‘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 🙂

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