NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY - CAROLINE HORNE
It isn’t very often I’m asked to write about me and my work and knowing where to start leaves me staring at a blank screen in front of me somewhat daunted. So I thought I would ask myself a question. If had a choice to spend the day on a beach or being surrounded by plants, what would you chose? It’s not a difficult one for me to answer. Surround me with plants to photograph and I’ll be very happy. Just don’t ask me their names, some I know, some I don’t but that is work in progress.
My love of photography began at an early age with my grandfather showing me his Kodak film camera which had a special pen to write on the film via a special compartment. I found it fascinating and couldn’t wait to see the result. However, it was a long wait. A 24 exposure roll of film would take my grandfather months to finish. It was also my grandfather’s love for nature which inspired me the most. He would feed the robins in his garden just by holding a piece of granny’s pastry with his lips. He used to pick me up to peep into the bird boxes or show me what was growing in the vegetable patch, prize winning parsnips and delicious raspberries. I was then given my first camera. A 110 film cassette and I thought it was great, however a leading chemist established in Nottingham thought otherwise as they would stick a lovely oval sticker across a picture basically saying how rubbish it was. Not one to be defeated, the 110 would soon be upgraded to a 35mm compact before finally inheriting a Canon F1 (circa 1975 and weighing a tonne) which I took everywhere, getting me through college and university. Whilst at university, my photography took a bit of a back seat as I was studying a degree in Design and Technology, specialising in jewellery design and manufacture. This lead me to working in jeweller’s workshops before heading into the retail sector for a number of years. Funnily enough I ended up going from selling beautiful diamond rings to selling compost by the lorry load across the UK which brought me swiftly back around to my love of nature and a good friend giving a bit of a kick up the derriere, take a chance and start photographing again.
That was 5 years ago now, having to retrain myself as everything had gone digital. I hadn’t even got a DSLR! But I never looked back. I photographed all sorts when first starting out and would often get asked what do I specialise in. My work is, especially over recent years has been moving more towards working within the surrounds of a beautiful garden, a field of tranquil sweet peas or losing myself in a poly tunnel full of cyclamen and hellebores. I’m at my happiest photographing outdoors, even in the rain or photographing a plant based product.
When photographing plants, I lose all sense of time, often having to put an alarm on the phone to remind me to pick the children up from school. An overwhelming sense of calm envelopes me. It’s the most peaceful and rewarding of work, taking you completely away from the hustle and bustle of the every day rush. It can sometimes be tricky, reds and oranges are difficult to photograph, often becoming a blob of oversaturated colour lacking detail due to having fewer nuances and requiring a bit of techie tweaking. Photographing on a bright sunny or a windy day isn’t overly favourable but can be managed. It can also be funny and I’m not talking about a certain shoot I was asked to do but the time I was laying on the grass in the garden with my head in the flower bed during the first lockdown last year. I’d finally purchased a macro lens and had taken it out for a spin to photograph some bulbs I had planted. A macro lens needs a very steady hand, tripod, beanbag, extra lighting and not being afraid of getting close to nature. My poor husband flew out of the house in great haste, having panicked at the sight of me looking somewhat bedraggled on the ground. Apparently I had been there for some time not moving. I was admiring the architecture of a delicate chiondoxa nestled amongst the grasses and me being a million miles away from it all once again.
The garden may look a bit bleak today, however there’s always something to find. A hydrangea taking on a new form with its skeleton petals (don’t cut them as soon as they become dry as they provide great protection throughout the winter months), bulbs bursting their way through the ground once more, but most of all look at plants whilst laying on the ground (I often have a bin bag to kneel on in my bag when out and about). And, taking inspiration from my grandfather once more, I have a robin in the garden who, isn’t quite brave enough, but enjoys a little bit of pastry when no one is looking.