Podcast 342 : Side Light – May 2012 Assignment Winners

Podcast 342 : Side Light – May 2012 Assignment Winners

Today we take a look at the five winning images from the May 2012 MBP Assignment, on the theme of “Side Light”.

Before we get started though, I wanted to quickly let you know that I am going to be doing a Webinar with Photoshelter and X-Rite on Successful Color Management & Printing. The Webinar is going to be held live on July 9, at 4pm PDT, 7pm EDT and 11pm GMT. I don’t have a link just yet, but if you get Photoshelter or X-Rite newsletters you’ll receive details automatically. Otherwise, keep an eye on the Forum or my Google Plus profile for more details. I hope to see you there!

For now though, let’s take a look at the five images that received the most votes last month and to start with in fifth place, we have Elise Ange with “The Tulips”, and here’s Elise’s back-story…

Congratulations to Jakuli for the win (an exceptional image) and to the others who placed! Thanks to all who voted for my entry. My backstory for “The Tulips” is rather short. I was out walking on my Spring flower project. Even though it was quite early, the sun was already starting to create glare in the garden. I was just about ready to leave and noticed how the sunlight was now shining from the side onto a patch of white tulips.

The Tulips by Elise Ange

The Tulips by Elise Ange

The tulips were quite bright and didn’t have much detail so I decided to try multiple exposures for an HDR. Flowers are hard for the technique since they move on any slight change in the air. Only minor tweaks and cropping in Photoshop were needed after the exposures were combined. Thanks again to Martin for another challenging topic.

You’re welcome Elise, and a nice shot here. Very subtle use of HDR too. The tulips themselves look a little tired so I probably wouldn’t have picked these myself to photograph, but you did a good job with what you had. Thanks very much for getting involved!

In forth place we have Drew with “The Devil’s Drink”, and here’s Drew’s back-story…

First of all congrats to the winners of this month’s assignment. I really enjoyed many of the images and really enjoyed testing my creativity this month.

Although it is difficult to see in my image, the whiskey in the decanter is a beautiful warm amber color. I tried my best to give a warm feeling to this image as the spicy sweet flavor of the whiskey warms with every sip I take.

The Devil's Drink by Drew

The Devil’s Drink by Drew

I used a desk lamp with a very yellow bulb as the side light, and applied it at a downward angle to avoid getting too much light into the frame. I also wanted to avoid making the image too sharp for this type of subject, something about a soft glow appealed to me here. Edited slightly in Photoshop CS5 to enhance the overall color and warmth, and add a very sight Gaussian blur.

Very nice work Drew! The warmth certainly comes across. I feel as though I kind of wanted a little more space to the left of the decanter, but that would have been more orthodox, and probably not what you wanted. I certainly feel a certain tension without the space, which I imagine is what you were aiming for.

Masterful use of the Gaussian blur too. The softness certainly enhances the image, and that golden light works wonderfully. I almost want to reach out, pick up the glass and take a sip myself. Well done indeed.

And in third place is Omar Gonzalez with “La Madonna”, and here is Omar’s back-story…

Yeah! Thanks for the votes on my Madonna portrait. The backstory goes something like this:
This image was a complete happy accident. I was shooting a baby portrait session for my wife’s friend. I was ready for the perfect shot using only speedlights. The plan was to use my 60″ umbrella as the main light and a reflector for fill. Well…after setting everything up (and Mom and baby patiently waiting), I realized I didn’t have the radio trigger to fire the flash.

La Madonna by Omar Gonzalez

La Madonna by Omar Gonzalez

With no backup whatsoever ( I know…I know…), I ditched the umbrella and moved the background, Mom and baby over to a tiny window. I set the camera up on a tripod and had to bump my ISO to 1600, but with the 5DMII it was not too stressful. I told Mom to touch her lips to the baby’s head and close her eyes and got the shot. In post I darkened the background and added my own black and white flavor.

The funny thing is…..turns out the flash trigger was hiding at the bottom of my bag. I guess it knew something I didn’t. There are no accidents.

What a wonderful back-story for a wonderful shot Omar. You always enter great images and your back-stories show ingenuity and sometimes humility, but always masterful in the way you arrive at your end result.

I love the mood of this shot, and I’m sure you’re right, there are no accidents. This shot would have been very different had you found your trigger. Great stuff! Congratulations on placing.

In second place we have Jack Andrys with “Golden Rays”, and here’s Jack’s back-story…

Congratulations to all that entered in the assignment and especially this month’s very deserving winner Jakuli and my fellow runners up. I am very pleased to have placed for a third time this year and it is personally very encouraging as the place is the result of votes by peers who are so worthy of judging the images.

The image again for me was taken on the last day of the assignment and I have to give my wife Julia credit for spotting it first. I always discuss the monthly assignment with Julia and that way it helps with her understanding of my need to shoot a particular scene by a particular time. So with her knowledge of the Side Lighting assignment she spotted the opportunity first as we had just sat down to dinner. Looking out the window she spotted the water from the sprinklers being hit by the golden rays of the setting sun as filtered by the backyard fence. As she turned to say “Side Lighting” I was already up from my seat and heading for my camera and out the back door taking the shot within seconds.

Golden Rays by Jack Andrys

Golden Rays by Jack Andrys

I wanted to show the light and its temperature; the water droplets tracking on their trajectories and crisscrossing each other produced a great canvas and the backyard fence produced the pattern which helps to picture the rays. The golden hour and the light temperature were perfect to help with the mood of the image.

I hand held the shot and dragged the shutter allowing the droplets to paint more light across the frame, and I slightly cropped the image in Lightroom and made adjustments to help enhance color.

Finally I went ahead and shot the assignment as I had planned with a totally different setup using one of my sons as a model and a large low output globe for the lighting. I then rejected all those shots in favor of the Golden Rays shot and there you have it, thanks again.

Great lines and mood here Jack! I’m pleased Julia saw this and you were quick to capture it. The trajectory of the water droplets is nice and the texture of the grass in the background almost palpable. I can almost feel the warmth of the light too. I’m wondering if it might be helped by an even tighter crop losing another 10 or 15% of the top of the frame, but still, a great image. Congratulations on second place!

I’d also like to extend very hearty Happy Birthday to you Jack, as I believe that’s today. Have a great one!

And finally, in first place is Jaakko Paarvala with “Ball Possession”, and here’s Jaakko’s back-story…

First I’m going to use the opportunity to thank Martin for his great work with the podcast and forums. I’ve been subscribing the podcast for about 2 years now, but have not been active on the forum or participated the assignments until beginning of 2012. The podcast has been a huge part in going forward with my photography. Not only have I learned about the technical side but also about the attitude of being a photographer. The sincerity and tranquility with your pictures as well as the aim for the highest image quality have inspired me so much.

Ball Possession by Jaakko Paarvala

Ball Possession by Jaakko Paarvala

It’s funny sometimes how opportunity presents itself if you just keep your eyes open and the camera nearby. My usual bicycle route to work goes alongside of a football practicing field and I noticed couple of times how the sunlight hits the field in a particularly nice way in the spring.

