4 Top Arboretum Photography Tips

Here are a few tips on photography in an Arboretum. With trees all around and wildlife and flowers abundant, there’s no excuse not to break the camera out!


Digital Camera Operation

4 Top Arboretum Photography Tips: Leaves

In our busy modern lives, it is often complicated to find the time to shoot great autumnal images, considering the amount of research, walking and perseverance that is often involved. Big hitters like the New Forest and The Lake District are often out of reach for city dwellers, especially with a family in tow. So this coming autumn has a go at visiting an arboretum, as they make a brilliant and easy alternative, keeping the kids amused with throwing leaves at each other while you take some breathtaking opportunities to capture autumnal photography.

1. What kit is best?

When it comes to the kit, fit a medium telephoto lens to your DSLR as it’ll be particularly handy for capturing leaf and branch detail. Make sure you pocket your macro lens too. Don’t forget your wellies when you visit an Arboretum as they do get a lot of visitors and the grounds get well-trodden.

2. Why are arboretums so good as photographic locations?

Right, back to the arboretums! As they are collections of trees from various continents, this can be just the ticket to an easy shoot. Horticultural planners include sensational visual displays to attract visitors in their thousands, to places like Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire to name one of the UK’s favourites. Yet it’s not as simple as falling off a log, you need good sunshine and a well-timed visit to get the best of the colors and the day.

3. Any particularly stunning trees I should look out for?

There are two tree species to look out for – Maples and Acers. Most arboretums have these trees in their collection and they feature heavily in annual publicity shots (hence generating a huge car parking revenue each year, vital to the arboretum’s upkeep). Westonbirt is not cheap to get in, but consider where this money is actually going.

4. What conditions are best?

It’s best to wait for sunshine to give dimension to the trees, but if the day starts a bit flat and dull, all is not necessarily lost. Concentrate on staging some ideas, such as putting leaves on interesting textures or making arrangements of leaves themselves.

Also, try the good old zoom burst technique. Put an ND filter on the lens, set an aperture of f/16 and the ISO as low as possible. This should give a long shutter speed, maybe a few seconds. Set the camera’s two-second timer, press the shutter and then zoom into the shot and create a wonderful vortex of colours. It’s easy to do and is very effective.

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