Photographing in the garden on a stormy day                                   


During my many years enjoying the exciting medium of photography I have photographed all most anything that happened to be in front of my camera.

I haven’t bothered with restrictions or claimed specialties. Sure, I have worked for all kind of clients, and most of the images I produced included people. That was how I put bread on our table for years. But when it came to my personal photography I always have been, and still am, an opportunist.

The process of creating an image on a roll of film or capturing data on my camera’s sensor excites me. Thinking the picture through, capturing a feeling and making technical decisions stimulates and excites me. However, I will admit all that also drains me. Photography has never been relaxing.

When I go out to photograph something it’s hard for me to think about anything else. Back when I when I spent almost every weekend photographing weddings my wife learned to just leave me alone. Nevertheless, over the past 40 plus years I did find a way to relax. No, not getting drunk.

No matter how wired I am or how mad something (or someone) has made me, if I pick up my camera and wander my wife’s garden the tension drifts away. I suppose any garden or quiet wooded area would work as well.

My wife could find enjoyment walking, smelling and looking at her flowers, but I don’t really care about the flowers unless I am pointing my camera at them. Where the colours would have mesmerized her, I would be thinking about how some plant’s tonality would look as a black and white photograph.

This week the storm clouds have been coming at me from all directions, not just the sky. Some photographers might chose to search out large birds that frequent the river or lakeside, while others would select the nearest sporting event to work out frustrations. I have friends that seek out the camaraderie of others and spend time in their studio creating masterful portraits. But for me a solitary walk, searching out shapes in a garden always lifts my mood or at least helps me cope with the storm clouds in my head.

Wednesday was as stormy as my mood and the clouds were darkening the landscape. There was a time when low light was bothersome for photographers, but with the technological marvels we now hang around our necks, low light is no problem at all. I just selected ISO 800, (I could easily have gone to ISO1600 or higher) and kept my shutterspeed at 1/250th to reduce camera shake and started taking pictures.

As readers know I prefer to use a flash to balance the overall exposure. In this case I mounted a ring flash on my wife’s 70-180 macro lens. I usually like to use a tripod, but I needed to walk and besides I was pretty sure I was going to get wet.

On flat overcast days it isn’t the colours that attract me, it’s shapes, interesting locations and the position of the plants. I spent a lot of time lying on the ground shooting at plant level.

The nice thing about using a flash is one can easily brighten or darken the background by either slowing down or speeding up the shutterspeed. And when the background has fewer details I stop down my aperture to disguise elements by under exposing them.

An afternoon garden is quiet, the plants are just there waiting and unlike locations with people one doesn’t have to engage in conversation.   How does it work for me? I like this quote by American photographer Annie Leibovitz, “The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”


16 responses to “Photographing in the garden on a stormy day                                   

    • Thanks fragg.. Linda’s garden is a bit grown over, but it goes on and on covering most of the 200ft front. I kinda get lost in my thoughts and sometime just sit on the ground – forgetting to take pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lovely! My garden is postage stamp size and consists of 2 buddleas, 3 plants in pots (i don’t know the name of them) several empty plant pots and my newly acquired mini greenhouse. And my shed 😊 where I will be when stormy head days occur! Would love 200ft but I’d have to knock someone’s house down to have that!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful post reflecting on how we can loose ourselves in the process of capturing an image. It can be a great outlet for those stormy days when sometimes we just need to get outside of our own heads! I love your quote by Annie Leibovitz, I think it is so true!


  2. I totally relate to your comments. I like that quote by Annie Leibovitz. Right now I have a great time photographing emerging spring blossoms and leaves and whatever wildlife happens to pop up. My wife loves to go for nature walks with me – but if I want to spend quality time with her, I tell her that I’m not bringing my camera – although I still have my Samsung 5 cell phone which does take very nice closeups (16mp) despite the small sensor size.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed your response to the conditions! Here in Wellington the wind is non-stop all year – a real challenge. Yes – photography is draining of energy and also relaxing in a funny way because it doesn’t tolerate the interference of other problems. Des.


  4. Great words, I too don’t really go for all the specialised stuff, but I guess that s because I am a lazy photographer! I prefer to snap and see, spur of the moment, capturing that moment in time that otherwise is lost.


    • Hi Karen, You are no different than most beginners in this exciting medium.
      At this point you totally depend on the camera’s technology. However, there might (I really hope so) come a time when you are ready to become more than a point-n-shooter.
      As an imaginative Photographer you’ll want to push the envelope of your creativity. There will be no more as you now are satisfied with, “snap and see, spur of the moment” for you. When that day comes I hope to still be in contact.


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