Speaker Night – Clive Nichols

Speaker Night – Clive Nichols

Wednesday 11/10/2017


Photographing Plants & Gardens


This week we were pleased to welcome back Garden Photographer, Clive Nichols to Midhurst Camera Club. Clive is a garden and flower photographer with over 25 years of experience. His photographs are frequently seen in magazines, and rarely does a month go by without them appearing in The English Garden magazine. With this sort of pedigree we knew that the evening would be special and we were not disappointed.

We were expecting an increase in audience numbers so instead of using the smaller room which is our normal venue, we moved into the large hall for the evening. It was a wise decision because we would not have had a lot of space in the other room.

Chairman Peter Jones – PJ – (left), with Clive Nichols (right)

Clive photographs are quite unique and it is easy to see how he has reached the top of his trade. He “lives and breathes” gardens. When you spend a lot of time photographing in a specialist area like Clive Nichols you become part of the fabric. Clive instinctively knows the “when, where, and how” of garden photography. This sort of knowledge takes time.

The images covered many aspects of the garden. From sweeping vistas to intimate close-ups and with each photograph Clive explained his technique for capturing it. He explained the lenses he employed right down to the aperture, shutter-speed, and ISO used and his reasons for using it. I wish more speakers would do this. Many camera club members (and beyond) are not experts and join clubs to obtain this sort of knowledge and Clive Nichols provided it in spades. He particularly favours telephoto lenses such as the 70-200mm over a wider angle lens for many of his shots. “It focus the eye on the subject”, he said. “Fast shutter speeds are a must for magazine photography. Editors don’t want to see blurred images”. His wide-angle lens of choice seemed to be a 21mm. He also favours a 180mm lens for macro work. Clive also makes a lot of use of smaller apertures, even going up (or down) to f/32. I do happen to know that many photographers are nervous about using apertures this small because of diffraction problems. I have to confess though, that there is no evidence of this in Clive’s photographs. Every one of them is stunning. A light touch in Photoshop is all that Clive employs. You do need to do a little postprocessing with this type of work. There is only so much you can achieve in-camera.

An informative question and answer session rounded off what was for me an excellent evening. Many people I spoke with afterwards felt truly inspired and I fully expect to see many garden images appearing in our forthcoming competitions.

Clive Nichols has established a reputation as one of the world’s finest flower and garden photographers. His passion for the subject comes across in every image that he makes. Clive has photographed many of the world’s best gardens, including HRH The Prince of Wales’s own private garden in Scotland, Lord Rothschild’s private garden in Corfu and Lord Heseltine’s private garden in Oxfordshire. In addition his work has appeared in hundreds of books as well as in countless magazines, calendars and brochures. Over the past 25 years he has amassed a stunning collection of over 60,000 images which are available for reproduction. Clive regularly gives master classes in flower and garden photography for The Royal Horticultural Society and for the past 5 years he has been one of the two main judges for the prestigious ‘International Garden Photographer of the Year’ awards.

Clive also photographs interiors, travel, architecture and lifestyle, undertaking many prestigious commissions including a calendar of the world’s best modern buildings for a Russian Senator, a book about the finest Villa on Lake Como for Conde Nast and a new brochure on the historic BMA House in Tavistock Square, London, for the British Medical Association.

Article and Photographs by Richard Corkrey – 12/10/2017

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