The Essentials of Garden Blogging: Cameras and Pictures

The Essentials of Garden Blogging: Cameras and Pictures

Very early in their blogging experience Garden bloggers find that the digital camera is their best friend. When I started blogging back in October of last year I discovered that illustrating my posts was essential to having a successful blog. People thrive on pictures. I’ve noticed that when a post has pictures more people are likely to read through the post. Readers like to look at the images and have a visual connection to the topics being written about. Usually images are more than just eye candy, they help to convey the message. The images can break up the text and help to make the post easier to read. Sometimes I just want to share an interesting plant or a nice landscape which is nearly impossible to do without a picture.

Putting pictures in Blogger can be difficult sometimes. I generally have to move them around several times to get them where I want them. Sometimes the pictures don’t fit right when I do post them and I have to go back in and edit their size or placement. What I don’t like about Blogger is that you can only upload one picture at a time. I would love to be able to pick 4-5 pictures for a single post and click once and have them all appear. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way!

To make the pictures look better before they go online you can do a few things.

  • Use different perspectives. Sure an overall view of a plant looks great, but why not try from a different angle to change things up a little? To the right is a weeping cherry tree photograph that I took from underneath its canopy.
  • Crop your image. Using the free software that comes with your computer you can cut out the stuff you don’t like in the picture. A good example of this is at David Perry’s Photography blog. He has a great tutorial for cropping pictures that is well worth a look at! When you crop you can highlight what you want to talk about and remove the distractions. This takes a little more time on the front end but will make the posts more interesting. In this cropped picture is of the same weeping cherry you can see the buds that are about to break.
  • Don’t lose your focus. Make sure you know how your camera focus works and how to utilize it.
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom. I use the optical zoom function on our camera a lot. Unfortunately it is only a 3x optical zoom. My camera does have a 4x digital zoom but I have found that the digital zoom is nearly worthless. If you aren’t absolutely still or your subject moves the digital image becomes blurry. When taking images of plants I can move close to the plant then use the optical zoom to get even closer.
  • The right lighting is important. I prefer to take pictures without the flash. If I have enough natural light around I get a better picture. The flash adds unnatural shadows to the surroundings that I don’t like in the image.
  • Take lots of pictures! With the advent of digital cameras the concern of wasting film is gone. I take several images of each plant and just pick the best of the bunch. Just keep shooting.

Here’s my disclaimer: I’m not an expert at photography, just an aspiring amateur. These tips are just what I have noticed since we bought our first digital camera.

Here is my next question, what do you like and dislike about your digital camera? Our Camera is an Olympus Camedia D-560 Zoom. It has a 3x Optical Zoom and a 4X digital zoom, with 3.2 mega pixels. It takes good pictures but devours batteries like the rabbits devoured my veggies last year. We use rechargeable batteries to help keep battery costs down. It has a timer which helps to take those group family photos during the holidays. I would really like to upgrade to a better camera sometime this year, one with a much better optical zoom. Something in the 12-18x range would be nice, the more the better.

Is there a camera you would recommend? Also do you have any photography advice to add?

As a side note I edited this post 4 times to get the pictures where I wanted them.


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. No advice to add, you said it all and it will help me. Now if you could just do a post on installing links as I can’t figure that one out. lol

    My Kodak Easyshare devours batteries too. I just bought a new one at $25 and it is already acting up!

    You know what else? I have tried pushing the button down halfway and I think it does focus like you said to do. I found this out because I didn’t push it down enough and the picture did not take. I guess that is what it is doing. Still learning…You have lovely pictures and I often learn many new things here.

  2. i appreciate your side note-makes me feel not so bad for not always getting it right.

  3. Dave, Forgot to tell you but while at Borders last night I saw that book you profiled. I picked it up and looked at it and thought it cool you had just posted about it. It does need pictures-and color but seemed nice. It was prominently displayed.

  4. I use a Fuji s6000 which has a lot of features that I like and use, but I think you hit the nail on the head with your tips on composition and light. I think it matters not as much what camera you have or how “good” it is or isn’t, as how much time and thought you put into composing a good shot, trying different angles and distances, etc. Good photos are *created*, not taken. 🙂 Great tips!

  5. I dont know too much about altering pictures with the computer. I wish I knew more of what our computer can do for me.

    My first Digital camera is a Canon Power Shot A75. It has 3.2Megapixel and 3X optical zoom and I think 10X Digital zoom. The digital zoom was pretty much useless as pictures are too grainy. I only snap pictures of family, pets and nature and am no professional at all. Not being happy with the lack of zoom, to capture the wildlife in the yard from my windows, my hubby recently gave me a new camera for my birthday.

    The new camera is a Canon Power Shot SX100 IS. Priced at $299 but purchased on sale for $250. It has 8.0 mega pixels and 10X optical zoom. I am really happy with the zoom. I would like to have a better zoom but this was the best we could do with keeping in our price range and size of camera. One of my requirements was that the camera had to be small in size for easy storage while vacationing. It came with a 16 megabyte memory chip but we upgraded by getting a 2 G-Byte so I can make short movies to post on a Pet Blog without burning up the entire chip. We also purchased the rechargeable batteries as it does seem to burn the batteries quicker then the old camera which had 4 batteries. The new one has only two. I wonder if the amount of batteries used makes a difference. The other thing I like about the new camera is the LCD screen is much larger allowing me a better view of my picture. I am sure there is a better one out there but I don’t like change and this one functions very similar to the one I am use to….

