I am lucky enough to live in a city which is near several beautiful public gardens. It provides a wonderful way to spend the day as well as make photographs. It would seem that there are many who agree with me from counting the many cameras hanging from other people’s necks.
Many people only think of Spring as the ideal time to visit a public garden. However, if the gardens in my community are any indication, it’s worth a visit anytime of the year. Here are some tips to make the most of your time, especially this summer season.
Visit the Garden’s Website
Before you go to the garden visit their website to find out more about the location. There may be special events which may be of interest, but more importantly you may find out about peak times for specific plants.
Keep your gear simple. Take a zoom lens and a macro lens and leave it at that. Walking around with a leadened photo backpack is nobody’s idea of fun.
Small Tripod or Monopod
In line with keeping things simple, bring along a small tripod such as the MeFoto Traveler Tripod or a monopod such as the the Slik Lighty Pod III Monopod. It not only makes things easier for you, but also demonstrates some consideration for your fellow patrons.
Rent a Macro
If you don’t own a dedicated macro lens, this is a good excuse to rent one. It will provide you greater close-up capability than found in a zoom lens. Try a telephoto macro such as the Tamron AF 180mm lens which provides you a generous working distance.
Become a Member
If you believe that you will periodically visit a garden, it’s a good idea to become a member. Some gardens allow members to walk the gardens before normal public hours. This means less people and possibly a better quality of light.
Make Pictures of People
People enjoying the garden are as much a part of the story of the place as the flora. Make images of others taking in the beauty of the garden.
Take a Large Ziplock Bag
If you photograph in a greenhouse, the humidity levels will be much higher than outside. To prevent your lens fogging up, place your camera and lens in a large ziplock back before you walk out. This provides a more gradual change for the gear which will prevent fogging.
Observe the Light
Pay attention to the direction of the light and use it to build your compositions. The use of backlighting can help to reveal colors and details in a beautiful way.
Bring a Small Reflector
Use a small reflector such as the Lastolite TriGrip reflector. It allows you to control contrast and shadow detail, especially valuable for close-up work. The design of the TriGrip make it easy to control with one hand while you are looking through the camera’s viewfinder.
You are going to be out in the sun for several hours and so you need to protect yourself. Wear a wide-brim hat such as the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat and don’t forget to apply sunscreen.