This year’s annual MKNHS Photo Competition took place in January 2023, with the results decided by popular vote at the Members meeting on 24th January, in the Cruck Barn, New Bradwell.
There were five categories; Birds; Plants & Fungi; Insects; Other Animals; Astronomy, Landscapes, Minerals etc. After selection of the best two photos in each category, the overall winners were chosen by members from among these 10 photos across all categories. As usual, the standard was very high. Congratulations to Justin Long and Paul Lund, for their exceptional photos.
The 3 winning entries are shown below.
1st prize and winner of the Shield: The Porcelain Mushroom – Justin Long
2nd prize: The Fluted Bird’s Nest – Justin Long
3rd prize: Garden Bumblebee – Paul Lund
1. The Porcelain Mushroom – Oudemansiella mucida – Justin Long
I found this growing in good numbers on what has now become my favourite log – a large fallen beech tree, not far from The Boundary Oak near Woburn golf course, which had presumably succumbed to the Ganoderma applanatum that is still growing on the broken stump.
The porcelain fungus, one of many that are inhabiting, and slowly decaying the log, has a wonderful translucent appearance when the light shines through the cap. I had to get down low to get this shot, but the dappled light coming through the leaves above adds a lovely soft quality to the background.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what specimens my favourite log has in store for me in the years to come.
2. The Fluted Bird’s Nest – Cyathus striatus – Justin Long
I hadn’t seen this species for about 15 or 20 years, and then happened across it twice on the same day! This one was found next to a little sandy path below the church at Bow Brickhill – where I found it the first and only other time.
I spent way too long setting up to photograph this – using my Canon 80D, 100mm macro lens, a couple of extension tubes to get really close (these little cups were only about 10mm across), and the iPhone torch for a little extra light.
The final image is a focus stack of 8 separate images, each with the focal point slightly further into the image. This technique is necessary when shooting really close-up subjects, as the depth of field (the amount of the image which is in focus) is very shallow.
Who knows when I’ll see this again – hopefully I won’t have to wait another 20 years!
3. Garden Bumblebee – Bombus hortorum – Paul Lund
This Bumblebee was photographed in my front garden in Bancroft. I used a Nikon camera with a 60mm macro lens and three SB-R200 flashes. The flashes clip onto an attachment which fits on the front of the lens. I positioned one flash top left and the other two, with diffusers, to the top and the right. All the flashes were set to a low power, giving a very short, action stopping exposure. I was not looking through the viewfinder as it’s almost impossible to frame and focus a fast moving insect. I was watching the bee and pointing the camera in the right direction and the right distance before pressing the shutter button. With the flashes on low power you can take a few rapid shots before they need a rest to recharge. Most of the photos are out of focus or poorly framed but eventually, you get a good one.