Gardening Gone Wild is running one of its monthly photography competitions. The rules are here – but basically, as the name suggests, the competition encourages people to take close-up garden-related images using a glass mason jar, and thus to experiment with composition, background and light.
Not having a garden or a mason jar, or indeed a camera (hubby having taken ours on a jaunt to Helsinki), the odds were rather against me. But I foraged in the local park for beech leaves and in our kitchen cupboards for walnuts. Then I borrowed the little point-and-shoot that Santa has just brought our daughter, and dug out a Bonne Maman jam jar…
The exercise proved to be great fun, and I ended up taking about a hundred photos, examining each batch closely for successes and flaws, and then trying to learn and apply the lessons they offered.
And the results?
Well, the ancient, knobbly walnuts had seemed a good idea, but they proved too big and unwieldy for such a close-up shot; the tawny beech leaves were much better, even though they were rather recalcitrant and insisted on twisting and curling into unwanted shapes. The images worked best with something interesting outside the jar to distort and blur in the glass, but it was all too easy to leave unwanted glimpses of the table below. In the end though, my biggest problem was the light. Taking the shots inside near a window, in dull daylight, I found that, no matter what I tried, light seemed to bounce off the glass and create unwanted flashes and reflections.
So in frustration I tried some frosted glass – actually a tall thin drinking tumbler with an inconvenient polar bear etched on the side. And that gave a very different, rather pleasing effect. The beech leaves looked crisp and distinct against the blurry glass, but I realised that something more circular would work better in the bottom of the narrow container. So those walnuts came back out of the cupboard, I floated one on a little puddle of water and – snap – the best shot of the day.