Stephen Studd Photography

Travel Gardens Plants


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Behind the Photo: New Shoots

Spring is bursting at the seams at the moment, each and every day bringing new shoots to the surface. I thought I would share with you some photography tips on one of my shots that has sold for a multitude of uses.

Organic kale seedling Nero de Toscana emerging in May planted in greenhouse

A very simple shot to achieve, just a little patience is required whilst you wait for the seedling to emerge.

For this shot I grew the seedlings in a large seed tray with the seeds spread wide apart as I just wanted one seedling in the shot.

The advantage of growing the seedling in a seed tray was once it emerged I could move the tray to the best light. I always prefer using natural light in my photography, so I placed the tray in a window, not one that has direct sunlight. Doing this gives the lovely fresh feeling to the seedlings leaves as they are backlit. I was after that feeling of fresh new growth and nature bursting out, the compost can be seen pushed away at the base of the seedling.

If you were to photograph with the window light behind you the seedling would look much duller as in the photo below.

Organic kale seedling Nero de Toscana emerging in May planted in greenhouse

For the main shot I used a macro lens, if you don’t have one, extension tubes can be used. I also used a tripod as this was essentially a studio style shoot. With the tripod I had control of where I could put the seed tray in front of the camera for the light I was after (backlit window light). I could also use a low ISO of 100.

I always use mirror lock and a remote release when I’m taking shots like this with the camera on a tripod, reducing the chance of camera shake.

I shoot on manual so I can control the exposure, look and feel of the shot. When shooting with the camera on a tripod getting the right exposure and depth of field is made much easier once you have the composition you are after as you are working in a controlled environment. Focus on manual, especially when using a macro lens.

I always shoot in RAW mode so I can process the image afterwards.

Finally for me it is important to know what variety the seedling is for captioning afterwards, so keep a note.

As the shot was intended for commercial use I left lots of room at the top of the shot for text, (for a magazine or book cover), with space at the bottom and sides for copy too. (Graphic designers will love you for it).

To recap for the shot:

  • Tripod used
  • Low ISO
  • Macro lens (or you can use extension tubes)
  • Mirror lock & remote release
  • Backlit window light
  • Control depth of field so just the seedling is in focus
  • Shoot on manual (especially when using a tripod)
  • Manual focus on the seedling
  • Use single shot drive mode
  • Shoot in RAW format

When the seedling first emerges like this act quickly, they grow and change very quickly overnight.  After I had finished photographing I grew the Kale Nero de Toscano seedling on and planted it on my allotment once the seedling had established. I was able to eat the leaves of the plant once it had grown to maturity, whilst receiving royalty cheques from it too.

 


Websites:

My travel and garden photography website: www.stephenstuddphotography.com

My travel photography holidays & UK photography workshops website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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IGPOTY awards 2014 “behind the photos”

The International Garden Photographer of the Year awards have just been announced.

‘Sarracenia Flava’: Finalist, Macro Art

Sarracenia Flava all green form pitcher plant IGPOTY monochrome photography by Stephen Studd

For the shot I wanted to give the plant an air of mystery and a fine art feel. I decided to minimise the depth of field and only focus on the nearest part of the plant to the lens. By doing this it would knock all the rest of the plant out of focus. The lighting was chosen to only have the highlight at the nearest point to the lens leaving the rest of the photo to fade into shadow, which gives the air of mystery.

Finally I converted the image to black and white and then split toned the colour in Lightroom.

The photograph was shot with a 180mm Canon macro lens, at f8 with 0.5sec shutter speed at 100 ISO.

‘Watering my allotment’: Commended, Plants & Water, photographed on my allotment Old Bisley Road, Stroud.

“Watering My Allotment” commended in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition photograph by Stephen Studd IGPOTY

The photograph  was first taken to illustrate a review I did for the Manfrotto Pixi tripod

I had pre-visualised the shot using the mini tripod as I thought it would be able to get to places I couldn`t, in amongst my bean, pumpkin and sweetcorn bed on the allotment. The summer of 2013 in the UK had been a particularly long and dry one and watering became a routine part of visits to the allotment in order to keep my plants alive.

I was after a shot that would convey the feeling of warmth, heat and watering. I chose an evening when the sun was low in the sky, placed the tripod amongst the veg and shot the photo into the sun for a more contemporary feel to the image.

With a cable release I tried a couple of test shots to get the exposure spot on (this can be tricky when shooting straight into the sun.) Then I watered the veg with my watering can, the result I was really pleased with, not only had the Pixi tripod held my very weighty Canon 1Ds Mark II but the streaks of bright backlit water added a beautiful pattern to the resulting image. The only problem I encountered was keeping the water off the camera, which was ironic after such a long hot dry summer.

