Photographing a late summer garden.   

 

I woke up to a wet day.

There was a light shower overnight, not the strong rain everything is dying for here in the southern part of British Columbia, but it did dampen things down the most since those rainy weeks last June. However, any rain is good and if I had better hearing I surely would have heard happy sounds coming from the garden outside my door.

The drizzle ended and as I lazily finished my morning coffee, like any serious photographer, I knew there was an opportunity waiting.

Many photographers that are excited with all the brilliant colours of spring ignore the dry plants at the end of summer. Sure the reds, blues, purples, bright yellows and greens have mostly gone, but there is still an abundance of colours if one just takes a moment to look.

I like photographing the garden. As that well-worn quote attributed to Mark Twain goes, “ I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like”, I admit that I have no memory for plant names, but I like all the flowers, trees and bushes one finds in a garden.

With me, it’s not really the colour as much as it is the shapes. My approach to a spring, summer, fall and winter garden is much the same. I search for the shapes, differing tones and, of course, the light.

My favourite accessory for rainy days is my ring-flash. As I would with any portrait, person or plant, I always use flash. I usually operate my flash off-camera using light stands and light modifiers. Sometimes just holding my flash at arms length works at the end of the day. But after a rain I like the sparkling direct light a ring flash produces.

The ring flash is a flash that fits around the front of a lens instead of on the camera. I prefer keeping the flash at some distance by employing longer focal length macro lenses. My macro lens, a true macro, is a 200mm. That lens keeps me out of the garden ensuring that I don’t step on other plants.

I photographing the garden, spring, summer, fall and winter, calming. Maybe that’s because I am looking into and at the small details of a landscape ignoring the world around me

When my wife and I photographed the garden together her final images were about space, design and how all the bushes and flowers fit together and how the colours interacted. Linda’s visuals discussed the landscape rather than individual flowers. Mine are more intimate. As I wrote, I am always, “looking into…at the details” when I wander our garden.

As with any portrait, I am rarely satisfied with natural light and almost always add light from a flash. And during those hours of low light as the storm slowly drifts away adding a bit of light to makes a normally flat subject come to life.

That garden just outside my door is always waiting. I never ignore it and am always looking to see what it offers.

I found this quote by the famous Canadian nature photographer and writer Freeman Patterson, “Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, you intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.”

Two Photographers Are More Fun Than One

Linda

Linda

 

Fallen Cedars by John

By John

 

Fallen Cedars by Linda

By Linda

Notch hill church. Linda

By Linda

The train goes by

By John

This week I talked with a fellow that grumbled about how his wife complains about waiting for him when he wants to stop to take a pictures. I suggested that he find a way to get his wife involved in his hobby. After he left I remembered the following article I wrote back in August of 2011. For those who may have missed it, I thought I’d post it again.

I received a most encouraging email from a reader: “In talking to you I noted that you and your wife both are into photography, so I proposed giving my wife a DSLR and get her into shooting her own pictures. She was a little hesitant to the idea saying she did not have the “artist’s eye”. However, I printed out your blogs on ‘What Makes a Good Photograph’.

After reading it she commented that “each person has their own take on what makes a good picture”, and the short of it is, she is willing to take up photography with me”.

Personally, I think much of my enjoyment of photography would be missing if my wife, Linda, was not also a photographer, and it is great that we both enjoy this exciting medium and can share the experience of making photographs.

My advice to any photographers that are interested in getting their spouse involved in photography is as follows.

Match the equipment. I mean with regard to cameras, both DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras should operate in much the same way. The models can be a few years apart, but should be the same brand and the controls should operate similarly and if two of the latest models are affordable, so much the better.

Don’t be cheap with lenses for your spouse. If it isn’t good enough for you, it isn’t good enough for the most important person in your life. Just as you would select a lens for the subject and the way you like to shoot, your spouse should select lenses for his or her preferences. I know your mother told you to share, but my recommendation is don’t share. That just leaves someone behind. If you both like long telephoto lenses, get two.

I can remember the exact moment I thought about the concept of equality. I was in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming waiting for Old Faithful geyser to erupt. While I waited I noticed a man and woman with their tripods setting up closer than me. I could see that he had a large, professional looking camera and she had a tiny, almost toy like camera. I knew that his photographs would be good and hers not so good. It didn’t matter if she was the better photographer or had the better eye, his pictures would be better, and I wondered why would she even try.

Shop for accessories together. Each photographer has his or her preferences and should make equipment choices for the subjects they like to shoot.

Education is always a good idea. Attend a photography class or workshop. Search for them on line or check local camera shops. Take turns going to photography classes or take part in the same workshop. One of my wife’s and my most memorable vacations was when we both attended a weeklong wilderness photography workshop on Mt. Rainier. In my opinion we may have got more out of that class than the other participants because we were able to share information and experiences.

Gently critique each other’s photography. Don’t just store pictures away on the computer. Sit in front to the computer display together and decide which photographs work and which that don’t, delete all the failures, and make a combined presentation of all the successful images to show your friends and family.

One photographer in the family is cool, but two photographers, in my opinion, are much better. If you want your partner to have the same excitement about photography as you do, don’t be stingy with the compliments. And if your spouse is fortunate enough to make a better picture of that waterfall or running deer than you, be sure to tell them.