to pack the car with equipment to search for some secluded or exotic location. Most of us can find an easily accessible and welcoming garden close by.
I know that spring’s brightly coloured plants, or the mature flowers bathed in light on a damp morning in early summer are what most photographers are interested in. I admit that I am not very savvy when it comes to the names of flowers. Plants are more my wife’s interest than mine. Her time is spent designing, planting, and coaxing her sprawling garden. Sure, I do much of the heavy lifting, but my time in her garden is mostly with a camera and unlike those photographers that I mentioned that do most of their gardens’ photography in the spring and early summer, I don’t really care about the season, weather, or the condition of the flowers for that matter.
My intention is to find something unexpected in the familiar plants. When I’ve chosen my subject, I look at it from all angles paying attention to the background so that whatever is behind won’t interfere, and I want the shadows, colours, and other plants to add interest to my composition.
I think some people get all tied up with a need to have inspiring subjects, and ignore the commonplace subjects just outside the door. I just walk out in my yard and make pictures of anything and everything. I guess the difference is between making and taking pictures.
My sojourn into the October garden was a bit about the colour and a whole lot about the shapes. I waited for late afternoon and lucked out when the sky clouded over just a bit. I like what photographer, John Sexton calls, “quiet light”, that as he says, “fades toward the darkness of evening.”
The light at day’s end allows me to underexpose the background and to add a “pop” of light on a specific subject from an off-camera flash.
I don’t really have a plan or a specific subject that I want to work on. I just wander and look. Figuring out the exposure and balancing the fading light with my flash only takes a moment as I choose an interesting plant and search for a creative angle.
It is that quiet and calming time on an October afternoon that welcomes me to the garden, and to quote Sexton again, “I feel quiet, yet intense energy in the natural elements of our habitat. A sense of magic prevails. A sense of mystery – It is a time for contemplation, for listening – a time for making photographs.”