Lotus Gallery – Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens



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Photographing Backlit Subjects


The before and after images below illustrate a technique used to photograph side and backlit subjects. A reflector is used to add light/bounce light into the shadow areas and to reduce contrasts. Also, a reflector can create dramatic lighting too. A homemade aluminum foil reflector will work or a collapsible reflector purchased from a photo supplier. For the lotus images, a 30” soft gold collapsible reflector was used to fill the shadows and to even out the contrasty light on the blossoms. The amount of light reflected is adjusted by moving the reflector closer or further away from the subject. This technique can be done with fill-flash or a LED light. Yes, transparent subjects, such as dragonflies, spider webs, flowers etc. are photographed without any fill-light. The job of the photographer is to see, capture, and manage the light on the subject. You decide which image looks best in each set. Click on each set below for full viewing.

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Photographing Lotus, Water Lilies and Aquatic Flowers Part II


As a follow-up to a previous post, here is a gallery of images to illustrate how polarizing filters can produce better images. Notice that some images have reflections. Reflections can be reduced or eliminated with a polarizing filter. When photographing landscapes with aquatic plants, a polarizing filter produces better color saturation and creates contrast, especially in blue skies with white clouds.


Sources of water lilies, lotuses, and aquatic plants:

  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – Washington, DC
  • Meadowlark Gardens – Vienna, VA
  • Green Spring Gardens – Alexandria, VA
  • Longwood Gardens – Kennett Square, PA
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Photographing Lotus, Water Lilies and Aquatic Flowers


Summer means photographing lotus blossoms, water lilies, and aquatic flowers. The blog images were photographed at Longwood Gardens on an overcast day. Which would you prefer? The image on the left was photographed without a polarizing filter, and the image on the right was taken with a polarizing filter. The effect of a polarizing filter is not easily achieved in post-processing. This is one filter that needs to be applied at the time of image capture. The amount of polarization is regulated by rotating the outermost ring on the filter. Personally, I have a polarizing filter on each lens and some specialized polarizers too. However, if the aquatic flowers are reachable, I supplement the light with handheld reflectors or diffusers and LED lights.


Note: Overcast days provide soft, shadowless lighting and saturated colors.



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Longwood’s Fountain Gardens


The newly renovated Fountain Gardens reopened to the public. Three other photographers and myself had a behind the scenes tour of the fountains. The only superlative I can used to describe the fountain experience is “spectacular”. Join us for a close-up and personal photo opportunity on Friday, October 20. The blog image is a garden walkway to the fountain.

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