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Top Garden Photography Tips for Capturing the

Colours of Autumn
by RHS
October 27, 2016

In order to give budding photographers a head start, world renowned Garden Photographer and RHS Photographic Competition 2017, Marianne Majerus has provided her top six photography tips for creating great quality images.

1. Spot spider webs

Before you decide to sweep spider webs away this season, consider incorporating them into your photographs, as they can add a sense of mystery to your Halloween themed photos in particular. Especially at dawn on sunny autumn days flowers and foliage will be decorated by dew and cobwebs. If there is little or no wind you will have time to compose your images and won’t have to change aperture to compensate for subject movement. When photographing spider webs try experimenting by including more details in the frame, in order to add context or capturing the moment a spider is visible to add a focal point.

2. Get creative with seasonal fruit

Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal fruit and berries which might make for great close up shots and could even be consumed afterwards. Wild berries in particular could make for inspiring subject matter, with their voluptuous forms and the strong colour contrast between the leaves and the fruit, which can add dramatic tension to photographs. Including more detail such as the path where they are found and their surroundings can help add a story to your photograph. Autumnal forests can have a magical ambience which can produce almost fairytale-like images.

3. Play with autumn light

Make the most of the beautiful misty morning light which gives this season its character. To avoid camera shake when the light is low try propping the camera against a tree trunk or alter your ISO rating to achieve sharper images. As with most photography the nature and direction of light falling on a subject is crucial. Soft, side-lighting will give good modeling whilst keeping shadows delicate, whereas stronger, low-angled side-lighting is very good for emphasising the texture or bark and leaves.

4. Look out for back-lit leaves

Back-lit leaves, whose colours and cell structure are enhanced by the sun can offer great subject matter and can make for strong graphic images. When photographing close-up flowers of leaves do not fixate on the subject to the extent that you forget the background. Try using the depth of field preview lever on your camera to see what is visible behind your subject and consider using a larger aperture to make out-of-focus background. Try moving around a subject to find a pleasing background.

5. Don’t spoil the lawn

When outdoors, it is important to make sure you don't spoil the delicate dew on the lawn by walking over it before a photograph is taken. Try ti plan your shots before leaving footprints on the lawn. Remember to look out for flowers and plants that are a bit different or that have something distinctive about them. Autumn is not the time to look for perfection: imperfect blooms and seed heads can be beautiful in this melancholic season.

6. Discover garden wildlife

Mild autumn weather can offer the perfect opportunity to seek out garden wildlife including hedgehogs, birds and insects to create stunning images. While attracting these creatures to one’s garden can sometimes be challenging, especially in an urban environment, there are some things one could do. Try sprinkling food such as seeds, nuts and fruit on designated patches of grass or use feeders, which work particularly well for birds. Attract hedgehogs by leaving a small gap in your garden fence in order to allow them to get in and out of the garden with ease. Garden ponds can attract a wide variety of amphibians and frogs. Once you find your subject start experimenting with staging a photo by adding one or two random objects to the frame, such as a garden glove and watching how they interact. Entries to the RHS Photographic Competition can be submitted for free online from 26 May 2016 until 28 February 2017 or via Social Media with the hashtag #RHSPhotoComp (for more details and to enter please use the following:

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row