A botanical garden is a place where you can see all sorts of plants from all around the world. Many cities have botanical gardens and, depending upon where you live, you can find all sorts of opportunities for great photography. Botanical gardens can have park-like areas and greenhouses, and they may specialize in plants from different areas of the world (for example tropical plants). They may also offer guided tours (a great way to learn about the different plants), educational displays, and even various kinds of entertainment.
All in all, botanical gardens are one of the best ways to get some truly magnificent photographs of rare and exotic plants without having to travel to a different country. Here are some tips to improve your botanical garden photography:
- Take your time. The plants are not going anywhere, so take your time to find the right angle and the right shade of light.
- Keep the camera steady. If you have a monopod or a tripod, use it.
- Get in close for more detail.
- If your camera lets you customize the settings, try using aperture mode (this is where you set the f-stop while the camera automatically sets the shutter speed). Try using a wide aperture setting, which will let you focus on the plant while blurring the background. As always, experiment with different settings.
- Take lots of pictures and experiment with fine-tuning your camera settings.
- If the garden has indoor areas, like greenhouses, which are warm and humid, condensation can form on the camera. Condensation is basically tiny droplets of water that form when the warm, damp air in the greenhouse comes in contact with a cool surface (in this case your camera). The best thing to do is to put your camera in a plastic bag for a few minutes as you enter the greenhouse so as to give it time to warm up to the indoor temperature. Remember, if your camera appears to be getting wet, it is probably a good idea to stop using it until it dries.
- Wear the right clothing. Much of the botanical gardens will be outdoors, so remember to dress so that you are comfortable. There is nothing worse than not being able to take good shots because your fingers are too cold.
- Watch the light! Photos taken at dawn or dusk produce better colors because the light is softer. Bright, direct light, as you might get at noon on a sunny day, can actually ruin a photograph because some parts will appear too bright and some will appear too dark. Remember, you can always create a bit of shade if it is very sunny.
Botanical garden photography can be great fun if you are willing to learn and experiment with your camera. Just remember, as always, it takes time and patience to figure out how to get those truly exceptional shots.
by Simon James Allanach, edited by Alan Frost
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