PHOTOGRAPHING
YOUR GARDEN


March 05, 2009


By Brynn Lee,
Victoria County Master Gardener Intern


Edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTOS BY BRYNN LEE/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER INTERN
The angle or viewpoint from which photographs are taken can completely change their appearance.  This shot, looking straight down on a planting of day lilies, shows stages of blooms and captures their markings.
It has always been said “a picture is worth a thousand words”,   so why not let your home garden become your personal library?

MAKE YOUR PHOTOS YOURS FOR THE TAKING
You don’t have to be a professional to take beautiful pictures right in your own garden.  The next time you go into the garden or take a walk in the yard, bring along a camera.  When someone thinks of a garden, they think of flowers and plants, but there is so much more.  Consider taking photos of the birds, insects or small animals.  You can create a picture by simply placing something like a garden tool among your favorite plants and let it become the focal point of your photo.  Because I am a 100% Texas Woman, my yard has a Texas theme.  All of my flower pots, bird houses, feeders and yard décor are red, white and blue.  This really adds accent to my garden and my photos.  If you see an interesting insect crawling on the ground, pick it up and place it on your plant, then take a photo.  The choices are endless and each photo will be your own creation. You will be amazed at what all nature has to offer.

LEARN WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

No one says that you have to have an expensive camera with zoom lenses.  With the variety of cameras available today, from digital, disposal or simply using your cell phone, you can be ready for that special photo shot.  I have an older 35mm, with a 35-70mm and a 70-210mm zoom lens when I want to get a really definitive shot. I also have  a newer digital camera.  

There are resources at your local library or photography classes offered, even the convenience of taking classes on-line, if you decide to you want to learn more about your camera and or how to get that special picture. 

“Cameras down, bottoms up”.  You will be surprised how getting down on eye level with an insect can change the whole dynamics of your photo.  Play with your camera and you will soon find the best lighting, positions and even weather conditions that best suit you for taking photos to your liking.  Some cameras enable you to change the settings from color to black and white or to sepia (brown shades).  If you have a camera that uses film, you can purchase black and white or sepia film.  Not all beautiful pictures have to be full of vibrate colors.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Maybe you think you want to photograph something that your garden doesn’t offer.  Load up the family and take a trip to the Victoria Educational Garden, located at the Victoria County Airport.  If requested, Master Gardeners are on hand to answer questions and show you around.  It is very beautiful, informative and free.
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You never know when that one shot will be the one that is of the quality to enter into an amateur photo contest.  Surprise yourself; you could be in print.

LET MOTHER NATURE BE YOUR FRIEND
I personally like early morning or late afternoon sunlight.  The mid day sun may require the use of a lens hood, which is an accessory with some cameras to shade the bright overhead sunlight.  

Try putting on those rubber boots and taking photos of your garden with moisture on it.  The sparkle of a dew or rain drop will add a special touch to your photo.  You might also want to get a photo of the early morning frost glistening on your more hearty plants and trees. So, you’re not getting moisture at your house, fool Mother Nature by simply turning on your water sprinkler!

Something that is very interesting is to take a photo of the same tree or the same plant at different times of the season or morning light verses late afternoon light.  For an even different image, all you have to do is turn your camera from horizontal to vertical.  The variations will pleasantly surprise even the amateur photographer.

PHOTOS GAUGE SUCCESS, GROWTH
Photos can be used to gauge and document growth, success or even to learn from failure.  Take pictures weekly or montly of annual plants on the same cyclical date and from exactly the same location at the same time of day.  On perennials it can be monthly or quarterly on the same date or time comparing several years of photos.  A lot can be learned of the progress from a sequence of photos taken over time on healthy, growing plants or on a weak plant or tree specimen.

MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR
I think it would be fun for each member of a family to have an inexpensive disposable camera and take a trip around your garden.  Let everyone take their own photos then compare their pictures to see what nature has shown to them. 

Maybe start each family member a photo album “See What I See”.  

Let your child the see the sequence of planting a seed and document its growing cycle with pictures.  There are step-by-step instructions on how to make a personal calendar or greeting cards with your photos.  You can go on-line or ask for assistance any where they sell and develop film. What a wonderful gift to yourself or to share with family and friends.

I know there is nothing more picture perfect than seeing a child in a field of bluebonnets or picking their first tomato, but always remember you must have a parent or guardian permission to print that photo.

So, knowing that your camera cannot harm that rare rose bush that has been in the family for years, get out there and shoot~ it will bring a smile to your eyes (lens) and then your face.


You don't have to own an expensive camera to take good photos
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
Use any type of camera:
35mm
Digital
Disposal
Cell phone

What to photograph:
Flowers
Trees
Insects, birds, or animals
Placed garden tools or accessories

Working with Weather Conditions:
Rain or dry
Early morning frost
Morning or evening sunlight
ALL PHOTO BY BRYNN LEE, VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER INTERN  (Click on image to see larger version.)
Remember, cameras up, bottoms down, when photographing an insect.  This eye level shot of a yellow jacket shows its distinctive markings, resembling a jacket that has yellow on it under the camera's lens.
Photographing leaves at different times of the season illustrates the effects of Mother Nature.  This shot of a bur oak leaf shot captures the changes in color and texture of the fall season.
LUNCH AND LEARN WITH THE MASTERS
*Presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Association
*Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St., Victoria
*Topic is "Weed Control," by Paul and Mary Meredith
*Monday, from noon to 1 p.m.
*Free
*Bring your lunch and drink

MASTER GARDENER SPRING PLANT SALE
*March 21     *Victoria County 4-H Activity Center
*Doors open at 8 a.m.
Garden elements with a theme can add focal points to your photos.  Master Gardener Intern Brynn Lee's yard has a Texas theme with all of the flower pots, bird houses, feeders and yard decor in red, white and blue.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.