By Connie McDonnough
Nebraska Extension Master Gardener 

Master Gardener:

Photographing Plant Life


September 8, 2021

Some photography tips to capture great shots of your garden and landscape:

Anytime is a good time to photograph something in your garden. But to improve your photography, early morning and late afternoon offer the best lighting of the day. Overcast skies also provide naturally diffused lighting. Shooting during these times limits the harsh, bright light of the mid-day sun. Also take lots of shots so you have a variety that you can look over later and choose the best ones to keep as a reminder of this year’s garden.

Flowers are probably everyone’s No. 1 photography subject, but they aren’t the whole story. Also consider structures and decorations in the garden, vegetables and also critters such as butterflies, birds, family pets.

Shoot horizontal and vertical images, perhaps looking where the natural light is coming from will lead you to shoot from the rear view of a flower. Remember the garden is a sum of its parts, so photograph the things that give your garden personality.

Take establishing shots using wide angle, then zoom in a little for some medium shots, and then get close-up for macro photographs. Look for clean lines and strong colors. Make your photographs more graphical by filling the frame with a single color or texture. Consider using a background such as colored white board, to help the subject stand out. The use of a tripod can change the composition of the shot.

While summer might be a favorite time to shoot photographs of your garden, don’t feel limited to one season. Interesting subjects can be found in the fall, winter and spring months. Photograph the leaves turning in the fall, or snow blanketing an evergreen tree, or when the first crocus breaks through the snow.  There are always seasonal variety and amazing subjects! Remember to get close to the subject and look for an interesting aspect.

When I was a teenager, I had to be careful about how many pictures I took since developing the film was a costly investment. No so today. Now most of us have a powerful digital camera included in our cell phone and is readily available to photograph that unusual aspect of the garden. Don’t have a garden?  Then visit the downtown street gardens, local parks, pathways by the river, or a friend’s garden. Capture the beauty of nature in photographs!

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Nebraska Extension educational programs abide with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture. 


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