One thing I love about my job is the variety of work that I do. Recently I’ve been out and about photographing gardens for an award winning landscape gardener Louisa Bell.
Louisa uses the photos that I take to enter her gardens in for awards so it is important that I photograph the elements that she needs to show to fulfil the entry criteria. One of the biggest issues is normally the deadline ! For lots of the awards there is a very short time window for entry and it is always the dilemma of leaving as much time as possible for the planting to become established and making sure we have enough time for a reasonable weather window (no-one wants photos taken in the rain !!)
After walking round the garden with Louisa and talking through the various aspects of it I then get down to work.
Landscape Garden Lighting
With this particular landscape garden I started with the pool area. One common problem with any garden building is that the lighting in them, is normally designed for atmospheric evening lighting rather than being able to see inside during the day. To overcome this I normally use an off camera flash triggered with a radio trigger to light the inside of the building. I get this set up and configured before I start photographing the rest of the area. Then, any time the building is in shot it is lit correctly.
As you can see the range of the radio trigger is more than enough to trigger the flash in the pool building so you can see the back wall clearly.
Yes, I made two trips to site on the same day. Once to get the day time shots and later in the evening to get the night time shots. For the evening shots I didn’t use any additional lighting for the pool building.
Landscape Garden layout
For this garden the layout and hard landscaping was important; especially with the change of levels so I needed to make sure that my photos covered the most important areas.
Working at Night
The brief for the night shots was slightly different in that the key thing to show was the garden lighting. This was all LED lighting to help keep the power consumption down but there was certainly a lot of it !
This ended up as one of my favourite photos from the evening; looking back across the lake towards the house with the reflections in the water and all the lights on the steps. It also provided the scariest moment for me….. I was on my own, in a strange garden, a long way from the house and all of a sudden some ducks flew up out of the undergrowth. In all honesty I’m not sure who jumped most, me or the ducks !
I also used my Sony HVL-F60M flash unit triggered with the Elinchrom universal radio triggers that I use. I also primarily worked from a tripod (Manfrotto 190 carbon) to make sure that everything was steady.
I used Lightroom for all the post processing. Some of the night shots were composites of 7 different exposures and I’ll make a video that explains how I work and what I do to create the finished image. To get the “star lights” in the last image I was shooting a f8; this gave me the look I wanted on the lights and as much depth of field as I needed at the distance I was from the subject 🙂