Podcast 342 : Side Light – May 2012 Assignment Winners

Ball Possession by Jaakko Paarvala

02 Jul 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”.

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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.


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