Blog

Blog

Preparing for the Macro Art Photo Project

Preparing for the Macro Art Photo Project
The International Garden Photographer of the Year Macro Art Photo Project has just launched for entries as the second photo project for Competition 13. This photo project seeks to celebrate the world of plants and gardens through close-up perspectives and artistic methods of capturing nature’s . . . botanical beauty. If you’re thinking of entering, a great starting point is to check out the winners from last year. There are so many subjects and styles to choose from, so some previous winners might be able to give you the inspiration you need to harness all of that creative energy you have waiting behind the lens. From resting mayflies to frozen peat moss, the scope for interpretation is huge.  Speaking of mayflies, if you haven’t read our interview with last year’s winner, Petar Sabol, then definitely check it out. There are interesting insights and the passion behind the answers is infectious. If you’re still looking for another reason to enter, then don’t forget our winners are some of the most widely covered in print and digital media outlets. Macro images have a particular charm about them and usually appeal to a very wide audience. Because of this, last year’s winners had some tremendous coverage, such as the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph. We’ve also been hard at work with returning feedback, so here’s some common things to watch out for with your winning macro shot! If you’re capturing the close-up details of a flower, make sure that the specimen is pristine! Damage, as well as patches of dirt can be distracting when shooting at this distance. Remove any unwanted and distracting elements such as twigs, branches or other flowerheads. These can draw attention away from what is meant to be the main subject matter.  Find a background that is as engaging as the subject itself and which complements its features. Ensure that the composition has a natural resting point for the eye. Too many elements can leave an image with a confusing identity. If you’re adding an effect in post-capture make sure it elevates and not overwhelms the subject matter. Find the subject then take a while to think about your intention and what you want to capture and why. This will help communicate a sense of style and purpose. The slightest change of position can sometimes make all the difference - once you’ve found the subject and scene, keep shooting from a variety of different angles until you’re confident you’ve got the best from the opportunity. -- Good luck and thank you for helping us share the beauty and importance of a green planet. Enter the Macro Art Photo Project.
Continue reading...

Claim your free pro lab prints before April 6!

Claim your free pro lab prints before April 6!
The team at IGPOTY have joined forces with FUJIFILM and the UK’s finest professional photographic laboratory One Vision Imaging to offer you (3) FREE 10 x 8 or 12 x 8” prints in their print to prove it campaign. You simply pay the postage. Every IGPOTY member can each claim three free 10 x 8” or 12 . . . x8” prints on either Lustre or Gloss with the print to prove it campaign. Your images will be printed on FUJI’s DP11 Professional paper for FREE; you simply pay for the posting and packing. To claim your free prints and discover the unprecedented quality for yourself, simply upload your images to the website, follow the online instructions and when prompted enter the voucher code PPIGPOTY19 when prompted. Then it's simply a case of waiting for your prints to drop through your letterbox. Get ready to marvel at the cost-effective quality. This offer is available until April 6 2019 and only one order of three prints may be made per household. For full terms and conditions and to order, please visit www.onevisionimaging.com Why settle for second best, when high-quality printing might just be more affordable than you think!  
Continue reading...

Plants and Planet

Plants and Planet
Plants and Planet is a new main competition category that recognises and raises awareness of the many environmental challenges facing plant life, in particular, climate change. The title is a reference to the 1974 work, Plant and Planet, by Anthony Huxley, who said: “In the final analysis, man, be . . . he botanist, gardener, or plain Homo sapiens, is utterly dependent on plants.” This massive global issue is due to affect every living thing on earth and plants will play a significant, if not the most significant role in the story of climate change. Not only can they help ameliorate some of the problems we are due to face in the next century, such as food supply, carbon capture and urban air pollution they will also face existential threats. Botanic Gardens Conservation International lists temperature effects, rainfall and other factors such as a changing soil type and herbivory (consumption of plants by animals) as current issues. There are also many more future potential effects on species with long life cycles or slow dispersal periods, isolated species, coastal species and increased invasions by alien species. Images can, therefore, depict a plant or area facing a current or future threat. And the list of threats is severe, particularly when coupled with other human factors such as a growing population and economic drivers. In the spirit of Huxley’s final analysis, this category encourages documentation of plants affected by the above as well as a celebration of how they are used to mitigate the consequences of climate change and other environmental problems. This includes any initiative which uses plants in this way, from local tree planting schemes to wider environmental projects. It is important to capture both sides of this story and both have the ability to find new and exciting ways of engaging with climate change and environmental pressures. How are plants helping the planet and in what ways are they at risk? Images should inspire others to action. Where there is creativity, community and passion, solutions can always be found to our problems and photography can help us arrive at the answers. Enter from Feb 12 2019. -- special category prizes to be announced --
Continue reading...

