This Friday, many gardens around the country that normally charge for entry will be opening their doors for free. Find out which gardens near you are taking part, and get some top tips on how to take some great shots of the gardens.

As part of the National Gardening Week, this Friday (17 April 2015) the Royal Horticultural Society is launching the first National Open Gardens Day, where many gardens that normally charge for entry have agreed to open their gardens for free.

The RHS has committed to opening its four gardens – Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in North Devon and Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire – for free that day, with many RHS Partner Gardens also joining the campaign. The National Gardens Scheme has also listed 27 gardens taking part that you can visit for free.

With so many gardens throwing open their gates across the country, it’s the perfect opportunity to get some close-up floral images as well as broader vistas.

Here are our top tips for taking great garden photographs:

  1. With the potential for large crowds, aim to get to your chosen venue early. You will have less chance of people ruining your shot, while the light and chance of dew on plants mean it should be the best time to shoot.
  2. For flower close-ups, a macro lens is a natural choice. A 60mm f/2.8 optic on a cropped-sensor DSLR is ideal, delivering a decent working distance between you and the flower or subject you’re shooting.
  3. Tripods may not be welcome at some gardens, so be prepared to shoot handheld, increasing the ISO to avoid camera shake. Take a reflector to lift shadows and to diffuse light if shooting under bright, clear-blue skies.
  4. Backgrounds may not be ideal, so take a sheet of coloured card to place behind your flower. Try to use complementary colours to create a sense of balance, allowing the eye to rest on the point of interest you’ve chosen.

If you do manage to take some great shots of your time in a free garden opening, why not tweet them to us at @AP_Magazine with the hashgag #OpenGardensDay, and we’ll retweet the best ones.