Usually the field is empty, but this time there was a team doing their drills. I figured I’d have about 20 minutes before I would really start rushing to work. I shot some frames with the goalkeeper catching some penalty kicks and some guys doing headers. Those shots weren’t too great so I concentrated on the part where the light would turn to shadow. I framed the shot and then it was just waiting for someone to appear and fill the frame.

I was lucky to have this guy to stop in the edge of the frame making some teasing comments to his fellow players. Post-processing was really simple in my book, no cropping, just converting to BW with Silver Efex 2 and some brushing in Lightroom 4. That artificial turf they have doesn’t look so pleasing in colour, but it adds a nice touch in BW with it’s odd contrast.

Thanks so much for the kind words at the start of your back-story there Jaakko! You’re very welcome, and thank you for listening and for getting involved in the assignments.

Thanks for the detailed back-story too. I didn’t realize at first that this was artificial turf. It just looks like a very well kept pitch in black and white. Your patience was certainly rewarded with the position of the goaly and angle of head, with him looking out of frame adding tension. The shadow extending out behind him into the frame balances this out nicely too of course. The negative space at the top right is perfect, and all round just a very, very good shot. Congratulations on a very deserved first place Jaakko!

Thank all five winners again for taking the time to get involved, and to post your back-stories to share with us all. Thanks also to everyone that got involved in the assignment of course, and whether you placed or not, I do hope you learned something by giving this a try.

The theme for June was “Interaction” and the voting system is currently turned until July 7, 2012, just five days left to vote now, but if you are listening to this soon after release, do drop by the mbpgalleries.com Web site and cast your votes for your favorite five images.

The July assignment, using yet another suggestion from our friend Morton Goldberg, is “Geometry”. I’m thinking that we’ll look for geometric shapes and lines to shoot in an interesting or fun way for this month’s assignment, so let’s see what we can come up with.


Show Notes

Music by UniqueTracks


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Podcast 333 : Food – Mar 2012 Assignment Winners

Podcast 333 : Food – Mar 2012 Assignment Winners

Today we take a look at the five winning images from the March 2012 MBP Assignment, on the theme of “Food”. Turnout for this assignment wasn’t great, which I guess proves what we already knew, that food photography isn’t as easy as you might think! Thanks to all of you that did get involved and uploaded your images, and even if you didn’t upload an image, I hope you learned something in the process.

So, let’s jump right in and take a look at the incredible winning images for the Food Assignment, and in fifth place, is Morton Goldberg with More Cookie Than Monster, and here’s Morton’s back-story.

More Cookie Than Monster © Morton Goldberg

More Cookie Than Monster © Morton Goldberg

March was a busy month and when the 31st came, I had not even made a start on the month’s assignment. If I was going to participate, I would have to do something simple — there was too little time remaining to do anything elaborate. That certainly meant that I wasn’t going to do any fancy food preparation of my own. I decided that baked goods were my best bet. There are bakeries in my area that produce luscious looking treats.

I visited the bakery in a local Whole Foods Market. It was near enough to Easter that they had a selection of pastries shaped as bunnies and baby chicks, but I was attracted to a tray of puff pastries decorated to look like muppet monster heads. I thought them amusing without being too kitschy.

I bought two. I was afraid, although each was carefully packaged in its own little box, there might be damage on the way home. Puffs are very delicate. I was right to be worried. Despite my trying to be careful, only one made it home in good enough condition to be photographed.

I used my trusty tabletop Lowel EGO light set-up to light the puff. This consists of two 16-inch square daylight fluorescent softboxes. This is an excellent kit for food photography. Actually, I think it was designed by Lowel with food photography in mind as its main application.

A confession: despite what my caption says, the subject is not really a cream puff, but a custard puff. I didn’t know that when I wrote the caption. I only found out later when I ate the puff.

I’m very pleased to have placed fifth with my rather hastily produced photo. My compliments to all those who placed above me for their excellent work. Also, I thank Martin for providing this assignment and for keeping them going. I know, Martin, you have heard this many many times, but it still bears repeating.

Well, thank you for participating, and especially this month Morton, as your photograph brings a broad smile to my face every time I look at it. You may not have made this yourself, but it’s a great find, and you lit it very well indeed. I think the light brown background matches the subject very well too, and even the fact that your little monsters right eye has been pushed half way out of its socket, adds an additional touch of humor to the subject. I really do like this one, congratulations on placing Morton.

Next up, in fourth place is Greg Anderson, with A Fancy Feast, and here’s Greg’s back-story.

A Fancy Feast © Greg Anderson

A Fancy Feast © Greg Anderson

First off, a big thank you to everyone who thought that my photo was good enough to vote for. I’m surprised that my first entry made it into the top 5!

I had been planning to pick a “theme of the month” contest to try and keep myself shooting, and since Martin’s podcast is one of my favorites, this seemed to be the natural place. By the time the holidays calmed down and I re-combobulated myself, it was March, and theme was food. Oh no! I barely have any culinary skills to make food, much less an eye to photograph it. But after a bit of thinking, I decided that since there was no stipulation that it had to be people food, I would try a different take on the topic.

Originally I thought I might have a scene with some cat food in the front (like it turned out) but have the feline face be visible, perhaps with some lip smacking going on, or some other appropriately catlike facial expression. But I quickly scratched that, knowing that it would be hard enough getting one of my cats to sit in the right place, never mind getting one of them to take posing directions. So I decided that a backlit, silhouetted cat with more direct lighting emphasis on the food was the way to go.

Setup was pretty basic: I put one gridded speedlite above the food, and one bare flash behind the cat’s seat on the floor, pointed at the blue background. It turned out to be easier than I thought to get a cat to sit by the small table I had set up, and about as easy as I thought to get said cat to sit in about the right pose. What I hadn’t counted on was tails: After my first round of shots, I found that over half of them had the backlight flash obscured partly by a swishing cat tail, since the flash was positioned right where the cat’s tail hung over the seat.

Disappointed with the results, I let it sit for a week or two. Even though I put the food away, I found that I almost always had cat sitting or sleeping on the seat, and they always had an expectant look on their face when I came into the room. The liberal use of cat treats during the previous session had made an impression, I guess!

When I finally came back to it, I had decided to add the glass of milk to the scene because having just the bowl of food and the cat in the scene wasn’t creating the right balance. Also, my backlight problems had been solved by the addition of another grid that I received from my wife for my birthday during the two weeks of downtime. Now I could position the background flash further to the side, and shape the light more.

I of course had a willing subject, and in return for three for four cat treats I managed to get the image that I entered in about 5 minutes of shooting. Post production in Aperture involved a slight amount of burning to some of the topmost pieces of cat food, as they were a bit too hot compared to the rest of the food. I also brushed in some desaturation on the milk to make it look more white, as opposed to the yellowish-white that milk tends to come out as in pictures.

Thanks go to Goomba, the cat in the picture, and Martin for everything that he does for the community. And again, thanks to everyone who voted for my picture. And of course, congratulations to Colin Michaelis for taking first place!

