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Highlights from Kew's 'Essence of Summer' photo challenge

Throughout summer 2012, we invited members of our 'Your Kew' and 'Natural Neighbourhood' Flickr groups to take part in our 'Essence of summer' photo challenge. Once again we received many great photos, and Philip Smith, Director of the International Garde
Waterlily House

Announcing our 'Essence of Summer' gallery of favourites

Once again 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 'Essence of summer' photo challenge, which took place on Flickr between May and August 2012.

Using a shallow depth of field that makes the background out of focus, this dahlia is pulled out from the surrounding plants and foliage.

Philip Smith, Director of the I.G.P.O.T.Y Competition

Highlights from 'Your Kew' Flickr group

'IMG_8131'by 5unflowerUK

"This is a beautiful portrait of a plant. The low-contrast light falling on the petals is superb, probably a bright but overcast sky, and this gives a gentle clarity and modelling to the flower as well as a very accurate rendition of colour. If the photograher had used flash, the 'feel' of the image would have been unnatural, with a darker background and an artificial crispness in the main flower. Using a shallow depth of field that makes the background out of focus, this dahlia is pulled out from the surrounding plants and foliage. But the blurred purple Verbena in the background lends colour and life to the image without distracting from the central flower."

View this photo on Flickr. 

'Beautiful Reddish Orange' by Kam Hong Leung

"This photograph is slightly over-exposed but it is chosen here because it is a very successful composition. Bees move very quickly and the trick with them is that you either have to wait for just the right moment, or take loads of shots and edit them afterwards to get the right one. They also have an annoying habit of showing you their backsides! So here the photographer has got the right moment with the busy bee facing the camera. The colour of the main flower is echoed in the background by more out of focus blooms, and this gives a lively energy to the shot. The point of focus in the shot is just above the bee, but the insect is sharp enough to pick out the detail of its wings. General auto-focus with macro shots like this will often mislead as it can esily pick out the wrong part of the image to focus on. If your camera has the function, it is a good idea use tracking auto-focus to ensure the bee is pin-sharp."

View this photo on Flickr. 

Highlights from 'Natural Neighbourhood' Flickr group

Ladybird in style by Murtaza Mahmud

"This is a good example of the fact that in photography simple often works best. One subject placed off-centre - a compositional 'trick' that ensures the subject keeps our attention. The very simple line of the background leaf and the uncluttered, simple spaces also encourage us to concentrate on the main subject. But this picture is all about colour. The use of the contrasting green and red creates a drama and 'snap' in the image that works really well."

View this photo on Flickr

Great Willow Herb by n.j.coomber

"This is also a very nice composition with the colour of the background blooms echoing the main subject. The central bloom is very sharply in focus, well exposed to show the texture of the petals. Like the ladybird, the background is uncluttered. It looks as if flash was used and this has meant that the background (where the flash does not reach) is dark. This can be a useful technique but it does tend to give photographs an unnatural look that is not always well-suited to natural forms. Next time try leaving the flash switched off and use natural light to give the effect you are looking for."

View this photo on Flickr

Feel inspired? Why not 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 of the Gardens, practice your photography skills 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 fantastic prizes are available across six different categories. One finalist will win the title 'International Garden Photographer of the Year' and an under 16 finalist will 'Young Garden Photographer of the Year'.


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20 September 2012
I am most grateful for the world-famous KEW Gardens kind selection of my Honey Bee on Helenium Photo to feature in the Gallery of Favourites of the Essence of Summer Photo Challenge (May - August 2012). This was the first time I received such a great honour and public recognition of success of my nature photography by KEW Gardens. I was delighted that my "BEE" photo has been selected knowing that many parts of the world are suffering from a critical shortage of bees that play a vital role in the pollination of plants and the promotion of the all-important "BIODIVERSITY" for our common good. Thank you again for the great honour. Kam Hong Leung Rotherhithe, London, United Kingdom 20 September 2012