The beauty of living in the South is that I get to enjoy my garden almost year round. While gardens in the Northeast look a bit sad in the winter, gardens in the South provide color throughout the year. This is especially true in several local gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. There are several former plantations in the area that are filled with color from one season to the next.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is probably the most visited and is definitely my favorite. Magnolia Plantation dates back to 1670s with areas of the gardens left in their original state. This has granted me a wonderful opportunity to capture beautiful 300 year old English gardens. This along with the historic background makes for a garden photographer’s dream setting.
There are always challenges for any photographer when taking pictures. Garden photography has its own set of unique challenges. First and foremost for me is lighting.
Bright sunny days are great for going to the beach, but not for taking pictures. The best natural lighting you can have is an overcast sky. The problem with having bright sunshine is that you get a reflection off the leaves. This causes an issue with you having too much contrast in your raw pictures.
Avoid midday sun if possible. You can create an area of shade with a blanket or bed cloth. There is one inexpensive method that I like to use, and that’s cardboard. If you are able to get the right lighting the next issue is proper angle.
Getting the right angle on the subject you are focusing on is extremely important. You want to look at it from different positions and angles. This way you can eliminate any objects you don’t want in the shot. This can be a pole in the ground or a group of wires that’s used to brace a nearby tree. It could even be a hose or a broken branch. Get close to the ground and look at it from that angle. Take a few shots with your camera shooting upright. Move in closer after each shot and as close as an inch or two.
A tripod can be very useful in low lighting situations, as well as for close up shots. This will allow you to get a steady shot. I like to think I have a steady hand, but some shots are a little blurry at times.
Every season brings new life to gardens. Birds and bees in the Spring. Winter rye grass in the Fall. Sunflowers in the Summer. So, the last point that I can share is most important. Explore your surroundings and enjoy what nature has to offer. You’ll never find a subject in the garden that you have to ask to smile or hear complaints from.
I’ve been a Charleston photographer for over 10 years and each and every time I explore the area gardens with my camera at my side, I find something that I didn’t realize was there before. It makes each trip a very unique and rewarding experience.
About the Author:
Chi Photography of Charleston is a Charleston Photographer located in Charleston, South Carolina.
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