To stand a better chance of winning the Gardeners’ Garden 2018, you’ll need to take a good quality ditigal jpeg photograph of your garden. Follow these tips:
1 Make sure it’s sharp. Hold the camera steady as you take the picture. Lean against a wall or bench, or tuck your elbows in. Try not to jog the camera as you press the shutter button. Breathe out slowly, giving the camera plenty of time to focus on the subject.
2 Wait for a bright but overcast day. Harsh, direct sunlight creates strong shadows and highlights which will rob a scene of shadow and/or highlight detail. Conversely, dull grey days will make the colours look too drab.
3 Look for a focal point. Choose an angle of view that focuses on a particular subject within the scene. This might be a single dramatic tree or shrub in flower, an attractive plant in a container or a pretty bench.
4 Use lead-in lines. Compose the picture so linear elements such as paths, fences, steps, walls etc lead into the frame rather than out of it, for a more pleasing result that holds your attention.
5 Look for a frame within a frame. Look for opportunities to draw attention to a vista or view. For example, try framing the garden through an open gate way, a pergola or with attractive tree branches in the foreground.
6 Move your feet. Don't settle for the first angle you see – explore the view by walking around the garden, moving to left or right a few paces, and trying the same position from a kneeling position. You may also find the photo improves by turning the camera into the upright (vertical or portrait) position.
7 Photograph attractive plant combinations. This shows you know how to partner plants for colour, texture and shape.
8 Watch the background. Try to achieve an angle of view that minimises distractions in the background – such as ugly wheelie bins, litter, parked cars, bare soil, telegraph poles etc
9 Tidy plants. It may help to remove obvious weeds and prune off less attractive plant growth that could spoil the photo.
10 Use the rule of thirds. Imagine the composition in your viewing screen is divided into a grid of 9 (like a noughts and crosses grid). If you position key elements of the composition on the lines and intersections, the photo can look a lot stronger.