Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Day 125: a feast of flowers at Kew

It's so wonderful to have a photography workshop on my doorstep rather than having to negotiate tubes and trains and taxis. Kew is two bus rides away, not really onerous at all. I'm ashamed that despite being a Friend of Kew, I haven't been inside these gates apart from a drowning at the fabulous showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show courtesy of l(A)'s fabulous though slightly sodden birthday present. I really need to address that.

I read about Heather Angel and her inspirational flower photography a couple of years ago, round about the time I also learnt of one of her favourite gadgets, the Plamp. I was so delighted when investigating Robert Canis' first Kew workshops, that this two workshop was bring advertised too. I just couldn't resist.

I start off by trying to work out how to join my fellow workshop attendees, as I seemed to be in a museum, and can't initially find how to get to the classrooms above. When I do I meet everyone, we discuss our objectives of the workshop. My aim is for pretty simple, take my flower photography to the next level, learn new techniques and indulge in two days of non-stop photography. Then we sit back and watch an inspirational presentation from Heather. She's been all over the world and knows so much about the flora she's photographed too. We experience a heady mix of her fabulous flower photographs taken in situ, and then specimens photographed in a studio.


We are itching to get out and put some of our new knowledge into practice but it's clear the wind is whipping up a frenzy. Despite deployment of the Plamps, we're going to have a tricky time. We start off with trying to capture some seed heads hanging from trees that just won't stay still. Then we venture towards the alpine beds which are a vibrant sea of cerise and sunshine yellow peonies (well, I think they are), the bees are out in force but the petals are permanently shivering in the breezy day.

Some of the tiny flowers are harbouring passengers.
We try and escape the windiness by heading towards the relative shelter of the Alpine House. Here I break out my new Pocket Wizards and try a bit of off-camera fill-in flash. My favourite is (not surprisingly with my well documented poppy addiction) the Alpine Poppy, I love how the background is almost blown out but you can see the dark interior surrounded by the shimmering, shivering crimson petals. The height of the flowers helps us deploy our tripods and get some inspiring images. There's so much choice choice here but I'm intrigued how I'm more drawn to the white flowers, the reds, the pinks and the occasional technicolour. We still can't escape the gusts though, the doors are open in the alpine glass house but next we venture into the palm house where the double doors keep the winds out and the temperate climate has us quickly disrobing.

We have so much material to work with here. I'm rather taken by the carnivorous plants, not just because it's not so humid as the main house, but it certainly helps. The wispy plants armed with tiny drops of glue to capture passing insects and too inquisitive camera lens too I can vouch for, are a fascination for me.


Just before we head back to our classroom one of the iguanas poses for us on one of the walkways.

I've taken over 300 photographs today, I'm sure a whole bunch can be eliminated because of blurring, but hopefully it there's still a plethora of close-up flower pictures I can be proud of. I foresee plenty of peering at photos and some post-processing too tonight. And there's a whole other day tomorrow, I cannot wait.

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