Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania: A Lesson in Making Images through Manual Exposures

The last few weeks for photography have been quite dissatisfying for me.  I had blurry photos of my niece riding horses, crappy composition in photos of my friend’s daughter and an overall lack of enthusiasm for shooting the bleak winter weather scene outside my front door.  I was in a photography rut.  So when I joined my meet-up group in Pennsylvania to shoot the Christmas displays at Longwood Gardens, I was hell bent on making some images that would restore my faith in my photography abilities.


Longwood Gardens is truly an impressive place for photographers and non-photographers alike, but shooting flowers is really not my subject of choice.  I much prefer street scenes, portraits and travel photography; however, I look for every opportunity to hone my skills and challenge myself.  I’m still finding my “photography” voice and developing my style.


I recently read Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.  In the book, he talks mainly about using the manual functions on the camera to make correct and creative exposures.  I decided that this would be the day that I learned the camera’s manual functions.  I shot these photos at Longwood Gardens using only the manual techniques that he teaches in his book.




To be honest, it was an exhausting challenge.  My head was spinning after this shoot.  I do have a renewed sense of self and am proud of the outcome.  But I still have a sense that something is missing.  These images are aesthetically pleasing, but they lack an emotional connection. They are just pictures to me.  I’m looking for that emotion…that connection.   I don’t want to shoot to shoot.  I want to FEEL something when I see these images.  Maybe I’m still in a rut….

What is your photography style?  How did you develop it? What was your a-ha moment?


16 thoughts on “Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania: A Lesson in Making Images through Manual Exposures

  1. I think your photos are gorgeous. I have long wanted to spend a day at Longwood with my camera. I like your variety in DoF with the flowers and it is a beautiful capture of the fountains and the movement of the water. I am still working on my style. I, too, love travel photos – some of mine are on my Pinterest Board http://www.pinterest.com/astoirin/ and on my blog – although my blog is new theme and I have not transferred previous posts to it yet. http://www.theamblingblog.com I’m not familiar with that book, but I shall take a look at it.


  2. Your photos are gorgeous. My favorites are the fountain shot and the little, white flowers arching toward the camera. Both feel intimate to me and the flowers look ready to tell a secret.

    My photography style is basic: aim the phone and click!


  3. Very nice images, but I understand what you are saying. As for shooting “style,” painting with light is how I describe my approach. In other words, looking at what the light is doing to the subject, rather than looking at the subject.


  4. I certainly feel your pain as you go through your journey learning this art known as Photography. With the three aspects: camera technicality, composition, then post processing, each area poses its unique challenges.

    First getting to know your camera and understanding things like ISO, f/stop and shutter speeds will lead you towards accurate exposures. But then the composition is what makes the image yours and it will take time to find your niche. One of the most frequent things I was told from several pro photography coaches is “What is your subject”. While these images are good, getting in close to the thing that caught your eye will help lead towards a stronger image.

    Just what was it that caught your eye? See it? Get close..now get closer. Now eliminate all background distractions and isolate. Look at the light and see how it illuminates and shines. How can you use that to your advantage.

    oops..got on a roll. Well, you get the idea. Good luck and believe me, while the journey can be frustrating and difficult at times, the end result is worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

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