Springing Into Action

Spring has sprung and what better way to spend Easter shooting Marcel’s beautiful small town garden? I met Marcel de Lannoy at Walton Open Gardens last¬† year. He is a gentle giant of a man with a soft, lilting Dutch accent. He’s bonkers about bulbs….all kinds.

A feast – a kaleidoscope of colour:¬† intense, vibrant, the gardener’s equivalent of a Thai Green Curry. I was overwhelmed by hot flavours of Kaufmanniana (Tulip Hybrid), nestling against the understated, cool hues of Fosteriana. Blue and white Delft style ceramic pots (notes of Marcel’s Dutch heritage) were home to Hyacinthoides and dwarf varieties of Daffodils. Hanging baskets gave interest high up against blue washed ship lap fencing. Short cultivars enhanced the baskets and helped to add structure and shapes.

The light was perfect for garden photography: heavily over-cast. People often think that sun is great for horticultural photos but colours are bleached out under harsh light conditions. I compare the delicate quality of flowers to young skin. Fashion photographers often cast a shadow over their models using a ‘California Sunbounce’, exposing for the model’s complection and letting the background burn out. The over-cast, flat light allows the camera to capture deep colours and retain detail in light petals. On a Simpson’s sky type day, with Cumulonimbus clouds, the sun goes in and out several stops at a time. This can be a nightmare for the photographer, exposure’s all over the place if you have to work fast. What better solution than to stick your subject in the shade? Brilliant.

Sometimes I use a variety of shutter speeds to capture the movement of foliage. This time, I used a slow shutter speed to capture the quivering of Daffodil heads in the wind. Tazetta is a small, delicate, frilly variety I like very much. Some of the blooms were incredibly red…so red that I had to desaturate them at the RAW processing stage quite a lot. Canon’s default ‘as shot” profile tends to red anyway. Their daylight profile is even redder. This kind of red is so intense, it’s hard to reproduce it in CMYK. It’s looks almost luminous.

It was a truly extraordinary experience in Marcel’s garden, not least because Genevieve, his cat and planting assistant, happily weaved her way around my tripod’s legs.

Peter Nyssen Bulbs

California Sunbounce

Lastolite reflectors

Jewson’s Builder’s Merchants

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