Discover the Majesty of Nature's Garden

Discover the Majesty of Nature's Garden
Since the end of the competition on October 31 we've been hard at work in preparation for our annual launch exhibition held in the Nash Conservatory at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This not only involves everything competition and exhibition related but also the publication of our very special book, . . . which we can't wait to reveal on February 8 when it goes on sale. It's a busy but extremely rewarding period for us, when everything comes together in celebration of the work of photographers from around the world. And this year continues to explore new and inspirational ways of communicating the beauty and importance of plant life through photography. You don't want to miss this. The exhibition will be open to the public on February 9. Expect to see winning images from nine main categories: Abstract Views, Beautiful Gardens, Breathing Spaces, Greening the City, The Beauty of Plants, The Bountiful Earth, Trees, Woods & Forests, Wildflower Landscapes and Wildlife in the Garden plus images from Young Garden Photographer of the Year, three Photo Projects and three special awards including Captured at Kew and Celebrating Our Oaks. As we approach the exhibition launch date it's important to reflect on the meaning of what we're doing and why this photography matters. Dr. Paul Wilkin, Acting Director of Science at Kew Gardens, kindly provided the introduction to our book this year and his words capture the scope of both the mission and our relationship with nature: "Each of the images compiled in IGPOTY Book 12 is a stunning testament to the beauty of the world’s biodiversity and its roles in human life, from the most basic, such as provision of food, to the heights of our aesthetic, cultural and spiritual experiences..." The depth of this relationship is profound, and we hope this year's exhibition helps tell this story better than ever before. -- The exhibition at Kew Gardens will run from February 9-March 10 2019. Fore more information visit Kew's website here. The winners of Competition 12 will be made live on the IGPOTY website from February 8.
Continue reading...

New Photo Project for IGPOTY 13

New Photo Project for IGPOTY 13
For 2019 we have the Square Crop Photo Challenge returning as a permanent fixture to our calendar as it takes its place as the fourth Photo Project. The Photo Project will run from September 1 - October 1 2019 and will have a first place prize of £500. In Competition 11, Nigel Burkitt was awarded . . . first place for his beautifully composed image of Echinacea (see here) for the Square Crop Photo Challenge. The format is so versatile that virtually any botanical subject can feature in the image. Tyrone McGlinchey, Managing Director of IGPOTY said: “The art of the crop can make or break an image and a square crop really forces us to consider the place of every element and its contribution to the composition. This Photo Project then is all about balance, critical ability and subject understanding.” Use the main competition categories to draw subject matter inspiration and remember it’s always good to shoot fresh, original captures for every competition. Watch out for more exiting competition news coming soon! More information on this new Photo Project will be available to see on the launch of Competition 13 on February 20.
Continue reading...

Ancient Oaks of Blenheim Palace

Ancient Oaks of Blenheim Palace
Back in September, some of the IGPOTY team visited Blenheim Palace to capture some of their magnificent veteran oaks. Head Forester Nick Baimbridge guided the team through an area in the estate known as High Park. Within, there are are roughly 968 veteran oaks (over 400 years old). The oldest was . . . thought to be the King Oak but is now believed to be the oak featured in this post image, estimated at 1,046 years old. In the latter part of their life cycle the oak starts a natural process of slowing down crown growth and losing outer branches (retrenchment), making trunk size expand with age. Although the veteran period of the oak life cycle is one of natural decline, this oak is still producing new growth and has a dense canopy with massive, sprawling limbs. In other veteran oaks, as leaves and branches are shed from the crown, naturally, or by storm damage, the tree can begin to exhibit intricate shapes from the remaining bare larger branches, taking on the appearance of stag horns and creating a palpable sense of age. The number and age of these oaks make for a landscape unlike any other in its beauty and atmosphere. As Nick Baimbridge explains: “The Ancient Oaks are part of a medieval wood Known as Wychwood Forest, the majority of the ancient oaks on Blenheim Estates are located in an area called High Park. Henry I used it for hunting deer and being part of a Royal forest, no one was allowed to harvest wood from the area. That is why it has been naturally preserved for so long – most of the trees are at least four hundred years old, there are even some that are a thousand years old. Walking amongst the ancient oaks is like walking back in time and you wonder what they have seen in their life time and what stories they could tell. Here at Blenheim we are trying our hardest to preserve the old trees and woodland by cutting back the younger competition and therefore giving them light, and also collecting acorns to grow on for the next generation. We have recently discovered that it is one of the most important ancient woodlands in Europe, not only for the oaks, but for all of the wildlife that it supports; there are many rare fungi, lichens, wild plants and insects.” -- Feeling inspired? Blenheim Palace is home to an extraordinary amount of botanical photographic opportunities and we’re proud to be celebrating this with a new special award, Beautiful Blenheim, which is open now and free to enter.
Continue reading...

