Its that time of the year again when Zimbabwe, and a lot of southern Africa, is drenched in the colour purple as the ubiquitous Jacaranda trees flower in all their glory. Harare and Bulawayo are renowned for this purple spectacle and thankfully I have been able to spend a bit of time wandering the streets with camera in hand. See below a rough guide to getting the most out of your jacaranda trees...
1. Keep your eyes open and scout your scenes...
A lot of the images I have successfully created were from just being observant when I travelled around Harare and taking mental and physical notes of areas and scenes that I thought had potential. I then revisit those places in my own time and really work the scene from all angles. Don't be afraid to move around looking for different angles and perspectives. I also scouted my own neighbourhood a lot, there is often a tendency to think that good images must be far away from home. This often isn't the case at all and I managed to get some great images 5 minutes from my front door.
2. Shoot during the golden hours...
Typically speaking most of the photography magic happens in the "golden hours" which are at sunrise and sunset so either get up very early and be on site before the sun or plan your day so you can be on site before the sun sets. Having said that the light is still good for about 2 hours after and before the sunrise and sunset so make sure you make good use of these times. The mix of soft, warm golden light and the magenta heavy hue of the jacarandas makes for some potential eyeball popping pictures!
3. Shoot with different lenses...
Due to their age most of the Jacaranda trees in Zimbabwe are huge and so the temptation is to try and get the whole tree in every picture. While there is nothing wrong with this I would also suggest making use of any other lenses you have in your kit bag. Wide angle lenses will give you a wider angle of vision that will allow you to 'see' the whole scene in front of you.
However, longer telephoto lenses like the standard 75-300 kit lenses, 70-200mm f2.8 lenses or even 50mm and 100mm lenses will narrow that angle of vision dramatically and give you a more compact view through your viewfinder. The longer lenses will also compress the foreground and background together creating the illusion that elements are closer together than they are. You can take advantage of this compression to make your compositions more powerful as the background (hopefully your colourful jacaranda's) will become more obvious in your shots. Lens Rent Zimbabwe has a wide array of lenses available for rent here.
4. Photograph life around the Jacarandas...
Its far too tempting to concentrate on the trees themselves and forget about all the vibrant things that happen in and around the trees on a daily basis. Try and think like a street photographer and focus on what is happening on a daily basis, with the jacarandas as a colourful backdrop. Try and incorporate candid pictures of people going about their daily business (always try to ask permission if you want to shoot close portraits) or contrast man made structures that will juxtapose well with the colours of the jacarandas.
Although a lot of your pictures can and will be taken hand held try and make use of a tripod whenever you can. This will allow you to shoot with a combination of a very low ISO (good for colours and no grain) as well as a small aperture of f11-f16 (good for increasing depth of field in your shots) without suffering from camera shake as a result of the slow shutter speeds.
Tripods can be cumbersome to carry around with you, especially if you are trying to capture authentic street scenes by being unobtrusive and invisible, but they can often be worth their weight in gold! Tripods will also allow you to shoot at times when hand holding wont get you the shot, like before and after sunrise and during the evening.
I hope you enjoyed my few pointers and that they give you some inspiration to get out and shoot some stunning jacaranda images! If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of photography why not join us on one of our Photography Workshops.
What equipment do I need?
All the equipment mentioned in this blogpost is available to rent from lensrentzimbabwe.com. All the equipment mentioned in this blog is shown below, if you need something and you cant find it on the site please don't hesitate to be in touch.
Keep it steady with our wide range of tripods and support accessories here.
Whether you are shooting extra wide landscape or close up portraits, we have the right lens for you!