Well, you’re very welcome Greg, and thank you for participating, and for the great back-story. I think the key to your success with this image is that you allowed yourself enough time to revisit the assignment after a few weeks, and there’s a lesson to be learned for all of us here. Some months, it just isn’t possible to start shooting early enough, and having the pressure to come up with something on the last day, as Morton did, will certainly help sometimes, but here, I think the fine tuning of the lighting, and thinking of adding the glass of milk really made this shot. Without the milk, the feeling of the cat sitting down to a gourmet dinner would have been lost. Also, thanks for the tip on desaturating the milk a little. I’m sure that’s something we can all put to use too. Congratulations on placing, and I’m looking forward to your future shots as well.

Moving on to third place, and we have Elise Ange’s back-story for “S” is for Strawberry.

"S" is for Strawberry © Elise Ange

“S” is for Strawberry © Elise Ange

Congratulations to Colin for the win and to all who placed! Thanks to everyone who voted for mine.
I had decided that what I chose as subject matter for “Food” would not be cooked. Strawberries were featured in the weekly shopping circular and they looked mouth-watering. I arrived when the store opened for the biggest selection. I spent a lot of time looking through the strawberry packages to find ones which were all red.

The setup was not easy and I tried different glass containers, some with dry fruit, some with the fruit in water. I had a difficult time with the lighting. The first batch of strawberries did not yield any photos worthy of submission. Fortunately the next week, strawberries were still plentiful in the store and I bought a second batch.

I had done a bit of reading about food photography and decided to try natural lighting. I found a fancy bowl that I had received as a gift a long time ago and never used. However, I found that the natural lighting coming in the window still needed to be supplemented because it was stronger on one side of the subject than the other. I did some minor adjustments in Photoshop and cropped the image a bit. Martin’s themes present a challenge to me each month, but I learn something worthwhile with each of them.

What a beautiful way to have captured these strawberries Elise. Here simplicity is key, and the bright red strawberries against the white, and transparent bowl work very well, especially with that beautiful soft lighting.

I’m really pleased that the assignment helps you to continue to learn, as it does for all of us I think. Again, going the extra mile, and getting up early for the first batch, then going back to the store for a second batch of strawberries really contributes to the quality of your work, I’m sure. Congratulations on placing Elise, and thanks for continuing to get involved.

Next up, in second place is Graham Aylard with “Stawberry”, and here’s Graham’s back-story.

Strawberry © Graham Aylard

Strawberry © Graham Aylard

Thank-you for your votes and placing my image second. Here is the back story of the image ‘Strawberry’

Back in January I wanted to take my photography to a new direction. Studio photography. Inspired by one of the modern greats – Rankin. Although he operates with much more expensive equipment, staff and costly resources, personality of his subjects always shines through – a key element to his style of photography.  I wanted to capture personality of people too. I’ve been doing landscape photography for some time, studios was something that I haven’t really done before. It was time to plunge into the deep end and tackle studios.

I booked Lux studio near my home town in Maidstone for my first lighting lesson. Few weeks later, I booked model Kate for my first ever shoot.  I opted for a professional model instead of friends or family as I knew a model would be comfortable in front of the camera. Plus I wouldn’t have to worry too much on directing the model.  It went very well, capturing with some lovely fashion images. I learnt so much about lighting and portraiture that I wanted to give it another go.  Roll on a month later – I’d booked another session at Lux and hired semi-pro model Kandice.

With the theme of food, I knew that a single item of food being eaten by Kandice would work well. I asked Kandice to pose using a cherry as the food prop. However it turns out that Kandice likes cherries as she kept on eating them after I took only a few shots each time.  I also wanted to try a strawberry, so when Kandice finished off all the cherries, I got the strawberries out.  I tried head on shots at first but I wasn’t happy with the results. The side on pose with the model holding the strawberry slightly away from the lips seemed to work better for me. It also prevented Kandice eating all the strawberries!

Lighting in the studio was provided by four Bowens units, two Bowens 250 pointing at the white vinyl backdrop insuring a pure white background, and two slightly more powerful Bowens 500R for the key and fill lighting. Both of these fitted with a soft boxes. Captured on my new Nikon D7000

Post processing was done using Lightroom 3. During my efforts to process the studio shoot my iMac slowly died. Re-installing the OS didn’t help. But a torx screwdriver – size 8, Sat Nav windscreen holder and a new hard drive proved to be the answer. I had to pull the screen off and replace the hard drive which is located right behind the LCD screen. Pulling the screen off an iMac is certainly not for the faint hearted. Reinstalled the OS and Lightroom and all is well. Thankfully I have a reasonable backup workflow so I lost none of my images.

Back with a working computer I took the image and tilted it about 40 degrees for a more pleasing composition. I softened the models skin using the selective brush tool and sharpened the lips, increased the contrast, brightness and vibrance. Using the selective brush tool again, I removed the colour in the skin leaving the strawberry and lips in colour.

I was pleased with the result and I am chuffed to bits for the votes – thank you.  But my biggest critique is my partner, and she liked it too. So much so that my partner wants it framed and displayed in the kitchen of our new home when we move in together soon.

Other images of Kandice, including the colour version, the cherry images and my first studio shoot can be found on my website, http://www.grahamaylard.com.

I would like to add a thank-you to Martin for putting these assignments together. It has really made me think about my photography in ways I thought was not possible. And for the fact that each image is at first, anonymous which means we are all voting on the merit of the image and not the photographer or even the kit used.  That’s really important to me, no matter how many votes I get! Thank you to MBP members for all the votes and thanks to Kandice, who posed for the image and ate all my cherries! I would also like to add a big thanks to my family for all their support, I would be taking a lot less photos if it wasn’t for the encouragement from my partner Sue.

And lastly congrats to Colin, for the winning image. A worthy winner.

Thanks for yet another great back-story Graham, and you are very welcome for the assignments. Again, I’m really pleased that they help. You are certainly doing well with your studio work. This image is simply beautiful. I checked out the color version on your Web site, as well as some of your other work. I really like what you are doing, in all of your chosen genres. Great stuff!

I find it interesting that both you and Elise ended up with vivid red strawberries and mainly white for the rest of your images. This really works well, simplifying the image overall, yet accentuating the reds. Very nicely done indeed. Congratulations on second place.

And in first place, as many have already mentioned, is Colin Michaelis, with A Splash of Color, and here’s Colin’s back-story.

A Splash of Color © Colin Michaelis

A Splash of Color © Colin Michaelis

Wow! What an honour it is to place alongside this great group of submissions for the “Food” assignment. Such creativity was shown by everyone. It is amazing the different perspectives we all bring to a topic.

When I saw the assignment for March was “Food”, my first reactions were – what on earth could I possibly do that will be worthwhile, and this is not something I know how to do. My next thought, however, was that this is exactly the reason why I have challenged myself to participate in the MBP assignment – so that I will tackle things that are not part of my normal routine, broaden my horizons and learn from the creative ideas of the other participants.

After a day or two of pondering the assignment, I decided on a concept. We have all seen pictures of food (often berries or fruit) splashing into water and so it is a little bit of a cliché image. However, I have the view that if I have never done it, then it is not a cliché for me yet. So I did some research into how other people had done similar assignments and made an investment in a $13 fish tank.

