A visit to Tom Stuart-Smith's garden is becoming something of an annual pilgrimage for us. Even after a late night on Saturday celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, we were determined not to miss the only three hours of the year that it is open to the general public via the NGS.
Although it's rather too popular for its own good and gets very crowded, there's so much to see and admire and swoon over: immaculate lines, tasteful, naturalistic planting (no screamingly bright colours here), spectacularly healthy specimens everywhere, and an intelligence and expansiveness of spirit that make it artistic yet homely, traditional yet modern, wayward yet controlled.
Such a garden poses problems when it comes to taking photos. How to get the right angle? What is the best angle? Do I go wide and attempt to include a full views or do I go close and capture plant portraits and details? The problem with the wider view is that you can't avoid the people and I'm afraid I prefer my gardens without the visitors, and anyway the professional photographers with tripods who can have a place to themselves at the best times of day are always going to do the landscape approach so much better than someone with a small camera and a small amount of space.
[as wide as I could go]
So I look for the intriguing details, favourite plants, interesting juxtapositions, unusual textures and patterns. I also now realise that I nearly always prefer a right angle. It occurred to me that we all stand at right angles to the earth and the horizon, and that I carry this stance into my photos.
I rarely use oblique angles and will often reposition myself to avoid one; I am happiest standing face-on to my subject and looking for straight lines and right angles. Goodness knows what this says about me and my interpretation of the world, but I find that right angles are the right angle for me.