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Highlights from Kew's 'Capturing Spring' photo challenge

Throughout March and April 2012, we invited members of our 'Your Kew' and 'Natural Neighbourhood' Flickr groups to take part in our 'Capturing Spring' photo challenge. With many great photos being taken and shared, we invited Philip Smith, Director of the

Image of pink rhododendron

Each month Philip Smith, Director of the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, picks his favourite photos from Kew's Flickr Photo Challenge to share with you. His photography has featured in many magazines and books, including The English Garden, The Garden (RHS) and Gardeners’ World. His work has also featured in exhibitions at Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley. Below you can see Philip's favourite photos from our 'Capturing Spring' photo challenge, which took place on Flickr throughout March and April 2012. 

Announcing our 'Capturing Spring' gallery of favourites...

Highlights from 'Your Kew' gallery (above):

 'leucocoryne coquimbensis' by j w h barber

This is a very well executed close up. As much thought has gone into the background as the main subject. The background is harmonious and doesn't fight for our attention. The photographer has used depth of field expertly to make sure the key area of the plant is sharply in focus, while much of the rest of the image is blurred - so as a viewer we are sure to focus our attention on the most satisfying part of the image. The light on this is beautiful - probably a dull day - but the low contrast brings out the colour beautifully as well as the texture of the delicate petals. I wish the photographer hadn't allowed the left hand petal to bump up against the frame. It looks uncomfortable!

View this image on Flickr.

'Rainbow in the labs of MSB' by mrpaulinus

An opportunist shot but the lesson is clear - always keep your camera handy! Using a wide angle view has enabled the photographer to tell the whole story of this scene. The shot is well balanced between the building and the rainbow with the added bonus of the rainbow reflection in the window. The photograph is tilted at a slightly wrong angle - the pale vertical at the end of the building is leaning backwards a bit. This kind of thing is often difficult to see in a wide angle view where lots of lines are distorted - but it could have been corrected with imaging software. But you can't beat the atmosphere and it shows what good photography is all about - being at the right place at the right time- with the camera!

View this image on Flickr.

Highlights from the 'Natural Neighbourhood' gallery:


'dsc_6582' by Thomas Cogley

'dsc_6582' by Thomas Cogley

A wildlife shot which has taken a lot of skill to make. Small birds are very difficult to photograph because - well, they're small. And they move very fast. Robins are often good value because they are bold enough to come near to humans. This shot is pin-sharp and the 'expression' on the bird's face and the light in the bird's eye are great. One of the difficulties of wildlife photography is that distracting elements often get in the way - in this case there is a heavy shadow across the bird's body - breaking up its natural shape. Sometimes you can get rid of things like this on the computer in Photoshop - but in this case it probably would be hard to erase. But this photograph is full of life - which is what you are always looking for as a wildlife photographer.



'Are you lookin' at me?' by mendel9331

'Are you lookin' at me?' by mendel9331

Wildlife shots are often about shooting enough frames to just capture the exact moment. This is a great example with the goose looking straight into the lens, like a feathered movie star with a large orange nose. What helps this shot a lot is the very simple background that not only provides a pleasing wash of colour and texture, but puts the birds into their context; telling us the story of where they live and like to hang out. Putting the geese in the lower third of the frame makes for a very pleasing and balanced composition.

View other fantastic photos from the 'Natural Neighbourhood - Capturing spring' gallery.


Join Kew on Flickr and take part in our next photo challenge

'Kew on Flickr' is the official Flickr group for Kew Gardens and Wakehurst; we invite visitors to share their photos of the Gardens and take part in monthly photo challenges. Help Kew show off the beauty and fascinations of the Gardens and see your photos featured on Kew's website.

'Your Kew' Flickr group

Help Kew celebrate biodiversity by sharing photos of nature in your local area. Post photos of what you’re doing at home or in your neighbourhood to help support and safeguard the diversity of plant and animal life.

Natural Neighbourhood Flickr group

International Garden Photographer of the Year competition

Find out about the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition and how you can get involved. It is the world’s premier competition for garden, plant and flower photography and culminates each year in an outdoor exhibition at Kew Gardens.

Browse this year's competition categories

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