Setup involved placing the aquarium, about 2/3 full, in front of a black poster board. My two SB-28 strobes (covered in clear plastic to keep them dry) were on stands, one angled down into the tank from above and the other from the front through the glass at a 45 degree angle. The flashes were set to 1/32 power, and this was how I planned to freeze the action. I placed my camera, a Nikon D90, with my 50mm f/1.8 lens on my tripod facing straight on to the tank.

With the three peppers balanced on a plate about 12” above the water, I dropped them and pressed the shutter release cable with my other hand a split second later. From the first try, my timing was pretty good, but I found the first 3-4 shots all had a bit of reflection in the front glass. I removed the front speedlight, which solved the reflected light problem, but I was not getting quite enough light. I did not want to increase my flash power so I mounted the second strobe like the first but from the other side of the tank. This got me the look I wanted. It probably took about another ½ dozen tries to get the timing just right.

I found that two essential pieces of equipment were a squeegee and paper towels. After each attempt, it was essential to wipe the tank dry with the squeegee and then completely remove any remaining water spots with the paper towels. Even after doing this I needed to touch up a couple of water marks with the healing tool in Lightroom 4 and dodge a couple of places where there was a little reflection on the glass. I boosted the vibrance a little, although the colour of the peppers was already pretty good.

I had a lot of fun planning this assignment and I had a blast actually making the photograph. To get the results I did exceeded my own expectations and it is very encouraging to me to that I was able to learn something new. And as a bonus, I managed to keep camera and strobes dry, so they will still be working for next month’s assignment. ;-)

Martin, I thoroughly enjoy your podcasts which I listen to regularly. I learn a lot from them. And now that I am participating in the monthly assignment (this is my second entry) I am forcing myself to learn through making photographs that expand my comfort zone. So thank you Martin for providing this great forum.

You’re very welcome Colin, and thanks to you too for getting involved, and for yet another excellent back-story, and what an brilliant tutorial on how to shoot this kind of image! Your investigation beforehand, and the a little trial and error with the positioning of the lights really paid off. You totally nailed this, creating a professional looking image, and capturing the freshness and appeal of the food too. Very well done indeed, and congratulations on a well earned first place.

I’d like to quickly thank all five winners again for taking the time to write out your back-stories to share with us all. I often fail to mention this, but it adds so much to the assignment, and is key to enabling me to bring this episode to the community each month, really building on the experience that many of us put so much into. Thanks also to everyone that got involved in the assignment. Whether you placed or not, I’m sure you all learned something by getting involved and giving this a try.

Flattr & Paypal Donations

Before we finish today, I’d like to mention that I’ve recently placed Flattr buttons on the blog and Podcast pages, to make it easier for people to help with the upkeep of the Podcast. I don’t mention this very often, probably only two or three times in almost seven years of creating this Podcast, but it does take considerable time each week to keep this up, not to mention the cost of the servers etc.

I get a lot back from this community of course, and that’s one reason why I don’t push this, but people have recently been asking more and more how they can help, so I thought it might be worth mentioning again. Note that in addition to Flattr, the new microdonations service that I think is going to become almost a standard way to pay content creators very soon, I have left the Paypal donation buttons in place, on the right side of each page, so if you want to show your appreciation, a donation using either Flattr or Paypal would be very much appreciated.

I’ve also placed Google +1 buttons on most pages around our Web site too, so you can also help by clicking these +1 buttons to let Google know that what I do here is appreciated, or maybe you could write a review for the Podcast in the  iTunes Store. Anything that you can do is very much appreciated.


Show Notes

Music by UniqueTracks


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Podcast 320 : Dec 2011 “Organic” Assignment Winners

Podcast 320 : Dec 2011 “Organic” Assignment Winners

Today we’re going to take a look at the five winning images from the December 2011 assignment, on the theme of “Organic”. It was great to see a still more people get involved in our assignment for the January assignment that is about to close! Thanks to those of you that uploaded your resulting images, and please do continue to try and get involved if you don’t already.

So, let’s jump right in and take a look at the five images that got the most votes from the MBP Community for the Organic assignment. In fifth place is Morton Goldberg, with “Not a Pumpkin”, and here’s Morton’s back-story…

Not a Pumpkin © Morton Goldberg

Not a Pumpkin © Morton Goldberg

My idea for this assignment was simple: use the same lighting setup and depth-of-field stacking technique as I used in last month’s assignment to photograph a fruit or vegetable. I thought the visual contrast between the two subjects photographed with the same lighting and perspective would be interesting. There was a risk with this idea: it assumed the viewer would make the connection with my Machinery assignment entry, at least subconsciously,

I first looked in my fridge, but wasn’t inspired by what I found there. A trip to a produce market presented me with a wealth of colorful subjects despite it being December. Although tempted by a variety of exotic squashes, I decided to focus on bell peppers (pun intended). They were available in green, red, yellow, and orange. I was much taken with a little orange one which looked to be a miniature pumpkin.

Beside being intriguingly photogenic, the orange bell pepper appealed to me because I had never tasted one and because it was very much the same size as my last month’s machinery subject. This sameness in size meant, when photographed with the same studio setup (including the same camera to subject distance), I would get precisely the same lighting and perspective, which is what I very much wanted.

The only difference in photo technique between my Machinery assignment entry and this image was that I used a five-frame DOF stack for the bell pepper rather than an eleven-frame one. Post processing was exactly the same.

After serving as a photographic subject the pepper contributed to a fine salad. It was very tasty.

Well done on fifth place Morton! I like the shot, and the obvious link between your two shots. The appealing thing about your subject to me, and why I think it was successful in the assignment, is the fact that the bell pepper seems to be a tad past its best. The wrinkles in the skin and the slightly wizened stalk emphasize the feeling of this being a living “organic” object. I’m pleased that this little guy made a nice salad too. Congratulations Morton.

In fourth place, we have Landon Michaelson, with “Bio”, and here’s Landon’s back-story…

That was a great assignment. Really got me thinking. Congrats to all the great entries, ideas and [thanks for] the resulting votes. Now on to the back story for “Bio”.

My first idea was to get out a bag of compost. The great soil that comes out of the process of composting organic waste. Then I recalled I had part of some vertebrae I found washed up on an ocean beach years ago. They have been sitting above my workshop bench on a shelf beside the radial arm saw for a long time. It still has beach sand on it within the crevices. I figured bones are foundational and so different than machines made by humans.

So I started with the idea of shooting down the inside of the vertebrae where the spinal column would be. Thought of what camera might get me the right angle of view. That turned out to be an iPhone and I took some test shots. The next idea was to run some fiber optic cable through it to simulate nerve impulses and some dramatic lighting. But that idea got put on the back burner as the month progressed.

Ultimately I wound up taking some time on the last day of the year to try shooting the object with a “big boy camera” by mounting my 105 VR macro lens on my D700 and having a go at framing the subject various ways looking for a compelling angle.

