Stephen Studd Photography

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Capturing the Beauty of Plants

In the February issue of Outdoor Photography magazines Holiday & Courses guide, I give my tips for capturing the beauty of plants.

Digital photography holidays, tours, workshops courses to Cambodia, Vietnam USA and landscape photography workshops courses in the UK, Wales, Gower

After 30 years as a professional travel and landscape photographer I have a good understanding of the natural world, having spent many a day bunkered down and immersed in the natural environment with my Mamiya 6×7 camera (pre-digital) waiting for the right light conditions that I wished to capture. So when I was approached to produce photographs of plants for a book 10 years ago, I jumped to the challenge. It led me down a whole new branch of photographic exploration, plant photography.

As with any aspect of photography, after initial trials you find your feet and style. My approach to plant photography really moved on from the initial commission for the book. I am far more interested in the art of plant photography and what makes one photograph really stand out from the others?

There are certain elements that you need to consider when making a great shot.

  • Explore your subject before rushing to photograph it, walk around and see what you are drawn to, see how the light plays on the plant. Think about your composition, how is the subject going to fill the frame? Backlit flowers will always look good if the petals are translucent as it accentuates the colours, giving off a luminescence and showing off the patterns. Don`t be afraid to try out different angles, getting down to the same height as the plant is very effective, or look up to flowers from below them.

plant and Flower photography workshops courses with Stephen Studd of Digital Photography holidays

  • Time of day is an important consideration when taking your photographs. Harsh midday sun makes most subjects look unflattering. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times of day as the light is warmer, less harsh and the colours of the plants look richer.

Iris close up

Mornings also tend to be less windy, flowers are hard to photograph when they are moving around too much. Windy days are the toughest to photograph flowers on, unless you choose to use the blur creatively with a slower shutter speed.

  • Weather conditions are most important. Most people are surprised to hear that overcast days can be very beneficial for plant photography. This is because clouds act as a perfect light diffuser, creating even lighting and saturation without the worry of harsh highlights or shadows.

plant and Flower photography workshops courses with Stephen Studd of Digital Photography holidays

  • The background of your photograph needs consideration as untidy, busy, cluttered backgrounds kill a shot as the viewers eye gets distracted away from the subject. If there are shadows use them to make the subject stand out, or move in closer to the subject with a tight crop.

Dahlia "Bobby Dazzler"

  • For close ups I would always recommend the use of a tripod, they allow you to frame the plant perfectly and keep the image sharp. Also, look at the flower you are photographing to make sure it is free of blemishes or missing petals.

plant and Flower photography workshops courses with Stephen Studd of Digital Photography holidays

Experiment and have fun, try out new angles, backgrounds and processes you might be surprised with the results you obtain capturing the beauty of plants.



Flower photography workshops can be found on my website www.stephenstuddphotography.com

Photography holidays & courses to Cambodia,  Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the Gower, can be found on my website www.digitalphotographyholidays.com
‘May the light be with you’

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Step Inside the Quarry Garden at RHS Chatsworth

This year was the very first RHS Flower Show set in the beautiful grounds of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Paul Hervey-Brookes designed the Quarry Garden for the Institute of Quarrying, which celebrates it’s centenary this year.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

The garden won a well deserved RHS Gold Medal and also won Best Show Garden & Best Construction. The commissioned “Passing Light” steel and stone wall was designed by Stroud based sculptor Ann Margreth Bohl.

 

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,  11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

Paul Hervey-Brookes, winning Gold & Best in Show, with Gareth Wilson with Best Construction award at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.

The gardens influence was the life cycle of a quarry, with the owners having just built a modern house who are themselves influenced by Brutalist architecture.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

The main water feature in the garden reminded me of visits to old quarries which were at one point an influence in my own landscape photography. The garden also made use of the sweeping Capability Brown landscape of Chatsworth House.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

The rusted steel colours were picked up in the planting

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

and use of stone boulders in the design.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

The garden was divided into different zones,

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

which worked well visually in such a large scale garden. It was truly a garden you could get lost in time watching the light bounce around during the days and seasons, especially from the hidden corners.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

Paul’s planting palette was exquisite.Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

The trio of awards were well justified for a garden of such immense scale at the inaugural Chatsworth House RHS Flower Show.

Paul Hervey-Brookes landscape garden designer, Chatsworth RHS Flower Show 2017,  IQ Quarry Garden, Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction, Photography by Stephen Studd photographer for Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,   11 Lansdown, Stroud, Glouces

Paul has also designed the Viking Cruises World of Discovery garden which can be seen at Hampton Court Flower Show, which runs from July 4th – 9th July 2017

Paul Hervey-Brookes website: www.paulherveybrookes.com/

Gareth Wilson Landscape Services Ltd: http://www.gkwilsonlandscaping.co.uk/

Stephen Studd Photography: www.stephenstuddphotography.com

Ann Margreth Bohl: www.annmargrethbohl.com

Institute of Quarrying: www.quarrygarden.org

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Photographing sunrises, be in place early.