Woman at the Market, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma): Highly Commended, Bountiful Earth

Digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Venice marrakech Paris Morocco Prague hosted by Stephen Studd 2014

This image is one of my crossover images, in that I am a travel & garden photographer. I was away on a travel shoot in Burma, whilst also looking for great locations for the photography holidays I run there. Markets are always a great place to visit in any country, especially for travel photography. I had in my mind some of the different categories for IGPOTY and Bountiful Earth was an obvious one at this market in Mandalay. The woman with the bamboo hat, the colours of the scene and the big bags of shallots drew my attention. The market in Mandalay was full of fresh produce and a photographers dream, a place I visited over several days.

Canon EOS 1DS Mark II 70mm f6.3 1/160th sec, 100 ISO

I am a professional garden & travel photographer, my website is www.stephenstuddphotography.com

I also run photography holidays & workshops www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Twitter; https://twitter.com/StephensPhotos

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DigitalPhotographyHolidays


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IGPOTY Behind the photo “Watering My Allotment”

Manfrotto Pixi Tripod review stephen studd photography photographer

Watering my Allotment

“Watering My Allotment” was commended in the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, Plants & Water category. The photograph  was first taken to illustrate a review I did for the Manfrotto Pixi tripod

I had pre-visualised the shot using the mini tripod as I thought it would be able to get to places I couldn`t, in amongst my bean, pumpkin and sweetcorn bed on the allotment. This summer in the UK had been a particularly long and dry one and watering became a routine part of visits to the allotment in order to keep my plants alive.

I was after a shot that would convey the feeling of warmth, heat and watering. I chose an evening when the sun was low in the sky, placed the tripod amongst the veg and shot the photo into the sun for a more contemporary feel to the image.

With a cable release I tried a couple of test shots to get the exposure spot on (this can be tricky when shooting straight into the sun.) Then I watered the veg with my watering can, the result I was really pleased with, not only had the Pixi tripod held my very weighty Canon 1Ds Mark II but the streaks of bright backlit water added a beautiful pattern to the resulting image. The only problem I encountered was keeping the water off the camera, which was ironic after such a long hot dry summer.

My website is www.stephenstuddphotography.com

I also run photography holidays & workshops: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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Behind the Photographs, IGPOTY

I attended the private view and awards ceremony yesterday for the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition 5.

Congratulations to overall winner Magdalena Wasiczek for her beautiful photograph “Upside Down”. Also congratulations to Portfolio overall winner Joanna Stoga for her Portfolio entitled “Qi”, an xray study of plants. Both well deserved winners from Poland.

Young Garden Photographer of the Year went to  Patrick Corning for his “Hummingbird Grey Tailed Mountaingem”

Congratulations to all the other winners and contestants too, the exhibition looks amazing.

The exhibition is in a new indoor venue at Kew Gardens inside the  Nash Conservatory, a light and spacious place. The exhibition and quality of work this year is stunning and really great to see the photography prints in frames. Lots of work has gone in to this years competition and exhibition so thankyou to all the team and judges at IGPOTY.

I have been asked many times about my images, where they were taken and what was the inspiration, so I thought I would share a behind the photograph story.

My 3rd place in the 4 Seasons category is entitled a `Homage to Edward Weston,` who has been called one of the most influential photographers in America in the 20th century. I was very influenced with my study of this tulip by Edward Westons natural studies series, in particular his photographs of shells.

Homage to Edward Weston

Homage to Edward Weston

The Tulip `Professor Roentgen` has amazing shapes and depth, really lending itself to a monochrome detail. I wanted to make the image very abstract so that the viewer might wonder what the image actually is. To me it has shell like qualities, quite often nature reflects itself in other objects. The image was taken in colour with a 180mm macro lens and then processed in Lightroom 3 using a duotone process.

Drosera unfurling, finalist in the New Mornings  category is one of the plants I keep coming back to. They are so tiny and only really a macro view can do them justice. Hewitt-Cooper Carniverous Plants has an amazing specialist nursery near Glastonbury where I photographed this Drosera Capensis.

Drosera capensis unfurling

Drosera capensis unfurling

A very close up macro was needed, again the 180mm and because this was such a close up a higher shutter speed was needed as the tiny frond moved with the slightest movement of air. I really liked the way the frond was starting to unfurl with the brightly coloured tentacles with their sticky beads of mucilage getting ready for their prey. The bead inside the frond made the shot for me and the background of other carniverous plants.