Bio BTS © Landon Michaelson

Bio BTS © Landon Michaelson

Photo number one (above) shows how I grabbed some hunks of white foam core, setup an Alien Bee B800 on a boom arm light stand, mounted a 47-inch octabox to the bee and set it with the face of the octabox vertical with the edge of it touching the floor. Placed a couple of hunks of white foam core on the floor ramped up and resting on the front of the couch. I used various bounce sources on the opposite side of the bones and wound up with a small circular collapsible 5-in-1 reflector using the silver side. It gave the right look to my eye. I triggered the strobe with Pocket Wizard Plus II units. I thought the large diffused light source and the texture of the object combined with some processing would provide a compelling image in the final outcome.

Then after taking a number of shots at various angles I dropped them into Lightroom to have a look.

Bio Attempts © Landon Michaelson

Bio Attempts © Landon Michaelson

Photo number two (above) shows a couple of the other angles I had tried. I tried some processing ideas as well. Some black and white and some toned to look like bone color. It did not take me long to find that a closeup instead of the whole object was more compelling subject matter and pure black and white was my processing choice. I tried a tight crop in Lightroom with what I had shot and that is when I noticed the sand texture showed up much better as well as the small barnacles on the bone surface in many places. So I went back out into the living room and concentrated on framing in some full frame closeups of what I thought was an interesting section to photograph.

Bio © Landon Michaelson

Bio © Landon Michaelson

Camera settings were f/20 for depth, 1/250 to nuke any ambient light at ISO200.

I then selected one file that stood out as the best. Some base processing in Lightroom followed by passing it through Silver Efex Pro 2 provided me with a photo that met my goals. With a few minutes left before midnight I uploaded the image to the assignment gallery. It was a good sendoff to finalize 2011.

Well, thanks for the thorough back-story with a great behind the scenes photos too Landon! It was a great idea of course, and I can totally relate to how you noticed the tiny barnacles when viewing the image zoomed in on screen. A lot of time when I’m shooting things up close like this, it’s how it looks on screen that drives me back to the subject with a new idea or two.

I agree that your winning image was probably best for the Organic assignment, but I also really like the other examples that you posted too. Masterful use of your gear and subject matter, as usual. Congratulations on fourth place Landon!

And in joint second place is Melanie Lebel-Potter, with “Promise of Spring to come”, and here is Melanie’s back-story…

A bit of boredom on a rainy day between Christmas and New Year. That’s what’s behind my picture.

I have been thinking for a while about this assignment and was planning to take a picture of some of my Christmas baking (either finished or un-finished items). I have got few nice shots but nothing that felt organic enough. Christmas came and went and no organic-looking picture…

December 29 was our last day up north before coming back home to the London area. Our plans for a nice country walk got thwarted by horrendous weather so I resorted to take pictures of my mother in law’s hyacinths instead. I noticed a few pots of them around the house at different stages of growth and thought they would make a lovely photographic study.

Promise of Spring to come © Melanie Lebel-Potter

Promise of Spring to come © Melanie Lebel-Potter

The pots were placed on a coffee table near a large window in the living room. I used my deflector (black “reflector”) as a background and kept moving it up and down during the exposure so we couldn’t see the wrinkles on it. (It worked better than placing it further away, which could not be done easily anyway.) The camera was on a tripod and a cable release helped a lot!

It is only when explaining to my mother in law what I liked about this particular bulb (“It is both elegant and earthy. No, earthy is not the right word… what would it be?.… elegant and… organic. Yes, organic is the word … Oh, Wait!…”) that I realised that I had my shot.

I almost forgot to upload the picture and did it in the middle of a New Year Eve’s party…. :balloons: :cheers: I am not only amazed that I have placed for the assignment (co-second with my favourite picture! :D ) but also that I entered the picture correctly in the first place… :oops:

You did great Melanie, on the upload and the photo! The fact that it’s obviously a shoot of new growth coming out of the bulb was a great idea, but I think the soil that it left around the base adds a lot to the organic feel. You chose an interesting way to remove the creases in the background too. With it being totally dark and black, you might have gotten away without doing this, but it’s certainly an ingenious way of dealing with creases when using a relatively long shutter speed. It looks like the EXIF data was removed so I can’t see exactly how long the exposure was, but I imagine is was probably over half a second or so to make that possible. Congratulations on joint second Melanie, and thanks for the kind words about my image, which shared second place with yours. Here’s my back-story…

There actually wasn’t really a lot to my shot, “Bunashimeji”. The lighting here was just the ceiling light in my studio, which is two circular florescent tubes with a white dome shaped shade. I placed the mushrooms as far away from the light as possible to get a good angled shadow, and I taped a bit of black velvet to the wall behind them to stop light from bouncing back and filling in the slight shadows. The white balance was adjusted slightly, and I ran it through Color Efex Pro 4 to give the detail/texture a subtle boost.

Bunashimeji © Martin Bailey

Bunashimeji © Martin Bailey

I took the most time looking for the best composition to give the mushrooms a bit of character, and eventually I only shot about five frames with a few different apertures for shallower depth of fields. When shooting macro though, even f8 gives a relatively shallow depth of field, and this was the one that I liked best, as it gave us nice amount of texture and detail in the spots on top of the mushrooms, which are called bunashimeji in Japanese.

And finally, in first place is Aviv with “The Organic Market”, and here’s Aviv’s back-story…

WOW – Thanks so much to all who voted. 🙂

I have been a huge fan of the MBP Podcast pretty much since picking up photography some year and a half ago. Watching the monthly assignments I was constantly blown away not only by the wonderful images but also by the commitment and effort put into the creation process. Being placed among the winners in my first submitted assignment is extremely humbling, and I will only take that as a sign that I should commit more to the future assignments and to the MBP community.

Since I am not much of a studio photographer and do most of my work in the street. I took the topic of “Organic” as an inspiration to where I want to shoot and what ambiance I’d like in the image. I love farmers’ markets and since I recently became more oriented towards organic growth, I thought the newly established Organic Market in the old Tel-Aviv port would be a perfect location.

The Organic Market © Aviv

The Organic Market © Aviv

It was a great morning for photography and the market offered many subjects to photograph. After covering the little booths, the merchants and the produce I searched for a view that shows the entire market atmosphere. I have to give credit here to a fellow photographer who joined me that morning on a last minute decision and she spotted this restaurant overlooking the roofed market. We set ourselves and our tripods there and the combination of the limited light and the desire to capture motion, lent itself nicely to slow-exposure. I put on the darkest ND filter I had to not over-expose the lit areas while shooting slow enough to get the moving crowd.

I experimented with various compositions and exposures to show people standing still at a booth while others are rushing through the market. I liked how the vendors were constantly buzzing to serve customers and it was nice to capture the baby stroller in there as well; all surrounding the beautiful Organic vegetables in their lively colors.

Thanks again and congratulations to the other winners and to all who submitted really stunning work. Wishing everyone the best for the New Year, and especially to Martin – may 2012 be less dramatic for you than 2011!

Thanks for the well wishes Aviv, and for the great back-story! It sounds like you also put a lot of effort into your shot for December, and it really paid off. The view from above really makes this, and the movement you captured in the customers and market stall owners really enhances the image and does somehow give it a more organic feel.

The bright colors and giving us a title to recognize this as an Organic produce market probably clenched it for you. Great stuff! Thanks for getting involved, and congratulations on making such a splash in your first month!

