Top Garden Photography Tips for Capturing the Colours of Autumn

Friday 21 October 2016

Create great quality images by following Marianne Majerus’ tips, and find inspiration at this year’s RHS London Shades of Autumn Show


To inspire the public to embark on a garden photography outdoor adventure this autumn and enter this year’s RHS Photographic Competition, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is hosting a photography exhibit at this year’s RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (28–29 October) in central London.
In order to give budding photographers a head start Marianne Majerus, world-renowned garden photographer and an RHS Photographic Competition 2017 judge, has provided her top six photography tips for creating great-quality images.

1. Spot spider webs
Before you decide to sweep spider webs away this season, consider incorporating them into your photographs, as they can add a sense of mystery – to your Halloween-themed photos in particular. This is especially so at dawn on sunny autumn days, when flowers and foliage will be decorated by dew and cobwebs. If there is little or no wind you will have time to compose your images and won’t have to change aperture to compensate for subject movement. When photographing spider webs try experimenting by including more details in the frame, in order to add context, or capturing the moment a spider is visible to add a focal point.

2. Get creative with seasonal fruit
Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal fruit and berries, which might make for great close-up shots and could even be consumed afterwards. Wild berries in particular could be an inspiring subject matter, with their voluptuous forms and the strong colour contrast between the leaves and the fruit, which can add dramatic tension to photographs. Including more detail such as the path where they are found and their surroundings can help add a story to your photograph. Autumnal forests can have a magical ambience that can produce almost fairytale-like images.

3 Play with autumn light
Make the most of the beautiful misty morning light which gives this season its character. To avoid camera shake when the light is low, try propping the camera against a tree trunk or alter your ISO rating to achieve sharper images. As with most photography, the nature and direction of light falling on a subject is crucial. Soft sidelighting will give good modeling while keeping shadows delicate, whereas stronger, low-angled sidelighting is very good for emphasising the texture or bark and leaves.

4 Look out for backlit leaves
Backlit leaves, the colours and cell structure of which are enhanced by the sun, can offer great subject matter and can create strong graphic images. When photographing close-up flowers or leaves, do not fixate on the subject to the extent that you forget the background. Try using the depth-of-field preview lever on your camera to see what is visible behind your subject and consider using a larger aperture to throw the background out of focus. Try moving around a subject to find a pleasing background.

5 Don’t spoil the lawn
When outdoors, it is important to make sure you don’t spoil the delicate dew on the lawn by walking over it before a photograph is taken. Try to plan your shots before leaving footprints on the lawn. Remember to look out for flowers and plants that are a bit different or that have something distinctive about them. Autumn is not the time to look for perfection: imperfect blooms and seedheads can be beautiful in this melancholic season.

6 Discover garden wildlife
Mild autumn weather can offer an ideal opportunity to seek out garden wildlife including hedgehogs, birds and insects to create winning images. While attracting these creatures to your garden can sometimes be challenging, especially in an urban environment, there are some things you could do. Try sprinkling food such as seeds, nuts and fruit on designated patches of grass or use feeders, which work particularly well for birds. Attract hedgehogs by leaving a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out of the garden with ease. Garden ponds can attract a wide variety of amphibians and frogs. Once you find your subject, start experimenting with staging a photo by adding one or two random objects to the frame, such as a garden glove, and watching how they interact.
Entries to the RHS Photographic Competition can be submitted for free online from 26 May 2016 until 28 February 2017 or via Social Media with the hashtag #RHSPhotoComp (for more details and to enter please use the following link)

For more information please contact Pressiana Naydenova in the RHS Press Office on
020 7821 3688 or email



Notes to editors

RHS London Shades of Autumn Show
As one of the highlights of this year’s RHS London Shades of Autumn Show, the stunning gardening photography exhibition will display past winners of the prestigious RHS Photographic Competition. The show will also offer visitors the opportunity to buy a wide range of plants and gardening accessories. Please use the following link to find out more about the show:

Royal Horticultural Halls (RHS Lindley Hall)
Elverton Street
London SW1P 2QW

Opening times
The Halls will be open on Friday 28 October and Saturday 29 October
10am – 5pm

Admission prices
RHS members enjoy free entry
online bookings £6
at the door £9

About Marianne Majerus
Marianne Majerus is one of the world’s foremost garden photographers. She has won many awards for her work, which is widely published around the world, and she has illustrated over 200 books. Her recent book, Garden Design: A Book of Ideas, earned her the prize for ‘Book Photographer of the Year 2015’ from the British Garden Media Guild. Marianne’s success continues in the International Garden Photographer of the Year Awards: in 2010 she was named ‘International Garden Photographer of the Year’; in 2011 she won first prize in the ‘Garden Views’ category; and in 2014 she won first prize in the ‘Greening the City’ category. She is a regular contributor to many national and international publications, including House and Garden, Gardens Illustrated, Country Life, Homes and Gardens, Country Homes and Interiors, The Garden, The English Garden, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. She is a member of the RHS Photographic Committee and of the Professional Garden Photographers’ Association.

About the RHS Photographic Competition 2017
The competition opens on 26 May 2016 and closes on 28 February 2017. There are nine categories in total and all are free to enter, both for RHS members and non-members. Of these, eight categories will give a first, second or third place, plus highly commended, if judges deem necessary. The Portfolio category is an RHS-judged medal category for which applicants must go through to a selection process (please see below). To enter free images please visit:  


Celebrating RHS Gardens
Let your photographic imagination flourish at any of the four RHS Gardens during any season.

• Welcoming Garden Wildlife
Beautiful photographs of insects, birds and creatures found wild in your garden or in their natural environment.

Pure Plants
Submissions should show a plant, tree or shrub as a whole or near-whole entity. For example, a photograph could include the flower, stem and leaves of one single plant, or a clump of plants growing naturally.

Abstract and Details
This can be a close-up of a plant or an abstract view of plants or gardens. Demonstrate your creativity and originality by creating a unique piece of photographic art.

Greening Grey Britain
Support the RHS campaign to enrich everyone’s life through plants and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place – whether a view of a windowbox in an urban flat or a small planted area in the suburbs.

• Social Media
Any digital image submitted via RHS Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts using the #RHSPhotoComp hashtag. The image can be related to anything horticultural or gardening, and a monthly winner will be selected by our social media followers. The monthly shortlist will be selected by the RHS social media team. Each monthly winner will then be fed into the competition judging for overall category winner.

• Young Photographer (age 11–17)
Any photograph depicting something plant, garden or wildlife related that interests you.

Children’s Photographer (under 11)
Any photograph depicting something plant, garden or wildlife related that interests you.

• Portfolio
This category is for a staged display of six pieces of photography and will be judged for RHS medals. To be eligible to participate in this category, photographers who have not previously exhibited printed photography at an RHS Show must first submit a sample of four pieces of work to the RHS Photographic Panel for assessment and approval. Eligible photographers (those who have been approved by the panel) must display a minimum of six photographs, within a maximum of 6m of display panel(s). Entry to the Portfolio category does not preclude entry to the other categories. For more information on submitting to the Portfolio category please email


RHS Photographer of the Year 2017 £5,000
RHS Young Photographer of the Year 2017 £750 Wex Photographic vouchers

Adult categories
First Prize £500 + RHS Gift membership
Second Prize £250
Third Price £150

Portfolio category
Winner £500 + RHS Gift membership

Young photographer (11–17)
First place £150 Wex Photographic vouchers
Second place £75 Wex Photographic vouchers
Third place £50 Wex Photographic vouchers

Children’s photographer (under 11)
First place £150 Wex Photographic vouchers
Second place £75 Wex Photographic vouchers
Third place £50 Wex Photographic vouchers


About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262