Stephen Studd Photography

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Macro Art – IGPOTY 1st Place

Pleased to hear this morning that the photograph I entered for the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition has won 1st place in the Macro Art category.

Giant Carrot

Giant Carrot – 1st Place IGPOTY Macro Art

This was taken at the Malvern Autumn show where they host the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, all sorts of vegetables are on display as part of the competition.

People at the show were photographing the whole size of the giant veg, but to me the oversized veg look rather grotesque. This made me think outside the box as a photographer and look at the subjects and interpret them in a different way, as on closer inspection they reveal patterns that are not usually seen on ordinary sized veg. I decided to produce a series of abstract images of the giant veg instead.

When I teach my photography workshops, I always talk about what is the ‘end use’ of the images you take, for these it is a series of fine art framed abstract photographs. For this set I used a Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro lens to focus in close to the vegetables I photographed.

Each giant veg I photographed revealed their own unique abstract patterns as can be seen in the very small selection from the series below. Can you guess what any of them are?

onion

_R4D6207

Pumpkin

My website is www.stephenstuddphotography.com

The judging panel for IGPOTY said: “Stephen’s image has emphatically answered the brief by executing a simple idea extremely well. We get lost in the extraordinary shapes, colours and textures of the carrot, which is anything but the ordinary vegetable we think we are so well accustomed with.”

Congratulations to all the other entries from the competition which can be found here: IGPOTY Macro Art


I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam the USA & UK. Also flower photography workshops in spring in the UK.
Please visit the website for full itineraries and dates of tours: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

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How to photograph Spring Flowers

Spring is a fantastic time of year to get outdoors with your camera as nature is bursting with so much energy and colour. A walk in the woods in springtime will reveal a myriad of wild flowers, our gardens and parks will have plenty of subjects to photograph too.

flower photography workshop Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland Sroud Gloucestershire dawn woods forest wildflowers trees medicinal herb edible

Photograph from: The Medicine Garden: Author: Rachel Corby

 

With the advent of digital photography and phones with cameras  we are all photographers, but what makes one photograph really stand out from the others? The answer to that is there is no single correct way to photograph flowers, however, certain elements do have to be taken into consideration to make a great shot.

Firstly before you start, in your cameras settings, select the highest possible resolution. This will give you clearer detail in your photographs, enabling the image to be used larger without signs of bluriness or noise.
Time of day is an important consideration when taking your photographs, the early bird really does catch the worm! 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. Mornings also tend to be more still, 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.

Bluebells, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) flower photography workshops Gloucestershire

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

Bluebells, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) flower photography workshops Gloucestershire

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

Meconopsis Sheldonii Lingholm - Himalayan Blue Poppy

The background of your photograph is very important 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 flower stand out, or move in closer to the subject.

Aquilegia

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

Iris close up

If you do hand hold your camera, as a very general rule of thumb with a standard lens 1/60th of a second is the minimum shutter speed to use, with longer lenses such as a 200mm look around 1/250th of a second to avoid camera shake. For checking correct exposure always check your histogram not the LCD preview.

Galanthus Nivalis - Snowdrops;

Snowdrops: 1/60s  f11

Finally break the rules, experiment and have fun, try out new angles and backgrounds, you might be surprised with the results you obtain.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ photographed against the sun, post processed in Lightroom.

Try out different processes such as black and white such as the photograph below of a tulip.

Homage to Edward Weston Stephen Studd IGPOTY

Homage to Edward Weston – 3rd place IGPOTY : Monochrome

When photographing wildflowers be careful not to tread on other flowers, leave them just as you found them for insects and others to enjoy.

flower photography workshop Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland Sroud Gloucestershire dawn woods forest wildflowers trees medicinal herb edible

Wild Garlic (Ramsons) © Stephen Studd Photography for BBC Gardeners World.


I  am running bluebell flower photography workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire in May: further details can be found here: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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How to photograph snow

When it snows it is a great time to go out with your camera and capture its pure white freshness, but how many times do your photos appear dull and grey and lacking that freshness and purity? When photographing snow scenes or ones that have lots of white in, be attentive to your meter readings, it’s very easy to underexpose a predominately white scene.Watering can in snowSnow is much brighter than the 18% medium grey that your camera is averaged to expose for. Your camera is trying to capture the bright white scene as 18% grey which results in underexposed photos, making them look dull and grey like the one above.

So how do you make the image look bright and fresh whilst keeping detail?Watering can in snowIf your camera has an exposure compensation dial then you should dial in about 2 stops overexposure as a starting point. Exposure compensation is used to move the camera away from the cameras suggested exposure to brighter or darker ones. Look at the histogram and make sure the image preview isn`t blinking (indicating overexposed highlights). It takes a bit of practice but after a while you will be able to expose the shot perfectly. It is a good idea when practicing this technique to bracket the shot.

