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In my last post I shared some of my shots from the RHS Chelsea Flower show and promised some more going through the process. The first one I wanted to show you were a series of images from the Matt Keightley Sentebale garden. I wasn’t so sure I would like this garden. I sometimes find the ‘themed’ gardens too gimmicky. I’m also fairly ignorant of the flora of Lesotho. But in the end I really did like it. When we first arrived Prince Harry was on the garden waiting to be interviewed and surrounded by paparazzi, so apart from taking a quick pap shot of Harry I decided to come back later. The main focus of the garden was the building at the end, which represented a new children’s centre the Sentebale charity. If you want a great photo of that take a look at Stephen Studd’s recent blog post. I chose not to do a full frontal shot of the building, but instead frame other aspects of the garden, so perhaps none of my images tell the ‘story of the garden’ but show up some of the plant combinations. I wanted to get a tiny bit of the shed in the frame, but have the main focus of the shot on the planting. This was the first shot I took:_MG_6383 senteI have included a pillar from the shed, but the main focus is the planting. You can tell that it was not a tripod shot. I had a medium aperture f6.3 which allowed me to keep the shutter speed fast enough to handhold 1/80th of a second. Had I had it on a tripod I might have gone for a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field to bring the pillar into focus too.

The problem with the above image is that it is too flat the eye doesn’t know where to look. So I got up a bit higher.

_MG_6384 senteThis time the path is visible and leads the eye from the bottom right of the image. But it looks a bit washed out, slightly over-exposed. So I adjusted the exposure compensation and tried again (I know that I could have fixed the above in post-production):

_MG_6385 senteBut like on the shot above, I’ve chopped the top of the building off. And I’ve also managed to include somebody’s umbrella in the top left of the image, so this was my final image of this particular scene:

_MG_6386 senteI’m still not completely happy with it. I feel like I lost some off the bottom that should have been in there (and was in the earlier), but at least I have no longer chopped the top of the structure off. What do you think? Which do you prefer? I know that if I had used the tripod then I would have got the composition that I wanted.

As I said in the last post it was pretty wet on the Monday. We were juggling camera, camera bag, tripod and umbrella. Others came up with their own solutions….

_MG_6393 smallThis guy was also photographing the Sentebale garden, He had some weird hand sleeve three-holed-camera-housing-thing. Perhaps they will catch on…

Chris Beardshaw was back again this year. His planting normally includes lush cottage-style perennials, and this garden wasn’t an exception. This was the first shot I took.

Chris Beardshaw's 'Healthy Cities' garden

Chris Beardshaw’s ‘Healthy Cities’ garden

I wanted to get some of the planting in the foreground and some of the sculpture in the background. Because it was handheld the shot was taken at f7.1 with a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second at ISO400. Because it is at a fairly ‘medium’ sized shutter speed the depth of field is likewise not huge. Should I have gone with a different aperture to get the sculpture in the background either much more blurred for an ethereal feel, or more in focus? Or is the shot OK?

I took a shot from a similar angle but slightly later on in the day when the weather had improved._MG_6546 chris

This was at f9, 1/100th of second still at ISO400. (Note the smaller aperture yet faster shutter speed proves it was much lighter). In this case I could have used an even smaller aperture to increase the depth of field and still handheld it, taking the shutter speed down to 1/50th. With this one I included the trees to try to bounce your eye around the frame. Do you think it worked?

As well as taking some close-up plant portraits on Chris’ garden I also took these shots from the other side. _MG_6428 chris_MG_6426 chris

I guess unconsciously I am including a lot of diagonals in my photos, and many of the gardens at Chelsea lend themselves to it.

In fact Chelsea is a great place to take photographs. You have loads of different gardens to look at, you can pick a theme, or you can look for the quirky. You can get a great series of shots without including a single picture of the ‘show gardens’. In my last post on Chelsea I’ll show some of the people I saw. I didn’t spend a huge amount playing paparazzi, but I did take a few.