Tips for photographing roses 13: Seek out the rare

It is much easier to get a lovely picture of an individual flower or even a small cluster of blooms than to take a good shot of the whole plant in a garden setting. If you see a shapely plant covered in fresh, open blooms, please give it a try, even if you tend to have more success with individual flower shots.

Great shrub or climber shots of roses in full flower in an attractive context are surprisingly rare. They simply don’t exist for many varieties.

I’m not confident about taking this kind of shot myself, but when the picture before you is so lovely, you have to have a go! This picture shows shrub and climbing roses near the peak of flower in a wide border around David Austin’s Plant Centre in Albrighton, England.

Shrub and climbing roses at David Austin's Plant Centre

Tips for photographing roses 12: finding happiness

Tips on photographing roses 12 Finding happiness

If you’re still not getting the results you’d like with your garden photography, ask yourself if it makes you feel happy – and if it does, keep going! Perhaps taking pictures gets you out into gardens, encourages you to grow more plants, or simply helps you to remember places you’ve been. Taking pictures often makes you look at things a little differently, so even if the perfect shot seems elusive, remember, it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun.

My wise, beautiful, 90 year old Mama occasionally got the fancy to draw a bird or animal, even though she was absolutely useless at it. I’m not being mean, honestly – what do you think?

Mamas-drawing

But it made her happy and I will always treasure her drawings.

Tips for photographing roses 11: keep an eye on the forecast

Tips on photographing roses 11 Weather forecastBlustery conditions present real problems for garden photography. It’s another roses are like dogs comparison, but even in a moderate summer breeze, some varieties of English roses will bounce around on the ends of their branches like enthusiastic young puppies hoping to be taken for a walk. If you’re hoping to take a few macro shots, it’s going to be hard enough keeping the bloom in shot, never mind in focus! Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 10: getting colours right

Tips on photographing roses 10 Getting colours rightI have watched (with real concern) as professional photographers struggled to reproduce colours accurately when taking pictures of cut flowers under studio lighting.  They’ve carefully calibrated their cameras, lighting, reflectors and computer screens. They’ve taken shots of test colour cards and used comparison software to prove that the colours will be reproduced accurately then, immediately afterwards, have taken a shot of a crimson rose that was well out by eye compared to the living flower.

When that happens, I suppose there’s not much you can do except blame the rose. I’m only teasing, though I can share a ‘strange but true’ observation:  Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 9: it’s not all about your camera

Tips on photographing roses 9 It's not all about your camera

“To write a great novel, you need a really expensive pen, right?”

I’ll always remember David Perry saying this as he began his talk to a group of garden writers who were keen to become better photographers.

I noted how well he grabbed our attention from the start by expressing his ideas in a way we could immediately relate to. Writers and bloggers know that opening proposition isn’t true – if only! – so why would so many of us imagine an expensive camera will magically transform us into master photographers? Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 8: always go straight back

Tips on photographing roses 8: Always go straight backIf you drive past what looks at first glance appears to be a wonderful or very unusual shot, do yourself a favour – turn round, go straight back and capture it. Don’t think you’ll feel more inclined to stop on your journey home.

I can rarely resist the opportunity to take pictures of roses, especially if they are at the peak of flower, but I’ll always regret not turning back to photograph a dishevelled cottage, set just a little way back from the road on a busy street somewhere in the South of England. The yard was full of hollyhocks in flower – I’ve never seen so many in one garden. Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 6: not all roses are equal

Crown Princess MargaretaI’m sorry to have to say this, especially as we think of roses as beautiful flowers, but I believe that some varieties are just more photogenic than others. We know that it’s true of people: why would roses be any different?

Four times out of five if I pick a nice, open bloom of certain English Roses – I’m thinking of  ‘Crown Princess Margareta’, ‘Wildeve’, ‘Constance Spry’, ‘Grace’ or ‘A Shropshire Lad’ – I’ll be able to get a shot I like, quite quickly, from a variety of angles. The individual roses don’t even need to be perfectly formed: a few stray petals just seem to add to the grace of the flower. Continue reading

Tips for photographing roses 5: experiment with the format

Tips on photographing roses 5: experiment with the format

It’s a simple but effective tip, but from time to time, turn your camera round. Looking through Flickr, I’m always surprised that so many amateur flower photographers take virtually all their pictures as landscapes. I think they’re missing a trick: individual flowers and clusters of roses are often better suited to a portrait format.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of holding your camera a particular way round: it might be so instinctive that you may not even notice it.

Continue reading