This scene below was a tough one to get right as the bud is against snow and the ice crystals on the bud I wanted to show with all their intricate detail.

Blackcurrant "Ben Nevis" branch with buds covered in snow and ice crystals, winter

As a starting point I added 2 stops overexposure in the exposure compensation dial, which gave a decent image with no highlights (snow & ice) overexposed. As the camera was on a tripod I then bracketed around this exposure for a perfectly exposed image which retained all the detail in the ice crystals.

On a photo shoot for Manfrotto in Svalbard this technique was essential as the whole place was covered in snow and ice at the time of year I was there. At -30C it was important to act quickly and know the way around the camera, as I had 3 pairs of gloves on, a thick outer extreme weather glove, then inside a woolen glove and a silk glove, this was a technique that Alan Hinkes told me about when I met him and asked his advice. I thought he should know, as he is the only British mountaineer to have climbed all 14 mountains with elevations greater than 8,000 metres and he also photographs his ascents. Basically you keep the 2 outer gloves on for as long as possible and for the shot remove the 2 outer gloves on the one hand leaving the silk glove when you are ready to take the photo.

For the shot below I dialled in 1 & 2/3rd stops overexposure in exposure compensation. This kept detail in the snow and also held detail in the blowing snow on the ground. The camera was mounted on a Manfrotto heavy duty 055 tripod as the strong wind blowing, nearly knocking me off my feet!

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen,  view towards Hiorthfjellet mountain and Adventtoppen mountain across Adventdalen valley

Again for the dog sledders below, overexposure was needed to keep the shot looking fresh, with full detail in the dogs and dog sledders.

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen, husky dog sled, dusk

Nowadays many people use their smartphones for blogging and for social media. In your phones camera settings there should be an exposure value / EV setting. Try shooting a snow scene without adjusting this and then shoot the same scene with it set to 1.5+ see those whites whiter, try moving it to 2+ brighter to see if this makes a difference, but be aware of over exposing the scene.

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, view from Longyearbyen towards Hiorthfjellet mountain across Adventfjorden fjord, Advent Bay, woman taking photo across the bay

With this easy technique your snow will look snow white and not a dull flat grey. Have fun in the snow and keep warm!

This technique also works well with any scene that is predominantly white, such as with white flowers or buildings.

Dahlia

When you have finished photographing snow don`t forget to set exposure compensation back to 0



I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I also run landscape photography workshops and weekends in the Gower, Wales and Bluebell woods photography workshops in Gloucestershire, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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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.


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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 2015; Behind the Photos

 

 

The International Garden Photographer of the Year awards have just been announced, I was Commended in the Beautiful Gardens category for this shot of Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco.

Morocco marrakech travel photography holidays workshops tours

Morocco, Marrakech, Jardin Majorelle (Yves Saint Laurent Garden)

I visited the garden a number of times as I was in Marrakech 10 days early before guests turned up for a photography city break I run there. The garden is a photographers dream with its bold colours and planting. The cobalt blue walls are a great backdrop to any plants in pots. The plant in this pot was just catching some sunlight giving depth to the composition.

I also converted it to black and white, and was going to send this one instead as I liked the simplicity of the shot.

Which one do you prefer?

marrakech Morocco Jardin majorelle digital photography holidays tours and workshops

I was also Highly Commended in the Monochrome category for this shot of Chitting Potatoes.

Potatoes chitting by stephen studd Photography

Chitting Potatoes

This was taken with my 100mm Canon macro lens, shot in a north facing window in natural light. It was the two shoots that caught my eye as they looked like weird alien cartoon characters. Even from the simplest of subjects you can find something to photograph with the macro lens.

Congratulations to Magdalena Wasiczek for her overall winning shot: The Ballerinas

To see all the awards for this year follow this link

My websites: www.stephenstuddphotography.com

Travel photography holidays & UK flower photography workshops: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com including City Break to Marrakech & Atlas Mountains.


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Easy steps to photograp into the sun

My camera is always set on manual mode, if your camera is on auto and you photograph into the sun you will most likely get underexposed images.

When shooting into the sun your meter will underexpose the scene (the histogram will be way too far to the left). Photographing into the sun is a great way for you to learn to take control of your camera.

If you are after a warm glow around the sun then photographing at sunrise or sunset are the best times to achieve this.

Digital photography holidays Myanmar, Bagan,  temple at dawn, silhouette

Myanmar, Bagan, silhouetted temples at sunrise

Set the aperture you are after and meter for the scene without the sun in the frame as a starting point. Keep this meter reading then shoot with the sun in the shot and see how this looks.

For the shot above of the temples of Bagan in Myanmar I wanted to leave some detail in the silhouetted temples whilst giving a very warm feel to the image. You can try different exposures using the exposure compensation dial to see how the different exposures will look. The camera was mounted on my tripod and I focussed the scene manually, then avoided looking directly through the eyepiece to save my eyes from any damage. Between shots I put the lens cap on too.  To avoid flare it is best to remove any lens protection filters you might have on your lens.

