Saturday, October 8, 2016

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Summer 2016

Over the last 8 years I've been to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens a bunch of times, mostly looking for the Yellow Crowned Night Herons. But also other birds and the great Lotus flowers and water lilies.

This year there weren't any YCNH's that I spotted, so I photographed the Lotus a *lot*.

Sometimes the petals would fall off quickly, in a sort of chain reaction once the first one broke free. I'd never seen that before, it was cool.

Lotus Bloom

The YCNH's were great in 2008. I went multiple times and got some close ups and some feeding photos...

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

JYCNH Hunting

You Can See The Crunch

The second to last time I went this year I shot the water lilies in the back, and the light was pretty good. I used a 600mm lens, which I would normally use for birds, and I shot the flowers...

Water Lilies @ KAG

Just prior to this visit I had gone to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens I think 5 times, and the first few times I took a normal approach and shot the flowers with a long lens, and had hoped to see birds, but still shot the flowers. The images I got were "normal" and looked ok. I was happy with them at the time. But they were like many other images I've taken and seen others take. This one with the Red-Winged Black Bird was a highlight. The birds were in the flowers and I could shoot them for just a few minutes before they flew off.

So this year on visits 4 and 5, I brought some macro gear and shot much closer images of the flowers and got much different and I think better results.

As I reflect on the half a dozen-ish visit I've made to KAG before this year, and then the 6 or 7 visits I made this year I noticed how it took a few visits to shoot through the shots and approach I had in my head already. It took that long to then be able to try to think differently, to see the gardens and flowers differently and to get different images.

A photo posted by Jon (@the_real_nikographer) on

On the last few visits I still brought a long lens (600mm) but I also brought a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 24-120mm f/4 lens, along with the Canon 500D closeup filter for a 77mm lens ring. By using that filter I was able to turn both lenses in to very close focusing lenses that gave drastically different shooting distances and super narrow depth of field.

I'm happy with the results I got this year. It took a bunch of visits to get lucky with the RWBB and then to start to see and shoot the flowers in a new way. In the future I guess I hope to be able to push past what I had planned and the way I was seeing things initially, and start to see in a fresher/different way like I did on visits 4 and 5 with the macro shots.

I've been meditating and practicing mindfulness this year and last year, and as I read what I just wrote above, I think that is a result of this new approach to life. It's all too easy to have a plan, work towards a plan, and then either execute on the plan and be happy, or not execute on the plan and be disappointed. But with a fresh approach and fewer expectations, and a more flexible nature new and unexpected things can happen.

-Jon / Jon