Stephen Studd Photography

Travel Gardens Plants


IGPOTY Monochrome behind the photograph

Commended in the Monochrome Photo Projects category; International Garden Photographer of the Year; Winter Reflection.

Winter reflection Painswick Rococo Garden

Winter reflection, Painswick Rococo Garden

I had gone to photograph the extensive collection of snowdrops at the Rococo Garden, Painswick, on an early March morning when there had been the first flurry of winter snow of  2012. The morning was very still and calm creating a perfect reflection in the lake. The low level light filtering through the orchard and catching the Exedra and Red house added to the atmosphere.

The image was converted to black and white as the Rococo garden has a timeless quality which I wanted to capture.

In Lightroom 3 the image was converted to black and white. Then the image was split toned with warmth in the highlights and coolness in the shadows to give it the feel of an old Kentmere paper image. Kentona paper was one of my favourite old photographic papers in the days when I wet processed black and white images as it had a lovely warm tone to it.

Stephen Studd Photography;

International Garden Photographer of the Year competition;

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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” 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 for further details and booking.

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

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International Garden Photographer of the Year; Weather Eye

“Garlic Chive Seedheads in Winter Landscape” Finalist in the 4 Seasons Category.

This shot was taken on my organic allotment last December. There had been really heavy snow the night before. I went up to the allotment to photograph and these garlic chive seedheads immediately caught my eye. They looked so fragile but were obviously really tough as they were still clinging on to their valuable seed. I used my 100mm macro lens to just concentrate on the seedhead in the foreground, knocking the rest out of focus, which created  beautiful pattern and shape. 

Garlic chive seedheads in winter landscape with snow, differential focus

Garlic Chive Seedheads in Winter Landscape

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International Garden Photographer of the Year; New Mornings

Finalist in the Four Seasons; New Mornings section of International Garden Photographer of the Year for this shot of a Drosera Capensis unfurling.

Drosera Capensis unfurling

This variety of Drosera is tiny so a Canon 180mm macro lens was used to get right up to the unfurling frond. This knocked out the background made up of other carniverous plants. The sticky droplet in the unfurling frond is the reason I photographed this particular Drosera. It is part of a series I have been working on over the past year.