Public gardens are bursting at the seams with blooms of colour and as most are free it means you can spend a few hours taking great floral photographs with no extra cost.
Public gardens vary in size and some even attract photographers because they are home to a particular species of flower. When's the best time to visit will depend on what flowers you're trying to capture in your images but generally there's something to capture all year round. Don't overlook photographing topiary, water features, ponds and streams too.
What Camera Gear Will I Need?
When you're heading out the door, make sure you have your camera bag because as well your sandwiches and a flask of tea, you'll also need a few lenses. As you could find yourself changing lenses frequently a sling bag with side access could make it easier and quicker to reach for a particular piece of kit but a camera backpack that's designed to carry several lenses, camera body and accessories will also be fine.
When it comes to lenses, a wide-angle lens will give you sweeping shots of the colourful gardens while your telephoto will get you close and your macro lens even closer still.
Pack a polariser to stop glare and help enhance the colourful blooms and a reflector will bounce light where it's needed. If it's shade you need your own shadow will work perfectly well but a piece of plain card will also do the trick.
Take a notebook and pen along too as once you're back home all those Latin names will be long forgotten and you'll need to know them so you can title your images correctly.
Make Sure You Contact The Garden Staff
If you give the public garden a quick call you'll be able to find out what's blooming and when. You'll also be able to check if there are any restrictions such as: do you need to always stick to the path? Or, can you get close to take a shot of a flower head that completely fills the frame? And, are tripods allowed? If not, you'll need a sturdy hand and very still air to stop blur spoiling your shot. You could also pack a beanbag or use a wall, bench or other type of support that you'll find in the garden.
What's The Best Time Of Day?
Make sure you arrive early as the light's better, there's less chance of breeze and there will be fewer people to get in the way of your shot.
What Type Of Images Can I Take?
It's very easy to be lazy in a public garden and stay in one place but there's lots of space and plenty to see so make sure you take advantage of that.
Change your focal length, create a different angle and move your point of view. Use a wide-angle to establish where you are but then move in closer for frame-filling shots that burst with colour and detail. Think out of the box a little and be different if you can. Set your camera up on a tripod (if allowed) and shoot a time-lapse series of a bud opening or find some plants which are dying to give your flower photography a different slant.
Look for paths that will draw the eye in and gateways that will frame your shot. These patterns and props are fun to look for but if you ask the garden's staff or do a quick search online you'll soon find a few tips that point you in the right direction as well.
How To Deal With Wind & Shake
As with all types of flower photography wind is your enemy, that's unless you want to create blur of course! A tripod will help reduce camera shake when the wind's blowing and a cable release or the camera's self-timer will also help you take a steady shot. If tripods aren't allowed you'll just have to sit and admire the garden until the wind stops blowing. You could hold the flower steady with a piece of wire but this might be frowned upon so check first.
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