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Tip 5: Prepare your tree properly

When you photograph your tree, you are exhibiting it. Whether you are taking pictures to share on the internet, to enter in a contest, to publish in a magazine, or to hang on your wall, you should take the care to show your tree at its best. Basically, you should prepare your tree as if you were preparing for a show. This is much too involved a subject to treat fully here, but a few initial suggestions include the following:

  • Wipe down the pot with a damp cloth to remove splashes of mud and other debris.
  • Put on a clean layer of top-dressing or add moss to the soil surface.
  • Remove any weeds that have sprouted.
  • Trim stray and out-of-place shoots.
  • Make sure your wiring is as tidy as possible.
  • Place the tree on a display stand if possible. Take care with the overall image, not just the tree.

The basic principle is simple: Respect yourself, your tree, and your audience enough to take a few minutes to present your bonsai properly.

Preview your photographs. If you are using a digital camera, go check your photographs on the computer before taking down your photo setup. I always do this --- and almost always find at least one thing that I want to correct and re-shoot.

Camera height. Set up your display so that you are photographing the tree head-on, directly from the front. The camera should be level with the lower trunk, so that the soil surface is just barely visible. The first picture below is taken from too high (and in the wrong season, and in distracting direct sunlight.) The second picture shows the same tree photographed from the proper height. This tree is part of the Pacific Rim collection.

Too high:

Beech photographed from too high

Just right:

The same tree, photographed from the right height.

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Last modified December 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Carl T. Bergstrom