Podcast 306 : Sept 2011 “Before/After” MBP Assignment Winners

"Happy" by Leslie Granda-Hill

Podcast 306 : Sept 2011 “Before/After” MBP Assignment Winners

Today we’re going to take a look at the September 2011 MBP Assignment Winners, on the theme of Before/After. There were very few entrants for this assignment, hopefully because it was so hard, but I do want to urge any of you that sit on the fence as to whether or not to get involved or maybe hesitate when it comes to posting your resulting images, that it really is important to give this a try. We all learn from trying, and from the experience of sharing our images.

So, as usual, we’ll work through the winning five images in reverse order, and to kick us off in fifth place is ogonzilla or Omar Gonzalez, with “Weathered”, and here’s Omar’s back story.

My shot, Weathered, placed 5th so thanks. Nothing special here really. I struggled with this month’s assignment (as others seemed to) so I was happy when I came upon an aqua colored wall that provided both the before and after shots at the same time. One part of the wall was weathered with peeling paint while the other side was pretty much fine. I snapped the two shots and merged them using Mac Pages to make it seem that the “after” photo was taped to the “before” wall. Again, nothing amazing here…just happy I placed…so thanks again.

"Before/After" by Omar Gonzales

“Before/After” by Omar Gonzalez

Congratulations on placing Omar! I know that you were disappointed in the participation for this assignment as well, and that comes across in your backstory. You say that there’s nothing special here, but I tend to disagree. Firstly, you had the awareness to notice the scene, and link it to a possibility for the assignment, which was great. You merged the two shots together in a way that enhances your idea, as you say, looking like you taped the photo of the after image to a freshly painted wall. In any other assignment, this would have been against the rules, but for this one, we’d asked for two shots merged together, albeit originally suggesting side by side or above and below each other. You took the initiative to take the instructions and bend them a little, to make something very special in my opinion. I love the resulting photograph, and your ability to find subjects like this, and your initiative in the post processing. Excellent work Omar!

In Fourth place is epatten, or Eli Patten with “Before and After Cooking”, and here’s Eli’s backstory.

Thanks for the votes! Not much to say with this one – I assist at a nearby cooking school and so a lot of my photography involves friends cooking and food we’ve made. I figured most people would try a seasonal theme with this assignment, so I wanted to try something different and the food idea came to me while we were preparing a meal one day. I tried a few different arrangements of the before ingredients and after meal, but in the end my favorites of each were two different orientations and I had to crop them to get them to fit next to each other nicely. I shot these with my 1.8 Canon 50mm lens wide open on my XSi, which gave me the look I was going for (on the back of the camera), but when I looked at it full size on my computer screen later, I wasn’t happy with the depth of field – it ended up being too narrow. Luckily when I made it smaller to upload them, it wasn’t as evident. That’ll teach me to not check the photos more closely on the camera’s viewfinder.

"Tomatoe Soup - Before/After" by Eli Patten

“Tomatoe Soup – Before/After” by Eli Patten

Overall though, I’m very happy with how my first MB assignment submission turned out. Thanks again for the votes, and thanks to Martin for all the work he does on the Podcast and Web site – I have just started getting serious with my photography this year, teaching myself, and your podcast has been an excellent source of information and inspiration. Keep it up!

Thanks for those kind words Eli, and thank you for getting involved in the assignment. I’ve got to tell you though, I couldn’t disagree more about the depth-of-field. Of course, the way you’ve set up these shots and the off center merge is perfect, but I think the shallow depth-of-field adds so much here. You’ve taken what could have been something ordinary, and made it very special. Now, of course, I’m biased, as I use shallow depth-of-field a lot in my work, but I really think it works very well here. I also really like the highlights on the tomatoes, and in the resulting soup. The tight crop works well, albeit after the event to a degree, and the only thing your images leaving me wanting, is a taste of that soup! Excellent work!

Moving along, in third place is cheshirecat or Elise with “The Dog Show”, and here is Elise’s backstory.

Congratulations to Leslie for her win with ‘Happy” and to all of the others who placed. Thank you to all who voted for my entry. Unlike Leslie, I did not have any specific photo shoots lined up with the ‘before and after’ theme in mind. One weekend I happened to find an all-breed indoor dog show at a sports arena in a nearby town. There were many judging areas separated by portable dividers. The other free area was taken up with dog crates and grooming tables. Much of the bathing and grooming had already been done before the owners/handlers arrived at the show so that ‘before and after’ concept was not going to materialize. I have found that the more interesting photos are taken ‘behind’ the scenes and I spend several hours wandering around taking pictures.

"The Dog Show" by Elise Ange

“The Dog Show” by Elise Ange

At one point, a couple of the people who run the show came over to me quite upset that I was taking so many photos. They had contracted two professionals and were really concerned about what I was going to do with them. I mentioned that there were a lot of other people taking photos, to which they didn’t have a good response. It sort of ruined the fun I was having and I was glad that it was almost the end of the show.

