Digital photography – capturing colour in the garden with Jacqui Hurst

Photography and digital image manipulation Garden courses

Ref: SLW11973

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About this course

Capture summer colour in West Dean Gardens by composing both abstract and realistic garden pictures. Learn to observe how lighting affects colour and composition. Suitable for those with a digital SLR or advanced compact camera.

Course Description

Learn how to explore and capture the magic of the summer colours in the garden at West Dean. Hone your skills of taking traditional garden vistas, close ups of the alliums, irises, roses, peonies and other blooms and experiment with creating abstract images. Spend time looking at the effects different colours have upon each other and how it can impact on your photographs.

This course is designed for those who love colour and gardens and wish to gain a greater understanding and confidence on how to compose abstract and realistic garden pictures. You will learn to observe how the lighting at different times of day can alter the colours, texture and definition of plants and structures which in turn will influence the composition of your images.

Depending on the weather, there should be time to talk about and share knowledge about the different cameras and equipment. Time will also be allocated to a group discussion on images which have inspired you to take up photography. There will be an illustrated talk on the first day.

You can expect to work through a series of projects to produce vibrant compositions through to monotone images. Time will be devoted to how to get your photography right in camera, rather than enhancing it with post image manipulation, and is suitable for those with a DSLR or advanced compact camera. Most of the time will be spent taking pictures, trying out different styles of photography and approaches through a series of projects. Be prepared for one early morning session, before breakfast. Areas covered include:

•Close-up work

•Plant portraits

•Abstract work

•Using colour

•Ways in which lighting can enhance the colours and texture

•The advantages of overcast days

•Making the most of the rain

There will be ample time to download and edit your pictures. At the end of each day there will be a review of a selection of everyone’s favourite images and a constructive critique.

Please come prepared for a lot of walking on this course while carrying your camera equipment.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Bring an inspirational picture from a book or magazine to share with the group. If you have a particular area you wish to improve upon, bring some of your own photographs so that you get some constructive feedback on them.
  • Ensure your camera is in good working order; your battery is fully charged and bring a spare if you have one, with blank memory card(s) to start the course. Ensure you are familiar with accessing your camera’s settings/controls.
  • Please bring the following:
  • DSLR (or advanced compact) digital camera and computer leads, camera memory card/s
  • Instruction manual, battery charger and if you have a spare battery bring it too
  • Camera tripod – if you have one
  • Cable release – optional, lens cloth
  • Small note pad to fit in your camera case
  • Laptop – if you have one and prefer working on your own computer
  • Your preferred media to save your images to e.g. USB memory stick /portable hard drive
It is essential that you know how to download images onto a PC. If you wish, you will be able to use Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to edit your images; however, there will be no formal teaching on how to use these programmes during the course.


Jacqui Hurst

Jacqui Hurst has been an editorial photographer since the mid 80's working with publishers and magazines, illustrating art, craft and gardening books and features. She is a member of the GMG and the NUJ. Recent books featuring her work are: 'Textile Landscapes' and 'Pat Albeck: Queen of the Tea Towel'. Jacqui started teaching at West Dean twenty years ago and found that she loved sharing her expertise and knowledge. She runs workshops in the UK and Europe.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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