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Photo Expeditions...Waterperry Gardens

I have been a keen nature photographer ever since I was a child and I still love being immersed in the nature around me and trying to record how beautiful and fascinating it is, to show to others. I love photography, and I love nature, it would seem a happy 'fit'. This is something I have seemingly passed onto my daughter Ellie as well! She has a great eye for a picture, and just as importantly, the patience to capture it. Ellie also enjoys my company (or tolerates it...) and it is a pass-time we have shared and enjoyed for years, even more so in recent times.

So the reason behind these blogs (and yes there will be more of them.....) is twofold; firstly to record and share what we encounter on our 'photo-expeditions' (and those I undertake by myself); and to pass on tips and observations based on our experiences ( and my experience in general from 30yrs as a professional). We hope first and foremost you will enjoy the pictures!! I would encourage you to send me any questions about the subjects and locations, or technical questions about the equipment/technique etc.. and I'll be happy to address as many of them as I can.

We chose Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire as neither of us had been there before and the pictures online indicated there were beautiful borders of flowers and a lovely country setting, a location we would really enjoy spending some time, and hopefully be lucky enough to encounter lots of colour and wildlife to photograph. We were not disappointed on either account! Pat Havers and her team do a fantastic job and the gardens are looking beautiful (@waterperrygardens).

As soon as we got through the entrance we came across one of the herbaceous borders, brimming with colour and insects. We nearly didn't make it any further as there was so much there to watch and photograph. That's why we are 'encouraged' to leave our cameras at home when we go on 'family walks'... Waterperry Gardens are famous for their extensive herbaceous borders (amongst other things) and they did not disappoint. In the full sun of this summers day they burst with colour. The Phlox and Achillea and Geraniums sparkled, each doing their best to attract the pollinators. But the stars of the show for us were the Heleniums...

That's me taking the picture, and that's one of the pictures I was lucky to capture. I watched that Red Admiral butterfly for ages before it came close enough for me to capture this scene. To be fair we could have spent all day on that border alone, but we pushed through and ventured around the whole gardens.

Having the right equipment helps (but it doesn't have to be the very expensive pro gear that I might use, and I'll come to that in a subsequent blog where I'll compare some pro gear with some inexpensive alternatives) but the real weapons in your armoury are PATIENCE and a sense of humour. You will spend inordinate amounts of time waiting to capture that image which you have already seen in your minds eye (your imagination), or having caught a fleeting glimpse of it in the scene in front of you.

Insects aren't concerned with your intention to show others just how beautiful they are, and the wind is constantly trying to undermine your very best efforts... The scene - especially in macro - is constantly moving and the slightest fraction of movement from one side to the other, or from back to front, is enough to completely throw out the focus with such shallow depth of field available. But again I'll address those issues in a subsequent blog. Suffice to say having patience and a determination to stand your ground and wait for all the elements of the scene in front of you to all fall in line, will stand you in good stead and improve your chance of capturing the image you want. Hopefully one which will reflect the scene you saw, and help you re-capture the feeling you had when you saw it, at a later time.

Of course having someone else with you provides you with a break from your concentration as you can point your camera towards them and thus record your day out together. Something I never used to do was appear in photos as I would always be the one taking the pictures. This has now changed a little with the advent of 'selfies' and a desire to show my children that yes I too was there on all those happy occasions!

PS - you don't always get your picture, and sometimes someone else might be around to record it....see if you can spot the intended subject of Ellies photograph here...?

If you made it this far, thank-you for reading!! Leave any messages and questions on my instagram page by leaving a comment etc... @philtullphotography or @philip_tull .

Ellie's page is also more than worth a look and she has a food blog at @elliecooksandbakes . Thanks - Philip

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