How to take pictures of your bonsai with your cell phone

December 16, 2017

We will soon be posting the improved rules for the SABA Photographic competition and we want as many people as possible to participate.  Taking good photographs, is not that much of an art. You do not need a fancy camera to take nice pictures.  Although the photograph, as such, does not count (that much), it does not mean that a poor quality photo of the best tree, will make it win. So here are a few tips to help you take better pictures of your tree for the competition.


  1. Make sure your phone lens is clean. Take a soft cloth (like the ones you get to clean your glasses with) and gently wipe over the lens to clean it.

  2. Set your phone to take the highest quality photo.

  3. Turn off picture frames and effects. Having a cheezy frame around your bonsai tree will not workfor this competition.

  4. Set up your shot properly.  

    • Make sure that there is sufficient light to make your tree clear. We want to see branch structure, ramification, nebari, ground cover, etc.

    • Show your tree off against a solid background that will compliment or contrast your tree.  That is why most of us use black or white or grey backgrounds.

    • Avoid bright reflections and other hotspots or even unnecessary shadows.

    • Make sure the pot is clean!

    • Shoot as close to the subject as possible, getting the whole tree, pot and or stand in.

    • Declutter the background as it distracts from your tree. The next two pictures are not great, even though the trees might be. The angle is wrong, the background distracts and you cannot see the structure of the tree.




  5. Decide on the point of focus or a point of interest.  I decided to go with the Virginia Creeper and show off the Spring colours. But first, I need to do a bit of work!


How to make a simple light box:  (There are lots of ideas - Google it!)


  1. You will need either a boxed wooden frame, an old polystyrene cooler box (available from most retail outlets) or an old cardboard box.

  2. Cut out the sides and cover it with an old sheet. (I used a polyester bidim type cloth, but you can use anything that will diffuse light, such as paper, use red project board if you like...etc).

  3. Take 3 old fashioned desk lamps, put