Sunday, 11 October 2009


It's the final day at West Dean, and the weather is dull and overcast. I was imagining this was the end for garden photography, but actually Jacqui sent us out once more (protesting "I just felt it spit on me") to tackle photography in low light.


Look at these two photos of the blue and yellow border (above). On the top one, the aperture is set to 5.6, so that the depth of focus is very shallow. This makes the michelmas daisies in the background out of focus, concentrating the eye on the foreground's pale yellow daisies instead.

The second photo shows the same view, but with the aperture set to 16. In this photo, the depth of focus is much deeper, and so more stuff is in focus at once. The problem now is that the photo looks (to me anyway) "messy", full of distracting detail. I prefer the first snap, which lets the eye settle on the foreground detail while leaving the lilac colour to provide a foil.

The point is, though, that for the first time in my life I have a choice about this.

AND I got my spiderweb photo. Result!


Arabella Sock said...

What I find frustrating is that I knew all that stuff about aperture and shutter speed when I was a kid before all these point and shoot cameras. Now I am having to relearn it all again to take control of my camera.

I agree about the top pictures and love your picture of the spiders web - well worth clicking on to enlarge.

Ryan said...

I couldn't agree with you more Emma. I absolutely adore your spider web picture.

I'm thinking of taking photography classes soon as my next project and your post inspires me even more to give it a go.

Keep up the good work!


Lucy Corrander said...

Definitely like the top one best. Much more interesting.

I have all sorts of options on my digital camera but they mostly describe subject matter. The most puzzling (to me) is 'food'. I would much rather have f stops and things.

Isn't being in control wonderful!


VP said...

I love my little point and shoot for its compactness so it's no trouble to take with me wherever I go.

BUT having spent 2 years at evening class trying out all of this stuff AND having a lot of fun in the process, I do get frustrated when I can't mess around with aperture and shutter speed to do exactly what I want with a photo.

However, I know that I would never take a DSLR around with me even a tenth of the time that I do now, so I accept the compromise. Almost.

Mark D said...


Juliet said...

West Dean sounds fab, Emma, and I love your spider's web :-D

I'm afraid I like the bottom of the two pictures better though - am I the only one?

I could do with a photography course as well. My point and shoot has all sorts of overrides so I can mess around with aperture and shutter speed if I want to - but it does most things so well on auto I have never made the effort to find out how. I would probably be a much better photographer if I did.

Carrie said...

Congrats, once you get to grip with the basics photography is so much fun and a great way to express yourself.

colleen said...

I say!

I have been thinking about upgrading to a more complex camera but, like Veep, know that I would leave it at home more than half the time. Or drop it once too often.

emmat said...

I am delighted to find so many other people bamboozled by their cameras! But as Juliet points out, the second picture has its its charms, which I can see too, it's just that now I can actual control which one of those two pictures I take.

And in reflection of Colleen's wise comments, I have to admit that my SLR has been dropped twice, once down some far-too-highly-polished stairs in a French museum, along with me; and once about two foot off a pub bench near the Pashley tulip festival, onto soft grass, which cracked the LED screen so I have to look into the camera to see what setttings its on.

James A-S said...

I always used to have complicated SLRs with light meters and extra lenses and different filters and tripods and f-stops and all that stuff. I even developed pictures in the bathroom.
Now I am too lazy and am in thrall to my little pocket sized digital point and shoot. so simple.
However, some of me still hankers for clunking shutters and wide neckstraps.
Lovely to see you at West Dean

Dawn said...

I desperately need some photography tuition. However, since I dropped my DSLR in a French zoo last year, I have to use all my creative energy just to hold the sodding lens on.

emmat said...

That's exactly what happened to me! Except in a French museum, not a French zoo! Did you snap off the mounts for the lens? I held mine on for about a year before succumbing, it actually only cost about £60 to fix.

Arabella Sock said...

Eek! Everytime I open your blog (which is often as I use it as my blog hub) I get a box saying user authentication required then something about


Esther Montgomery said...

It's an impressive spider's web - but you could have drawn it for much less expense and effort. Don't know why cameras are so popular.


LittleGreenFingers said...

I'm not exactly sure what the mounts are (I am officially clueless) but I may well have snapped something. Those damn French tourist spots are hazardous places. Merde! Zut alors! (or something like that... I never did manage French GCSE and am trying to make amends by listening to my 6-year-old daughter's French for beginners CD. Unfortunately I only know how to sing something about socks on a washing line and how to call a thieving monkey 'Rascal!')

£60 you say? I should probably do that but then again that equates to about three fully accessorised outfits from New Look...

AMIT said...

Yes just lovely pictures.Thanks for sharing.

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Dirty Girl Gardening said...

great the salvia.

Simon said...

Where's Emma? Anyone?

Sian said...

hey emma

lovely pics! loving the site and wondered if you take any online advertising :)

look forward to hearing from you.

best wishes

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Catharine Howard's Garden Blog said...

Cool pic. Should be bigger - much bigger.

Mila @onlinephduk said...

The photos are great! My, just look at the web, built into perfection! Perfect capture! Good job for that! The aperture and shutter speed is doing great! I’m looking forward to see more of your photos and more developments. Keep it up and have a blessed weekend ahead of you!

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