Friday, May 25, 2012

Garden photography in dull weather

click photo to enlarge
It's well known that in the UK the main topic of conversation isn't the state of the economy, the royal family, politics, the achievements of a football team or the goings on in whatever happens to be the favourite soap opera of the day. Not one of these matters of great importance do people dwell on overly long, rather it's the everyday subject of - the weather. In a country such as ours where latitude, the Gulf Stream, the surrounding sea and the proximity of a large land mass - "the continent" - produce a temperate climate with plentiful cloud and, often though not always, several kinds of weather in a single day, the weather is always going to be more of a talking point than it would be in a Mediterranean region, the centre of a continent, or almost anywhere else. And when the changeable weather pattern departs from its normal fluctuations and produces a period of unseasonally low temperatures, persistent cloud cover and very regular precipitation, as it has this spring, then you can be sure that the regular chatter about the weather becomes a grumbling storm of comment, cogitation and complaint.

I've found that this spring's weather has definitely impinged on my photography. Dull days, with little shadow and low contrast give what is often called "flat lighting", something that is often difficult to work with. I say "often" because it seems that this kind of weather also affects your memory. I know full well that there are circumstances and subjects that respond well to overcast skies, but occasionally I forget, and fail to search them out and take advantage of them. I described some of the positives of this kind of light a couple of years ago when I posted a photograph of boats on the shingle beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk. On my recent trip to Herefordshire I came upon another such subject that worked well on a dull day. It was in Hampton Court Gardens near Leominster. The bright splash of red of the tulips in front of the attractive, timber and brick pavilion, provided the burst of colour that was needed for this overcast scene of greens, greys, brick and dark water. The saturated colours, the absence of contrasting highlights and shadows, and the lack of modelling that the latter two qualities confer, lend a character and mood to the subject that I like.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 65mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 160
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On