Here in Michigan, it’s summertime in the orchards. We live for this time of year. The days start and end with beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Azure blue waters of the Great Lakes glisten and shine. Migratory songbirds fly thousands of miles to breed, nest to watch their babies fledge their nests in the orchards. They burst into full color with juicy fruits. They delight foodies, chefs, animals, birds, insects and photographers.
Our Editorial Staff wrote a recent article on where to photograph in Michigan . Our state also hosts a plethora of orchards, fruit farms and vineyards that are ripe for shooting! There are also farming orchards in just about every state, so do your research and take your pick.
Orchards offer many creative and fun photography opportunities for the nature and portrait photographer. Let’s explore several venues along with some tips for a little inspiration.
Magical Bonding – Friends & Family in the Orchards
There is something special about the ambience in an orchard. Light filters through the trees. Casts of golden sunlight illuminate smiling faces and happy moments. Weddings and other special occasions in orchards are draped in soft lighting and color.
Visitors also love seeing and tasting the results of their hard work. Photographing orchard patrons picking their bounty will almost guarantee a photograph with big smiles.
Summer may be fleeting but the photography moments in an orchard are year round. Take advantage of the other seasons too. A different ambiance happens within a few months, even a few weeks. Magical misty moments happen when cool evenings of fall creep in at the end of summer.
Photography tools: Short range primes and zooms capture great portraiture images. Primes are a perfect partner as they are lightweight, fast and sharp. The 50mm and 85mm are two of my personal favorites for people photography. A short range zoom, such as a 24-70mm provides a lot of flexibility from wide angle to portraiture without changing a single lens. If you plan on bracketing your exposures or are working in low light settings, a tripod may be required.
Let the Lines Lead Your Creativity
Orchards are organized planting inherently create leading lines. Long rows of carefully planned and pruned trees illustrate the magnitude and results of our farmer’s hard work.
Color bursts between the lines of cherry trees.
Photography tools & tips: Extra wide (14mm – 24mm) and wide angle focal lengths of 24, 28, 35 and 50mm lenses accentuate depth and space. The wider the focal length, the more exaggerated the distance appears. Tools can vary from using the lens and camera only to other accessories. For low light settings and bracketing exposures, a tripod and cable release is recommended to minimize shutter shake. A circular polarizing filter provides color saturation, enhanced clarity and reduces glare.
Take advantage of the virtual horizon gauge by pressing the “info button” (based on your camera model) to ensure the camera is level.
Many Macro Moments
There are the obvious photos from an orchard that allow us to show off the fruits of our labor. Macro photography, berries and fruits are a cheerful and yummy combination. They may by photographed hanging from the tree.
Or, snap a few images of berries that are picked and ready to eat.
Explore the not expected subjects too. Aged tree stumps, flowering weeds, dandelions plus many other flower and fauna are also found in orchards.
Photography tools and tips: A macro lens provides a 1:1 perspective. They also can work as a portrait lens too. If a macro lens is not in your arsenal, using an extension tube with your short range prime will give close up results at a lesser cost than a macro lens. For more information on extension tubes check out: Getting Closer with Extension Tubes
Related reading: 5 Macro Photography Tips
Finding an orchard or farm may be closer than a drive in the country. Many cities and communities are creating inner-city farms too. Remember too, that some farms may have a “no trespassing” policy. Call in advance and get permission. The will appreciate and may even offer you a tour to some of their hidden gem!