The Greater Garden

The Greater Garden
We’re now approaching the final deadline of Competition 12 and it is therefore important to reflect on some of the wider values and aims of the competition, especially if you’re entering for the first time. Specifically, what does garden photography mean to us and why it has to encompass such a . . . broad range of photographic context. Garden photography can seem like a niche genre but unlocking the wider aspects of the subject craft, taps into nature photography and the trends of the current age in the most broadest sense. This is why botanical photography of all kinds is growing in popularity, not just because of its potential but because of its applicability and relevance to the challenges of the modern era, where the environment is facing ever more greater challenges. However, these challenges can be overcome and photography can and must play its part. By focusing on flora, garden photography stretches into vast parts of the natural world all with an equally vast potential for the photographer. Where there’s flora there are the qualities of the garden and all of the accompanying feelings and associations that go with it. The desire to cultivate and control (it could be said all art is a desire to feel, communicate or exert control) that which we see in nature is an ancient activity and the garden is just one of these manifestations. Just as plant hunters would return to royal courts or learned societies with their newfound treasures so the verb ‘capture’ is used to describe the act of creating a botanical photograph that we can share with the world without a need for exploitation and human cost. That is the beauty of the current quest. To take up the same initiative of cultivation and control, but to renewed celebratory and inspirational ends. The age of discovery will never truly die. The cultivation of values and activities that bring us closer to nature, not further apart is the new act of botanical capture. A garden then is a space used to nurture this connection and the camera is the proof of its existence, wherever we may be. Photography helps quantify this experience and communicate its importance. We therefore define garden photography as the ways in which we experience flora, in any location, in any setting with any interpretation. Taking ownership of important things we have the ability to control, whilst cultivating that which we want to see in the world is what modern day garden photography means to us and we’re more excited than ever to say, enter now.
Continue reading...

Call for entries into International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition 12

Call for entries into International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition 12
The International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition 12 main competition is now approaching the final deadline of October 31. Competition 12 sees more exciting opportunities for winning an award plus more partnerships and prizes than ever before, as we work to celebrate and protect plants, . . . gardens and green spaces around the world. Now is the perfect time to be working on your images – from plant portraits to fantastical botanical landscapes – help us inspire the world to see the value, beauty and importance of a green planet. The overall winner will receive £7,500 for the best single image and the overall winner of the Portfolios will win £2,000 and a gold medal from the Royal Photographic Society. Best in category photographers will receive separate cash prizes, and new for Competition 12, first, second and third category places will receive a special subscription to ImageRights, a service for tracking and enforcing copyright of images. Selected winners will be exhibited at the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in February 2019. Winners will then tour to exhibitions across the UK, Europe and worldwide and feature extensively in national and international media coverage.  See your images featured at some of the world’s most iconic cultural and horticultural venues, from museums, botanic gardens and art galleries to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. New partnerships include the Botanic Gardens Conservation International Threatened Plants Photographic Award which has special prizes. Entries into The Beauty of Plants will automatically be considered for this award. With 9 main categories to choose from and unique special awards, there is something for everyone – including the return of the European Garden Photography Award which has a separate first place prize of 1000 Euros. We also see the return of the Abstract Views category which proved particularly popular, producing highly original photography, pushing the genre and expanding our perception of nature. Winners will also feature in our beautiful annual book publication which is sold across the world at our exhibition venues. The competition is open to amateurs and professionals worldwide and you don’t need expensive camera equipment to enter. Categories and Special Awards include: The Beauty of Plants Beautiful Gardens The Bountiful Earth Wildflower Landscapes Greening the City Portfolios Wildlife in the Garden Trees, Woods & Forests Breathing Spaces Abstract Views European Garden Photography Award Captured at Kew For more information on each category visit the category guide: https://igpoty.com/igpoty-competition-12/ It’s an absolute privilege to be part of this competition which is the industry leader for garden, planet and botanical photography. All photographers want their work to mean something and competitions should stand for something bigger than the sake of competition itself. Entering a competition says something about your work as a photographer and IGPOTY’s message is louder and clearer than ever: we must continue to celebrate the beauty and importance of a green planet. Photography demonstrates over and over again that it has a unique power to inspire and educate and our twelfth competition year holds vast new potential for positive environmental awareness. -- Remember, don’t leave it until the last minute to ensure an optimum experience and so you have enough time to edit your entries. We’re here to help with any questions @igpoty on social. Don’t forget to sign up for mailshots for the latest news, updates and competition reminders. Good luck! Let's make it the best yet. Enter now.
Continue reading...

