I’m very pleased indeed to be able to confirm that I had an image receive a ‘Highly Commended’ in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards for the second time, in the Small World category.
When I found out about the shot that had made it through, a globular springtail on some icy snow, I reflected on the images that I’ve been fortunate to have some limited success with and what they had in common. My previous BWPA success two years ago was of an ichneumon wasp on the moth-trap in the garden.
The two images that made the inaugural OPOTY portfolio in the same year were also images from my garden, a woodlouse and a Holly Blue butterfly. Given the range of locations that I take photos at, in around Surrey and Hampshire, it was a real surprise to realize that my most successful shots were from my own extremely tiny back garden, and I wondered why that might be?
None of the subjects are exotic or uncommon, far from it in fact in some cases. A large chunk of that is down to the hard work put into making our garden into a good habitat for as wide a range of invert life as possible, and I can take no credit for that at all! My wife is the green-fingered one, and the pond that reflected the woodlouse was very much her idea and execution too.
Also related, there’s nothing quite like familiarity with a site to open up the possibilities for photography, and your own garden is often where you can spend the most time, and are at your most relaxed. Nothing beats sitting in the midst of your plants and waiting for life to arrive or reveal itself, some of the most interesting finds arrive that way. And if not there is always another spot, if you were in the sun and nothing showed itself on this occasion, a shady spot may provide the inspiration. If nothing else, a relaxing few moments just enjoying the plants and flowers can inspire other shots, the shapes and forms in leafs and petals can make for intriguing macro shots.
My shots in the garden are by no means limited to the summer either, the globby pic was taken in the middle of winter, and there is always a log, stone or leaf to be picked up and examined for micro wildlife, there is always plenty of interesting subjects and the beauty of your own plot is that you soon learn where to look first, so while the trips to the garden are definitely shorter and damper in the ‘off-season’ they can be massively productive and rewarding
Here's a few more of my favourite finds in our compact garden, what can you spot in yours?