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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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.  www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

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Flower photography workshops

Great to see my flower photography workshops were featured in the Sunday Times.

Bluebell woods flower photography workshopsin Gloucestershire UK England garlic woods Stroud hosted by Stephen Studd photography

 

This spring I have some bluebell woods

Bluebells flower photography workshop and courses in the UK England, Forest of Dean Gloucestershire digital photography holidays tours workshops holidays vacations

 

and wild garlic woods

flower photography workshops Wild Garlic (Ramsons) in wood Stroud Gloucestershire Digital photography holidays courses tours workshops

photography workshops in the Forest  of Dean  and Stroud, Gloucestershire. Full details can be found on my website: www.stephenstuddphotography.com

Sunday Times article by Wellywoman blog


Keep in touch:

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


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Are you sitting comfortably, Malvern Spring Festival 2015

With Malvern Spring Festival’s 30th Birthday just finished and Chelsea Flower Show looming, I wanted to share my seating highlights from Malvern this year. So take a seat and follow me round the show gardens that had seating areas.

Perhaps my favourite seats were these two cube ones made from 250 year old oak in the ‘Constraining Nature’ garden designed by Kate Durr Garden Design and sponsored by Whatley Manor and Ucare, which won Best RHS Festival Garden award and a gold medal.

RHS Malvern spring festival 2015  Constraining Nature designed by Kate Durr Garden Design Best Festival Garden award and a gold medal

For a small space garden they fitted in perfectly, the texture on them adding to their visual effect within the garden.

RHS Malvern spring festival 2015  Constraining Nature designed by Kate Durr Garden Design Best Festival Garden award and a gold medal

Another set of oak cube seats were in the ‘Genetic Conservation Garden’ designed by Tessa & Caitlin McLaughlin. The charred oak seats were designed by Chris Nangle.

RHS Malvern spring rhs show 2015 'Genetic Conservation Garden' designed by  Tessa & Caitlin McLaughlin.

These oak benches designed by Rodas Irving featured in the ‘Beating the Blues’ garden designed by Emily Sharpe, which won a Silver Gilt medal and also the Festival Gardens, RHS People’s Choice award.

Malvern spring rhs show 2015 'Beating the Blues' garden designed by Emily Sharpe, which won a Silver Gilt medal and also the Festival Gardens, RHS People's Choice award

A Gaze Burvill oak bench seat featured in Lisa Burchill’s ‘Out of Darkness’ garden.

RHS Malvern spring rhs show 2015 Lisa Burchill's 'Out of Darkness' garden Gaze Burvill

There was a corner seating area in the sunken part of the ‘Cornerstone’ garden designed by Pip Probert of Outer Spaces garden design, which was made from oak and stone.

RHS Malvern spring rhs show 2015 Pip Probert 'Cornerstone' garden Outer Spaces garden design Silver Gilt

RHS Malvern spring rhs show 2015 Pip Probert 'Cornerstone' garden Outer Spaces garden design Silver Gilt

The ‘Cotswold Way’ garden designed by Amy Perkins sponsored by Cotswold Estates & Gardens, had a Cotswold Stone bench.

RHS Malvern spring festival 2015 The Cotswold Way garden designed by Amy Perkins Silver Gilt and People's Choice best show garden

This was inside a covered seating area overlooking the garden. It won a Silver Gilt medal and also the RHS People’s Choice award best show garden.

RHS Malvern spring festival 2015 The Cotswold Way garden designed by Amy Perkins Silver Gilt and People's Choice best show garden

As an allotment holder who gardens organically with permaculture principles I am always drawn to gardens that have sustainability at heart. Hannah Genders ‘The Journey’ garden had a bench made from reused materials. The garden is to be rebuilt at Saint Michael’s Hospice in Hereford after the show.

RHS Malvern spring rhs show 2015 The Journey Garden designed by Hannah Genders Silver Gilt

Finally the ‘Bees Knees’ garden had to be my favourite garden designed for bio diversity and for pollinating insects. The seating here had to be the most portable of the gardens as the garden had a summerhouse with a giant honeycomb insect hotel.

Malvern spring rhs show 2015 The Bees Knees silver gilt designed by martyn Wilson

As I live in Stroud which became the world’s first bee guardian town, I watched with interest at dawn as the first pollinating bees started to arrive in the garden, as they had found a real treasure of pollen rich flowers. The garden was designed by Martyn Wilson of Wilson Associates Garden Design for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Malvern spring rhs show 2015 The Bees Knees silver gilt designed by martyn Wilson

I look forward to next years 31st Spring show, next stop 5 days photographing at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London, keep an eye out for my blog.


Websites:

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

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


Social Media:

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