PhotoBoards and Hellebores

January and February have flown by with orders flooding in from all over the UK. I would like to thank you most sincerely for ordering your flower seeds from me. I wish you a very happy and productive season with flowers galore. Yesterday before I started packaging orders for posting I took an hour out to take some flower photos.

parcels-to-post

barn-backdrop

Some of our Hellebores are just starting to bloom now so I’ve picked just a few. Ideally Hellebore flowers should be cut when the flowers are more mature than this. When the stamens have fallen and the centre of each bloom is starting to form seed pods is the ideal time. I know these won’t last long now I’ve cut them but they are so pretty that I just couldn’t resist them.

These particular Hellebores have flowers that droop downwards because of their growth habit and because of the sheer weight of their petals. To view these flowers properly would mean placing any vase above eye level. In the past I’ve floated Hellebore blooms in a shallow bowl of water and that works very well. This time I’ve tried an alternative and photographed them from above… but out of water. This meant I had to work fast to capture images before both the petals and stems wilted.

hellebores

Taking photos outdoors is my preferred option if the weather is suitable. We have some sheltered spaces around the garden which usually provide a little photography oasis whatever the weather. On a cold, blustery and grey day with intermittent showers I was much happier indoors with the log fire blazing.

I get quite a lot of questions about my garden photography so I thought that you might be interested to see how I took these shots today. You may be surprised to see that indoor photos can turn out surprisingly well even on a dull day if you take a few simple steps.

How to photograph flowers indoors

1) First find the light. We live in a lovely bright house with high ceilings and light walls but on a grey day even this space can seem quite gloomy. In the morning the light streams into our dining room through the floor to ceiling window so this was the best place for my 9am photo shoot. Later on in the day patio doors or large conventional windows also allow plenty of light. There will always be a spot somewhere in the house that’s getting some good light.

2) Choose your subject. When I first started taking photos it took ages for me to choose a perfect subject. I spent so long thinking about what to do that I didn’t actually take many pictures. Now I know that it’s way more important for me to simply take some pictures, experiment a bit and discover what my camera can do… so there’s really no need to get hung up about what to photograph. A quick trip into the garden and these Hellebores more or less presented themselves to me. Their soft pink blooms shone out against their glossy green leaves and probably more importantly they were very easy to cut growing next to a path and close to the house. No wet feet for me!

pale-hellebore

3) Choose your background. I like to choose backgrounds that compliment my subjects. Today I’ve been experimenting with a lovely photoboard by Lindsey James at www.photoboards.org. This particular background is called Barn and I love it.  It fits very well with the country garden theme of my blog and looks like weathered timber of an old barn.  In the past I’ve laboriously made my own boards with sheets of MDF from the builders merchants with wallpaper pasted on top. I must say that this photoboard is a much easier, lighter, cleaner and faster option! This board looks so realistic. Even close up, I don’t think anyone could guess that it wasn’t weathered timber but a 60 x 60cm smooth photograph board. I simply popped it on the floor right next to the window.

barn-photoboard

double-hellebore

4) Arrange your subject.  I usually try a few arrangements tweaking the position of leaves and flower heads until I am happy with the way it looks. In this case I made sure that the flower heads were turned towards the window to make the most of the available light. I wanted to make sure that the centres of the flowers received the most light because I find their detail quite fascinating.

dark-hellebore

5) Adjust the ISO on the camera. For a natural look I prefer not to use a flash, interior lights or studio lights. Luckily many digital cameras have a light sensitivity setting called ISO than can be raised and lowered as necessary. Outdoors where there is plenty of light I usually I set the ISO to 100. Indoors I find that I need a setting of 2,000 to 3,200 depending on just how gloomy the day is.

6) Take the shot! One of the main advantages of using a digital camera is the freedom to take as many shots as I like until I’m happy with the result. Usually moving around the subject is useful to try different angles but in this case I stood in one spot and simply moved the photoboard until the flowers were exactly in the right place. I took lots of pictures that I’m happy with and some that will never see the light of day because they didn’t work out. The bad shots are never wasted though. By experimenting a bit I find out what works for me, what I like and what I don’t. Finding your style I think they call that.

texture

Love GillianSo that’s it. How easy was that? In just one hour with a few flowers, a window, a digital camera and a photoboard I have a selection of images I can use here on my blog and on social media. Trying something new always inspires me. I’ve got lots of ideas now and I’m already planning my next shoot. Now then… which photoboard should I choose?

Do you use photoboards  or special backgrounds for your photographs?