Thanks to all the winners, and to everyone that got involved with this assignment. As of the time of recording we already had more images uploaded to the January 2012 assignment album than the Dec album finished with, so it looks like more of you have made an effort in January too, which is again very nice to see. Remember the deal I made with you last month, that if we can reach 100 entrants to the monthly assignments during the first half of 2012, I promise to spend the time to approach potential sponsors and line up some prizes for the second six months of this year.

The February assignment is “Intimate Landscape”. This idea was originally from Morton Goldberg with actual theme name tweaks for us by Nancy Lehrer. The idea is that you would single out just a tiny part of the landscape but still depict a somewhat grand scene. I for example tend to shoot lanscapes with long lenses, as long as 600mm in fact, to just single out a small area, and I find this approach quite effective. A landscape doesn’t necessary have to be a wide angle or even standard focal length shot. In fact, I think that many landscape shots would benefit from being shot much closer, so let’s give this a try. Thanks for the idea Morton and for your help with the wording Nancy!

You will be able upload your images until the end of February, anywhere in the world, regardless of your time-zone, so don’t forget to post your images.


Show Notes

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Podcast 311 : Oct 2011 “Hands” MBP Assignment Winning Images

Podcast 311 : Oct 2011 “Hands” MBP Assignment Winning Images

Today we’re going to take a look at the five winning images from the October assignment on the theme of “Hands”. It was great to see a better turn out for our assignment this month! Let’s continue to try and get involved if you don’t already. The more people actually get involved, the better our chances of getting a sponsor to offer some great prizes, plus, I’m sure you’ll agree that the exercise itself does help us all to become better photographers, so do try to get involved.

There were some great shots entered for this month’s assignment again, and as usual we’re going to look at the five images that gathered the most voted from our peers in reverse order. In fifth place is Leslie Granda-Hill with “Nimue”, and here’s Leslie’s back-story.

Thanks to all for your votes this month. I went to Toronto last month and at the last minute put the hand from a mannequin in my suitcase in hopes that I would find an interesting way to shoot it for the assignment. I took it to the Butterfly Conservatory by Niagara Falls, but the butterflies did not cooperate as I had hoped. I did feel a bit strange carrying this hand around the beautiful facility and had to explain to several curious onlookers that I was shooting this for an online monthly assignment from Japan. I am sure they thought I was a little bit crazy. I also brought the hand to a sunrise shoot on Lake Ontario. The morning was unusually warm and beautiful. I tried various attempts with the hand in the sand and water. This image turned out to be my favorite. It made me think of the hand that reaches out of the water to catch Excalibur in the King Arthur legend. I desaturated it to give it a vintage look. Congratulations to all of the other winners.

Nimue © Leslie Granda-Hill

Nimue © Leslie Granda-Hill

Thanks for the back-story Leslie, and thanks as always for going to so much trouble for the assignment. I’m always impressed with your ideas, and this month is no exception. At first glance, it wasn’t obvious that the hand is from a mannequin, so I was wondering how you managed to bury someone in the sand underwater while you shot this, but then of course after a closer look it becomes more obvious. Still though, it’s a great shot you set up and executed. The idea to desaturate a little is masterful as usual. It adds a lot to the overall feel of the shot. Congratulations on this excellent shot, and for placing again this month.

Next up, in fourth place is Omar Gonzalez with “The Hand That Feeds You”, and here is Omar’s back-story.

If it weren’t for my wife, I would be eating cold pizza and cereal every night! She has beautiful delicate hands that could’ve been perfect subjects alone…but!…. when she started dishing out our dinner, I knew I had my shot. I ran and grabbed my 5D Mark II with the 50mm on. I set my aperture to 2.2 to have the pasta be in focus and the hands a bit out of the depth of field. My thought here was…when there’s hot delicious fresh pasta with homemade sauce being served…the hands WILL probably be ignored at bit. I took as many shots as “my better half” could tolerate. In lightroom, I used a tad of green and beige split toning with some desaturation to give the shot its look. A small tribute to my wife that is such a great cook and takes great care of our family in so many ways.

The Hand That Feeds You © Omar Gonzalez

The Hand That Feeds You © Omar Gonzalez

All of this comes across very well in your shot Omar! I fully agree with the intent behind the shallow depth-of-field. The pasta looks absolutely delicious, and your wife’s hands either side help to add the sense of family as you explain so well. I like the fact that there’s a nice bright window in the background to back light the steam. That adds a lot too. Very well done. Congratulations Omar!

In third place is Dan Newcomb with “Thin Ice”, and here’s Dan’s back-story.

Thank you for the votes! My image, Thin Ice, was shot on a frozen lake beside Yellowknife NWT. The lights in the background are from the city. I had a number of ideas but as usual I was running out of time. The hand was a $5 Halloween prop that I got from a dollar store in Whitehorse. It was a severed hand so all I had to do was stick it in the few inches of snow and it stayed upright. It was getting dark so I was using a tripod with the legs flattened out. I used my D3S with my old manual focus 50mm F1.4. In post I just did a little sharpening and played a bit with the contrast. I didn’t want to adjust the color too much as I’m partially colorblind. Black and white is so much easier for me but this image looked better in color. I was going to leave the hand there overnight to let some snow fall on it but decided against it as I didn’t want anyone to freak-out thinking a body was attached to it. Congratulations to the others who placed and thanks again for the votes.

Thin Ice © Dan Newcomb

Thin Ice © Dan Newcomb

Great shot Dan! With this one, it was more obvious that it was not a real hand, because of the blue veins but still, the detail in the hand is incredible, and for just $5. As with Leslie, I’m always amazed at how much trouble you go to for the assignment, as well as grateful of course. I think the decision to leave this in color was perfect, especially with the cold blue of the surroundings matching the blue veins in the hand. It really looks as though someone is under the snow, and died there before they were rescued. Quite morbid really, but it works very well. Congrats on third place Dan. Great work, as always.

And we had a tie for first place, both with 51 points each, but as the system I knocked up to count the scores doesn’t differentiate, the scores page shows them in first and second place. Sorry about that, but let’s look at the first, from Justin Woodward, with “The Future is in Our Hands”, and here’s Justin’s back-story.

Wow! What an honor to be among such great company. I’ve enjoyed Martin’s podcast for quite some time now, and have learned so much from his work as well as people who have submitted to his forum.

I’ve been thinking about submitting to the forum assignment for some time, and just this last month, I stumbled onto the assignment page and lo and behold, it matched my last shoot with a family that had me do infant shots for them! I contemplated posting this image from the shoot:

Example Shot © Justin Woodward

Example Shot © Justin Woodward

I opted for the one that I did because I wasn’t fond of the shadow in dad’s hand. There were too many distractions, I felt, to be an image that people would be drawn to. While I was shooting this particular sequence I had a lot of difficulty getting dad to have a relaxed position. He was mostly deaf, so when I was trying to communicate with him what I wanted him to do, he couldn’t read my lips, which he was very good at when he could see them. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see them while I was looking through the lens. He didn’t quite understand what I was looking for, so I ended up having to sculpt their hands. At the same time, poor Emerson, the baby, was nearing the end of his patience. He was a cute little guy, and the family was absolutely beautiful.

