Getting Gold By Karen Brammer of Daisy Dog Photos

Last month I wrote about my 12 month journey of winning awards and the success I had winning a number of Bronze Bars and finally my Silver bar. At the end of my previous blog, I wrote "My next goal from here is to increase my number of Silvers, gain my Qualification status with the Guild and most of all keep learning and enjoying the skill and art of photography." I have well and truly set about achieving those goals.

Image of the Month Competition:

October 31st 2017 for many people is Halloween. However if you are a member of the Guild of Photographers, it is the last day of the year, that you can submit your images for the monthly competition, Image of the Month or IOM as it is known. Standards this year have been at an all time high and it has been a gruelling and challenging time for most of the Guild members that have competed throughout the year. I have seen a great deal of success over the past few months as I wrote about in my previous blog, however for me something very, very unexpected happened on the 21st of October when the September results were announced.

During September and October I am restricted as to where I am able to get out and about due to my severe wasp and bee allergy and had to limit my time outside to prevent getting stung. This didn't give me a lot of opportunity to take photos.

I had bought a new Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L series macro lens earlier in the year from WexPhotoVideo. I took the opportunity to take photos with it in my back garden. I was intrigued with the number and variety of spiders that visited the garden, pleased to see the odd butterfly meandering its way through the various blooms and the beautiful bees busy pollinating our flowers.

I was practising a technique called focus stacking in the garden, with my camera tethered to my Apple Macbook Pro, so that I had a larger viewing platform. I used a tethering cable that I bought from Tether Tools. I was taking incremental images of a flower at different stages of focussing with the end result being that I put all the images together to achieve a fully focused image with no blurred areas. I was busy concentrating on this when I heard for me, a dreaded buzzing noise. Immediately my attention was diverted away from what I was dong and now all my senses were heightened on establishing what and where the buzzing noise was coming from. I then saw this beautiful bee busy collecting pollen from a variety of flowers in my garden before finally settling on an a Rudbeckia flower. This is a tall, yellow petalled flower with a dark centre.

Annoyingly the bee had its back to me. I took my camera off my tripod, disconnected it from my Macbook, changed the settings, I had already a ring flash attached which I left on. It was an inexpensive ring flash that I bought via Amazon but it works really well and comes with a range of adapter rings allowing it to be used with a multitude of different lenses. With the ring flash still attached, I took a couple of shots of this bee. Then briefly the bee turned and faced towards me, I quickly fired off about four shots before the bee flew off and out of sight.

I quickly checked my photos hoping that my images I had captured were what I had wanted and there it was, the near perfect shot of the bee in all its glory. Perfectly lit, sharp with a great DOF, perfect detail and from a composition perspective, captured perfectly with plenty of story telling.

I had shot in RAW, however the image needed very little editing or post production. I cloned a small green leaf out of the background using the existing background colour and altered the crop, other than that no other changes were needed. I did this using Adobe Photoshop CC. I shot the photo using a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM with the following manual settings, ISO 100, 1/100 at f/8.0 with a Ring Flash attached.

The irony for me is that I am highly allergic to wasp and bee venom, and have in the past had life threatening allergic reactions known as Anaphylactic shock as a result of being stung and have ended up fighting for my life on more than one occasion.

I entered this image along with two cycling images in to September's IOM 2017. I was very nervous awaiting the results day, 21st October 2017. I think a chocolate reward calendar should be incorporated somehow into the countdown for IOM by the Guild of Photographers, as those days waiting for the 21st to come around can become excruciatingly painful and nerve racking.

The 21st arrived..... I tentatively checked my online results at 1pm as many other Guild members did at the same time. Well, speechless didn't come close, hyperventilating was the nearest way to describe my reaction. I had gained 2 Bronze bars for my cycling images.

Two Bronze Bars for IOM September 2017, photos and digital artwork by (C) Karen Brammer of Daisy Dog Photos 2017

I then had to triple check as it appeared that there had been some mistake as I had been awarded a Gold Bar for my Bee image. After checking several times and then getting my partner to check also it finally sunk in, I had got a rare, Gold Bar. Elated, ecstatic, humbled, proud, and completely shocked I had got my Gold bar and for the Bee image.

My Gold Bar award winning image. (C) All rights reserved Karen Brammer 2017

To win a Gold bar for this particular image transformed my last encounter with a wasp when I almost died four years ago after being stung in the chest. I never ever expected to get a Gold bar, I would have been thrilled with a Bronze but getting the Gold has been incredible. I am absolutely delighted to have achieved this and be up amongst many other photographers that I have admired and aspired to. Only 3 Golds were awarded that month and mine was one of them and that made it even more special.

I finished my year of completing my first ever full year of taking part in Image of the Month (IOM) with 19 Bronze bars, 1 Silver Bar and 1 Gold Bar. I couldn't have been happier.

I have now reached the final 12 images out of 13,000 images for the International Competition of Image of the Year (IOTY) with my Gold winning image of my bee. The results will be announced in February 2018 at the Guild's Annual Awards Evening hosted at Crewe Hall in Crewe.

Recent article about my successful year, winning Gold and making the Final 12 for the International Final for Image of the Year

To finish off my goals I set, I also passed my Qualification panel in October 2017 and now proudly have gained the QGPP with the Guild of Professional Photographers, it has been quite a month!

Many thanks for reading my blog


Created By
Karen Brammer


(C) All rights reserved Karen Brammer of Daisy Dog Photos, @DaisyDogPhotos,  www.daisydogphotos.co.uk 

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