Open Garden Week

After a two year hiatus caused by COVID-19 the Hamilton Spectator Open Garden Week has returned and is in full swing. My wife is an avid gardener and she has always enjoyed visiting local gardens and talking “all things gardening” with the homeowners. This article shares a selection of images that we captured over the last few days.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 44 mm, efov 88 mm, f/4, 1/200, ISO-80, handheld in-camera focus stacking

Going out on the Open Garden Tour is always a bit of an adventure as one seldom knows exactly what to expect when visiting participating homes in the greater Hamilton area.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 75 mm, efov 150 mm, f/4, 1/200, ISO-64, handheld in-camera focus stacking

This was my first opportunity to use my Olympus M4/3 camera gear for this event. I started out using my M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 f/4 IS zoom and created some in-camera focus stacked images of a number of blossoms.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking

As can be expected the breeze was quite variable depending on the individual property and where subject blossoms were positioned. It took some patience to wait for a lull in the breeze to capture these in-camera focus stacked images. I used a series of 10 images with my focus differential set to 5.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 66 mm, efov 132 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-125, handheld in-camera focus stacking

After shooting with my E-M1X for over three years I still love the creative flexibility that its computational photography technology provides. Being able to shoot handheld in-camera focus stacked images, then switching to a standard image capture allows for different creative interpretations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 100 mm, efov 200 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-125

This is clearly evident when you compare the previous two lily photographs in terms of the amount of depth-of-field when using the same aperture.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 610 mm, efov 122 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-100

Over the years some things have remained very consistent during the Open House Week. All of the homeowners are friendly, approachable and willing to share their experiences. We always come away from individual visits with some new ideas and knowledge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 17 mm, efov 34 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-200

On our first day of Open Garden Week we travelled out to Dundas even though only one property was available to view. It was well worth the trip as we were treated to an interesting and eclectic assortment of repurposed items.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 31 mm, efov 62 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-400

I also had the rare opportunity to meet a couple of gentleman who happened to work at some of the same newspapers that I did early on in my corporate life.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 18 mm, efov 36 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-160

Since I’m more advanced in years, it turned out that my tenure at the newspapers was earlier than their experiences. It was still enjoyable to chat about our work experiences and compare notes. There were a few individuals that all three of us knew and with whom we used to work. As the saying goes… it’s a small world.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 29 mm, efov 58 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-320

Repurposing doors, windows, old pots, coolers, out-of-service barbeques and other items can add a lot of interest and character to a garden.  Our visit to Dundas was a special treat.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/4, 1/250, ISO-100

Some homes can be quite surprising. The view in the image above was from the backyard of a home that was situated next to a small row of townhomes. This extensive pond meandered its way toward Lake Ontario. Many of the homeowners that backed onto the waterway had canoes, paddle boats and other water craft so they could enjoy the calm water. They were also treated to a selection of birds and other wildlife.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO-4000

The Open Garden Week provides a range of properties to view. I wasn’t sure which lenses to bring so I ended up packing four PRO zooms, and a macro lens in a medium sized shoulder bag. I ended up using the M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 f/4 IS and the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 for all of the photographs in this article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/4, 1/200, ISO-200

The 7-14 mm wide angle zoom was my go-to lens during our third day on the Open Garden Week. Some of the homes had expansive plantings that could only be properly captured with a very wide angle.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 1/200, ISO-200

The M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 zoom is a lens that I don’t typically use that often but it really is a godsend in certain situations.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 1/400, ISO-4000

Depending on the scene it can be a bit tricky to use in terms of avoiding wide angle distortions. I find the articulating rear screen on my E-M1X comes in really handy when I have to adjust the height of my camera from the ground, as well as the angle of its focal plane, in order to reduce distortions.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 1/8, ISO-200

The PRO 7-14 mm can be confidently shot handheld at slower shutter speeds as you can see in the photograph above where a shutter speed of 1/8 was used. Many homeowners enjoy some humour and whimsy in their gardens. These items can make for some interesting images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/4, 1/125, ISO-200

When photographing gardens I usually compose images using the rear screen of my camera. I find this gives me a lot more creative latitude and is especially helpful when I need to get my camera quite low to the ground.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/4, 1/125, ISO-200

It does take some patience to get all of the angles in a composition to work properly in the frame when using wider focal lengths. I typically don’t find severe wide angle distortions to be very visually pleasing… but that’s just a matter of personal taste.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO-200

The photograph above was captured using a focal length of 7 mm (efov 14 mm). It took a bit of time to get my camera height and shooting angle properly positioned. Whenever possible I like to eliminate wide angle distortions at the moment of capture, rather than making adjustments in post.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, efov 14 mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO-200

If you enjoy flower and landscape photography, attending events like Open Garden Week in your local area can be a very enjoyable experience. The combination of the M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 mm f/4 IS worked well and would likely be sufficient for most image opportunities.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from either RAW files or out-of-camera jpegs (i.e. handheld in-camera focus stacked) using my standard approach in post.  Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,184 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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2 thoughts on “Open Garden Week”

  1. Tom
    Great photos as usual. I am curious as to why you did not use your macro on any of these shots? I do not have a macro and keep thinking I should buy one but I am not sure if this is just GAS or whether I would find some additional benefit, primarily in flower shooting.

    1. Hi Joel,

      I knew from past experience with the Open Garden Tour that it would be difficult to use a macro lens for a couple of reasons. The first was that is would be disruptive to position myself physically inside various planting areas. Most home owners do not appreciate someone walking/kneeling/using a stool in amongst their flowers and other plants. The second reason is that most gardens do not open until about 11 AM. By this time of day the breeze is kicking up because sun is warming the ground.

      I love to use a macro lens for flowers and typically do so earlier in the morning when the air is still and the light is more diffused. One of the best times to use a macro lens to photograph flowers is earlier in the morning after, or during, a light rain. The M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro is a really wonderful lens which I find can be easily used handheld, even with handheld hi res or in-camera focus stacking, for macro subjects. It can open up a new genre of photography. If I had it to do all over again I would absolutely still buy it.


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