CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Capturing the light in Devon’s beautiful gardens

PUBLISHED: 16:40 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 27 February 2017

The National Trust/October - Edward Skinner - Knightshayes (5th November 2010)

The National Trust/October - Edward Skinner - Knightshayes (5th November 2010)


Catherine Courtenay talks to photographer Jason Ingram who reveals some of his favourite Devon garden shots

Gardeners don’t need to be shown how the quality of light creates a changing landscape. They will be sensitive to subtle transformations which occur throughout the day, from the glimmering light of dawn to the intense colours created by a mellow evening sun.

One person who knows more than most about garden light is award-winning photographer Jason Ingram. He works all over the world taking photographs of gardens and has visited many in Devon – although you’d probably never see him, as he tends to take his shots at dawn or dusk when most of us are either waking up or retreating into our homes.

Toby Buckland Nurseries (1st August 2011)Toby Buckland Nurseries (1st August 2011)

He trained at Salisbury Art College, graduating in 1992 at a time when garden photography was a sideline activity.

“It was a different time then. We’d stay in the studio a lot because the tutors wanted us to work in the commercial world. Landscape photography wasn’t seen as a way of making a living, but I desperately wanted to work outside all the time.”

Encouraged by Charlie Waite, another former Salisbury student who went on to become a successful landscape photogprapher, Jason started to do some work for the National Trust and from there his gardens work evolved.

He describes his success as: “Being able to see the narrative in a garden, so I could tell its story.”

Jason’s own interest in plants and gardening grew from his photographic experience. “I’ve got a very good knowledge of plants now and I’ve worked with lot of very good designers so I know what to look out for in gardens. I can walk into a garden and know how to read it, the elements that make it work and why it’s planted in a particular way.”

“It’s a long hard slog though; you’ve got to want to do it,” he adds. “Being a garden photographer involves many hours travelling, often making repeat visits to a site if the photos aren’t quite right. And you have to be a keen meteorologist as well.”

Cliffe Garden, Ilfracombe, Devon (8th July 2011)Cliffe Garden, Ilfracombe, Devon (8th July 2011)

Born in Kent, he moved to Somerset where his parents lived and went to school in Wellington. Now based in Bristol, he will be returning to Devon this year to teach garden photography courses at Otter Farm.

“I often get people asking: ‘How do you get those colours?’ It’s all based on good light; if you don’t have that nothing else works. So you’ve got to be there very early or very late; if the sun’s been up for three hours in summer it’s too late. Anyone can take a picture and change it, but you can’t change the quality of light.”

Photo by Jason IngramPhoto by Jason Ingram

Garden photography is becoming increasingly popular and competitive and it’s important to keep up with gardening styles, he says. “Gardens are having a renaissance and there are lots of different things going on.

“I always remember my tutor who said: ‘You’re only as good as your last job.’ You have to strive to do things as best you can so, if I need to go back to a garden because the light isn’t right, then I do.”

You can buy limited edition prints at

The Garden House (21st May 2014)The Garden House (21st May 2014)

Ten tips for better garden photography

1 Take your images either at first light or dusk; you can even shoot about an hour before the sun has risen or after the sun has set. No amount of Photoshop work can ever replace good light.

2 Try shooting directly into the sun or even slightly backlighting your subject; plants and gardens always look better when backlit.

3 Use a tripod if you are doing views of the garden and need to have everything sharp. It will slow you down and help you consider your composition more critically.

4 When checking the weather always look for wind speed. Wind is a real problem, especially when taking plant portraits.

5 Try to get down to the same height as the plant you are photographing. This may mean having a kneeling pad to hand for comfort - I never travel without one.

6 Look for the best composition. Try to position your plant, border or view off centre. This is known as the rule of thirds.

7 Make a note of the plants you are photographing or take a photograph of the label first so you know the plant name for captioning.

8 Try taking lots of different angles within the same composition, really explore it. Digital is cheap so use it to your advantage.

9 Always make sure you have a spare memory card and battery.

10 Overcast light can be used for plant portraits, in fact it is often better. Never photograph in harsh sunshine.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is particularly stunning at this time of year and so we’ve picked out 18 stunning pictures that encapsulate the county during the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From cosy pubs galore to winter beach walks, there’s plenty to enjoy in Devon at Christmas. We list 19 reasons you should come visit us this December.

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is a joy to explore with its beautiful beaches, pretty woodland and charming towns and villages. Made even more magical under a blanket of glistening frost, we pick 12 walks to blow away the cobwebs in the county this winter

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A South Devon walk along a wreck-rich coastline with SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the latest of our 24-hour tours of Devon’s best locations, we head to Britain’s Ocean City

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

With breathtaking beaches, rolling countryside, stately homes and unique villages, it’s no wonder high-profile film productions flock to Devon - how well do you know the movies that have set up camp here however?

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

From angry spirits to headless horses and ghoulish monks, Devon has more than a few supernatural stories to get your skin crawling. We have picked 11 haunted places in the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October is the perfect time to discover the joys of Exmoor. Jennette Baxter of Visit Exmoor suggests five great ways to enjoy autumn on the moor

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search