There is a time between night and actual sunrise that is really magical in photography. This time of day is my favourite, it has a unique light and colour and is generally still and quiet. You also get to witness the sky lottery; what colours are going to be produced, how long will it last, is it going to completely cloud over, which quite often happens. When the conditions all come together a joy fills the heart and you know instinctively that you have the photograph you came for.

digital travel photography holidays tours to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Marrakech and Gower Wales hosted by Stephen Studd photographer myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd

Angkor Wat, before sunrise. Manfrotto tripod and head: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens: ISO 400 – 30 sec @f8 – 0.3ND soft grad filter

You will need a torch to get you to your location pre sunrise, it also helps you with setting your camera dials in low level light conditions. For the photograph above, the scene was really dark to the eye. I set my camera up on my tripod and used a remote release for mirror lock as exposures can be long and you don`t want camera shake. I took a test shot at an extremely high ISO to see whether I had focussed correctly with manual focus. If you use autofocus it is best to move it to manual focus as cameras find it hard to focus in very low light conditions. Once I knew the camera was focused I locked the focus and set my ISO to 400, which still gave a 30 second exposure at f8. I always photograph on manual mode and as the light changes quickly from near dark to sunrise don’t forget to keep adjusting your camera settings. I always have my camera set to RAW for high quality images. I used a 0.3ND soft grad filter to balance the sky with the foreground. I could of used a 0.6ND but wanted the water to be slightly darker than the sky.

Depending on where you are photographing on the planet determines the length of time before first light and sunrise, in the tropics you generally only have about half an hour pre-sunrise.

When it starts to get much lighter, be ready for the actual sunrise, which will give you a whole new feel to your scene. As you can see between the two photo’s the cloud had completely disappeared in the photograph below, which was taken 45 minutes after the photograph above. I had waited for the sun to rise to give me another saleable image from the same morning. Both images have been published in several travel magazines and books.

For the shot below, in my last blog post ‘How to Shoot into the Sun’, it explains how to achieve this effect in your photographs

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, photo tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, sunrise: Manfrotto tripod and head; Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens:              ISO 100, f16 @ 1/500

Get out and enjoy this spectacular time of day, it stills the mind and fills the soul with joy!


I run photography holidays and tours to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and in the Gower, Wales, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

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‘May the light be with you’



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Happy Festive Season

Wishing everyone a very happy festive season and an amazing new year.

Garlic chive seedhead winter

2013 has been an extremely busy year of photography for me and it was also great to pick up a few awards along the way for my travel and garden photography.

Hard to believe today is winter solstice for us in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice for those in the southern hemisphere as the year seems to have flown by.

I would like to thank everyone for visiting my blog and to all those that I have had the pleasure of working with this past year, also to everyone who came on one of my photography holidays, workshops or 1:1  sessions in 2013.

My Digital Photography Holidays business is progressing as I wished and I am rolling out new photography city breaks and UK workshops in 2014.

Have a fantastic new year and “may the light be with you”.

Stay in touch in 2014 via my blog and also:

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A light and fun photo shoot in the sun

“I`m after something fresh, light, fun and airy that shows movement, with photographs that stand out, to refresh the old ones on my website” was the brief. After a discussion with Helene I found out she wanted a contemporary feel and also some approachable portraits to revamp her yoga dance website.

This set my mind racing as yoga dance was a subject I have not shot before, though I love these type of shoots where a client phones up and we just go from there. I arranged for the shoot to be near sunset at a location I had chosen on a clear evening and I had pre-visualised some of the shots with Helene leaping off the Earth.

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene was a great person to work with as she was really willing to try out our ideas for the shots.

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Low angle views shot against the sun with lots of flare gave a very contemporary feel.

We had a very limited time with the sun setting quickly and I wanted to make use of that lovely warm light, here in the UK you cannot guarantee it will be there the next few days.

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene needed shots of her taken during yoga moves,

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

Helene Qwan Su Dance of Breath yoga body movement photography by Stephen Studd

I really enjoyed this photo shoot as it was great fun and Helene was extremely pleased with the images when I sent them to her.

To commission me please use the contact form.on my website www.stephenstuddphotography.com

Shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II and for some of the shots I used the new Manfrotto Pixi tripod.

The website for Helene Su is “Dance of Breath”  www.danceofbreath.com