The Future is in Our Hands © Justin Woodward

The Future is in Our Hands © Justin Woodward

Technically, it was a very simple shot to set up. I had an SB600 flash on my Nikon D90, and pointed it up at the ceiling in TTL mode. Not difficult at all in terms of set up. Post processing involved converting to Silver Effects Pro, and doing some tonal adjustments here and there. For color images, I still do this, and once its complete, I import both the raw file and the b&w file into Photoshop and lay the monochrome image over it as a luminosity layer, adjusting the opacity as necessary.

The difficulty in this shoot came in getting the participants to cooperate, not the equipment. I learned a lot from this shoot. It was my first infant shoot that I’ve done, and I would do a lot differently had I a second chance at it, but this is how we learn. Thanks, again, to all who voted for my image. What an honor.

Well it’s an honor to have you on board Justin. I love this shot. You did a wonderful job, especially for your first infant shoot. Thanks for all the technical details. There’s a lot for us all to learn from here too. I agree with the decision to go with the second shot here. The first one is great too, but I think this second shot is just full of family love and little Emerson’s tiny hand is just so incredibly cute.

The way he’s gripping his Mom’s hand, as babies do is great, and then the way Dad has his hand around both the mother and babies hands shows him as the loving protector of the family. Really, really nice, and great use of Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop for the black and white conversion too. Congratulations on joint first place, and I hope we get to see more of your work in future assignments Justin.

Also in first place is Dennis Brennan with “Slipping Away”, and here’s Dennis’ back-story.

My wifes hands must be magical. This is the second MBP assignment they placed in! The first was her holding a leaf in the “Backlit” assignment in July 2009.

For this assignment, I initially wanted to do something with a hand and tension. I first tried several shots with only my own hand tensed up in different positions (see this set on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennisbren … 8086638868). They turned out OK, but I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of them.

I got the idea for the shot I submitted when my wife came in the room during the “tensed hand” session. I thought two hands reaching for each other could be an interesting way to create tension. I stood behind the camera and she was to the right out of the frame. I had to reach around around the tripod & camera and I asked my wife to step back several times so she really had to reach in to the shot. I guess it worked out pretty well.

Slipping Away © Dennis Brennan

Slipping Away © Dennis Brennan

For the setup, I used 3 Elinchrom BXRI 500s. One with a honeycomb grid pointed at a darker neutral background, the other two with softboxes – one to the left of my hand and one to the right of my wife’s hand. LightRoom and Silver Efex Pro 2 to finish it up. Thanks so much for the votes everyone. Looking forward to more great images next month.

This is very professional done Dennis, great work as usual. Perfect use of the lights, and you gotta love those honeycomb grids. I have one for my Profoto Monolights and I love it. When I first saw this with the lighter spot on the dark background I was wondering if it was a honeycomb grid, and I’m happy to see that it was. It always feels nice to guess at parts of a setup, and the way we share these back-stories like this gives us all a chance to do that.

The photo works so well, though I kind of see it as two people reaching for each other, rather than slipping away, but you can certainly read this both ways. The overall dark feel adds to the drama and the black and white conversion works really well here. Congratulations on a very well earned joint first.

Thanks to the winners, and to everyone that got involved with this assignment. Please do make the effort to get involved yourself soon. As you can see, people get thinking of all sorts of things to capture some great shots, and you too can learn so much from this exercise. I know that many more of you are trying than actually post your results, but I really would like to see more of you take that final step. You might be surprised by people’s reactions to your work. I’ve known people to have huge success with images that they themselves were about to delete, so do share what you come up with, with the community.

The theme for the November assignment was Machinery, and that is currently in the voting stages, so do drop by the www.mbpgalleries.com Web site and cast your vote for your top five images before December 7, 2011. The December assignment following on from Machinery is Organic, which again is open to interpretation. You will be able upload your images until the end of December 31st anywhere in the world, regardless of your time-zone, so don’t forget to post your image before you sing Auld Lang Syne to welcome the New Year in.


Show Notes

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Audio

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Podcast 300 : Aug 2011 MBP Assignment Winners

Podcast 300 : Aug 2011 MBP Assignment Winners

It’s kind of hard to believe that this is our 300th episode! It’s been one hell of a journey this last six years though, and I wanted to thank each and every one of you for listening, and continuing to stay engaged with the community. You all help to make this what it is, and I’m incredibly grateful.

[smart_track_player url=”https://traffic.libsyn.com/mbppodcast/mbpp_ep300.mp3“]

Yesterday I received a really nice audio message from a couple of very good friends, Jack Andrys and Forrest Tanaka, which I inserted into the audio today. Thanks guys, you both rock, seriously.

Then this morning, I mentioned on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook that if anyone had a message for the 300th episode, I’d include it and I received some great message! Thanks so much for those kind thoughts all. I really do appreciate it.

Now let’s take a look at the winning images from the August “Eyes” Assignment.

Assignment Winners

As usual, we’ll start with 5th place, which was from David Bailey with “The eyes have it”. Unfortunately, David didn’t post a back story, so I can’t share anything with you on that, but I personally really like this image. David obviously either already had, or took the time to put together an amazing collection of eyes that look like they are for or from toys. There’s many different sizes and colors, and the thing that really makes this image for me is the strategic placement of the four large sets of eyes that are looking straight at the camera. These eyes have no whites, making them even more intriguing, and there are also a few sets of slightly smaller green eyes that also have no whites, and these grab your attention too. I can’t help thinking that the image is just a tad underexposed, but it really doesn’t detract from the image that much at all. The more you look at this, and the more it looks back at you, the better it gets. Great stuff! Congratulations on 5th place David. Great name by the way!

The Eyes Have It © David Bailey

The Eyes Have It © David Bailey

In 4th place is my image “Tree Frog Eyes”. I didn’t post a backstory either, but I did intend to share it with you all here, so here goes.

I did a bit of a Dan Newcomb last month, and hadn’t gotten anything for the assignment by the 30th, but I had a bit of time free on that day, so I decided to go and do a bit of macro work in a nearby park. I had the Eyes assignment in mind as I shot, and was happy to find this tree frog sitting in the base of a large leaf. Initially I used my 100mm IS L Macro lens with a 25mm extension tube fitted, and got a number of shots that I liked. I was also using the Canon MT-24EX Twin-Lite which is two flash units fitted to the front of the lens, and you can angle them any way you want to light subjects very close to the front element.

Rain Frog Eyes © Martin Bailey

Rain Frog Eyes © Martin Bailey

I walked away from the frog after getting some shots I was happy with, and had a few more hours walking around the park, photographing insects, and got another shot I was happy with of a Preying Mantis, but then towards the end of the day, after I’d switched to my MP-E 65mm Macro lens, which is the one that has no focus mechanism, just a zoom from life-size, to 5X life-size, and then you move the camera back and forth to focus. I decided to take a look to see if the frog was still there, and he was, so I grabbed a few more shots before I left the park. And, as you might have guessed, this frame was from my second short session with the frog, not the first batch. I did post some images from the first batch to my gallery as well, but this was my favorite. I just like the really big eyes and distortion that shooting this little guy at 2X life-size and getting really close enabled me to capture.

