Monthly Archives: July 2020

‘Home Grown’ diary project – the photography update …

Recording Veggie McVeg patch project on my iPhone…

Sometimes the best camera to use, is the one you have to hand…

ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure settings, focal length, focusing… I could go on and to many people this is like a foreign language and they glaze over and switch off… so my observations and comments in this blog will be kept technically easy peasy. My current phone is fairly middle of the road and not one of your top of the range models. By the way, you don’t need high end editing software. Look for the editing capabilities that your phone camera will have, or, look for some freely available editing apps out there that you can use – these will help with simple cropping, rotation, light adjustments, contrast, colours and the like.

As great as it is to have my pro camera (the big C) to use, I also get a lot of fun from using the one on my phone and this was the ideal choice to record my ‘Home Grown’ garden project. Why, well outside (even on a dull day) there is plenty of light to capture good shots. Also, I spent a lot of time (certainly in the early days) preparing, planting, thinning, potting out, keeping it all protected… and lots of watering… and I didn’t really want to spend equally long amounts of time taking photographs. It was fun, but functional to tell the story with visuals, in (hopefully) an interesting way.

First thing was to make sure my cameras grid lines were switched on… oh and that my lens was clean – generally speaking throughout the images, I’ve tried to keep horizontal lines, not perfect, but as straight as possible where that was the intention. Sometimes though, the best illustration is to get a good perspective angle. Also, caution here, depending on how close you have your phone to your subject, you will see some distortion in relative distance and size.

vegetables, fruit, grow your own, new skills,
A perspective angle, to show the area in the early days…
vegetables, home grown, growing
Not quite the same angle, but similar, to show a more recent state of the main veg patch.

Then there is the angle you take the image from… phone cameras are very sensitive to small variations in tilt – either left to right, or top to bottom… or both – and something you can be quite unaware of. Also make sure you know where your lens is pointing from… is it top right/left, or would you get a better angle to turn it 180 degrees so the lens is bottom right/left? Generally, I needed to take a shot just above and looking down at a slight angle, to illustrate what was in a particular pot or tub, but not too high that it lost perspective. Probably the most challenging thing to get the angle right, was the lettuce house, because of the cloche over the top, which took two people to lift off and many a moment spent leaning in as far as I could get without falling over!!

tomatoes, home grown, vegetables,
Quite a good example, of the angle used to illustrate the small plants, without all their leaves merging into one another.

I had a few challenges getting either close enough or the right angle, not just for the ‘viewability’ of a shot, but if the sun was out that day and reflecting straight onto my viewing screen… I couldn’t see a thing. Talking of sunlight, this made a difference to the time of day I captured things and the direction I took the shot from. However, given that most days it would be first thing, or late afternoon I’d be out checking on the garden, that was the best time to be taking photographs. But any time during the day at weekends, when many of the longer tasks were completed, the light is more of a challenge, especially when part of the garden was in sun and part in shade – so bear this in mind. The evenness of your light will make a difference to the success of your shot, unless you are intentionally going for a more artistic contrast effect.

lettuce, salad leaves, grow your own,
Just got away with some mottled sunlight and shade, and the angled perspective helped.
This flower taken in very full and strong sunlight just worked in its beauty and detail… they don’t stay open for long!

What I enjoyed the most were the detail shots… where I got in really close to the subject to illustrate a point I was making. This often involved delving under a quantity of foliage to get an interesting angle. Getting to know your cameras focusing distance is important here, to make sure your image is sharp. You can also achieve an effective ‘depth of field’ when getting up close to your subject, which will help highlight what you’re talking about… if you get your focus point correct.

tomato flowers, vegetables, home grown
I got right under this tomato flower to capture its detail, which worked with the dark background of the shed behind.
bees, pollenation, wildlife
I was able to get right onto the bees level and get him sharp as the flower conveniently sloped away to the front.

