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GARDENING

Follow the light In possession of a smart new digital SLR, Elly West enlists the help of leading local garden photographer Jason Ingram, who believes the nuts and bolts of taking a good photo remain the same even in this digital age

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here’s so much to see in the garden this month, with rising spring sap bringing everything back to life. It’s a great time to get outside and appreciate the beauty in fresh new buds and blooms, and there’s plenty of inspiration and subject matter if, like me, you’ve any interest in garden photography. Photography has come a long way since I fiddled about with homemade coloured lenses and black-and-white film for my A-level art projects back in the 1990s. And when I started working in magazines a decade later, colour slides would arrive from photo libraries in their hundreds for inspection through a loupe on the lightbox to find the best images for inclusion. Now, of course, nearly all photographs are digital and most people have access to a relatively good camera on their smart phones, which brings both advantages and disadvantages. Photography is so much more accessible, with instant results and easy editing, encouraging us to take many more photos than we did in the past. But I don’t think I’m alone in having at least five years’ worth of pictures to sort through, edit and print – that’s assuming anyone does actually print pictures these days? When the number of images on my various devices runs into thousands, it’s a daunting task. Gone are those exciting days of rifling through 24 or 36 prints landing on the doormat in a fat, glossy envelope, to pick out the ones worthy of the album or a frame. With the onset of digital photography there’s also been a surge in amateur garden photography, as shown in the dramatic rise in numbers and quality of entries for competitions such as International Garden Photographer of the Year, which regularly receives more than 20,000 submissions. (The 2019 exhibition is on until 10 March at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, if you want to visit). Anyone with a smart phone is potentially a photographer and the quality can be amazing, as shown in the iPhone Photography Awards 106 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE

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(ippawards.com). Smartphone cameras are convenient as we carry them around with us, and they make it easy to share our pictures. However, they generally have fixed-focus lenses giving limited flexibility – in essence you can’t experiment with zoom lenses, shutter speeds and apertures for more artistic results. I’m well-established on the amateur photography bandwagon and have long been armed with a decent bridge camera as well as my phone. Not quite a fancy SLR (single-lens reflex camera to those in the know – ie. one with lots of buttons and things to turn) but more than just your basic point-and-shoot. Although I have to admit, embarrassingly, up until now I’ve only used the auto functions. It’s useful to be able to take good photographs of clients’ gardens for my portfolio and website, and of gardens and plants for inspiration and ideas. However, I’ve recently found myself in possession of a smart new digital SLR and I’m planning to up my game and move away from the ‘auto’ settings to see what is achievable. With this in mind, I chatted to renowned Bristol-based photographer Jason Ingram for some tips. Jason graduated with a degree in photography in 1992 and has since established a name for himself as a leading garden photographer, contributing to numerous top-selling gardening books and publications, including BBC Gardeners’ World magazine and Gardens Illustrated. He regularly works with some of the top names in the industry, has recently been shooting with Swedish designer Ulf Nordfjell for a new book that I’m excited to see, and has also taken images for Adam Frost’s latest book, published next month, plus a new book about the Piet Oudolf Field at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton. He agrees that times have certainly changed in the industry, with digital photography making everything easier, but says the nuts and bolts of taking a good photograph remain the same. “Light is the single most important thing, more important than the

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The Bristol Magazine March 2019  

The Bristol Magazine is Bristol’s biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bristol

The Bristol Magazine March 2019  

The Bristol Magazine is Bristol’s biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bristol