Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens Excursion – Tips by Tariq Mohammad Abdul


  • Sunday, March 5th at 11:00 am,
  • 270 C mostly sunny (bring suncream ☺)
  • Meet at lower car park, 11 Lampert Rd, Crafers SA 5152
  • Linked to the “Straight from the camera” Competition on March 16th

I am sure most of you have already been to Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens numerous times, but there is always something new to shoot. Given the theme is “Straight from the camera” also known as SOOC (pronounced “Souq”), we have got a limitless range to shoot. From birds, flowers, trees, lakes, landscapes, to macro shots of insects.

Preparing for the excursion:

  • Wear comfortable shoes (as there are many downhill and uphill paths)
  • Carry light gear (I am guilty of this, I always tend to carry a lot of equipment thinking that I might need it, so I have learned it the hard way with my back ache. Advice: carry light, take a maximum of 2 lenses and your camera.)
  • Have your water bottle handy
  • And apply suncream

Straight out of the camera

Straight out of the camera is exactly what the name implies. The trick here is to get your composition, exposure and light right in the camera before you release the shutter button. To make your life easier, most of the cameras and even the mobile phones have the grid view. This enables you to compose the shot before clicking the shutter button. The grid view helps you decide on the dreaded “rule of thirds” composition. As shown below:


Image 1 Aource:

Another trick is to switch on the Live View before taking the shot. The live view and the grid view are a great set of powerful tools on your camera. Often times, while looking through the viewfinder we tend to miss out on important details in a shot.  Looking at the live view (the LCD display) of your camera prepares you to compose the shot, fix the exposure and even balance out the light before you take the shot. Although I should warn you, live view does take a toll on the battery.

Here are some more techniques that you can try and master:

 Multiple Exposure:

 This is a technique where you can superimpose two or more photos to create a unique single image. I believe most of your cameras would have this as an inbuilt feature and if you don’t know how to access it or set it up, don’t worry! I have created a form, linked here: Where I will get your camera info and create a step by step document for you to learn and play with it before you come for the excursion.


To get better results in multiple exposures, choose blending between landscapes and close-ups. Try to shoot the close-ups directly in front of the sun, this will create a High-Key image. The high-key image is.., wait a second, I am not going to tell you everything here. Come for the excursion and I will tell you all about it. 


Want to take a wide format image? If your camera has a Panorama mode use it! Until recently Panorama images could only be created by capturing several overlapping shots and then using imaging software to seamlessly stitch (join) the overlapping bits. Sounds complicated? Yes, it was, but now most cameras have this feature inbuilt. You just have to turn the Panorama mode on and take series of shots while moving your camera horizontally or vertically.  Viola! These are the kind of images you will get


Do I need a tripod to take a Panorama? Yes and no. If you can steadily handhold your camera for 6 consecutive shots you don’t need a tripod. If you can’t then you would need your tripod and I will be happy to assist you.

What if you don’t have the Panorama mode? No stress, try out the other techniques.

 Black and White (Monochrome mode):

 Since the theme of the month is SOOC (Straight out of camera), why not try the black and white mode? Black and white or Monochrome photography is considered to be a classic style, where your images stand out without the distraction of the colour. In doing so you pay closer attention to composition and texture also forcing the viewer to focus on the subject.

Depending on your camera again, the monochrome setting will likely be located in the settings menu. For me, it is in the picture style setting. I have found the best themes in black and white are with close-ups of textures, for example, leaves with dew on them, flower close-ups, landscapes with dramatic clouds etc. Here are some examples:

Sunscream or Vaseline filter:

 I wouldn’t call this a technique, but more of a hack or a cheat. This process is simple and straightforward. I am assuming you will have at least one radial filter, Ultra Violet (UV), polarizing (CPL) or neutral density (ND), it doesn’t matter. Radial filters apart from cutting down light helps in protecting the front element of the lens.

Step 1, Unscrew the filter from your lens

Step 2, Apply suncream or vaseline with your finger tip to the outer sides of the filter

Step 3, Screw it back on the lens

Step 4, Take some photos and watch the dreamy effect in your shots

Do not, I repeat, do not apply the cream or vaseline to your lens directly! If you do not have a filter, it is all right. Try out the next technique.


 Unique Perspectives:

Trying to shoot from different angles, gives you a unique perspective. Get low, high, flat or on your toes to add impact to your shots. The search for a new angle in photography is a never-ending challenge, which is also a driving force for photographers.

Ideas for new camera angles:

  •  Shoot straight up
  • Get down low “worm’s eye view”
  • Tilt or twist your camera
  • Shoot through leading lines/paths
  • Shoot from the hip
  • Shoot through a frame

 Shoot straight up

This is actually a very fun angle to shoot. When you are photographing trees, stand right below them and shoot straight up. It creates a profound visual impact and you will notice how tall subjects appear to converge the higher up they go. Giving your image a strong sense of depth. I have taken several shots like these and each one of them are unique. Unique in formation, unique in texture and composition. So give it a try.

 Get down low “worm’s eye view”

This is basically lying on the ground and shooting straight or slightly upwards. As the name implies, it gives you a worm’s eye view, again a new perspective to look at a subject.

 Tilt or twist your camera

12We are creatures of habit and often we lean towards landscape or portrait mode with our cameras. Try tilting your camera following a leading line or a subject, it will add drama to your images and also let you break a habit. J

 Shoot through leading lines/paths

Most of my images on Instagram are leading lines, paths, alleys, or river beds, and these are the most liked images on my social media. It’s a trend that has caught on and it gives the viewer an intriguing feeling, a sense of suspense. There will be many trek pathways to shoot at Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, so be prepared and don’t miss the opportunity. Get down low or bend your knees to shoot from the hip to give a different perspective to your leading lines/paths.

Shoot from the hip

14 If you can’t lie down on the ground, bend your knees and shoot from the hip. Things would appear taller or shorter in your images and again give a different perspective.

Shoot through a frame

There are many variations for this perspective, but it’s all limited to a photographer, as to how we visualize our scene. If we literally talk about a frame, there is in fact a frame at the bottom of the garden where you can see the pond through it. I won’t discourage you to try it but also visualize natural frames around you. Frames made by trees, flowers or even spider webs draws attention to the important part of the scene. Although the frame doesn’t necessarily have to be around all four edges of the image. For example, using tree branches to frame a boring skyline in the background can be very effective.