When you’re new to garden photography, there’s nothing you want more than to capture stunning images. Applying a few simple composition basics can help you do just that! As gardeners, we mainly shoot in natural settings without access to backdrops, lighting gear, umbrellas and other props common in many photography genres. No problem! Learn how to use what is already in your scene to compose a great shot. If there are rocks, fences, a row of trees or a path near your subject, use it to spice up your photo. Here’s how…..
I started shooting in manual mode on November 16th 2017. It’s a milestone I remember well because I was so afraid to get off auto mode! Auto mode was a safe space that allowed me to take decent pictures with very little knowledge. Turning the dial to ‘M’ meant coming face to face with all the things I did not know about photography. But since I took that leap, I have not looked back. Shooting in manual mode is such a rush! Learning the basics, shooting every day and creating good photos is an incredible feeling. But of all the concepts that stumped me at the beginning, aperture and depth of field (DOF) were the hardest for me to grasp. So that’s where I want to start in this Brave Manual Mode series and hope that I can help you switch to manual mode faster than I did.
There are a few simple techniques you can use to improve your garden photos, and framing is one of them. Framing refers to using elements within the scene to create a ‘frame’ around your subject. The point of framing is to draw the viewer’s eye into the photo and directly toward your subject. It’s really easy, you’ll see.
Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.
There is nothing more fulfilling than infusing my day with flowers that I have grown in my garden. From the moment I plant the seed, I become inextricably vested in the wellbeing of each and every flower yet to bloom. When the seeds germinate, they begin to tug on my heartstrings and they never let go. No matter the weather, I go out every morning to care for them and once again each evening. It is a joy to nurture them over. When they burst into bloom, so does my heart with joy. I’m joyful because they are beautiful and easy to grow. And because they represent what is still slow in this busy world. I think I have cared for them, but in hindsight they have cared for me. I’m joyful because they are there for me when I need to escape.
Seed starting is in full swing here! I always sow extra seeds to ensure I have enough to germinate. If I’m lucky, I will all the plants I need plus some extras to share with friends and family. I like to start seeds in 4-inch pots with three or four seeds spaced apart in each pot. If most of the seeds germinate, I run into the issue of having to thin seedlings. Thinning so hard for me and I’ve heard that is also heart-wrenching for many of you. After nursing my seedlings for weeks, I simply can’t choose to save some and not others. So instead of snipping unwanted seedlings with shears, I choose to transplant healthy seedlings to individual pots.
Even though thinning tugs on my heart-strings, it is essential for healthy seedlings. Multiple plants growing in a small space doesn’t allow each plant proper space to grow. Plus crowding reduces air circulation and forces plants to compete for critical nutrients and water.
So how do you know when it’s time to thin your seedlings?
Seedlings can be thinned when you see the first set of true leaves. Seedlings develop true leaves at different rates, so check daily to see when they appear. Most plants will be about 2-3 inches tall when true leaves appear.
I started Chianti Hybrid Sunflower seeds on 19-Feb-2018. The seeds sprouted quickly and popped through the soil in just 3 days! Their first true leaves appeared in about two weeks. For more on recognizing true leaves, check out my previous post.
I prefer to thin seedlings by simply pulling out the extras. I water each pot liberally on the morning of ‘thinning day’ to help the fragile roots ease out of the soil. Sometimes the roots are entangled with neighboring seedlings, so I work slowly and meticulously to separate the roots without damaging them. However, if any seedlings break in the process (and some will!), don’t fret…..simply save them to eat in a salad or on a sandwich later.
Let me know if you have any questions about thinning your seedlings!