We know its cold outside but whipping out your camera and capturing the beauty of wildlife is as good a reason as any to get outdoors and into your garden.
Marianne Majerus, a world-renowned garden photographer and RHS Photographic Competition 2017 judge, provides her top photography tips for creating great-quality images that you’ll be proud of – they could even make great wall art for your home!
1. SPOT SPIDER WEBS
Before you decide to sweep spider webs away this season, consider incorporating them into your photographs, as they can add a sense of mystery. This is especially so at dawn on sunny autumn days, when flowers and foliage will be decorated by dew and cobwebs. If there is little or no wind you will have time to compose your images and won’t have to change aperture to compensate for subject movement. When photographing spider webs try experimenting by including more details in the frame, in order to add context, or capturing the moment a spider is visible to add a focal point.
2. GET CREATIVE WITH SEASONAL FRUIT
Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal fruit and berries, which might make for great close-up shots and could even be consumed afterwards. Wild berries in particular could be an inspiring subject matter, with their voluptuous forms and the strong colour contrast between the leaves and the fruit, which can add dramatic tension to photographs. Including more detail such as the path where they are found and their surroundings can help add a story to your photograph. Autumnal forests can have a magical ambience that can produce almost fairytale-like images.
3. PLAY WITH AUTUMN LIGHT
Make the most of the beautiful misty morning light which gives this season its character. To avoid camera shake when the light is low, try propping the camera against a tree trunk or alter your ISO rating to achieve sharper images. As with most photography, the nature and direction of light falling on a subject is crucial. Soft sidelighting will give good modeling while keeping shadows delicate, whereas stronger, low-angled sidelighting is very good for emphasising the texture or bark and leaves.
4. LOOK OUT FOR BACKLIT LEAVES
Backlit leaves, the colours and cell structure of which are enhanced by the sun, can offer great subject matter and can create strong graphic images. When photographing close-up flowers or leaves, do not fixate on the subject to the extent that you forget the background. Try using the depth-of-field preview lever on your camera to see what is visible behind your subject and consider using a larger aperture to throw the background out of focus. Try moving around a subject to find a pleasing background.
5. DON’T SPOIL THE LAWN
When outdoors, it is important to make sure you don’t spoil the delicate dew on the lawn by walking over it before a photograph is taken. Try to plan your shots before leaving footprints on the lawn. Remember to look out for flowers and plants that are a bit different or that have something distinctive about them. Autumn is not the time to look for perfection: imperfect blooms and seedheads can be beautiful in this melancholic season.
6. DISCOVER GARDEN WILDLIFE
Mild autumn weather can offer an ideal opportunity to seek out garden wildlife including hedgehogs, birds and insects to create winning images. While attracting these creatures to your garden can sometimes be challenging, especially in an urban environment, there are some things you could do. Try sprinkling food such as seeds, nuts and fruit on designated patches of grass or use feeders, which work particularly well for birds. Attract hedgehogs by leaving a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out of the garden with ease. Garden ponds can attract a wide variety of amphibians and frogs. Once you find your subject, start experimenting with staging a photo by adding one or two random objects to the frame, such as a garden glove, and watching how they interact.