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Robin Williams FRPS
CREDIT: Robin Williams FRPS

International Garden Photographer of the Year 2020

RPS Fellow wins prestigious title

While our lives are currently more limited due to the pandemic, nature still surrounds us like a reassuring blanket. The International Garden Photographer of the Year is a true celebration of the outdoors and reminds us that nature, big and small, is always there to comfort us and offer joy - a welcome and beautiful distraction in a time of crisis.

The competition and exhibition specialises in garden, plant and flower photography so it may not come as a surprise that it is supported by the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London.

Kew is also home to the main annual exhibition, with a satellite programme of touring exhibitions in the UK and around the world.

The competition is open to all and attracts up to 20,000 individual entries annually. A portion of the entry fees from the ‘Plants & Planet’ category includes a donation to WeForest to plant new trees.

The Portfolios category is judged and awarded annually in association with The Royal Photographic Society. Gold, Silver and Bronze RPS medals are given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively.

This year's Overall Winner, who will receive £5,000 for his achievement, is RPS Fellow Robin Williams FRPS. Paul Mitchell FRPS and David Townshend ARPS also won a category each.

 

Robin Williams FRPS 
Overall Winner of the International Garden Photographer of the Year 2020
Creation, Blue Lotus Water Gardens, Victoria, Australia
Nikon D850, Nikon 28-300mm lens, 1/500sec at f/16, ISO 800. Post-capture: use of lens correction and contrast tools, artefact removal, basic RAW image management in Adobe Lightroom.

Caption:
“I captured this macro shot of the golden reproductive parts of a Nelumbo nucifera (white lotus) flower head – which was ready for pollination; this plant can use thermoregulation – to self-heat the flowers to aid in fertilisation.

The sacred lotus is a rhizomatous aquatic perennial and is a ‘living fossil’ dating to pre-history, having been domesticated in Asia about 7,000 years ago. It is believed that its main pollinators are mostly bees, flies and beetles.”

Tyrone McGlinchey, Head Judge:
"Like the countless tiny creatures that are drawn onto its warm golden façade, we cannot help but stop, stare and absorb the sense of potential delight, as if caught outside the window of the world’s finest patisserie.

As a photograph, it helps tether us to a side of nature that only the insects will ever truly know"

This image won the Beauty of Plants as well as being the Overall Winner. Robin was also Highly Commended for another image in Trees, Woods and Forests.

 

Paul Mitchell FRPS
Winner of the Square Crop category
Ancient Inhabitant, Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom

Caption: 
"Being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Burnham Beeches is home to many ancient pollarded beech trees each one unique in character and form.

The misty morning aided me in isolating this specimen in the frame, with just enough detail in the background to give the tree a sense of placement."

 

David Townshend ARPS
Winner of The Royal Photographic Society Gold Medal: Portfolios

Hosta Patterns,
Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 100mm macro lens, 1/320sec to 1/100sec at f/14, ISO 1250. Handheld. Post-capture: combined multiple exposures together in-camera for each photo.

Caption:
"There are always images waiting to be created, even early on a wet June morning. Pots of Hosta, Heuchera and Libertia on my patio, each with their own distinctive leaf shapes, textures and colours, were transformed as rain droplets collected on them, with the gloom accentuating their colour.  

Leaning against the house for shelter, and moving my camera during the sequence of exposures, I captured their transient beauty as unique patterns that are at the same time; bold and intricate."

 

We would like to also congratulate the following RPS members for their success in the competition:

Jon Martin
Highly Commended: Abstract Views
All the Colours of the Rainbow, Norwich, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon 100mm macro lens, 3.2sec at f/13, ISO 100. Tripod, polarising filter, CD cases, adhesive tape, water spray. Post-capture: use of saturation and contrast tools, basic image management.

Caption:
“This photo was taken as part of a project I started during the first lockdown, due to the pandemic. The idea was inspired by the rainbow posters that many children produced at this time.

I picked the flowers from my own garden and put in the freezer overnight; the effect was achieved in-camera with a single exposure.”

 

Andrew Crothall LRPS
Commended: Breathing Spaces
Nant Mill Country, Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40mm lens, 4sec at f/11, ISO 200. Tripod, Lee polarising filter, Lee 0.6 soft graduated neutral density filter, cable release. Post-capture: basic image management in Adobe Lightroom.

Caption:
"Nant Mill Country Park is a sheltered valley in North Wales with a stream running through it. Within just a couple of minutes walking in the forest - any sounds of human activity, cease. 

Instead, visitors are enveloped by the gentle gurgle of the flowing water and the rustling of the leaves in the trees. In the autumn, the profusion of beech trees carpet the ground in russet-coloured leaves and add a warm glow to the scene; making it a lovely place to unwind and enjoy nature."

 

Edyta Rice
Commended: Breathing Spaces
Constablesque British Landscape II, Kennet and Avon Canal, Southern England, United Kingdom
Nikon D850, Nikon 70-200mm lens, 1/40sec at f/8, ISO 100. Tripod. Post-capture: basic image management.

Caption: 
"This landscape photograph, taken in the style of painter John Constable – depicts an idyllic, living, breathing scene from the Kennet and Avon Canal (87 miles long). It is a peaceful place frequented by families, dog walkers, joggers and of course the many barge owners.

I captured the changing colours in the early morning, the autumn light painted the most beautiful, delicate landscape."

 

Jocelyn Horsfall ARPS
Finalist: Captured at Kew
Textural Foliage, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS R, Tamron 28-300mm lens, 1/60sec at f/10, ISO 400. Tripod. Post-capture: added softening effect, removed unwanted elements, basic image management.

