6 Tips for Great Garden Photos

Will you be entering the Great Gardening Contest 2021? MSHS started this garden photography contest in 2020 when the pandemic forced cancellation of the Minnesota State Fair and our annual potted plant show. The in-person plant show is back, but we loved seeing your garden photos and are continuing the Great Gardening Contest this year! As you are preparing your entry, here are some of our favorite garden photo tips! (Also, you can view Michelle Mero Riedel’s webinar on garden photography for free.)

watch the light in your garden scene

Watch the light when photographing a garden.

  1. Avoid shadows. The best times for taking photos are on a bright but overcast day or in the 90 minutes or so before sunset and after sunrise. Plants seem to glow in what photographers call the “golden hour.” If you are taking images on a sunny day, force the flash on your camera to fire. The flash will light your main subject, reduce shadows and give the photo more detail.
  2. water on lupine leaf

    Water and unusual shapes can add drama to images.

    Move in, up, under. Try a variety of angles to take a photograph of your favorite plant. Shoot an extreme close up, then from above, then from behind or under the plant. (Sometimes the backside of a plant is just as interesting as the front!) Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground or put your camera above your head for a shot—unusual angles make for interesting photos.

  3. Where’s your focus? Modern cameras will sometimes choose the focus for you. Make sure you check where the focus is. Is it on the flower petal you want or that leaf behind it. When taking a close up of a flower, focus on the stamens—these are like the eyes of the plant.
  4. Clean up the scene. Don’t let your perfect scene be marred by a dead leaf, stray stick or hose laying on the grass in the background (been there, done that!). Clean up the scene around the plants you’re photographing and check all four corners of the image you’re about to shoot.
  5. dragonfly on a leaf stalk

    This dragonfly posed perfectly on a stalk of grass.

    Photograph wildlife! Garden visitors make for more exciting photos, whether it’s a butterfly on a ray flower, a bee poking into a turtlehead flower or a squirrel munching on your tomatoes. We may not love all the wildlife that visits our gardens, but they add a lot to your garden photos. Habitat for Beneficial Wildlife is one of the judging criteria in the Great Gardening Contest.

  6. Have fun and take lots of photos. One of the best ways to get great garden photos is to take lots of them! You can always delete the bad ones later, and you never know what magical garden moment you’ll capture with your camera.

Check out the rules for the Great Gardening Contest and don’t forget to use the hashtags #GreatGardeningContest2021 and #mnhort on your images. We can’t wait to see them!


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