‘Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise’ –Henry Mitchell
It was definitely the right moment to see the most visited of London’s many tourist attractions last Sunday. http://www.kew.org/ Thirty one of us from Cambridge Camera Club left the coach eager to explore and with my cameras at the ready I set off with a small group, to find the Waterlily House.
Built in 1852 it is the hottest of the tropical houses at Kew. Our camera lenses and viewfinders steamed up immediately and whilst we kept wiping away the moisture from our lenses we often forgot to clean the viewfinder too so, on occasions, we viewed the lilies through a very thick mist! Thank you to Alan for the loan of his cloth! The water lily was the first plant to produce flowers and what stunning flowers it produces! Not only are they much bigger than the average flower but the sharp edges ensure they stand like beacons above the water. I was mesmerised by the colours and their elegant stature and began trying to do them justice in my lens.
Having just embarked on another photographic distinction I was keen to obtain some rather more abstract photographs from the outside looking in. Leaving my group, with an agreement to meet up for lunch, I set about capturing some interesting textures and plants through the steamy windows. Time disappeared so quickly as I managed to select some interesting shots for future consideration.
Moving on from the Palm House I briefly visited the Princess of Wales Conservatory which was commissioned in 1982 and named after Princess Augusta who had been instrumental in setting up the botanic gardens. It was opened in 1987 by Diane, Princess of Wales. Inside I particularly enjoyed the African violets and the tiny alpine plants.
After a very enjoyable lunch in the Orangery, Sylvia and I set off to explore the rhododendrons. I had never seen so many in one place, nor so many varieties and colours. They are so tricky to photograph well, as the stigma is quite long and difficult to keep in focus and the petals are soft and keeping them that way is also a challenge. Needless to say both of us became obsessed with these beautiful plants and spent at least an hour and a half trying every angle and camera setting.
When we finally moved on we began to experiment trying to capture more abstract views of both the plants and the general environment. Helping each other with settings we explored the ‘long exposure camera shake method’ and multiple exposures before finally making our way back to the coach.
I can see why Kew Gardens is such a popular place to visit. There is so much to see and even though there may be hundreds of visitors admiring the gardens at the same time as you, it just doesn’t feel crowded at all. I am looking forward to my next visit when I will be exploring the sky walk and the rock gardens!