Comment: Two experts, two views and one outstanding image

National Trust wildlife expert Matthew Oates and award winning landscape photographer Charlie Waite express their views on the ‘Your Space’ photography competition winning image ‘Dont bee choosy‘ by Laura Elliot.

An image of a bee hovering near a foxglove

Dont bee choosy, by Laura Elliot

The photographer’s view

“There was a remarkable collection of photographs submitted to our ‘Your Space’ photography competition and despite the widespread availability of reasonably priced and yet sophisticated cameras, the winning image made with a smart phone ‘stole the show’. The execution of a photograph is unquestionably dependent on what the photographer has seen and felt and then subsequently feels the compulsion to in a sense ‘own’ that moment for themselves.

The smart phone may offer the quickest means to achieve an image which is truly fleeting. The lens in the smart phone has a very small aperture delivering a deep depth of field which in turn allows both the foreground foxglove and the bee (with it’s  delightful delicate little legs ) to be in focus. The foreground foxglove plays an important role in the image as it suggests to us that the bee will inevitably be visiting this one next.

The composition was excellent allowing the bee’s rapidly beating wings to be legible due to them being pronounced against the dark tree trunk beyond. If the bee had been an inch to left or right, the bee would have been ‘wingless’ which would have hugely diminished the photograph. The backlighting conveys the wonderful sheen of the foxglove petals along with a lovely translucence to the leaves.

The photograph that awakens much in the viewer and most especially draws a smile is much deserving of  being chosen as the winning image. Long live the bee and the foxglove; so precious to Britain’s countryside.”

Charlie Waite

The naturalist’s view

“This image is so quintessentially midsummer! The picture tells of the long hours that bees work, and of the end of a perfect summer day. This is the common Garden Bumblebee Bombus hortorum. You can almost hear it humming, as well as sensing the setting sun through the quivering wings. The bee must have been hovering through a shaft of sunlight, for the sun’s rays to be reflected – or rather refracted – so well. Even then, the wings would be invisible were it not for the dark of the tree trunk in the background.

We see two profiles of the Foxglove flowers. The horizontal profile shows flower size in relation to the size of the bee, perfectly. The white guide hairs, which tempt the bee up towards the hidden pollinia, are prominent in this profile. There is also the single flower mouth-on, showing the secret tunnelled world into which the bee will enter, though the pollinia which hold the pollen are, perhaps rightly, hidden.

The light green of the Foxglove’s leafy bracts tell of spring, the flowers and stem of high summer, and the distant almost-foreboding tree hints of late summer and the fullness of September. Between the Foxglove and the tree is much stippled but indistinct foliage, which speaks of the timelessness of summer. Overall, any naturalist, any lover of nature would be proud of this image, and of the experience it portrays.”

 Matthew Oates

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