Stephen Studd Photography

Travel Gardens Plants

IGPOTY – Flowering Agave – behind the photo


Pleased that I have been Highly Commended in this years International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, in the wildflower landscapes category with this shot taken at the Grand Canyon in the late afternoon.

Grand Canyon National Park USA IGPOTY Stephen Studd Wildflower landscapes

After I had driven to an observation point I went for a look around the area to see where the late afternoon light was hitting for a landscape photograph.

On top of a steep rocky outcrop I saw the small agave plant with the tall yellow flower head shining brightly in the sun that was hitting it. I immediately thought that it would be a great image to take for the IGPOTY competition. There was a fair bit of cloud around so I had to move quickly as it looked like the sun would disappear behind a cloud at any moment, plus the nearest rocky outcrop was starting to go in to shadow.

Setting up my Canon 6D camera as quickly as I could on top of my Manfrotto tripod, I waited until the sun was at the base of the Agave whilst still lighting up the flower head. I had positioned the camera so the flower head sat in the shadow of the background of the Grand Canyon between the two sections that had sunlight on them, that way the flower head would really shine out of the shadow. I also chose to take the image in portrait orientation as I liked the tall flower head against the backdrop of the vertical cliffs, emphasising the height of the Grand Canyon against a moody looking sky.

As my camera was on the tripod I could keep the ISO down at 100, I set the aperture at f22 as I wanted a very large depth of field with the flower head in focus to the furthest point you can see in the distance which is more than 70 miles away. I also used a 0.6ND soft graduated filter to keep all the detail in the clouds.

Within 5 minutes the scene was over as the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

If you get a chance to see the IGPOTY exhibition at Kew I would thoroughly recommend a trip to see it. Not only will you get to see the beautiful exhibition and prints, but also the very inspirational grounds and plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London.

I lead photography holidays and workshops in Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the UK.


Author: Stephen Studd Photography

Stephen graduated from LCP in London in 1987 with a 2:1 BA Honours degree in photography. Since then he has travelled the world as a professional freelance travel & garden photographer. His photography has been published in many areas around the globe; from front cover of National Geographic magazine, to countless travel books, brochures and print media. His work has also been used in many advertising campaigns, with clients such as Fiat, Citigroup, Caribou Coffee, Expedia, BBC and countless others and his photography has picked up numerous international awards.. Stephen leads travel photography holidays and tours to Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Vietnam & the USA. He also leads flower photography workshops and landscape photography workshops in the UK. Stephen can be contacted for commissions via his photography website.

2 thoughts on “IGPOTY – Flowering Agave – behind the photo

  1. Congratulations and well done Stephen, that’s a very prestigious award. The image you took is almost uncanny – clever stuff.


    Peter Brown From: Stephen Studd Photography Reply-To: Stephen Studd Photography Date: Friday, 8 February 2019 at 15:02 To: Peter Brown Subject: [New post] IGPOTY – Flowering Agave – behind the photo Stephen Studd Photography posted: “Pleased that I have been Highly Commended in this years International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, in the wildflower landscapes category with this shot taken at the Grand Canyon in the late afternoon. After I had driven to an observatio”

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