If you are after a bright burnt out sun with blue sky then shooting around mid day can ahieve this, though this one is much harder on the eyes, so be careful. The shot below of the Allium Purple Sensation against the sun I wanted to convey the feeling of nature bursting into life with the power of the sun in summer. For this the sun had to be overhead with me lying on the ground. This shot was harder to achieve as I was hand holding and having to focus on the allium and meter.

Allium Purple Sensation against the sun

Allium Purple Sensation against the sun
f11 1/400th sec @70mm 100 ISO

The backlit flower against the sun shows off its shape and form and the colour of the petals is accentuated. In this shot the sun is more burnt out and there is flare which adds to the feel of the power of the beating sun.

When taking these type of shots please be careful of your eyes, you don`t want to damage them.

I am leading travel photography holidays and tours in 2016 and 2017 to Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam and Cambodia. Details can be found on the Digital Photography Holidays website; http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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Malvern Autumn Show 2012

Malvern Autumn Show 2012 rustic display of pumpkin and squash on old wooden crates

It is always good to be back at Malvern and after the extreemly wet summer to have blazing sunshine lighting up the show with the backdrop of the Malvern Hills behind.

Heading off before sunrise I arrived at Malvern to the perfect dawn, a photographers dream. In the Good Life Pavillion I headed to the Edible Gardens. “Dig for Victory” was a garden designed by Mark Walker. The garden was set in the  40`s and 50`s complete with sandbags and an Anderson shelter.

war garden Garden Designer Mark Walker edible garden Dig For Victory awarded Silver Gilt flora Malvern Autumn show 2012

Garden Designer Mark Walker edible garden Dig For Victory awarded Silver Gilt flora Malvern Autumn show 2012

Mark always pays great attention to the styling of his gardens. Garden Designer Mark Walker edible garden Dig For Victory awarded Silver Gilt flora Malvern Autumn show 2012

Even down to weeds growing on the paths of the garden, giving it a lovely vintage always been there feel.lettuce and border

The only garden awarded a gold was “A la Mode Dining” by Surrey Gardens, with raised beds of culinary herbs and vegetables, complete with copper cooking utensils on the walls.

Designer Caspian Robertson of Surrey Gardens A la Mode Dining awarded Gold Medal in the edible gardens Malvern Autumnshow 2012

Designer Caspian Robertson of Surrey Gardens A la Mode Dining awarded Gold Medal in the edible gardens Malvern Autumnshow 2012

I was pleased to see the Cottage Herbery next to the cookery demonstration area. Now I collect old trugs but didn`t have room for this giant one full of culinary and medicinal herbs.

The Cottage Herbery display awarded Silver Gilt Giant trug planted with herbs Malvern Autumn Show 2012

The Cottage Herbery display awarded Silver Gilt Giant trug planted with herbs Malvern Autumn Show 2012

Also in the Pavillion were Pennard Plants whose seed packets of Heirloom and Heritage seeds always give me a smile. Pennard Plants Heritage and Heirloom seed packets of variety of beans on display at Malvern Autumn show 2012

There seems to be a `vintage` feel creeping into the gardening world, this basket of vegetables from the Pennard Plants display took me straight back to my mothers old shopping basket.Pennard Plants basket of fresh vegetables vintage shopping basket old fashioned Malvern Autumn Show 2012

Malvern also has a fantastic display of veg, Dahlias and other plants in the Harvest Pavillion.

Vegetable competition Malvern Autumn Show 2012

Vegetable competition Malvern Autumn Show 2012

After a very difficult year for gardeners there was an amazing display on show. I did have envy seeing tomatoes on display as mine succumbed to blight this year. The Dahlia display I am always drawn to as it is one place you get to see absolutely perfect blooms. After such difficult conditions for growing there were less for me to photograph this year, my macro lens is unforgiving close up. Dahlia seedlings

The Harvest Pavillion is a great resource for photographers of flowers for a few reasons; for close up details the flower heads remain relatively still, varieties are usually named and the light is usually great as the marquee acts as a giant soft box.

The Floral Exhibits had the usual high quality of exhibitors from Nurseries around the UK.

Gentiana Violette

Gentiana Violette, from Edrom Nursery, Scotland

Aloe Polyphylla

Aloe Polyphylla, Trewidden Nursery, South west Cornwall

Sarracenia flava all green form, pitcher plant

Sarracenia Flava; Hampshire Carniverous Plants

My plant of this show went to Dahlia Harriet G as  it had such a presence about it, with its own pure glow.Dahlia Harriet G flower close up

Malvern is the last show of the calendar that I photograph, so here`s wishing you a safe warm winter and lets all wish for much better growing conditions in 2013.