Thanks for those that voted for my image. I don’t enter every month, but it’s always nice to get some votes when I do.

In 3rd place is Mr Nikon, or Dan Newcomb, with “Foxy”. Here’s Dan’s backstory…

Congratulations to the other members who placed. There were some really great photos last month. Thanks for the votes and sorry for the late back story. I’m currently on a time lapse trip with my brother and the coverage was a little spotty in the desert.

Not much to tell about the back story to my photo Foxy. I was working in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories and found myself with a day off. It was drizzling out but I decided to go to a nearby animal preserve. I was excited to learn they had a few lynx and some arctic foxes. I’ve photographed both of them in the wild before but this was a great chance to get up close and personal. When I got to the enclosures the lynx were doing a good job of hiding so I went over to the arctic foxes. These little guys were out and about and ready to be photographed. This time of year they loose their pure white coat. A sign warned not to get too close as they do bite. I placed my camera right up to the chain link fence and started firing away. Luckily they didn’t come close enough to bite me. I spent a number of hours at the preserve walking back and forth between the lynx and the arctic foxes. Besides the occasional downpour it was a very pleasant afternoon with some of my favorite animals. Thanks again for the votes!

Foxy © Dan Newcomb

Foxy © Dan Newcomb

And very well deserved votes they were too Dan. I love this shot. The pensive eyes, and the slight tilt to the head are wonderful, and that nose, slightly out of your depth of field making it look even softer is so cute. If these guys didn’t bite, I’d love to cup my hand around his mouth and nose and just scrumple it all up. I no scrumple isn’t a real word, but I can’t think of a better way to express this.

The shape of this foxes face is what every kid in the world would draw if you asked them to draw a fox, and I love toning you selected in your black and white conversion, and the tight crop works well too. A total favorite! Congrats on third place Dan. Great shot as usual.

In 2nd place is Super Digital Girl, or Leslie Granda-Hill with “Ostrich Eyes”, and here’s Leslie’s backstory.

I enjoyed seeing everyones interpretation of the theme this month. Congratulations to the winners- especially Cheshirecat for her fun and well executed image. For my image “Ostrich Eyes” I went to a farm that raises ostriches. I read about the farm in the newspaper and decided to contact the owner to see if I could take some photos. He was about to go on vacation so I had to get there and take my shots right away. The smell of the farm was overwhelming- especially since it was an extremely humid day. The ostrich in the photo was standing in front of a barn with a green roof (which is one of the reasons I converted it to black and white) with the light coming from behind the barn. I had to zoom my 24-70mm lens all the way out to get close enough to the ostrich. The owner of the ostriches- of which there are about 400- warned me not to get too close. While I was shooting this ostrich another one was pecking at my camera. Apparently they must like shiny black DSLR’s. Thanks to everyone for their votes. And congratulations to Martin on the upcoming 300th episode of the podcast. I think that that is probably a record for photography podcasts. I am looking forward to another 300!

Ostrich Eyes © Leslie Granda-Hill

Ostrich Eyes © Leslie Granda-Hill

Well thanks for the congrats Leslie. Great timing here that I’m actually recording this as the 300th episode too!

I absolutely adore this shot Leslie. You couldn’t have gotten straighter on to this guy, but the slight angle of the neck adds a nice twist in my opinion. The detail in the eyes and the sides of the beak are incredible, and almost make me want to scrumple my hand around this guys beak too, though I’d probably get a good pecking from him as well.

You did a great black and white conversion too. I love the tones and the even gray background. Very nice indeed! Congratulations on second place with this wonderful shot Leslie.

And the winner of the Eyes assignment is Cheshirecat, Elise Ange with “Customized”, and here’s Elise’s backstory.

Wow, I couldn’t believe that my entry came in 1st among some really great photos. Congratulations to all who placed! And thanks to all who voted for it. Martin, it is good to hear that your recovery is going so well.

When I first saw the theme, I knew that I did not have a chance against the wonderful portraits I have seen posted on this site. I have always been interested in cars and have spend many hours at antique and classic car shows in past years, but not so much recently as Martin’s themes always give me such great new subject matter to pursue and learn from.

Customized © Elise Ange

Customized © Elise Ange

Since there are a couple of great shows in August, which I enjoy, I decided that headlights might be a good substitute. I won’t tell you how many shots I took squatting down in front of cars, trying to get something that would represent eyes. One person asked me why I was shooting cars that way. I told him that sometimes it makes for an interesting picture. I think he walked away in disbelief. Many of the cars were parked in the sun with too much harsh light and too many reflections that a circular polarizer cannot overcome. I was lucky that this one car with such interesting headlights was parked in a shady area. It is almost as it came out of the camera, uncropped with a bit of contrast and sharping. I have other types of eye photos from the month; but this was the best one, albeit a little offbeat.

Offbeat certainly works here Elise. This is another favorite. All that squatting down in front of cars certainly paid off. I love the colors in this, and the way you chose a car that kind of had a nose really helped to make this one in my opinion. I like the dark line along the bottom of the frame, that helps to anchor the shot, and the subtle reflections add so much to this, without being overwhelming. I’d love to see a large gloss print of this. That would really be something else. Congratulations on a very well earned first place Elise.

So, there we have all five winners. Thanks again for all of you that got involved, of course including those that were not in the top five. The images posted for this assignment were excellent, as usual.

The voting for the September assignment Before/After, will start in a couple of days, so do come along and cast your votes before September 7th, 2011. Also, the theme for the October Assignment is kind of following on from Eyes, and is “Hands”. They don’t have to be human hands, and they don’t even have to be real hands, as long as there’s a hand connection. I think after Eyes, Hands are incredibly telling about a person. I won’t talk much about what I’m thinking here, as I don’t want to sway your judgment, but give this some though. It should be a relatively easy assignment to enter, as hands are all around us, and you probably have one or two of your own, but I think the person that wins this will surprise us with something special, as often seems to be the case.

Note that your Hands shot has to be made during the month of October, and not something you sought out of your archives. You will be able to upload it to the Hands album at http://www.mbpgalleries.com/ until the end of October, regardless of your time zone. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

End Notes:

Before we finish I wanted to quickly say that I was Interviewed by Frederick Van Johnson for the This Week in Photo Podcast a few weeks ago, and the episode with that interview embedded is now in the TWiP feed. It was a great interview, so do check that out, and note that I’m going to be co-hosting on TWiP some weeks from mid-October onwards, which I’m really looking forward too.

I was also interviewed by Stephen Cotterell for the Photography 121 Podcast last week as well, and that interview is now live as well. Do check these Podcasts out when you have a minute.

So, thanks again for listening today, and thanks for those kind messages, as well as for listening for all these years some of you, and I hope that you will all stick around for another 300 episodes of the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.


Show Notes

TWiP #220: http://www.thisweekinphoto.com/2011/twip-220-the-passionate-photographer/

Photography 121 #19: http://www.cotterell.net/_/Podcast/Entries/2011/9/27_Martin_Bailey.html

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


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