Friday, 21 October 2011

Photographing Flowers - a class at Wisley


At the end of September I went on a days Garden Photography Masterclass at RHS Wisley tutored by Clive Nichols garden photographer extraordinaire! My self-taught style of photography is the haphazard method I apply to most things in life, take as many photos as possible using various settings hoping some will turn out OK,  then pick out the best and tune it up in Photoshop.  This works reasonably well but I felt it might be good to have a clue what I was doing and put my fairly expensive camera to its best use instead of leaving everything on auto.

The day started with an interesting hour's talk and inspiring slide show of Clive's photos. I immediately realised my first mistake - the one lens I had thought about leaving at home was the one that was most suitable for landscape garden shots - my telephoto.  A lot of my garden pictures would have worked better with a compressed perspective.

The group headed out to the borders where I wanted to practice with my macro lens.  My second mistake is not to use the tripod enough as I am just too impatient to mess around with it preferring to just point and shoot.  I really need to get more practice with the macro - I can never get the focus exactly wear I want it.  I took a load of shots of this rose and although this was the best and I like the blurred green background the focus should have been more on the stamens.

I like the close up detail of the miscanthus (top picture on blog) and this to me is one of the joys of plant photography, you start to really see those tiny exquisite details of plants - but I did crop that out of a bigger picture.

The 'most photographed butterfly at Wisley'  picture is a bit clichéd but nevertheless it is still lovely.
But do I prefer butterfly pic no 1. with its interesting pose

or butterfly pic no 2. with its smudged Monet background?

After a lunch of various  nice sandwiches but sadly no Wisley Banana cake we took off for more photo practice at the Wisley trials bed.

Clive Nichols with one of the group

This is a part of Wisley I haven't visited before and it was here I made my big mistake! I was so carried away with excitement by the unexpected glory of the dahlias on trial, I took off on my own to photo them, rather than follow Clive Nichols round more closely and pick up hints and tips from the master.

I love this one of Dahlia 'Karma choc' it shows the metallic colouring and detail on the underside of the inner petals and reminds me of a pair of earrings I once had.

I finally got the tripod up and waited for the bee to come to me rather than vice versa - there were certainly enough of them around.  I preferred this picture to some closer in on the bee as I find the smudgy inky background very pleasing.

The following pictures were really just quick snaps of the dahlias with no artistic merit other than the obvious charms of the dahlias themselves.  I'm not convinced I would want any of these in my present garden although I did once have the Bishop of Llandaff ("Didn't we all dear").

I hadn't realised just how complex, vibrant and varied dahlias could be.

This flower caught my eye because of the out of place pink brush stroke on one petal

This for its intricacy

And these for their sheer exuberance!

Overall a fine day out, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, learnt a few new things and felt inspired to be more creative and thoughtful when photographing plants.  I would have liked a session where each member of the class picked a photo they had taken and everyone discussed whether they liked it and how it could have been improved but that might not have fitted in with either the timing or the relaxed ethos of the day.


Helle (Helen) said...

Sounds like quite a good class, although I would also find that having a picture critique at the end is one of the parts from which one really learns the most.

Apart from that, I don't think I've ever written on your blog before, but I enjoy reading about Spook - and your cat posts - he just sounds like quite a character.

Anonymous said...

I love the rose photo and Wisley is such an inspiring place. I used to live nearby and we used to be able to just pop along. Haven't been for about 6 years now. Would love to see the new glasshouse.

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Helle - you reminded me that I haven't written about Spook for ages so I have just remedied that. Nice to hear fom you.

Wellywoman, we are about 50 mins (on a good traffic day) from Wisley so I go quite regularly. Always loads to do and see - the plantings around the new glasshouse are amazing!

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

What lovely images - I suspect that I might also have wondered off too when confronted with all those dahlias! I am glad you posted a picture of D. Karma choc - it was a tentative on my list for next year - now it is a definite maybe.
What a fab class to take.
PS Sorry - for belated comment. :(