Post-Christmas Christmas Post!

In December, my sister and some of her work colleagues visited the Illuminated Trail at Kew Gardens as a way to start their Christmas celebrations. During the evening, Liz sent me a photo and a text message; ‘you’d love it here’. Reading her blog post, I concluded that she was probably right and arranged my own post-Christmas visit.  By then, we’d experienced a great deal of heavy rain, leading to serious flooding in some parts of the country, and the trail had definitely suffered a little.  Nevertheless, despite the mud and huge puddles, and the perhaps slightly over-priced tickets, it was a fun evening, and one that presented a number of photographic challenges.  Knowing I should take a tripod with me, but concerned about tripping up random strangers and taking forever and a day to set up every shot whilst my poor companions waited in the cold, I decided to leave the tripod at home and take a chance on shooting without it.  In reality, that meant increasing the ISO as much as possible (1600 on my camera), selecting a large aperture and then finding a balance between exposing the shot ‘properly’ and setting a shutter speed that was just about fast enough to avoid (too much) camera shake.  Although difficult conditions, in some ways they were also more forgiving; the subjects were already quite bizarre and abstract, so that allowed me to be a little more creative and a little less exact.  The results won’t be to everyone’s taste, but have a look and see what you think…

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Many areas of the trail were dark – we were advised to bring torches – but in other places coloured lights and lanterns marked the path.

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The middle image suffered badly from camera shake and was quite blurred, so I decided to emphasise this whilst processing the photo by reducing the clarity and contrast of the original RAW file.  It still doesn’t quite have the impact I had hoped but I like the silhouettes.

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By pressing a button, visitors could change the colour of the lights.  I think of these as the disco trees!

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It may not be immediately obvious but the bird on the lake is, I believe, a coot.  He (she?) was swimming towards the lights at the edge of the lake when I took these photos.  I thought the images hadn’t worked at all but, when I got them on to the computer, decided I quite liked their abstract nature.

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This huge lotus flower took pride of place in the Water Lily House.  I took a few photos before realising that I had condensation on the lens – hence the slight mistiness to the images!

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The finale was a light display in the Palm House.

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