Celebrating our Oaks

Celebrating our Oaks
A new special award within the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition has been launched to highlight the plight of the UK’s oaks. The oak tree holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of people, from druids staging rituals in oak groves to King Charles II hiding in one, . . . the oak plays a huge part in our culture and history. Almost 6,000 oaks went towards building Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory and the oak hammer beam roof in Westminster Hall took 660 tonnes of oak to construct, making it the largest in Northern Europe. Not only is it culturally important but oak is a foundation species supporting over 2200 other species and is the UK’s most important tree for biodiversity. There are over 121 million oaks in the UK, and more ancient oaks than the rest of Europe combined. These include the globally important Atlantic oak woodland – our temperate rainforest, The benefits they bring are priceless for biodiversity; culturally, economically and for our sense of wellbeing, losing them would be devastating. UK oaks are under threat and we must act now to protect this iconic tree for the future.  Pests and diseases are challenging its very survival. Oak processionary moth, acute oak decline, root-attacking species of honey fungus and powdery mildews are all present in the UK today and weakening or killing our majestic oak trees, with the bacterial disease, Xyllela fastidiosa, an increasing threat as it moves its way across Europe towards the UK. Faced with these challenges, Action Oak, a new initiative that aims to protect our oaks for future generations, was launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. A unique collaboration of environmental bodies, charities, governments and landowners, Action Oak is working to raise the £15 million needed to fund a programme of activities which includes: – Working with owners and managers of oak trees to help to protect the trees from the range of threats that they face; – Funding research to improve our understanding of the threats to our oak trees and to inform best management practices; – Using established professional and citizen science networks to record changes in the distribution, age and health of our oak trees to identify priority areas for action. This programme of vital research and monitoring into the threats oaks are facing will build upon the ground-breaking research being undertaken already, that has not only helped us to understand the oak much better than before, but which has also revealed just how much there still is to learn, if we are to protect these much-loved trees for future generations. To highlight the importance of these amazing trees in our landscape we are asking photographers to take pictures of their favourite oaks and to enter them in this special section of 2018’s International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. As well as the thrill of finding and photographing your favourite oak tree, by entering you will be supporting Action Oak and giving yourself the chance to win a prize that money can’t buy. Enter now.
Continue reading...

The Art of Thinking

The Art of Thinking
We all want to take photographs that have meaning, but understanding how to effectively communicate this through photography can be tricky. Macro photography offers many opportunities to say something different about the natural world and it’s this unique interpretation that is important. To help us . . . engage with this topic, we spoke with multiple IGPOTY award winner, Minghui Yuan about his relationship with the genre. What do you like about macro photography? I love macro photography. I like to discover the microscopic world around us, because the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but at looking at things with a different perspective. I try to show the beauty and dignity of extraordinary species, analogous to ordinary people in the pursuit of survival and life. How would you describe your approach? In my work, macro photography seems to be the most profound tool to translate my visual language. It is a physical extension of my imagination. However, macro photography allows me to see beyond my imagination, breaking through the natural limitations of the eye, whilst shooting in a natural way. What do you look for and why? Macro photography depends entirely on your imagination and shooting techniques. To understand your subjects you must have an understanding of habitats, the environment and ecological knowledge. Through this we can better deploy equipment to get the best results. Over or under exposure can affect the colour of the photograph whilst impacting emotional quality. I often use aperture priority mode and average metering, and combine this with exposure compensation to adjust the brightness. For me, I want to discover more about the human experience through studying other natural forms of association. I look for botanical shapes, patterns, colours and textures. I always try to find the joy of life, through expressions of love and hope. I also look for relationships between plants, including solitude and companionship. Plants depend on each other, so it’s important to try to understand this relationship. The microscopic world is a strange and mysterious place, where it’s easy to get lost in our own fantasies. When shooting in nature, I need to feel "the dignity of life" and "the joy of life" through what I’m seeing via the camera lens. All life has equal value so I like to use multi-level viewing angles to observe different layers of life. What key elements make a good macro image for you? The key elements of a good macro image consist of the relationship between fantasy and reality, simple patterns and colours used to original effect, and imaginative composition. What equipment do you use and why? I usually use a Nikon SLR camera body and a macro lens. The fixed focal length macro lens is my most used lens when shooting macro. This makes for more efficient shooting as you begin to understand the best distances involved for certain shots. The most important aspect is to find the optimum focal plane of your subject. The focus should grab the subject at the most crucial point; the reasoning for having something on the focal plane should be a central part of your image. It has to tell a decisive story. A telephoto macro lens can also be useful for making interesting blurred backgrounds and proper use of backgrounds can make all the difference. What's your advice to other photographers entering the Macro Art Photo Project? The Macro Art Photo Project is a piece of creative performance, but it is also the art of thinking. My interpretation of this is that there is a fine balance between the conscious creative mind and the subconscious. Too much conscious processing and the power of natural observation can be suppressed. Sometimes a new perspective or new approach can just happen, without too much introspection and you’ll never know unless you start shooting. — Find your own meaning. Enter Competition 12 now.
Continue reading...

