Because I announced the winners via the Photography Forum last week, we actually are able to include a little behind the scenes type information on the images, as Landon and Marcus, two of the winners, shared their back-stories in the follow up thread on the forum. I’ll put a link to that thread in the show-notes, in case you’re interested in reading for yourself.
So, let’s take a look at the winning images, as usual, in reverse order, starting with Marcus Bain’s wonderful image m13892 (below), which is titled “Oil vs Water”. I’ll go into what I think of the shot shortly, but first, here’s that back-story, which I’m going to paraphrase from Marcus’ follow up forum post.
We heard that Marcus used a Lensbaby 3G with F5.6 aperture ring and the Lensbaby Macro Kit +4 filter and +10 filter combined. The camera is a Canon EOS 350D. Marcus got a small glass fish bowl for 100yen, which is about a dollar, gave it a good clean, and poured in a little water and placed it on some white card in the bright midday sun. Then with an eyedropper Marcus squeezed out a single drop of some cheap black oil based ink, which hit the surface of the water and spread out rapidly into the pattern we see in the image. Marcus shot this at various angles, hand-held and found that he liked this angle the most.
Thanks for the back-story Marcus, and I have to say that I totally love the resulting image. I applaud your pre-visualization and planning for this shot too. The effect is absolutely stunning. I’m so glad that you provided this background information too, as I’d have been floundering all over the place trying to figure out and explain how I though you did this. I’d probably have been able to say no more than “help!” The Lensbaby effect has added so much to this image, but the pattern that the ink has made, and the sharp detail is simply amazing. It’s out of this world! Congratulations on such a great shot, and on third place for the August assignment.
Next up we have Helen H, with image m14027 (right), which is titled “Size matters”. Helen also left a back-story, from which we understand that this is Helen’s partner’s Porsche Boxter and pride and joy, along with a 1/18 scale model in the same colour. When Helen saw the Juxtaposition theme they struck her as being an ideal subject – small and large versions of the same thing. This is great forethought Helen. Well done for thinking of the connection! Helen kneeled on her driveway and shot this using a Sigma 10-20mm lens on a beanbag. With the contrast between the dark cars and the brightness in the sky Helen foresaw that a single frame wasn’t going to work so took 5 shots from -2 to +2 EV and then combined them in Photomatix Pro. This was Helen’s first real attempt at HDR, so that makes it even more impressive. The angle that Helen has shot this at adds a lot to the image in my opinion. The image is probably tilted around 15 degrees clockwise, so both cars are also tilted at an angle, but that works very well here. We can see a little evidence of cloud movement, remnants of the HDR process, where the clouds have shifted between shots, but this isn’t overly distracting, and actually might even give us a hint of the process in the image. The clouds are nice and bright, floating in that lovely blue sky too, so all in all I think this image works incredibly well. Congratulations to Helen on second place with this classic shot, and thanks for the background information.
And talking of classic images, Landon Michaelson, or bksecret in the forums, has done it again with a totally beautiful shot of a father and baby, which is image m13984, called “Both Hands Full” (below). Landon also provided the back-story for his shoot, including a photograph of the client’s room with all of his gear set up ready for the shoot.
Landon tells us that he had nothing to do with the pose. The baby girl was hungry between takes and the dad really did not know what else to do, so Landon was presented with this great shot on a plate. Of course, it is still necessary to recognize that and pick up the camera to make the image. We heard that Landon used two 60″ shoot-through umbrellas, with back-spill control added, by using the black covers from the convertible umbrellas on the back of the umbrellas behind the lights. He used two AlienBees triggered by Pocket Wizards and the background is AutoPoles, cross bar and black fabric with a mottled gray “Fantasy Cloth” draped over double on the black.
For this shot the main light was positioned about 3′ from the subject on camera right and the back light was positioned about 6 feet away to camera left behind the subject. This gave Landon good separation light and soft wrapping light at the same time. The background was illuminated by the light as it washed across it. The last thing he did was rotate the camera to reframe the unfolding event and fill the frame as we see in the photograph. Landon also points out that he rotated the lens, which we can see by looking at the angle of the milk in the bottle. The black and white conversion was done with Silver Efex Pro and selective sharpening was used to bring out the texture in the dad’s skin, but not in the daughters.
Well, it really did turn out to be the sort of masterful shot that we have learned to expect from Landon. Everything just works! The rotation of the camera resulted in a great composition, and the line of site between the dad and the daughter is very apparent, despite us hardly being able to see the subject’s eyes at all. The lighting is wonderful, and the tonal qualities are simply superb. Congratulations on both the capture, and taking first place with this unforgettable image Landon.
So, we’ve got just a ten days or so left for the September assignment which is on Mirror Image. Please do take the time to read the guidelines in the forum before selecting your image. There have been a number of people that have posted multiple images recently, when we actually only allow one entry per person. I can catch this sometimes, but others it’s difficult, so we really need you to take care of this. The images should also be taken during the month of the assignment, so you can’t go rifling through your old image library and drag out something that you already have, but that happens to match the assignment theme.
This assignment marks the half way mark for the six month group of assignments sponsored by WebSpy. We can also now see that Dan, the winner of the first two assignments and Landon, are now pretty close in the running for first place. I’ll put a link to the scores page in the show-notes in case you want to take a look. There’s still time of course for someone to knock Dan or Landon off the top spot, so do try to get out there and join in the fun, shooting for the future assignments, and you never know — you could be in the running for one of the great prizes that our sponsor Web spy has allowed us to make available to the three people with the most votes accumulated at the end of the November assignment. You don’t necessarily have to win to get placed high in the accumulated scores for the grand prizes. If you produce an image each month that captures the imagination of a lot of your peers, you can still steadily amass votes, so please do get involved. It’s not just about the prizes of course, because just taking part will almost certainly make you a better photographer, so in the end, everyone’s a winner.
To quickly recap on the actual prizes we’re offering though, the third place winner will receive every issue of LensWork Extended up until December this year. That’s 29 issues of LensWork extended, which is an incredible prize. Thank very much to the kind folks at LensWork for arranging such a great prize for us. The second place winner will receive a Lensbaby Composer. Again, this is just amazing, and will open many creative doors for the winner. Then the first place winner will receive an incredible Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Lens! If the winner already has this lens or simply does not want it, though I can’t imagine why not, you can exchange it for a $500 B&H gift voucher.
“The Demise of a Canon EOS 5D Mark II” blog post: https://martinbaileyphotography.com/2009/09/22/the-demise-of-a-canon-eos-5d-mark-ii/
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The back story for each photo really worked well here. As mentioned in the forums, having this as a recurring idea from each of the top three places in each assignment is a great idea, and could really help out each followup podcast like this too.
Thanks for all you do Martin and thanks to WebSpy for sponsoring the podcast!
I agree Landon. I’m definitely going to solicit these back-stories in future too. Thanks for kicking this off!
Thanks for all of your help too Landon. Without you around here things would be a lot more tougher to handle. 🙂