The Maurice Biglin Wildflower competition is an annual competition at Wakefield Camera Club. This is an applied subject with a trophy at stake. So how did I get on?
Maurice Biglin was a former member of Wakefield Camera Club with a passion for photographing wildflowers. The competition was created in his name and has been running for many years since. In applied competition, the idea is to provide factual representation of the subject in its natural environment. Images submitted should be a true depiction of what you would expect to see in real life. This means that colour should be accurate, details should be sharp and identifiable with minimal distraction. Judges are looking for accurate record of the subject over pictorial quality so choose your angles and crop wisely!
Usually, the rules of the Maurice Biglin competition stipulate that entries must be of wildflowers in their natural environment but this year rules were relaxed due to the COVID-19 lockdown. This meant that photos of any flower were admissible, including garden flowers.
Erica Oram was the judge and she provided excellent feedback on all the images submitted. About 60 images were judged in total as each member could submit 3 entries. Here are my entries with rationale behind the shot and feedback received from the judge.
I have these growing in the garden and it's a great flower to photograph. Their naturally vibrant colours and large robust petals result in a pleasing image. I find that taking the shot directly head on to the flower makes it easier to keep all of the petals in focus even when using a shallow depth of field to isolate it from the background. Having said that, I found that with a single shot it was impossible to get all of the petals and the centre of the flower sharp, so I broke out my secret weapon - focus stacking. With the Z6 I was able to use the in-camera focus shift mode, which takes several shots focussed in front and behind the central focus area. When combined in Photoshop, it's possible to produce a single image where everything front to back is sharp. I'd just watered the garden and this left water drops on the petals, which I felt added some more interest to the photo. Overall I was really pleased with the result of this one.
What the judge said: It's a slightly pictorial way of photographing the bloom, head on and with the water droplets and none of the stem showing. But it's done so well that I couldn't not hold this back to the final set. It's got some beautiful detail in it, particularly in the centre of the bloom, the whole bloom really is sharp. There isn't so much water on it for it to cause a major distraction. You can still really see the textures on the petals and there's just enough light coming in from the side to give it that texture without it burning out. It has a nice diffuse background. It doesn't necessarily tick all of the boxes for the nature section, mainly because it's missing a stem, but there's loads of information there and it is very well done.
Again, taken in the garden, but this was a very difficult subject to photograph. The flowers are so small that you almost need a macro lens to shoot them. Using a very shallow depth of field and using peaking in the camera I was able to get the main flowers in focus with a very steep drop-off to the outer petals and stem. I felt this made for a pleasing image, which still let the main details come through and the diagonal composition finished it off nicely.
Forget Me Not
What the judge said: This one has some very nice soft colours to it. It really benefitted from having flat, soft lighting that just allow the true nature of the flower to register. I also again like that diagonal composition, coming in at an angle giving it a slightly pictorial element and the flowers are at a good spot on the top third. And I think that extra stem at the bottom provides that little bit extra information about the plants. I'm very happy about that bottom stem, it's doing a job. The background is nicely diffuse. There are some dark splodges but nothing too distracting so I'm going to keep this one back for the final set.
This was taken in very bright light so controlling the whites was very difficult. I felt that it had plenty of detail and stood out from the background. I chose a square crop and central composition, which involved cropping out several other flower bunches that were in the original capture. I just felt this reduced the clutter in the image and that the additional components didn't add anything. This was definitely the weaker of the three images, but you never know what the judge might think...
What the judge said: You've got some quite good sharness to the bloom and mostly managed to hold the whites quite well. Considering they are white, they're quite hard to photograph but the lighting is a little bit too strong and you've got too much contrast. The little highlights of the whites are burnt out and you've got quite a lot of contrast in the background as well, which is a little bit distracting.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with the second and third place although a little disappointed to miss out on that trophy! I felt the standard of images in the competition was excellent and well done to Sally for her winning image. The judge gave some excellent feedback for all of the images and I certainly will be taking everything she said on board hoping to improve next year! You can see the winning images on the Wakefield Camera Club website and judge for yourself.