Inspiration from top Garden Photographer Clive Nichols2 Written by Lisa on 8th May 2012 in Inspiration
On Saturday I attended Clive Nichols’ garden photography workshop at Wakehurst Place with my good friend Rona Wheeldon. Clive is a world renowned garden photographer so we knew we were in for a great day and I think I speak for us both when I say that it exceeded our expectations.
I have attended a couple of photography workshops over the last year but they have predominantly been about getting to grips with my camera so I was really looking forward to spending a day thinking about composition and setting up the shot.
I really want to improve on my garden photography, capture the ambiance of the gardens I visit and design. The pictures are my best shots from the day so I hope you can see some improvement!?
The first part of the day was spent in the lecture theatre and Clive took us through some of his pictures and explained how the pictures were composed. He talked about how important it is to shoot towards the light, how this really brings the garden and close up pictures to life.
This became really clear when we went out into the garden – the weather was awful on Saturday morning, chucking it down with rain when we arrived, so the sun was well and truly out of sight. These leaf pictures were taken with the sun behind them (and the clouds!) and amazingly there was still enough light to bring out the details and make the edges glow.
The best time to take photographs of garden is first thing in the morning as the sun rises. At this time of day the light is soft and brings more atmosphere and depth to the photographs. Later on, once the sun has risen, the photographs tend to have a rather flat look to them because the shade is too dark, the areas that catch the sun become washed out and the colours fade.
The light under this Acer was magnificent because the surrounding trees were diffusing the light. I was hoping for a much better shot of this view, but I wanted to feature it here anyway because I think it was the loveliest place we stood all day. I have no doubt that Clive’s shot of this view was far superior, but he has had a bit more practice that me!
The background is also important to consider, how this can completely change the look and feel of the shot. I really like the unity of the background with the leaf below – the soft fuzzy background against the wet surface of the leaf in the foreground.
But, it’s also possible to use backgrounds that contrast with the subject you are taking. In the morning Clive showed us a picture of an orange Gerbera against a yellow Dahlia which, because it had been shot using a macro lens, produced a wonderful vibrant yellow fuzzy background.
Later this week you’ll have chance to see the after pictures of my project in Sutton which is looking wonderful, but I was rather disappointed with the photographs when I took them.
Attending Clive’s course has made me realise that I should have been at the garden first thing in the morning so that the colours were richer and the atmosphere more real. I would love to get some shots as the sun comes up so will let you know when I get the chance to go back.
If you want to improve your garden photography then do look out for one of Clive’s courses. He is running one at RHS Garden Wisley on 24th July and I think another at Wakehurst Place later in the year so do keep an eye on his website for more details.
(Photos: Lisa Cox for Lisa Cox Garden Designs)