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How to take great pictures of gardens

Acclaimed garden photographer Richard Bloom offers tips on how to capture the best garden image

Fancy yourself as a garden photographer?

If you took some beautiful festive garden shots, snapped some interesting flora and fauna on a winter walk, captured the intricate details of a flower or leaf, or took a picture of wildlife in motion, there’s still time to enter the RHS annual photographic competition.

World renowned garden photographer Richard Bloom, one of the competition judges, offers the following tips on how to get the best out of the outdoor world on camera. After all, nature photography is one of the more socially distant and safe pastimes in the current climate…

Find the light

One of the winning shots of the RHS Photographic Competition 2020, A winter’s day at Wisley (Richard Turner/PA)

One of the winning shots of the RHS Photographic Competition 2020, A winter’s day at Wisley

The best light for garden photography is early morning or evening on a sunny day, ideally within the first hour of sunrise or last before sunset, when the sun is low and the light is soft and golden.

Aim from the side

2020 winner Helen McLain with her shot, Chicago Prairie (Helen McLain/'PA)

2020 winner Helen McLain with her shot, Chicago Prairie

Compose the scene with the light coming into it from the side or backlit rather than straight on. This will help to create mood, contrast and depth to the image.

Shoot for diagonals

Including diagonals creates both depth and drama. If a garden has a path or stream running through it, find an angle where these elements are arranged diagonally so the eye travels through the image from foreground to background.

Consider unusual perspectives

Bursting light from 2020 winner Leo Justice (Leo Justice/PA)

Bursting light from 2020 winner Leo Justice

Photograph from low down or from high up. Plant portraits and close ups are often best from a low angle, depending on the plant.

Capture colours

The best conditions for recording colour in the garden is when it’s cloudy or early or late in the day, as colours appear more saturated when the light is diffused.

Take inspiration from previous winners

Perching bush cricket (Elliot Connor/PA)

Perching bush cricket

Last year’s Overall Young Winner Elliot Connor, scooped first prize with his dramatic snapshot of a perching bush cricket in Australia’s Garigal National Park.

Offering words of wisdom for this year’s entrants, Connor says: “Entering a photography competition of this calibre can seem like a leap of faith, but it’s well worth the effort. The best pictures, I feel, are those that change our perspective.

“Look for new angles, get creative with shadows or silhouettes, be choosy about your backgrounds and bold in the execution. I hope that this year’s competition goes even further in lightening Covid’s load, as a celebration of the great outdoors.”

Steve Palmer won the 2020 social media category with this shot of 'Busy Bees' (Steve Palmer/PA)

Steve Palmer won the 2020 social media category with this shot of ‘Busy Bees’

Photographers of all levels are invited to submit their work across 10 distinct categories, including ‘Indoor Gardening’, ‘Welcoming Wildlife’ and ‘Plants’.

For ambitious photographers, the unique ‘Portfolio’ category requires a collection of at least six images united by a common theme or style, with the opportunity to be awarded a prestigious RHS Medal.

Entry to the RHS Photographic Competition is free and open to everyone, and images can be taken on any photographic device. Entries should be submitted online at rhs.org.uk/photocomp by 10am on Monday, February 1, 2021. Winners will be announced in April on the RHS website.

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Streetcar
8th Jan 2021
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Thanks for voting!
I like your tips,I will think of these next time Im out

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