Photographing gardens in their best light

In Fiona's Garden | Showing gardens in their best light

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The lake at Bebeah, Mount Wilson (www.bebeahgarden.com/) in autumn. Camera: iPhone8, auto setting

The lake at Bebeah, Mount Wilson (www.bebeahgarden.com/) in autumn. Camera: iPhone8, auto setting

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Tips and tricks from Fiona for photographing gardens in their best light.

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Photographs make wonderful garden memories.

I try to photograph every garden I visit (with the owner's kind permission, which I beg for on arrival), though it's a balancing act between keeping alert for a good shot while taking in the garden.

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Visiting Bebeah at Mount Wilson recently was a challenge because a good shot presented itself at every turn of the path.

But how rewarding when I came to the lake that is the heart of this glorious garden: after finding my shot I could relax and enjoy myself.

The vital thing to consider when photographing a garden is the light. This overrides everything.

Dawn and dusk are the most flattering times to shoot but, understandably, garden owners prefer to stick to civilised visiting hours.

Keep your eyes peeled for eye catching features to anchor the foreground or direct your eye into the middle ground like pots, sculptures, fountains, unusual plants

So first up, check the direction of the sun (or find north on a phone compass) and wherever you are in the garden, shoot towards it or sideways to it, never directly away from it, this deadens the photo quality.

Select a variety of views - long, wide, enclosed like outdoor eating areas, patios, courtyards.

Keep your eyes peeled for eye catching features to anchor the foreground or direct your eye into the middle ground like pots, sculptures, fountains, unusual plants: a giant variegated agave at Bebeah was exactly what I needed.

We all love flowers but try looking beyond individual blooms at colour combinations and interesting leaves, at shapes as well as colours.

Avoid large, dense trees or buildings that cast black shadows. Keep elbows in and feet apart to help avoid camera shake.

Ask yourself what you like best about the garden. What defines it for you, what will fix it in your mind, design, plants, the landscape beyond? What gives each internal space its special vibe?

As with everything, the better prepared you are the better your results.

What your photos are for dictates what sort of camera to tale. Smartphone cameras have the huge benefits of being light and simple, you won't waste time worrying about settings.

Get to know your phone camera backwards - like finding the right light, this overrides everything.

Sit down and take half an hour to learn the meanings of its tiny icons, which ones you'll use and which you can forget. Learn how to access them fast, including bypassing your password to go straight to the camera app.

I don't use built in filters as I enjoy capturing natural light, nor do I use much post-production editing, if any. But each to her or his own and many photographers use these brilliantly.

Practise by photographing your own garden. Shoot in early morning, again in late afternoon, then compare shots so you can see exactly how the change in the sun's direction transforms the picture.

Finally, when photographing an open garden, be patient: the people wandering into your carefully composed frame will soon take their own shots and move on. Step aside for them - you'll have more time for the garden.

Bebeah Garden, Mount Wilson, entry: adults $10, children $2 Details phone: 02 4756 2014, email malvareez@yahoo.com

  • READERS PLEASE NOTE in the print edition of The Land this week's gardening column was published under the incorrect byline and was in fact by Fiona Ogilvie. The Land apologises for any confusion this may have caused.

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