Hot Shots: Photographing my Pepper Garden

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This growing season I’m discovering that there are few things that can compare with the childlike excitement of growing your own hot peppers. One of those things, though, has got to be bragging about my garden. My medium for boasting this year is going to be photography. Talk is talk, but a few up close shots of my bad boys will capture their true ferocity without tipping people off that they’re really no bigger than my thumb.

Here are some tips that I plan to abide by on my photo journey and hopefully some good ideas for your as well.

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The Right Stuff

The good news is that you no longer need an unreasonably expensive camera or a set of lenses from a town in Switzerland that you can’t pronounce in order to take good photo. Those days are long gone, thank goodness. Now you can get by with nothing more than a decent camera phone. Some professional photographers have been able to produce some pretty nice photos armed with nothing more than an iPhone, so the hardware is definitely up to snuff.

If you feel the urge to splurge, there are some good entry level DSLR options out there. Just be sure that you know what you’re doing before you make the investment.

Finally, you’ll want to keep your garden in good shape. This includes doing some no-brainers like watering regularly and planting in an area of your yard that gets good sunlight, but there are some less obvious rules to follow a well. For one, make sure that you’re planting in even distances where possible, within the range recommended by your seed packets or plant card. If you have the time, it’s a great idea to weatherproof your garden. Nothing can make your garden look like a total mess quite like an unexpected storm.

The Act Itself

OK, so if you’ve got a phone and a garden you’re about halfway done. Actually taking those photos is going to a involve a bit more than point and click, though. Here are three things that I like to think about in photography:

  • Location. Where to shoot is almost as important as what to shoot. Try to avoid distracting or dulling backgrounds. That means no shooting nothing but dirt; you’re going to have to get on your knees for some great photos, but what is gardening if not a little dirty? Try getting good landscape or scenery in the background. If you’re in a pinch, you can always find a few pieces of gardening equipment to lean against a faded old fence and make it look like you’ve been working.
  • Try using the macro zoom for an interesting effect. Although it’s become a favourite of hipsters everywhere, using the macro zoom to slightly blur the background and focus on your pepper plants is still a great tool to give your pictures that extra something. Just remember, you thought that chili peppers were hot before they were cool.
  • Take some time for touch-ups. Photoshop has become synonymous with published photography these days, for better or for worse. I’m not advocating plumping up your peppers in post-production, but a little colour balancing and lighting adjustment can go along way towards making you look like a pro. And don’t worry about dropping cash for any expensive software. There are plenty of free options available right now that will take care of your needs.

Showing Off 101

Alright, you’ve got some pretty slick photos of your peppers. How do you let everyone know that you are definitely growing the hottest peppers around this year?

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the obvious go-tos these days. Twitter and Instagram are great for sharing quick updates on your progress or some highlights. Try creating a comprehensive album showcasing the peppers from spring ‘till fall on Facebook.

If you’re feeling a little more old fashioned, you might try getting some hard copies of your photos. You might want to create a nice photo album or try getting creative with a wall display. Either way you’ve got a great conversation piece and hard evidence of your efforts.

Guest post by Nick C.
Img: CC BY 2.0

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