Caption: 
"From the outside, the windows of the glasshouses provide a rich artistic opportunity, with the condensation and marks adding texture to the foliage pressed against the glass. This is a double exposure of the Waterlily House windows showing decaying leaves both in and out of focus, against a warm backdrop of distant foliage which created a painterly, textural effect."


Dick Hawkes LRPS
Highly Commended: Captured at Kew
Autumn Colours on the Lake, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus 12-40mm lens, 1/60sec at f/5.6, ISO 250. Post-capture: basic image management.

Caption: 
"It has taken me three years to get the combination just right of; light and autumnal colours on the trees to get the effect I was looking for. The pedestrian bridge is known as The Sackler Crossing, was designed by architect John Pawson and spans 70m across the lake."

 

Dick Hawkes LRPS
Highly Commended: Captured at Kew
Evening Light on the Stone Pine Tree, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus 12-40mm lens, 1/60sec at f/6.3, ISO 200. Post-capture: basic image management.

Caption: 
"Wandering back towards Victoria Gate during a late afternoon in October, we were struck by the dramatic autumnal light on this Pinus pinea (stone pine) tree. It highlighted the features of the bark and lush green foliage, which looked appropriate to its Mediterranean origin."

 

Margaret Rainey FRPS
Commended: Captured at Kew
In the Greenhouse, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Nikon Z 50, Nikon 50-250mm lens, 1/60sec at f/8, ISO 200. Post-capture: basic image management in Adobe Lightroom, two images layered together in Adobe Photoshop.

Caption:
"I created this vibrant, abstract image by photographing through the windows of the Palm House at Kew Gardens."

 

David Jordan FRPS
Commended: Captured at Kew
Light and Texture at the Alpine House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS M6, Canon 18-150mm lens, 1/320sec at f/13, ISO 400. UV filter. Post-capture: use of crop tool, basic image management in Adobe Lightroom, converted to monochrome in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Caption:
"After a rain storm the light was quite magical, a close-up of the Davies Alpine House responded to the lighting; by converting the image into monochrome, it further emphasised the tones and texture of the subject."

 

Sarah Richard ARPS
Commended: Captured at Kew
Seedhead, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon 100mm macro lens, 1/320sec at f/3.5, ISO 100. Tripod. Post-capture: use of crop tool, basic image management in Adobe Lightroom.

Caption:
"Last summer at Kew, I captured a close-up shot of this seedhead – I was attracted by the delicate, silky texture surrounding the fluffy inner fibres; using my 100mm macro lens enabled me to properly show this detail."

 

Ashley Franklin ARPS
Highly Commended: Greening the City
Growing with Industry, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 16-35mm lens, 1/250sec at f/11, ISO 200. Post-capture: use of crop tool, basic image management.

Caption:
"Making an industrial estate look attractive is a challenge, but they're making a good endeavour of it with this garden at Brackmills Industrial Estate in the East Midlands."

 

Gigi Williams FRPS
Finalist: Plants and Planet
False Fall at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Nikon D7200, Tamron 16-300mm lens, 1/3sec at f/9, ISO 320. Tripod. Post-capture: use of crop, contrast, exposure and vibrance tools, basic image management.

Caption:
"This was our second visit to Yosemite and we were shocked to see the trees dying, caused by a combination of an extended drought and an infestation of bark beetle. Drought ravages the natural defences of these Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) trees, providing an opportunity for the bark beetle to attack. Over 2.4M trees were dead within about 131,000 acres as a result.

Once again, we could see climate change in action - speeding up natural disasters."

Gigi was also Commended for another image in Trees, Woods and Forests.

 

Sophia Spurgin LRPS
Highly Commended: The Beauty of Plants
Astrantia, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm macro lens, 1/60sec at f/4, ISO 500. Tripod, Manfrotto Lumimuse LED light, cable release. Post-capture: mirrored petals, basic image management in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Caption:
"A symmetrical photo of a single Astrantia flower from my garden taken as a macro shot. I brought the bloom inside to avoid problems of wind movement and pressed the closest petals down, so the beautiful inside structure could be seen."

 

Sophia Spurgin 
Commended: The Beauty of Plants
White Anemone, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm macro lens, 1/15sec at f/4, ISO 100. Tripod, focusing rail, Manfrotto Lumimuse LED light, cable release. Post-capture: focus stacked several images together in Adobe Photoshop, basic image management in Adobe Lightroom.

Caption:
"I love Anemone flowers of all types; I particularly loved the bluish stamens on this one. To show them at their best, I decided to take several photos at a fairly shallow depth of field and focus stack them, to reveal all their inner detail.

To take several photos from the same point of view, I had to bring the flower inside so that it did not move in the wind. I lit the flower from one side, to give some shape to the otherwise plain white petals."

 

Qasim Syed ARPS 
Commended: Macro Art
Silver-studded Blues on Heather, London, England, United Kingdom
Canon 7dii, 100mm f2.8L macro lens, exposure 1/250 sec, f4.0 , iso 250, 8 handheld images which were then stacked in Photoshop and basic image processing in Lightroom.

Caption:
"I photographed female and male Plebejus argus (silver-studded blue) butterflies at rest on heather flowers. They are one of my favourite butterfly species due to the amazing and intricate wing patterns with the individual colours to complement each sex.

I used focus stacking to blur out the heavy background and bring out the detail of the subjects."

 

To learn more about the competition visit: https://igpoty.com

The competition will be featured in the next issue of our award-winning Journal. Join the RPS to subscribe to the magazine.

 

The copyright on all images belongs to the photographer.