I’m delighted to have won a Finalist Award, in the Beautiful Gardens category of the International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition 9.
The award-winning photo was taken in the Italian Garden at Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire, last October.
I wanted to photograph early in the morning and was allowed access to the gardens at dawn, to allow me to capture images in the best possible light. I shot into the autumn sun if possible, to capture the vibrantly illuminated grasses and the silhouettes of seedheads, particularly of plants such as Phlomis russeliana.
My aim was to illustrate how a garden, such as Trentham, which is brilliantly colourful in summer, has as much to offer in the autumn – particularly in shape and form and the play of the low, warm light on foliage. I was photographing the borders when I noticed a hot air balloon rising from beyond the trees to the left of the picture. I felt that the balloon, hovering in the mists over the nearby lake, not only added interest to the sky but also a sense of narrative to the image.
For this shot I set up the camera and tripod, so the path between the borders and grasses was on the right third of the image. Compositionally, I then waited until the balloon drifted across the sky, and I took the photo when all the lines in the image led the eye towards it.
Technical details for this photo are:
Camera: Canon EOS 5D mk II
Lens: EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM
Exposure: 1/40th sec @ F/14 100 ISO
Additional equipment: Lee ND 0.9 Soft Grad 100x150mm filter; Manfrotto 055 carbon fibre 3-section tripod and 468MG RC4 tripod head
Processing: In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC I used a graduated filter on sky to reduce highlights slightly and restore the blue tones. I then cropped the image into a panoramic format, removing excess path and lawn, which added nothing to the picture.