Click here to read "Garden Photography ~ Part 1"

Garden Photography ~ Part 2

Improved Technology

Recording pictures by capturing light on a light-sensitive medium has certainly advanced from the first color photo, taken by James Maxwell back in 1861.[1] Today's digital technology began in 1981, when Sony released their Sony Mavica, the first consumer camera that did not require film . The Mavica, however, was not completely digital, and it wasn't until 1990 when Kodak unveiled their commercially available DCS 100, that digital fully arrived.[2]

This is all fairly recent; therefore, it is no surprise that many of us are still discovering and learning about digital cameras and equipment, and how easy and fun it is to create and enjoy digital photographs.

photo taken by Dave's Garden member 'Dutchlady1'
Entry in Dave's Garden 2007 Photo Contest

"This plumeria was a wedding anniversary present ..."

Photo by: 'Dutchlady1', Naples, FL

Outstanding Quality

Thanks to advances in digital technology, amateurs can now create quality photographs. Using the settings on DSLR cameras and the features in computer software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, the hobbyist can adjust lighting, texture, cropping, color tones and even the background of their photos to suit their own artistic interpretations of the subject.

Dave's Garden (DG) member 'Brugie' from Chariton, Iowa used an Olympus D400 Zoom for Brugmansia photos entered in DG's first photography contest in 2001 and now has a Kodak Easy Share Z710. "I notice a big difference and love my newer camera," she says.

Camera Equipment

Camera equipment varies greatly and becomes a personal choice for consumers, based on needs and budget. Today, many hobbyists are seeking out equipment with camera controls such as automatic focus and exposure, and are finding

Painted Lady Butterfly, Photo by: 'Mrs_Ed'

Painted Lady Butterfly

Photo by: 'Mrs_Ed', Whiteside County, IL

favorable equipment that allows use of some previously owned (or purchased) 35mm film lenses. Digital single-lens reflex camera's (DSLR) have become quite popular, especially since they offer the ability to exchange lenses.

Dave's Gardens, bird watching enthusiast 'Mrs_Ed' of Whiteside County, Illinois, purchased her DSLR Pentax model (K100D) so she could use her old K lenses. She says, "I can get nice close shots without even using the macro zoom feature." However, she noted that she does switch to her Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom for taking photos of butterflies and flowers. Like many garden photography enthusiasts, 'Mrs_Ed' utilizes multiple cameras, including a Kodak DX7590 as her point-and-shoot camera.

Professional Garden Photography

Unlike amateurs, professionals need to maintain state-of-the-art equipment and often spend countless hours traveling out of state or out of the country seeking to capture perfect shots. They may reschedule flights or travel plans just to seek out the perfect lighting for their subject of interest, such as a misty haze captured in an early morning sunrise. They are in the business of selling their photographic images.

Afton Villa Gardens, Photo by: Ian Adams

Afton Villa Gardens, St. Francisville, LA

Photo by: Ian Adams

Ian Adams is a professional freelance environmental photographer and teacher of garden photography in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He travels extensively throughout the country capturing images of gardens, old barns and mills, covered bridges, lighthouses, natural areas, fishing villages, rural scenes and historic sites for his book projects, calenders, posters and postcards. His work has been used by the US Postal Service for an Ohio bicentennial Postage Stamp.

Ian has authored and co-authored 17 books on photography. The photo shown (above) appears on the front cover of his 2005 publication, "The Art of Garden Photography," which is available through the Dave's Garden Bookworm. In his book, Ian discusses many topics including: seasonal gardens, equipment, film and filters, lighting, abstracts, close-ups, and even the business of being a garden photographer. He will be expanding on this book to include more information of digital photography and says, "An updated version is scheduled for late 2009 or 2010, though the book title has not yet been finalized by Timber Press."


Kenrokuen Gardens, Photo by: Claire Takacs
Kenrokuen Gardens - Kanazawa Japan

Photo by: Claire Takacs

International Garden Photographer of the Year is a prestigious award granted annually by members of the Garden Photographers' Association in the UK. Having several entry categories, the competition has attracted leading professional photographers such as Claire Takacs, a professional freelance photographer from Victoria, Australia with a passion for nature and the outdoors. She was the overall winner in the International Garden Photographer of the Year 2008 competition and winner in the Garden Views category for her image, 'Kenrokuen Gardens - Kanazawa, Japan'. "I find Japanese gardens so beautiful," Claire says, "I was so excited to be there while it was snowing. It was like being in a painting. People were not deterred by the snow. It was such a sight to see the colorful umbrellas passing through the gardens and over the bridges."

Claire always uses her Canon 1DS, which is what she used for the Japanese garden shot, along with a 70-200mm telephoto lens. Claire says, "A lot of photography is about timing. Light is also very important. The best, most atmospheric light is always early morning and late afternoon/evening." She also recommends looking at your garden from different perspectives from what you are used to seeing on a daily basis, such as getting down really low or shooting from high up on a ladder.

Cloudehill Gardens, Photo by: Claire Takacs

Cloudehill Gardens - Victoria, Australia

Photo by: Claire Takacs

Claire began pursuing garden photography after being inspired by Jeremy Francis' spectacular Cloudehill Nursery & Gardens in Victoria, Australia, which feature 80-year-old European beeches, magnolias, maples and a collection of beautiful Himalayan tree rhododendrons, all grown in the lush moist soils of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne. If you live in, or are traveling to, Australia, Cloudehill Gardens are open to the public 7-days a week.

Since then Claire has traveled extensively throughout the USA, UK and Europe photographing gardens. Her work has been published in many gardening magazines including: Gardening Australia, Gardens Illustrated, Melbourne Magazine, The English Garden, and Outdoor Design & Living and most recently with Better Homes & Gardens and Australian Country Style.

This article is dedicated in memory of my dad, Theordore A. Mehl (1929-1973). Dad loved to garden; he was a freelance photographer for a short time. Today, my mom treasures a scenic black and white sunset photo that Dad took at Haven Beach in NJ - a special memory of where they first met.

All photographs were used with permission. Monarc Butterfly & Painted Lady Butterfly, copyright © 2008 'Mrs_Ed'. Plumeria, copyright © 2008 'Dutchlady1'. Afton Villa Gardens, copyright © 2008 Ian Adams. Kenrokuen Gardens & Cloudehill Gardens, copyright © 2008 Claire Tackes. All rights reserved by the respective parties.

Special thanks to Ian Adams, Claire Tackes, 'Dutchlady1' and 'Mrs_Ed' for sharing their photos with us.


[1] Wikipedia, Color Photography, Accessed Oct.23, 2008.

[2] Wikipedia, Digital photography. Accessed Oct.23, 2008.

Related Links:

Claire Takacs - Visit the website of Garden Photographer, Claire Takacs

Ian Adams - Visit the website of Garden Photographer, Ian Adams

Redlands Camera Club, Redlands, CA - Photographers from around the world since 1896. Tips on Hummingbird Photography by Eric Miller

Alan & Linda Detrick- Garden and Landscape Design Photography

Afton Villa Gardens St. Francisville, LA

Related Books from Dave's Garden Bookworm:

The Art of Garden Photography by Ian Adams