Artistic Impact

Artistic Impact
With a lot of art, just starting can be the hardest part. If you're having trouble finding out where to begin with the Macro Art Photo Project or need some inspiration, we asked macro art specialist and IGPOTY Royal Photographic Society representative for Competition 11, John Humphrey, to shed some . . . light on his approach to this exciting genre. -- Art photography is not easy to define, in fact I often feel that it sounds rather pretentious. However, many photographers want to produce images that make an artistic impact rather than simply being records of their subject. For me, botanical close-up and macro photography is often my starting point in what I hope is an artistic journey. Whether I succeed is for others to decide! The first step of course is to take the picture. For close-up work this can be technically challenging since as you get closer to the subject, the depth of field becomes shallower and movement becomes magnified. These issues can be addressed in a variety of ways or accommodated into the picture to add impact. One of my early approaches in this field was to photograph pressed flowers. They are often very attractive subjects when viewed close-up and have the additional appeal of being flat, so depth of field is not an issue. Scanning across the surface of a pressed flower will often reveal pattern, colour and texture that we ordinarily wouldn’t notice, and can deliver extremely attractive photographs. Where the subject is not flat but overall sharpness is still the objective, we now have a very clever tool at our disposal, namely focus stacking. Here, a series of pictures is taken, and specialist software identifies the sharpest parts of each image and combines them into a sharp composite. An alternative approach is to settle for a shallow depth of field and to accommodate subject movement in the photograph. The blurring of parts of the image can lend a sense of depth and visual appeal that might not be present in a more static image. My final step is often a venture into Photoshop. I will probably adjust levels and colour saturation to suit the desired result. I also invariably experiment with textures, usually applied via a displacement map so that the image is displaced to match the texture image, usually a picture of a separate textured subject such as tree bark or rock. John Humphrey John is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and presents workshops on Macro and Art Photography. Some of his pictures can be viewed on his website www.johnhumphrey.co.uk -- Let's get started. Enter the Macro Art Photo Project now.
Continue reading...

A Winning Identity

A Winning Identity
Congratulations to Simon Hadleigh-Sparks for his winning image of a magnificent maple tree at the Savill Garden. Judges were impressed by not just the composition, choice of subject and technical ability, but also by its emotional impact. The image manages to communicate something beyond competency . . . and this is what makes great garden photography, indeed great nature photography. This emotional impact has been of pronounced quality this year throughout the winners and is worth further exploration. ‘Jumping Over Karma’ strikes us with its immediate sense of scale, character and context. In fact, these three elements help create a unique sense of identity and identity helps us emote. The scale of the maple is impressive and whilst drawing us in, we are struck by its complexity, its twists, turns and textures, each punctuated with the piercing tips of its leaves. This formation of character is built up in layers of contrast, and black and white is perfect for creating these nuances.  Context then emerges and we see the jumping, leaping forms of a proud and ancient arboreal spirit. ‘Weeping Willow’ by Carolyne Barber also displays these processions of scale, character and context. Scale is established through a thick, central trunk with an almost impossible number of hanging vertical branches. The highlighted white areas of these branches are made to look and feel like running water, which goes onto form the overarching character of the image which invokes a melancholy yet stoic defiance of winter and the passage of time. The context is made even more poignant by the dark outline of another tree in the background and the foreground of smaller plants, framing the shot and focusing the scene. As a final example Minghui Yuan’s ‘Damselfly Umbrella’ has a sense of explicit scale which works harmoniously to create a relationship between natural elements in the composition. The meaning and poetry of the image only really becomes apparent when we notice the third and tiny character of the scene. This then forms a highly effective emotional aspect, the context of which complements the plant rather than detracting from it. Using these three terms then can be helpful for analysing emotional quality and impact. Look out for how scale, character and context has created a winning identity in the other winners and even in your own garden photography. Creating this identity of course isn’t exclusive to black and white. Give it a go in our next Photo Project of the year: Macro Art. Enter now.
Continue reading...