My First Print Competition

MDPPA April “monthly” Print Competition

Last night was Maryland Professional Photographers Association‘s print competition and I entered images for the first time since joining Professional Photographers of America last year. I have really been inspired by the artistry and technical talent I’ve been exposed to since joining. There is no doubt in my mind it has upped my game being around these people and seeing how experienced, successful professionals work. So, how did I do? Pretty well. Of the 9 images submitted, 5 of them were merit (80 out of 100 or above) and one of those was in excellent (85-89). So much better than I could have hoped for and I’m really excited.

My most successful images were all shot with my Olympus E-M1 in RAW and then spent some time in Lightroom, Photoshop and ON1 Effects 10.

Does your camera see what you do?

Once in a while I will go back through older images that I didn’t have time to really dig into when they were shot. That’s the case with “Locust Point”, which was the image that did the best in competition. The image was shot in August of 2015, but it wasn’t until February 2016 after being inspired by Larry Hersberger at the MDPPA Annual Convention that I went back to work on it. I spent a fair amount of time on the image, once I got started, to make it what I wanted it to be. This was an iterative process with a couple helpful critique’s along the way and a desire to not leave it at “good enough”.

I’m going to show the before and after of this image. Not so much to share with you the amount of work I put in or the skills I’m developing. It is so that you can start to understand the difference between what a camera seesprint-P8130288

 

and what the photographer sees
Locust Point

As you can see, everything that I saw was not “seen” by the camera and it took a pretty fair amount of work to get it to where I could share what I saw with you. Does that ever happen to you when you take a picture?

Selected Other Images

Here are some of the other images and a little bit of their story.

Fire On The Bayou

“Fire on the Bayou” – Olympus E-M1 M.Zuiko 12-40 f2.8 PRO

“Fire on the Bayou”

This was shot while on an evening tour of Chicot Lake in Ville Platte Louisiana with my brother in-law. There was very much a “Walking Dead” feel to the Cypress Trees being lit from behind by the sunset.

 

Purple Dawn

“Purple Dawn” – Olympus E-M1 M.Zuiko 12-40 f2.8 Pro

“Purple Dawn”

This is another image shot while we were down in Louisiana at Chicot State Park with family. There’s a long boardwalk out onto the lake which puts you in the middle of things that was quite close to our cabin.

 

Those are my images that did the best in the competition. Unfortunately, none of my portrait work made it to merit. Even my favorite image of James “The Amazing” Randi which I captured backstage at the last TAM I attended.

The Amazing Randi

James Randi – Nikon D3s Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 vrii

But that just gives me new goals and opportunity for improvement. So, I’m excited for the next competition in the Fall!

 

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Sweeney Todd Promotional Shots – Red Branch Theatre Co

Red Branch doesn’t usually do a photo session early in the production schedule to create styled images for promotional use. When they contacted me to do these I was more than happy to jump in. Sweeney Todd is a show I really like and have good familiarity with.

I  spoke to the production staff to get a scope on the job. It would be shots of the two main characters Sweeney Todd (Russell Sunday) and Mrs. Lovett (Janine Sunday).

I  knew I  needed to play up the theme of their season, “Paint it Red”, and keep with the dark malevolence of the show. So, I expected to shoot in the big orange room rehearsal space that is my onsite studio and photoshop a context. With this in mind I stopped by the theatre the afternoon of the shoot to make sure I was on the same page as them.

It’s a good thing I did. While there I spoke to Chester, one of their set designers, who offered me some reclaimed building materials from his father’s yard. It couldn’t hurt to look. Right? Oh man. This stuff was perfect! It consisted of some really old, dirty corrugated steel siding and wooden shutters that looked like they had to be literally dug up. We set them against a wall in the big orange room and Chester produced bailing wire to “secure” the shutter to a nail hole in the siding. Instant set!

I think that looks fantastic, but it doesn’t quite have any mood to it yet. I only had 3 location speedlights with me for this shoot. I felt I could definitely dedicate one to the background. The look I wanted was a wash on the wall from a streetlight over head. So, I put one of my speedlights (the Nikon SB-800) with a RogueGrid and an Orange-y RogueGel on a boom arm to get it over the middle-ish of the background. By under-exposing the background and setting the white balance to daylight, I started to get the effect I wanted.

I almost had the look I wanted, but I thought Sweeney wasn’t menacing enough. I decided a light blue gel on the MagGrid lighting him, would give me more of the effect I wanted.

 

With a little post-processing, this gave me the look I wanted. That post-processing involved adding in a razor, since we were running ahead of the props department.

This gave me my Sweeney set up, but the client also wanted shots of Mrs. Lovett. Lovett is no less scary than Sweeney, but she’s somewhat more light-hearted. I didn’t want her to be as cool as Sweeney. So, she was shot with a warmer gel (1/4 CTO)  on the Rogue Flashbender 2 XL Pro to soften the shadows a little and control the spill onto Sweeney and the background.

Again, there was a bit of photoshop to add the rolling pin and razor (a different razor this time) and toning to get the look I wanted.

So, it was a great shoot. I was able to execute my vision in very short order (about an hour, really) which can be important to some clients. Especially, when you are working into a production schedule.

I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast and working with them for headshots and production stills.

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