Photographing Plants at Kew

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While browsing the website for Kew a Creative Plants Photography course caught my eye starting in just a few days. Luckily there was a place available. After scrambling some childcare I went along to Kew for the four day course. The course was run by renowned wildlife and nature photographer Heather Angel.

Heather Angel at Kew

Her energy is endless as she pushes around her trolley laden with photographic kit. On the first day she had us running around Kew hunting for the best spot to photograph the stigma of a magnolia flower and then onto the wild meadows of bluebells. I instantly warmed to Heather and am in awe of her eye for the hidden detail within each frame she shoots.

We were so lucky with the weather on the first three days. Kew is really a magical place to get lost in. Especially with a camera. I just thoroughly enjoyed strolling around, camera in hand, capturing beauty. Heather directed us to the best positions based on the lighting, both natural and flash, and we even had the opportunity to shoot alone in the Princess of Wales Conservatory after closing time.

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Heather took us through a number of techniques including photo stacking and stitching together a panoramic image from numerous images. One of my favourite sessions was the still life. In the classroom we used light boxes, tents and other reflectors to shoot various flowers and leaves. Some of her top tips include using a pola filter to increase colour saturations, watch out for colour contrasts and shapes before you shoot that stand out by the way they’re lit and use flash creatively not just from the front but also from the side or back.

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Heather’s son Giles is also a photographer and photo retoucher. He spent a day with us talking about the finer points of retouching in Lightroom and Photoshop. I found the sessions with him really practical. Very useful when at the end of the course I had over 700 pictures.

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Having registered at the last minute I didn’t receive the email with the required kit. If I had I probably wouldn’t have come along. I thought my Canon EOS 650D was fantastic until I got there and saw the kit the others had. For an amateur course my fellow students were really kitted out! I didn’t even have a macro lens or tripod. I love photography and want to improve my technical skills, but with three impatient young children I tow I don’t have time to lug around kit when I’m out and about. I am happy to stick with the basics for now until I do have more time. And looking at my pictures, my little camera did me proud don’t you think?

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If you're interested in gardening, cooking and learning about plants, Sarah runs courses at her home and gardens at Perch Hill in Sussex (and sometimes in Henley too). See her range of courses on the Sarah Raven website.

Thanks for reading,

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