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10 Tips for Shooting Great Landscaping Photos

Wednesday September 28, 2011

"Garden lovers usually enjoy toting their cameras along on outings hoping to capture some of the unique qualities of landscapes."

Others like to document the evolution of their own garden to post on blogs or landscape photo sharing websites.  And California landscape professionals often document examples of gardens they have designed or installed for landscape marketing purposes.  Regardless of the motivation, the act of taking good landscaping photos is a very daunting task, especially for the novice with a point-and-shoot camera.  Armed with the below practical suggestions, perhaps you can improve your landscape photography.

1.  Scout the Landscape

If you are visiting a landscape for the first time, or even at a garden you know intimately, resist the urge to click away upon arrival.  Once you put your eye behind the viewfinder, your experience of the landscape changes to one of accomplishment (taking a great pic) versus enjoyment.  After all, none of us are taking landscaping photos to get rich; rather, it is for the love of landscapes and gardens.  So first take a thorough walk through the garden to experience all of is nooks and crannies and take note of special locations that feel like they have potential.  Once you’ve enjoyed the space, then pull out your camera and get to “work”.

2.  Look for Color Contrast

The juxtaposition of complimentary colors in landscaping photography is an integral component to many of your landscaping photos.  Often, landscapes and gardens can be monochromatic and feel flat when viewed behind the viewfinder.   Looking for bright colors helps define a photo and provide depth of field.  For starters, look for red and green or blue and yellow combinations.  In time, your eye will be attracted by a wide variety of color combinations.

3.  Pick the Right Light

As you likely already know, taking landscaping photos in full sun produces some harsh results.  And unfortunately, when your focus is Mediterranean landscaping, you’ll often encounter day after day of beautiful, sunny days. So plan your outing in the early morning or evening hours when the sun produces enough ambient light to illuminate the garden for the best possible photos.

4.  Don’t Do Too Much

It’s easy to run from plant to plant, patio to patio, and try to capture every possible angle.  But by doing so, your focus becomes quantity versus quality.  So slow down and choose a limited number of areas you want to capture.  Spending time in fewer places allows you to see different compositions that might otherwise be missed.

5.  Think Beyond Sexual Organs

It can be very seductive to take a multitude of macro shots of blooming flower’s sexual organs (stamen and stigma) or perhaps its interesting foliage.  Sure, a few here and there can be wonderful, but they don’t tell the story of the place.  Pull back and take in the wider vistas and views beyond.

6.  Minimize Unexciting Skies

Featureless skies that dominate a composition will lessen the value of an otherwise great shot.  If the sky is plain blue or overcast, re-frame your shot to include less of the sky and more landscape. 

7.  Experiment with Orientation….Landscape or Portrait that is

You’ll surprise yourself how significant a 90 degree rotation of your camera can be.  Even in situations when you think a shot demands a landscape orientation, take a portrait shot before moving on.  Sometimes we attempt to capture too much and simplifying the scene by reducing the horizon makes it more powerful.  And often the opposite is true.  So to avoid missed opportunities, take each picture twice; once portrait and once landscape.

8.  Get High

Although we usually experience a garden at ground level, there are advantages to photographing from higher vantage points including establishing overall symmetry and patterns, identifying scale, and clarifying the organization of a space.  Look for balconies, roofs, trees, poles or any other scalable object to gain elevation (shimmy up at your own risk).  Or, if you’re really thinking ahead bring an 8’ folding ladder.

9.  Get Low

If taking landscaping photos from a higher vantage point doesn’t compliment the space because there are bare areas, unfinished spaces, or obstructions; consider dropping down to a child’s level, or even lower yet.  Simply dropping your horizon line may remove some unwanted objects from your frame and show you a view of the garden you had never anticipated.

10.  Frame your Photos

Rather than viewing your subject at a distance from the camera, consider bringing objects into the foreground to compliment the composition.  Doing so allows the viewer to feel as if they are actively embedded in the shot as opposed to statically viewing the image.

About Landscape Resource: Landscape Resource provides an enormous landscape photo library. Visit where you’ll find landscaping photos, California landscape ideas, sustainable garden designs and the current trends in landscape sustainability.


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