I’ve been to two wonderful Cheshire gardens this week and taken lots of photographs as you can imagine. I was accompanied to each garden with a different man (!), both also armed with cameras and reached some interesting conclusions that are summed up by the sculpture above.
- Two photographers looking at exactly the same subject or scene will see it very differently, will be stirred by different emotions and take very different photographs.
My first garden visit was to Abbeywood Gardens with fellow garden photographer, Joe Wainwright, whose work I greatly admire and who is a thoroughly nice guy, passionate about what he does and very happy to share his knowledge and experience with like-minded individuals. We met up to try out each others lenses, have a stroll around the gardens and have a spot of lunch.
I don’t find it easy to shoot wide angle shots of gardens, it just isn’t my natural style, but I was trying out Joe’s 24-105mm f/4 lens and always admire his garden vistas, so I thought I’d give it a go.The lens was fabulous, very sharp and it was great to see how it performed against my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8. I still struggled against my natural instincts to photograph sections of the garden and am not very happy with my wide angle, wide view shots. Joe, however, I’m sure will have shot some lovely vistas, as this really is his thing. I’m waiting for his verdict on which lens performed best for him.
Abbeywood is well worth a visit by the way, beautiful formal gardens with exceptional planting and a new meadow area, which, although good now, is likely to be at its best in a month or so. I’d also pop in just for lunch in the restaurant and enjoy the views through the conservatory windows across the gardens.
Today’s visit was a real treat, to the privately owned Cogshall Grange, open for for the first time through the NGS. By the amount of cars I think the majority of the gardening fraternity in the North West had it in their diaries, as it was designed by an internationally renowned garden designer (Tom Stuart-Smith).
It was a real treat and easily one of the most stunning gardens I’ve ever been to, successfully combining modern design and planting with the historic buildings and landscape. If you ever get chance to go I would urge you to do so.
My companion today was Nic with his trustee Samsung NX1000 and 16mm wide angle lens. His shots are totally different to mine (I loved a couple but don’t tell him!), we saw and liked completely different aspects of this very photogenic garden.
I didn’t go overboard with photographs as it was incredibly busy and very difficult to get shots without people in them. One thing I would have loved to have the chance to linger over were the grasses, a strong theme in the garden. Their movement in the breeze was glorious in the sunlight – very hard to capture and freeze. Tripods and commercial photography were not allowed, which was fine with me as I was there purely to indulge my favourite hobby in perfect surroundings.
This is my forte – plant portraits. I love combining these with smaller vistas of gardens, when added together they give you a sense of the place.
I fell in love with a sculpture at the garden today and if money were no object I would commission this for our front garden – a contemporary (bronze?) bench with a figure at either end, each looking in a different direction. Some might see it as a bit melancholy, two figures isolated from one another, but I saw in it two people who sit peacefully in each other’s company, but who have independent views.
The other conclusion I reached from this week’s visits is that I prefer to photograph alone. I want to enter “the zone” on my own, lose myself and not have to worry about what anyone else is doing. That’s not to say that I want to go along to gardens solo, but just ask that I’m allowed to head off alone for at least some of the time, with a rendez-vous in the tea room to compare notes and shots.
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