Punk

Punk

“Punk” was another image taken at Hewitt-Cooper Carniverous Plants. For this one I had seen the Venus Fly Trap in my mind as a black and white with attitude. I focussed in very tight with minimal depth of field as I was after only the trigger hairs on the inside of the plant to be sharp, accentuating their importance. On my return I processed the image in Lightroom 3 as a split tone high contrast image with my own presets. The resulting image reminded me of an old black and white image I had seen of Dame Vivienne Westwood at the time of the Queens Silver Jubilee, which reminded me of my youth.  The shallow depth of field deconstructs the rest of the image giving it a slight sinister edge.

Garlic Chive seedheads was taken at my allotment in Stroud, a great source of inspiration. I am a keen organic gardener and allotment holder. There is so much variety at an allotment and a whole wealth of subjects to photograph. Snow seems to be much rarer nowadays, however winter 2010 in to 2011 we were blessed with lots. Snow scenes are one of my favourites to photograph, perhaps because it is so rare, but also because of the challenges it throws at you.

Garlic chive seedheads in winter landscape

Garlic chive seedheads in winter landscape

It is very easy to underexpose a shot when photographing snow, a trap many fall in to. These garlic chive seedheads had survived one of the harshest winters I had seen for a number of years. Looking up close their translucent fragile looking seedheads had greater strength than had first appeared. Poking through a foot of snow they reminded me of a mini glade of trees. They had great shape and architecture and really stood out against the snow. Each of their heads still had some dark black seeds still remaining in their paper like envelopes, ready to be dispersed.

I chose a very narrow depth of field for this photograph, as I wanted the foreground seedhead to be the main focus, with the other ones dropping away in focus but all showing the same type of shape and texture. A macro 100mm was used for this.

If you get the chance to see the exhibition at Kew I would thoroughly recommend a trip to see it, opens on March 3rd 2012. 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 itself.

I am leading some 1 day garden & flower photographyworkshops at the inspiring and magical Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire. Please visit my website www.stephenstuddphotography.com for further details and booking.

 IGPOTY website www.igpoty.com where you can see all the prize winners from this years and previous years competition.


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Articles for Landscape Juice

Last week I was approached by Carol Miers who is a journalist for Landscape Juice to write an article on the things we need to do in those winter months such as tweaking our websites. Those things we can put off and procrastinate about.

 In the articles in Landscape Juice I mentioned about captioning images for better SEO placement. Search engines won`t be able to find images unless they are captioned.

I would like to show two examples. The first image has not been captioned it just has the file number on. Hover your mouse over the image and all you will see is _R4D5147.jpg. This is not very handy for search engines to find the content of the image.

This second image is captioned and in WordPress the following have been filled in;

Title; Watering can covered in snow, winter. (Now hover the mouse over the image to see the title, this image can now be found by search engines)

Alternative Text; Watering can covered in snow, winter, photography by Stephen Studd

Caption; This is the wording that you will see below the image on the page.

Description; A description of the image.

Watering can in snow

Watering can covered in snow, winter

Also Carol asked me about advice on getting the most out of camera phones. I have to admit that in my profession I do use top end Canon digital cameras, however I do play around with my camera phone and use this more for a journal of ideas and details that interest me.

The walk to work

The walk to work

It is also useful for taking images of scenes that aren`t quite right to take at the time on my pro camera but great for my phone as a reference.

This year at the Tatton Park flower show I really liked the show garden designed by Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage Gardens. The planting and colour combinations I was really drawn to. This was a 5 day shoot for me so I had plenty of time to observe when the light was best at certain gardens. The Echinacea “Green Envy” amongst the grasses looked really strong. The image below is my reference shot on my camera phone.

"Grasses with Grace", Awarded Gold Medal, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Cheshire 2011, Designed by Sue Beesly, Bluebell Cottage Gardens & Nursery

Sue Beesley Garden "Grasses with Grace" Awarded Gold

 This was great as a reference and with the use of a compass to see where sunrise and sunset would happen, I was blessed on a later day with low level sunset light from behind the flowers to capture this shot on my Canon.

"Grasses with Grace", Awarded Gold Medal, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Cheshire 2011, Designed by Sue Beesly, Bluebell Cottage Gardens & Nursery

Echinacea "Green Envy", Sue Beesley Gold medal Garden, Grasses with Grace at Tatton 2011

 On the same shoot at Tatton Park I really liked the show garden designed by Gary Hillery, Ken Walton, Finchale Training College, which won a Gold. When I first got to this garden late on the first day I was looking for views. On my cameraphone I took the first shot as a reference.

