Garden Photography

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Posted by @frankrichards16 on
Photographs are a great way to document and share gardens and garden history. Here is what I have learned.

First off, I am an amateur photographer. My main purpose is to document, not to create art. Oh yes, I am an amateur gardener as well... a retired (Ford Motor Company) electrical engineer who thinks his vocation could have been Plantsman.

Getting back to photography, I have been doing this for years and I am something of a slow learner.:) At any rate, the following are some of the lessons I have learned.

Metadata - I always add titles, captions, and keywords to photos (metadata is info about the photo that is added to the actual photo file). I publish photos on flickr. Adding metadata to photos allows others to search for and find my photos. It also allows me to find my photos (I have about 18,000 photos on Flickr with about 2.5 million views). I consider photos without metadata pretty much useless, and metadata is really easy to add to photos using a photo management/editing tool like Adobe Lightroom. Here is a photo from this past spring:

Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/2705ba
The caption metadata for this photo is: "Syringa vulgaris 'Acubaefolia', 2015, Variegated Lilac 'Dappled Dawn', sur-ING-guh vul-GAIR-iss, 10x8 ft Shrub, Z4, Blue purple flowers, Chartreuse /Yellow leaves, In Bed R2 for 18.1 years. Deep red-purple buds that open to fragrant, blue/purple blossoms. The leaves have an irregular yellow variegation. Suckers." Keywords include 49236, Bridgewater Township, Clinton, garden, MI, spring, USA Michigan, Washtenaw County, Zone 5.

The consistent use of metadata also allows for easy sharing. For example, here is a link to all of my Itoh peony photos for 2015:

Full plant and landscape shots - When I do a closeup of a flower, I always try to take a full plant and landscape shot to document size and location. I have many old photos from my garden where I have failed to do this. These photos are not as useful as they could have been. Also, if there is a plant marker, I take a photo. Here is an example: Rosa Shrub 'Home Run' with a close-up, full plant, and landscape shot.

Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/5054cf Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/298532 Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/b88e96

Artsy - I focus on documentation, not on art. However, that does not mean that I do not try to be artsy. I take shots from different angles. My dog is usually helping me, so I sometimes take some dog-level photos (how the plants would look to the dog). Sky shots are good. I consider the backgound of my shots. More examples: Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' (dog-level shot of 18" shrub), Paeonia lactiflora 'Chippewa,' and Paeonia lactiflora 'Paul M Wild'

Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/569a13 Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/9179b3 Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/ae3773

Adjusting Highlights - Photos of white or bright-colored flowers can present a problem. Of course, shooting in bright sunlight can also be a problem. I use photo editing software (Lightroom) to reduce highlights and make other adjustments. I try to produce photos that are an accurate representation of the actual flower.

Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/243744 Thumb of 2015-06-18/frankrichards16/14e3aa

GPS metadata - When I am taking photos in my garden, I usually do not include GPS info. However, when I am shooting at a public garden, I usually do. If I only have a few photos, it is easy to add GPS info manually using Lightroom. If I have a couple of hundred photos, I usually record a GPS tracking file on my cell phone (or Garmin GPS logger) and use this file with Lightroom to automatically sync my photos with the GPS data. I have thought about buying a camera with built-in GPS, but I already have a healthy collection of cameras and lenses. Here is a link to a photo taken at Michigan State University's Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton Michigan. If you click on the small map below the photo, a larger map will load, showing the photo's location.

Needless to say, I continue to learn and, of course, to enjoy. I would welcome any garden photo tips in the comments.

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Enjoyable and instructive article by vitrsna Aug 24, 2015 7:39 AM 0
Simple but easy info by treehugger Aug 23, 2015 3:57 PM 5
Picasa photo software, free from Google. by frankrichards16 Aug 23, 2015 10:28 AM 1
Great Article for beginners by ge1836 Aug 23, 2015 5:23 AM 0

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