A photographer’s paradise: Botanical Gardens

If you love the outdoor and want to improve your photography skills, botanical gardens can be the perfect place to go! Usually containing hundreds or even thousands of different plants’ species, they give you a good window of the plant diversity across the world.

As a wildlife photographer, I also love them because they are host to many species: from colorful butterflies to weird-looking monkeys, you never know what you will stumble upon. Local species such as squirrels and ducks usually thrive in those gardens and are easier to approach that in the wild, making it a good photography training.

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Botanical gardens for me are places where I can completely lose track of time and let go of whatever I have in mind. For a good photography trip, I would advise to save a couple of hours to enjoy the garden at its fullest. Flowers can change really fast depending on sunlight so you want to make sure you get different perspectives in your photos.

I usually try to bring a range of different lenses with me when I go explore botanical gardens. Zoom lenses are great for snapping wildlife shots especially of birds and mammals, macro ones are amazing for insects, and I absolutely love taking my 50mm f1.8 to take flower portraits.

My top 3 so far:
1. Jardin des Plantes, Paris: This botanical garden is perfect to combine with a visit to the Museum of Natural History located next door. Great to take a green break from the busy capital.
2. Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro: Beautiful and huge, this garden even has a portion of preserved Atlantic Rainforest! Great to spot squirrels and capuchin monkeys.
3. Old Botanical Garden, Kiel: Very spacious with an amazing diversity of plants. Great for flower portraits and relaxing on a sunny day.

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Aberaeron: Wales Best Place

Seaside resort located on the West coast, Aberaeron, elected Best Place in Wales, is definitely charming and colorful!

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The contest, ran by the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru, is meant to celebrate Wales most protected, carefully planned or improved places. The cute village of Aberaeron came in first position, followed by the picturesque Tenby and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is Gower.

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Visiting Aberystwyth last weekend with a friend, we decided out of curiosity to stop by Aberaeron to check what made the place so special. We took the bus T1 at destination of Carmarthen. After a 40 minutes ride in the Welsh countryside, we arrived in the charming village.

Tiny, is probably the first adjective that came to my mind when looking around. In this season, a day is definitely enough to enjoy the town and see all the main landmarks. My second observations was that almost all the houses around us were painted in bright colors, giving the town an interesting vibe.

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Heading first to the harbour, we enjoyed a nice view of the church connected to the port by a woody bridge. Few sailing boats were patiently waiting for a chance to get back to the sea and the sun was just high enough to give the scene a perfect lighting.

Crossing the bridge and heading to the church, we ended up in the Craft Centre. There, we found a patchwork of different shops (which unfortunately were mostly closed on Mondays). An antique shop, neighbouring a tattoo studio, was filled with tick tocking noises and exhibited amazing  clocks.

Despite my deep hatred for any ticking sounds, I have to say that I always enjoy watching old clocks. In one corner of the room laid a beautiful one, called the Skeleton Clock, its mechanism fully exposed to the public eye hanging in all its beauty.

Continuing our bucolic wander, we reached the river and a hiking path leading to Lampeter. Probably busy during the summer, the path was then pretty quiet. After visiting the Tourist Information Centre and wondering in front of the local artists’ paintings and photographies, we decided to go have a walk along the coast.

Curious about the possibility to spot marine wildlife, I asked the receptionist before leaving if dolphin sightings were common around Aberaeron. She explained that dolphins could often be seen in the nearby town of New Quay but rarely around the village. I guess that provides me with a good reason to come back explore this region of Wales next summer!

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Hungry?
Located right in front of the T1 and T5 bus stops, the Ambassadors cafe is based on the first floor of a souvenir shop. From sandwiches to panini and even crepes, the large choice of lunch items will make everyone happy.  Deliciously fresh smoothies and incredibly big slice of cakes are also on the menu, making the Ambassadors Cafe a perfect place for tea time as well.

How to get there? 
T1 from Aberystwyth, Lampeter, and Carmarthen
T5 from Aberystwyth, New Quay, Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest

Autumnal Errands

Autumn is officially here, bringing its grey mornings and cold days. It’s easy to feel a bit low while reminiscing summer memories, beach vibes and picnic parties. For most people, Autumn is bad news: shorter days, cold breeze, trees being stripped of their leaves, and precursor of the winter blues.

Even though all of these are surely true, I somehow always had a special kind of love for Autumn. Spring probably have more fans being all about new beginnings but how can you have new beginnings without proper endings?

Leaves in all their poetry are not leaving without a fight. They showcase their most amazing and intense colors, waving us goodbyes. Look around you and you will notice all possible shades of reds, oranges, yellows and greens. So aren’t trees at their best during this season?

Lights in Autumn can be fantastic to take outdoor photos. Wait for the rain to stop and grab your camera and rain jacket, you’ll be amazed by what you’ll find. Flowers dripping with water will appear in all their glory. Try to play with your settings to blur the background and you will obtain beautiful flower portraits!

If you look well enough during your autumnal walks, you will probably find out that Autumn is not just about endings after all! Indeed, mushrooms are quickly appearing all over the forest, some ready to pamper your taste buds while others are colorfully warning you not to eat them.

In term of wildlife, Autumn is one of the most hectic seasons. While some animals are changing their fur colors to adapt to the future snowy landscapes, others are busy storing enough food to survive the cold days. If you live in a city, squirrels can be great Autumnal models to train your wildlife photography skills.

So what are you waiting for? Go out now and explore this wonderful season!