Is your garden looking its absolute best at the moment? An award-winning photographer gives advice on how to take a greatpicture of it, rather than just a good one
“Instead, I photograph in very early morning or early evening, both times of the day when the light is softer, more atmospheric. Many of my best shots have been taken at 4am or 10pm.”
The ability to frame a shot and to give a sense of place – those intangible qualities that separate a great photograph from a good one – is something Jones is known for.
To discover a garden’s finest views, vantage points and any interesting plant combinations,colours and textures, as well as the way the light travels through a garden over the course of a day, she always begins every shoot with a “recce”, ideally in the company of the person who knows it best.
“When I give photography workshops, I advise people to try to get both the bird’s-eye view and the worm’s-eye view of the garden. Try to get an overview from an upstairs window, or even from a small stepladder – a few feet can make all the difference.”
As for plant names, Jones says she has learnt them on the hoof. It helped that she spent a decade living in a house opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, and attended numerous gardening workshops and lectures, determined to glean whatever knowledge she could.
But far more crucial than a grasp of plant nomenclature, she stresses, is an utter fascination in the subject matter and a deep passion for the craft of photography. It’s clear from looking at her photographs that these are qualities Jones has in spades.
When it comes to camera gear, Jones advises keeping it to a minimum or “as much as you can comfortably carry”.”
Her professional camera of choice is a Nikon D3X while her two “essential” lenses are a 24mm-70mm zoom and a 100mm-macro, but a decent compact camera with a zoom lens made by any of the better-known brands would be a more affordable and suitable choice for the keen beginner.
Whatever the camera, Jones recommends carrying a compact stepladder (light enough to sling over the shoulder), a tripod “to use as an easel and discipline to compose pictures as much as to stop camera shake”, and “a spirit level which you can buy for a few quid to stick on the hot shoe of your camera – invaluable!”
Finally, a lightweight reflector is useful for beaming light into shady corners while a diffuser (easily made of tracing paper stretched on a frame) will soften the effects of bright sunshine.
See Jones’s work at andreajones.co.uk. Her latest book is The Garden Source: Inspirational Design Ideas for Gardens and Landscapes, published by Eight Books.