First Signs of Spring Photo Contest


Show Us The First Signs of Spring and Win a Prize!

The Voice is holding its own photo contest this month. We are looking for the first signs of spring in our local community. It is free to enter. Just send your high-resolution digital image to Please put “Voice Contest” in the subject line. In the body of the email, you must include your name, address, phone, email, and age (if you are under 18). The deadline is Friday, March 26.


For garden photography tips read on. Here is my column that appears in the March issue of The Voice:


How to Take Gorgeous Garden Photos – Every Time

10 Quick Tips and Some Bonus Advice As Well

By Kathy Jentz


“If Thomas Jefferson were alive today he’d have a digital camera and be documenting his garden in detail,” says Joshua Taylor, Jr. of Archiphoto Workshops. Josh teaches garden photography in the Smithsonian Studio Arts Program and at the Corcoran School of Art and Design. He speaks at camera and garden clubs, judges photographic competitions, and exhibits his photographs in gallery shows.


    “Most people photograph gardens and flowers for three reasons: to share, show or sell them.” Josh stresses that we take time to think about the reason you are picking up your camera first and how your photo will be used (i.e. online, in your scrapbooks, in print) before you start to shoot.


    “When you are just starting out in garden photography, of course go digital,” Josh advises. “You get feedback much faster than with film.” He recommends that a good digital camera with between 2-5 megapixels will suffice for most people who are only going to be emailing their photos, posting them online, or printing then 4×6. “For larger display prints, you should go to 8 megapixels or higher,” Josh explains. The costs will go up, but so will the final quality.


   You can get a good price on digital point-and-shoot models that have close-up modes. Look for the term “macro feature” and an icon usually of a small flower on the camera. This will work well for flower close-ups. “To get intimate portraits of flowers, invest in a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera,” notes Josh. “They offer more flexibility.”


   “Memory cards are essential,” says Josh. “Start with at least a 1gigabyte card. They are getting so cheap now that they are almost giving them away.”


   Some digital cameras come with their own editing software, but Josh recommends Adobe Photoshop Elements for really enhancing your pictures. It is useful for basic cropping, increasing color saturation, and reducing the photo file size for emailing. “Investing in the full Adobe Photoshop software is for an advanced amateur,” according to Josh. “Use it for dealing with shadows and lighting and making minor corrections – editing software is used to bring out the depth in every photographer.”


   “People overlook garden architecture like birdhouses, paths, stone walls – the things that make up the garden,” Josh remarks. When choosing a garden photo subject, Josh recommends looking for the one flower in one hundred that screams “photograph me!” Select only what you want the viewer to see and include nothing else in the field of the photo. “If the sky doesn’t contribute to the garden, leave it out,” Josh urges. “I see too many photos with white, bland skies shown and they glare out at you overpowering the gardens themselves.”


   Josh was a former judge of the annual Washington Gardener Photo Contest, this year‘s  Washington Gardener Photo Contest winning images will be on display at a photo show. The opening reception is Friday, April 9 from 6:30-8:00pm at the Adams Bank Lobby in the World Building on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. The event is open to the public and you are invited. If you miss that evening, come by and view the photos anytime during the normal bank hours. They will be up through May.


Top 10 Tips to Photograph Flowers

1. Above all else, photograph them in early morning or at dusk, not in bright sunlight. Flowers grow there, but don’t take photos of them in direct sun.

2. Capture them singularly as a portrait much like you would a human subject.

3. Flowers must be holding hands or kiss to photograph them in groups of two. There should be no separation between them; the petals must touch.

4. Pick groups in odd-numbered groups. When you have three flowers, they should form a triangle.

5. Select mass groupings of blooms just for the color.

6. Look for patterns in the foliage, such as veins in the leaves. Sometimes the foliage is the more attractive element in a plant.

7. Turn it over. Often the backside of a flower (where the stem junction is) makes a very impressive picture with the contrast of green against the petals.

8. Use a low camera angle, if you shoot on a day with a cloudless, clear blue sky and use it is a background to make the flower really pop.

9. Avoid dead foliage and flowers past their prime. Groom them out of the shot if possible. Seek out the insects among the flowers – examine the flower closely and choose those without blemishes or defects.

10. Hold the camera steady and avoid movement.




Kathy is working on her photo skills this month at the Philadelphia Flower Show. She will be posting them to her Facebook page. She is the editor of Washington Gardener magazine ( and a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Kathy can be reached at and welcomes your gardening questions.


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About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.

2 Comments on "First Signs of Spring Photo Contest"

  1. For more details on how to take great macro flower pictures, DC Photo Safari has a 2 hour class at Behnke’s in Beltsville. I believe the next one is April 25th. I just took the March class and learned a lot about my camera and about getting the flowers in perfect focus.

  2. Nick Fattey | April 3, 2011 at 5:00 am |

    i just bought a camera from and it has great focus. It’s a 16MP canon t2i and i love it so far. I think i would win that photo contest with this camera :p

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