  6. Hi Dave,

    I agree with pretty much everything you said above about pictures and want to thank you for the kind link as well.

    As for cameras, wow, big topic.
    One you won’t outgrow anytime soon is the Canon G-9. It shoots RAW or JPEG, which is another entire topic, but one worthy of consideration. It will focus very close, has image stabilization (think miniature built in gyro to minimize camera shake). I’m a big fan, and sometimes even put it to work on commercial jobs.

  7. I went with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel. It is a little pricey compared to the average point and shoot but the results are amazing.

  8. I use a Nikon CoolPix P1, it has 3.5 x Optical Zoom and 8 Megapixels, which I had stumped up a little more and bought the P4 with its antishake technology. I also use a film camera , a 35mm Minolota APA which I get the images put straight on to disk when the film is developed; I like its wide angle panorama feature. The P1 does pretty good macro shots, you can see the evidence on my blog, I use plenty of images. All the photos there are using one of the two cameras I mentioned.

    I think your advise is spot on, and I too found that pictures really do help explain an idea as far as Gardens and Plants are concerned. I rated this blog, so added you as a Blotanical Pick.

  9. There is a spot to add more than one picture at a time in Blogger. When you get to the pop up window to add a picture and it says Add a picture from you computer … right under that is the Add another image link … click that and you get more little boxes to add photos. The only trouble is if you add the first one centered then they are all centered etc.

    I have 2 digital cameras and HP Photosmart R818, it has 5.1 megapixels and and 5 x optical zoom. I also have an Olympus SP550UZ with 18x optical zoom. Optical zoom is the only important zoom. Digital zoom just crops the photo for you but doesn’t really improve the image. If you have an editing program you can do cropping and editing in there. I use Photoshop for my editing.

  10. Tina,

    I hope it all helps, as usual I’m learning as I go and pass it on to anyone who is interested. The Garden Primer has a ton of information, I think if it had the color it would be hard to beat. I’m looking forward to using the vegetable information this year as a reference for our veggie garden.


    That’s a great way to put it all into perspective! Your creativity matters more than your equipment. That can be very true but I think at some point your equipment could limit a photographer.


    It sounds like a good camera your husband gave you. That 10x optical zoom must be nice. I’m not sure what good the digital zoom is, they should spend more time upgrading the other functions than incorporating that into the camera.


    Thanks for stopping by. I thought you had a great post on the cropping subject. The G-9 sounds like a very good choice. I’ll have to investigate a bit more. The image stabilization feature definitely would be nice to have.


    I’ve seen the Rebel in ads and stores. Sometimes the product is worth the price!


    The pictures on your site are very good! Which one do you use the most the P1? The quality from the 35m I’m sure is great but with the convenience of a digital do you end up using that more?


    Thanks for that tip! I just never noticed that link that sat there staring me in the face. That Olympus sounds very good with an optical zoom of 18 x. That explanation of a digital zoom makes sense. The quality of a digital zoom is always sub par.

  11. Oh, after reading all these comments I want another camera! I have a Canon PowerShot A560 with 4x optical zoom, and as we all know the digital zoom is worthless. I have enjoyed the camera so far, but I can see “bigger and better” in my future.

    The joy and pain of digital photography for me is the ease of taking many, many pictures. I will generally sit down and “work” about 100-200 photos at a time; I will flip through them in Irfanview and weed out the crummy shots, then put them through something like Canon ArcSoft to rotate and crop. I then resize them for the blog and park them in a directory until I am ready to use. This makes it much easier when I am ready to blog.

    I use b2evolution for my blog, and so far I have appreciated its features. However, because it is not as common as WordPress there are not as many plugins floating around out there.

  12. This is a great post and fun to read the comments as well.

    I have three digital cameras. I keep a Canon A-630 in my purse at all times, of course I do take it out and use it quite a bit.
    My favorite camera is the Sony Alpha-100 with the 75-300 zoom lens. I love it!
    My other favorite that I use for macro and close ups is a Sony F717.

    I’ll be getting a macro lens for my A-100 soon and I can’t wait!

    I also use Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 for cropping, lightening when necessary and sharpening the focus. It is a great tool.

  13. Jen-o,

    Keep me updated if you decide to upgrade. I understand about the drawback to taking so many picture! Many of them may never get looked at again but they are still taking up space on the hard drive. At least they don’t take up physical space.


    I’ve seen your pictures and they are a testament to how good your cameras are. Is the A 100 your primary camera? How do you use them, do you have different uses for each one or is it just for convenience?

  14. The Sony A-100 is my primary camera now, but I don’t have the macro lens yet. When I want to do a macro shot I use my Sony F-717, it takes pretty good macros. I also don’t have the flash for the A-100 yet, so when I do indoor portrait shots I use the Sony F717. It takes awesome professional looking indoor portrait shots.

    The Canon point and shoot is mostly used for convenience.

    I really use all three and would hate to be without any of them.

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