Nature Competition Winner: Up Close

With such an open title, the Nature round of our Instagram competition provided us with a huge number of images from every corner of Europe. From majestic misty woodlands, to simple studio studies of flowers, the variety of imagery showed just how much there is to photograph and appreciate wherever you are from.

As usual we were looking for an image that had the right balance of technical proficiency, good composition and something that showed of the intricacy of nature.

The winning image was taken by Spanish photographer Pedro Ajuriaguerra Saiz of a juvenile damselfly.

‘I am fortunate to have a stream running through my property. In the Spring, this starts to attract large numbers of insects, including many damselflies, like the one I photographed’ Pedro told us. With incredible access and knowledge of the environment Pedro has been able to take many incredible macro insect images, but there is a lot of work involved.

close up of an insects eyes against an orange background

© Pedro Ajuriaguerra Saiz | Sony α7R IV

‘The image was taken in July of this year, on a fairly cold morning. The shot was taken in a slightly shady area. The damselflies can sit still for hours to warm themselves in the sun, particularly when they have first shed their larvae skeleton. This gives me time to prepare a kind of ‘portable studio’ using light panels and reflectors. For this image I then created a focus stack of 30 images at different focus points. This is all done with the Sony Alpha 7R IV, a 35mm focal length and a set of electronic focus rails.’

Like Sony Ambassador Petar Sabol, who Pedro speaks of as an influence, Pedro places a lot of attention on to the background. ‘I grow many plants throughout the garden, especially by the river, and the damselfly like to perch there. When shooting at these magnifications, even a simple, tiny petal can achieve these wonderful rich colours, which I accentuate when editing.’

A spokesperson from Sony said “Nature is all around us, which is why we loved seeing how our wonderful competition participants took the theme and made it their own. We saw everything from stunning landscape shots, to macro photography of the world’s insects. We wanted to reward a variety of styles and inspirations, which is why we loved our top three from the moody and mysterious mushrooms to the incredible detail of a damselfly. Each competition we see more talented pictures than the last, and can’t wait to see what the next one has in store.”

As his prize Pedro has chosen the Sony Alpha 6600 + E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit. ‘I don’t just consider myself a macro photographer; I shoot a huge variety of different things. The A6600 will be a great camera for travel and street photography due to its versatility, quality, size and weight.’

You can see more of Pedro’s images on Instagram @pedro_ajuriaguerra. Make sure you also follow for more competitions, inspiring images and advice.

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Runners Up

Gerard Cosijns took second place with this wonderful shot and wins a Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS lens.

two birds landing on a branch

© Gerard Cosijns | Sony α7 III| 1/2500s @ f/4.0, ISO 5000

And finally, Dirk Beckmann took third place, winning a Sony RX100 V with this moody shot of some early morning mushrooms.

group of mushrooms pictured in soft lighting

© Dirk Beckmann | Sony α7 III + FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS | 1.3s @ f/14, ISO 50

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