For those lucky enough to have one, a garden is a blessing. Not only does an outdoor space offer a chance to take fresh air, catch the sun and glimpse life renewed, it also offers lots of great opportunities for photography. Here we explore three techniques to kickstart your creativity, from light painting tulips and shooting the stars to photographing beautiful garden birds...
You will need
- Coloured plastic cups (or similar colourful items such as small food storage containers, tissue paper or multi-coloured Christmas tree lights)
Light painting is a simple technique that you can try in your garden after dark to create vibrant, ethereal images. Begin by making your light wand – we stacked three coloured plastic cups and taped them to our torch. When you wave your makeshift light wand during a long exposure, it will create blurred streaks of colour.
Compose a shot of flowers, trees or any other suitable subjects in your garden. It might be helpful to do this in daylight first, so you can perfect the composition. When it gets dark, put your camera on your tripod. Activate Live View mode so you can see the shot on the rear LCD display, shine a torch on your subject and tap the screen to focus on it. Set the lens to manual focus to lock it in place. You need the exposure to last for 30 seconds or more. Some cameras feature a dedicated B mode on the dial, in which case select B for Bulb, which means you can lock the shutter open for as long as you like. Otherwise you need to select Tv (Shutter priority) mode and set your shutter speed from there. Set the ISO to 100 to reduce the sensitivity of the sensor and keep noise to a minimum, then choose a narrow aperture, such as f/22 – you might need to experiment with aperture depending on the strength of your torch. For brighter results choose a lower f-number and for darker results increase the f-number.
You can use the Canon Camera Connect app on your phone to start and stop the bulb exposure. Download the app onto your phone and go to the Network settings in your camera menu to connect. The app allows you to trigger the shutter without having to return to the camera, freeing you to concentrate on the light painting. The live view feed to the phone also helps when planning where to wave the torch, as you can see exactly how it'll affect the shot once the shutter is engaged.