Kew Gardens

There’s so much photographic subject matter at Kew Gardens that my visit lasting just one day left me feeling frustrated that I couldn’t stay longer. The gardens open at 9.30 am and close at 7.30 pm at weekends during Spring and Summer but the glasshouses close at 5.30pm. Travelling from Brighton, I didn’t arrive until 11.30 so I had to decide which things to see and which to leave out.

I knew that if I started at the Bugs and Butterfly house, I’d probably never leave to see the rest of the place so I walked to the Temperate House at the far end where I encountered this peacock on the way to the Treetop Walkway.


I went through the Mediterranean Garden, replaced my Canon 24-105 mm f2.8 L lens for my favourite 100 mm f2.8 macro, took off a couple of layers of clothing and entered the steamy Palm House. I’ve been keen on shooting ferns and palms lately. They’re great subjects for creating high contrast, graphic images or something abstract and more painterly.


Finally, I got to the bugs & butterflies where I didn’t see any bugs probably because the butterflies were so flamboyant that I overlooked them. I used my macro twin flash, the Canon MT-24EX to increase the light sufficiently to freeze the movement of the butterflies and set my Canon 5D Mark II to manual with an aperture of around f8 and a shutter speed of 1/200 sec to expose for the background. I hand held but with my hands resting on the top of a tripod, providing a bit of support while still allowing me some maneuverability and used Al Servo autofocus to track the eye aiming to keep it in sharp focus.


I’m used to searching for butterflies out in the fields where it’s difficult to get still conditions so it was a treat to shoot this one feeding happily on fruit and barely moving.

If Kew were nearer Brighton, I’d spend a lot of time there. I was disappointed not to have time to photograph the waterlilies in the Waterlily House so intend to return soon. The metal framework casts graphic shadows across the ponds contrasting with the soft lines and pastel colours of the flowers.

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