"The Schedule", awarded Gold Medal, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park,

"The Schedule", awarded Gold Medal, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park,

 This second shot is the same view, but given an aged feel to it in Lightroom 3, which the garden purveyed. There are also lots of apps which could be used.

"The Schedule", awarded Gold Medal

"The Schedule", awarded Gold Medal

Finally the image below I didn`t have my camera with me, but captured this image of these Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) on my phone. In Lightroom 3 I altered the image to show how easy it is to change the feel of a photograph.

Dicentra, Bleeding Heart

Dicentra, Bleeding Heart

 The link to the articles in Landscape Juice;

Have fun creating images whichever way you choose!

I am leading some Garden and Flower photography workshops in 2012, details can be found on my website

In 2012 I will also be blogging about my allotment through the months and seasons, with photography taken on site, hope you can join me.

 


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RHS Photographic Competition 2011 Winners Announced

The winners of the  RHS Photographic Competition 2011 have been announced today. Congratulations to Stephen Webb for receiving the award of RHS Photographer of the Year 2011.

Lady Godiva Pumpkin showing naked seeds

Lady Godiva Pumpkin

 I received 1st Place in the Grow Your Own category for a shot of Organic Lady Godiva Pumpkins I grew on my allotment.  These were then shot on my kitchen table with Elinchrom Studio flash lights and was my first shot using tethered capture straight to Lightroom 3 on my computer. I wanted that gentle side light that was used by the Dutch Old Master painters.

This particular pumpkin was grown for its hulless or naked seeds, hence the name “Lady Godiva”. The actual flesh was really quite bland, but ok in winter stews, however the yield of seeds was excellent.

This was shot at my allotment and I liked the way the seedlings really stood out bursting with energy against the dark green coat. Thanks to my wife for helping out.
Woman holding organic Little Gem lettuce seedling ready for transplanting

Woman holding organic Little Gem lettuce seedling ready for transplanting

 

 In the Gardens Through the Seasons category 3rd place for “Blue Shed on Allotment in Winter.”

Last winter we had really heavy snow which is a photographers dream. I trudged through heavy snow, slipping and sliding (I live on a very steep hill and my allotment is up another steep hill) to go to the allotments which are on Old Bisley Road. Stroud. They are always a good source of gardening, plants and flower photographs. Alison who is my allotment neighbour has this fantastic blue shed with matching blue water butt.

The scene all fitted together with the blue tint in the sky matching the blue shed, the bamboo canes mirroring the leafless trees. In the background the rustic seat, wheelbarrow leaning  against the shed and Daves polytunnel straining under the weight of snow making it a great capture of my allotment in winter.

On November 3rd I shall be appearing on the Alan Titchmarsh show with other contestants, where the Blue Shed also makes its debut.

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

This was shot at dawn in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona at the Saguaro National Park.
I spent around 5 days in this wonderful part of the world and was totally captivated by the cacti there. It takes up to 75 years for these cacti to send out one arm!
On this particular morning the big Arizona sky produced the beautiful colourful clouds and warm glow to the ground. To pull the sky and ground together I used a Lee Filters graduated .6ND filter.
USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti

USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti

 
 
 

 One Day Garden & Flower Photography workshops

In 2012 I am leading One Day Garden & Flower Photography workshops at the stunning and magical Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire. These are being held on a Saturday on the following dates; March 24th , May 19th , July 14th  and September 22nd. There is a maximum of 5 people on each day giving a great student to tutor ratio.

Please visit my website www.stephenstuddphotography.com for further details or to pay a deposit.


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Guest on the Alan Titchmarsh Show

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

Friday was a really busy day being called by the RHS to ask whether I would be available to go on the Alan Titchmarsh show to talk about one of my photographs.

I had entered some images into the RHS Photographer of the Year 2011 and forgotten about it until the call on Friday. The RHS press office called to ask whether I would be free on Monday to go on the show.

Later researchers from the show called and made arrangements to get me to the studios in time. I shall be talking with some other photographers about photographs that were entered into the competition. First tv appearance for me so really looking forward to the day and also to meet Alan Titchmarsh as I know he is as passionate about gardening as myself.

My Grandfather when he was alive was a head gardener and would have been really pleased with my work. I can always remember as a child visiting his allotment and in the summertime eating fresh peas from the pod. The beautiful smell of cracking open a pea pod straight from the plant is one of those great aromas of summer. Also remember eating raspberries straight from the canes, still my favourite fruit.

There must be some gardening gene that runs through the family as my father has the greenest fingers of anyone I know. His skill and patience in getting difficult things to germinate is remarkable. I have been lucky as I have always been surrounded by plants.