I hope the above has been of interest or useful and from now on, I’m going to spread out the recording of the fruit and veg growing, as time is needed on more work related projects. However, I still hope to do a couple more updates, as there are still things to learn, harvest and sow 🙂

For next time, among other things, baby tomatoes have appeared 🙂 …

Do enjoy your summer 🙂

‘Home Grown’ diary project – update 12 … Veggie McVeg Patch…

Trying to outwit the local wildlife …

Each week, when I think I’ve probably reported enough, something new happens! Having sown some new lettuce plants, which appeared really quickly in that warm spell, I’m greeted with this site…

Lettuce, home grown, vegetables, eaten
Someones helped themselves to my baby lettuce!

I’d recently said how safe I thought my lettuce were from pests – suddenly I realise I could have a slug problem. I stuffed all available holes round the cloche with newspaper and thought these upturned pots over the lettuce at night might protect them.

protection, pots, vegetables, home grown
This worked and helped me capture the culprit.

It worked and not only did it protect them, it helped me catch the culprit. Two mornings later, I came to remove the pots and found this little guy in with one of the lettuce! He was a bit camera shy for this, so before we fell out completely, came to an agreement with the slug… or I told him what was going to happen… he was going to move and live out on a big wide beautiful common… well away from here, so he can happily munch something else other than my lettuce! I still have no idea how he got in?

slug, pest, vegetables, caught in the act.
He wasn’t showing his best side for this photo…

So everything else seems to be growing well… the beans are still flowering…

Dwarf beans, flower, vegetables, home grown
I just think these are the prettiest shade.

One or two raspberries are slowly starting to ripen… I’m picking them just before they get too ripe, as not prepared to share with the birds and have no way of putting nets over to protect the fruit.

raspberry, fruit, home grown,
I’m picking these just before they get too ripe and attract the birds.

A lot of growth continues, above and below the ground... I will be digging up a few more carrots and beetroot this weekend and have a regular supply of courgettes to pick.

vegetables, home grown, growing
Growth continues above and below the ground.

Even the tomato plants have started to flower – happy days… or so I thought…

tomato flowers, vegetables, home grown
First tomato flowers showing – more excitement.

Now I have several close friends who are following this and are far more experienced growers than I am. So I’m eternally grateful, after last weeks blog, that two of them (thank you W and A 🙂 ) reminded me that I needed to pinch out some shoots from the tomato plants… WHAT … quick… where was my book or google! So, hoping I’ve understood this properly, you can see the stub of an extra shoot (that I’ve pinched out below the flower buds) that grow at the apex of a leaf branch. I went round all the plants and removed several.

tomato plants, vegetables, home grown
I’m hoping I’ve got the hang of this job now and understand why it’s necessary.

However, this wasn’t the only excitement going on in a week. I come out one morning to find lots of evidence that a mole had been using the main veg bed as his new home… tunnels had been dug everywhere. I was a bit shocked – in all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never had moles in the garden… and… there was no evidence how he/she got in.

holes, moles, pests, vegetables, home grown
This is just one of several areas showing a trail of tunnels all over the main veg bed.

How was I going to catch the little blighter, I can’t bring myself to lay traps, but it had gone everywhere, round the beans, courgettes, beetroot and carrots. The very same evening I came out to more carnage … fresh overground trails straight through the new carrot seedlings in a couple of places and evidence of a tussle…

carrots, seedlings, vegetables, home grown
Carnage among my new carrot seedlings.
carrots, seedlings, vegetables, home grown
Carnage among my new carrot seedlings.

… and there on the concrete next to the main veg bed… one dead mole. I was rather hoping to somehow catch it and move it to the same place I had taken the slug… out on the common (don’t quite know how this was going to happen). However someone else had stepped in and resolved my problem…

mole, wildlife,
So pretty, but very dead.

You may recall from week 6, one of my cats helped me inspect the new greenhouse, well she took the matter into her own paws and caught the mole at some point during the day – she simply did what cats do – a hunter through and through.

I would add this following image was not taken on an iPhone.

cat, feline, pet
She just did what cats do…

Carrot seedlings re-planted, tunnels collapsed – I’m hoping it was a one off visitor!

Next week – I’ll try and devote to a photography blog…