Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London, UK)

My first blog post of the year 2020 comes following my final photography outing of 2019. As many of you know one of my favourite places to visit in London is the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Situated in southwest London, on the penultimate stop of the district line, this botanical garden is a World Heritage site, was founded in 1840 and is home to over 50,000 living plant specimens.

I have been visiting the gardens ever since I was a youngster and have so many fond memories there (mainly when my nan pushed my brother down a small hill or when the resident swans chased my mum). For the last few years the garden has become a regular hotspot for me to practice and develop my photography skills and, as you hopefully are aware, I have won a few awards in the Captured at Kew category of the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition.

Palm House, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (London, UK)

Prior to watching the fireworks (on TV, because I am too old to travel into central London on New Years Eve nowadays), I spent the day wandering the gardens with my camera equipment. As evidenced by the photo opposite, the weather was hardly conducive to photography, with very low light and a thick layer of grey cloud covering the skyline.

Palm House, Kew Gardens (Canon EOS 1200D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm @ 100mm, f/8.0, 1/125, iso 200)

Usually, like most wildlife photographers, I try to utilise the light conditions to enhance my images but the weather for this trip allowed me to focus on alternative subjects. Situated in Kew Gardens are a number of glasshouses,all home to a menagerie of species of exotic flora. One of my favourite shots from this visit was one of the iconic Palm House. Built in 1848, the glasshouse, is home to a multitude of plant species found across the worlds rainforest biomes.

I took this image from outside, in an attempt to capture the chaos of life within the warmest, most densely populated glasshouse in Kew. The low light actually helped to add a gloomy atmosphere to the image and manually adjusting my in-camera exposure allowed the creation of an excellent contrast between the white metalwork, the plant leaves and the dark shadows formed behind the window panes.

I did take a walk over to the gardens' lake in search of some wildlife but, given the time of year and the weather conditions, not much of it was worth photographing. One species that I do actually enjoy taking images of in low light is the mute swan. Now, I know not everyone is the biggest fan of the swan (and this one could well have been the individual that chased my mother a few years back) but these large waterfowl can be very fun to wok with in low light.

I like to photograph swans by manually adjusting the exposure for the very brightest white part the birds feathers. This way, especially in low light, the background and water is plunged into a dark shadow creating an excellent contrast. The below is just one of a number of images I took of the resident swans during this day (the others will be up on my Instagram page) but I hope you enjoy it.

Mute Swan (Canon EOS 1200D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm @ 250mm, f/5.6, 1/160, iso 200)

The classic pose, with the curved neck, is synonymous of the species and I tried to take this image from as close to the waters surface as I could get in order to produce the lengthiest reflection that I could. A slight wind was blowing so said reflection is blurred a little but I think this actually helps to add to the simplistic, dark nature of the whole image.


If you are interested in visiting Kew Gardens, it is worth checking out their official website but also have a look at my Instagram page which is littered with photos of the wildlife, plants and architecture that can be found there!

Kew Gardens:

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