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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:

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

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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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Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucestershire

Just back from a photo shoot at the Rococo Gardens in Gloucestershire on a beautiful sunny morning. A great surprise to wake up and see snow on the ground. Snow scenes are one of my favourites to photograph.

Galanthus - Snowdrops; Painswick Rococco Gardens, Gloucestershire

Snow on the ground Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucestershire

 After last years snow it looks very light, but I still got one of my favourite sounds, the crunch of snow under the feet.

Painswick Rococo Gardens has one of the best and largest collection of snowdrops in the UK. I find this garden truly magical as it has something to look at all through the seasons, a hidden gem.

James Montgomery said of the snowdrop “The morning star of flowers”

Galanthus - Snowdrops; Painswick Rococco Gardens, Gloucestershire

Snowdrops "the Morning Star of Flowers," J Montgomery

 Looking back on my data from last year the snowdrops are a good two weeks early and for a photographer looking really pristine at the moment, with the white petals having no blemishes!

Galanthus - Snowdrops; Painswick Rococco Gardens, Gloucestershire
Snowdrops and snow
The snowdrop has a beautiful luminescence and most people seem to have an affection for it. Wordsworth wrote of the snowdrop;
“Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snow-drop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!”
Galanthus - Snowdrops; Painswick Rococco Gardens, Gloucestershire

Snowdrops, spring is approaching

The gardens are a great place to photograph snowdrops. Tip; I think they look great photographed with the sun behind them as it really shows off their delicate white flower heads, shape and form. I really like it when they have water droplets on their flower heads too. Be careful not to underexpose the shot and look out for lens flare!
When photographing snow scenes or ones that have lots of white in, be attentive to your meter readings and check your histogram for perfect exposure, its very easy to underexpose a predominately white scene. This is because your cameras meter mostly averages for 18% grey.  So check the histogram and look out for those blinkers too!
The fallen leaves backlit here add extra colour to this shot.
Galanthus - Snowdrops; Painswick Rococco Gardens, Gloucestershire
Snowdrops backlit
My advice as a photographer would be to see them now as they are at their most fresh and vibrant, feel the fresh crisp air in your lungs too!
I am leading Garden and Flower Photography workshops  at Painswick Rococo Gardens through the seasons. Please see my website for further details (there is a discount for RHS members)

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One day Garden and Flower Photography Workshops

Dahlia Weston Stardust

Dahlia Weston Stardust


NEW FOR 2012

 One day Garden and Flower Photography Workshops

2011 has been an exciting and busy year for me workwise and winning awards. Due to interest in my work and requests I am introducing a programme of gardens and flowers digital photography workshops for 2012.

These will be for small groups at inspirational gardens near to Stroud, Gloucestershire, held on a Saturday throughout the year. Please visit my website for dates and further information.

The workshops will lead you to feel and be inspired by the beautiful gardens we photograph in. I am a firm believer in the creative process of photography and learning in a fun and relaxed way.

Whenever out on a shoot I feel what I am drawn to and start from that point. Most of my photography is tripod based so it is important to bring along a tripod.

Below is a selection of my award winning photographs.

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime

Blue shed on allotment covered in snow, wintertime


USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti (Cereus giganteus)

USA, Arizona, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Saguaro cacti (Cereus giganteus)

Palm trees reflected in pool, Marjorelle garden, Morocco, sunrise

Palm trees reflected in pool, Marjorelle garden, Morocco, sunriseTulip Professor Roentgen

Homage to Edward Weston

Homage to Edward Weston


Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn

Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn

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International Garden Photographer of the Year 2011; finalist Spring into Life

International Garden Photographer of the Year 2011; IGPOTY, finalist in the Spring into Life category.

This shot of Wild Garlic (Ramsons) was taken in woodland near to my home. A very early pre dawn start when everything is quiet and still, spotted a few deer in the woods, no doubt disturbed by my presence!

The strong aroma of wild garlic permeating the air, sun just rising into the woods, garlic backlit. A perfect May morning!

Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn

Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland, Sroud, Gloucestershire dawn