Taking great vineyard images can be challenging. Pictures can turn out blurry, have sunspots and lighting issues or just have nothing to distinguish them from a million other vineyard shots. These 5 tips can help correct the most common of these problems and provide you with some amazing and unique vineyard images.
- Go out when the lighting is even
- Detect & remove distractions
- Use a monopod to get rid of the shakes
- Look for clouds, colors & other effects to make your images stand out
- Have patience!
Go Out When the Lighting is Even
The best time to take pictures in the vineyard is when the light is soft and even — usually early in the morning right after sunrise and then again around sunset. What you want to avoid is the harsh light that is cast when the sun is high in the sky.
|This photo was taken during a hot summer afternoon when the lighting was very harsh with deep shadows and almost white highlights.
||This image was taken during the early morning as the sun was just starting to rise making the lighting fairly even.
Sometimes this effect can be kind of cool, but most of the time the image is unusable.
An added bonus is how the light shines through the grapes making the colors even more amazing.
Believe it or not, overcast days (if light enough) can allow you to take pictures all day because the clouds diffuse the intense sunlight giving you that even lighting you need.
Detect & Remove Distractions
One bad grape in an otherwise perfect cluster, a huge brown leaf in the middle of a group of green leaves, or a post running through a series of vines are examples of distractions that can draw the viewer’s eyes away from the main focal point of your image. These distractions will dilute the impact of your picture. If you identify these distractions beforehand and remove or find a way to minimize the problem the result will be a more perfect picture.
For example, if there is a brown leaf blocking your intended target, go ahead and remove it once you have determined that removing the first distraction will not expose a larger one — such as a gaping hole in the vines or dried out grapes. If there is a weird vine twining around the cluster you want to photograph, try to re-route it to either side.
The two images below may look very similar, but the one on top has the light colored post running through it which tends to draw the eyes away from the clusters of ripe grapes and breaks up the continuity of the row.
Once I saw the post, I moved down the row a little bit more so the post wouldn’t show and took this picture. As you can see, it looks a lot more cohesive and there is nothing to distract from the cluster of ripe Pinot Noir grapes.
So, next time you see the perfect shot, take a careful look around to see if there are any potential distractions — and then do the best you can to take care of them before they get into your final image.
Use A Monopod To Get Rid Of The Shakes
If you have a difficult time keeping your hands steady while taking pictures, then you probably have a lot of shots that are blurry and out of focus. Although a tripod will help steady the camera, you loose much of your mobility and may have difficulty setting it up in all the places you’d like. A wonderful compromise is the monopod.
A monopod is simply an adjustable pole with a camera attachment at the top. With only one leg, it is very easy to carry around (you can even use it as a walking stick) and when you see the perfect shot, just plop the foot on the ground and use the pole to stabilize the camera, adjust the height (if necessary) and take the picture. In seconds you have your shake-free shot and can quickly move on down the row. Even better, they are relatively inexpensive. (Amazon sells them for under $25)
Look For Clouds, Colors & Other Effects To Make Your Images Stand Out
While wandering the vineyard, look for effects that will add interest to your image such as cloud formations, colors, water droplets (you can even bring a spray bottle and lightly spray a few clusters) and so forth. One trick I use to add a little color to my grape images is to crouch down and shoot up through the cluster so you can get a glimpse of sky through breaks in the vines.
In this example, I was able to find this beautiful cluster of Tempranillo grapes during veraison with the colorful leaves all around it.
Take your time while walking the vineyard and really look around. Perhaps there are colored streamers in the rows that fan out when the wind blows, then wait until they are all fanned out and then take your picture. Is there a beautiful cloud formation that will be right over the vineyard in a few minutes? If so, wait until it’s in the perfect position and then take your shot.
That is what I did in the following example. I saw these gorgeous clouds approaching the winery and waited until the cloud opening was right over the top of it and then took the shot!
Conclusion . . .
The main point of these tips are to help you understand the importance of lighting, tools and paying attention to the life in the vineyard and how it can help you improve your images.
Once you understand and implement this, you should see quite an improvement in your images! Have Fun!
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