This time of year in Northern Europe provides fresh opportunities for photography. But sometimes it's a good idea not to take any photographs at all!
I visited an old walled vegetable garden last week looking for likely shots. I find this time of year the absolute best time for atmosphere, colour and above all, light. We have had some wonderful mornings here in the UK in the last few weeks. Dewy spider webs, warm sun filtering through still-leafy trees - lovely. Insects are very busy too, packing away the nectar like there's no tomorrow - which for most of them probably isn't very much.
Apple 'Sunset' by Philip Smith. Nikon D2X Signma 185mm lens, @f6.3
Vegetable gardens and allotments in the early morning or evening can provide the most gorgeous images – both taking in the atmosphere of the view or focusing in on the shapes and colours of ripe vegetables – which are often among the most exotic in the garden. Last year Mark Bolton won our ‘Edible Garden’ category with his shot of an allotment at dawn.
But I was out of luck on my visit – well, I hadn’t done my preparation really. I was just a week or two too late. The lovely haze of blue Echinops that had caught my eye over the wall, were just too far gone. The bees that normally swarm around these chubby, friendly plants had gone off to more fruitful regions. The caterpillars had enjoyed many more bites of the cabbages than is ideal for photography, and the onions and leeks had gone to seed too.
Still, there was, as always in a walled garden, a lovely atmosphere of tranquility and cosiness. It was nice just to sit down and soak it all in. As a photographer, I’m a great believer in sitting and soaking it all in. When we get to a good scene, we often reach for the camera and capture the moment. But if you sit and look for a while, you start to see what really makes the scene good and you can begin to work with your environment at a deeper level. This can often inspire a much better, and more rewarding photograph, than you might have captured with your first ‘snap’.
- Philip Smith -
About Philip Smith
Philip Smith is a professional photographer specialising in gardens and plants with 15 years’ experience. His photography has featured in many magazines and books including The English Garden, The Garden (RHS) , and Gardeners’ World. His work has also featured in exhibitions at Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley and London.
As co-founder and Managing Director of the International Garden Photographer of the Year Philip is responsible for the world’s premier competition in the field, which culminates in an annual exhibition at Kew Gardens and other venues. Philip is the author of Better Plant and Garden Photography.
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