Life

An RHS expert's advice on how to take great photographs in your own back yard

Want to improve your garden photography? An RHS competition judge shares insider tips

The dry garden at RHS Hyde Hall

THINK your outdoor photos are the bee's knees? Now's your chance to prove it to the RHS. The charity's free annual photographic competition is now open, offering cash prizes and the opportunity to have your work exhibited.

To give budding garden snappers a steer, Chris Young, chairman of the judging panel and editor of RHS members' magazine The Garden, talks us through why these three garden photos work so well:

1. The essence of a garden

"This shot of our RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex shows the stark outline of the different forms and shapes of plants in January. With winter stripping back some of the leaves and many of the flowers, we are left with a composition of foliage, spent flowerheads, stone boulders and the rolling landscape in the background. Using the camera in landscape form widens the horizon of the shot and ensures the maximum view is taken."

2. Colour your senses

"Winter doesn't mean 'no flowers'. There are many jewels in the plant crown at this time of year, including iris. This bulbous Iris reticulata 'Pixie' is a small plant often used in winter walks. This image ensures the focus is on the deep purple flowers, blessed with yellow splashes of colour, while the foliage in front and behind is out of focus. This centres all attention on the clump of flowers and brings their welcome joy to the viewer."

3. Not just plants

"The trusty robin always makes a picture-perfect subject for a photograph. By creating a shallow depth of field around the subject, we can focus all our interest on the robin sitting atop a spent seedhead. The background is a muted colour, while the orange of the birds' breast tonally links to the browns behind."

:: Winning photographs will receive cash prizes from an overall prize fund of £10,000, and feature in an exhibition at the RHS London Plant and Art Fair (Jul 11-12). Entrants must submit photographs online by 10am on March 1 at rhs.org.uk/photocomp

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