Because of the artificial lighting in the arena, I converted most of the better images from the day into black and white. I liked the slightly out of focus one of the handler and his Afghan Hound entry in the show ring. Fortunately I had taken a shot of the hound being groomed before the judging. It made an interesting story for the theme.

Agreed Elise, it does make for an interesting story, with a nice twist on the Before/After theme. Sorry to hear about your experience, as it’s never nice to be confronted by people like that, but I think you handled it well. If there weren’t any “No Photography” signs, and it was a public event, then they really shouldn’t be hassling you, but I know this sort of thing leaves a nasty taste in your mouth.

I think the way you were able to get a shot of the same man and dog during preparation and during the show works very well, and I do like the action and movement in the show shot, compared to the relatively static preparation shot, adding an additional element of change between the two images. Removing the color when it gets in the way is also a great use of black and white. Great work!

In second place is Damian Diccox with “Be Thaw & After”, and here’s Damian’s backstory.

Wow, I’m amazed that I managed to place in an assignment. It does feel a little bittersweet that the assignment had so few entrants this month so I’m going to tell myself that it’s because the assignment was so hard (please don’t anyone burst my bubble here). All in all I’m very happy to have gotten so many votes.

I spent some time trying to figure out what to do for this assignment and I tried a few before and after dark photos but none struck me as being very compelling. I then tried before and after birth photos, pregnant belly to child, but my kids are getting too old to make that work well.

"Be Thaw & After" by Damian Diccox

“Be Thaw & After” by Damian Diccox

Late in the month I got desperate and looked through some old photos for inspiration and when I came across the snow photo of my house from 2009 and I figured that I could recreate that in the sun. The shot itself wasn’t technically hard, just a handheld panorama of four or five shots in manual mode with the 35mm 1.8 that I’ve used for every assignment. It took me a few tries to work out where I was standing for the original picture but after seeing the visual cues from the first [shot] I think that I was pretty close, It was an interesting exercise to locate my past self. I asked my wife what she thought of my entry, she told me that I should have cut the grass and moved the trashcans, but I think that she was just trying to put me to work. 😉

It is said often by others but I’d like to state the respect and admiration that I have for Martin and the mark he is leaving on the photography world, I’m still totally enjoying the podcast after years of listening, we are all learning and growing together, what a great community.

Wow! Praise indeed there Damian, thanks very much for that, and thank you for sticking around. You’re part of what make this community great.

I love your entry by the way. I think you did an excellent job of recreating the image two years on, especially considering that it was a stitched panorama. Pretty much all of the lines are exactly the same, and with it being a panorama they both fit on the screen at once, so it’s easy to enjoy the two images. Of course the biggest thing that makes this image is the total contrast between the two images. With trees bare of leaves but heavy with snow and the full white coverage of snow that I can almost hear, or not hear for that matter, as it dampens the sounds in the neighborhood, and I can almost feel the cold. But then in the bottom picture, I can almost feel the warmth and hear the birds singing, and perhaps even the buzzing of a bee as it busily makes its way past you as the create your photographs. I love images that make me imagine what it would be like to be there, and these two shots do that so well. The only thing that bothers me about your summer time photo Damian is the trashcans and long grass… Just kidding. Great work! Well done indeed.

And in First place is Super Digital Girl otherwise known as Leslie Granda-Hill with “Happy”! And here’s Leslie’s backstory.

Congratulations to all the winners- this month really had a diverse assortment of entries! The concept for my entry “Happy” came to me as soon as I knew the assignment [theme]. I was already planning on shooting the annual clown convention that is not too far from my town. It is rare that the monthly assignments line up with an event or subject that I am already planning on shooting for the month- so I was determined to get the shots I envisioned for this month. When I got to the location I had to find a subject. I started asking some of the clowns if they would be interested in posing for the shots. It took a while to find someone that was right and would cooperate.

"Happy" by Leslie Granda-Hill

“Happy” by Leslie Granda-Hill

I was very lucky to happen upon “Happy” the clown. She was staying in the same hotel and we made the arrangements to meet the next morning. I had brought a pop-up black velour background that I used near a glass door to shoot the initial image knowing that I would need to use the same set up for the final image. “Happy” was a great subject to shoot. She let me photograph the whole process from start to finish, filling me in on all the details of face-paint and clown costumes. I love many of the shots I got between the before and after. As it turns out she was a microbiologist for 40 years and now is an ordained minister. She has entertained at 2000 birthday parties! I couldn’t have gotten luckier with finding the perfect person to photograph for this months assignment. I have often found that shooting for the assignments pushes me a little further than I might ordinarily go, knowing I have a certain deadline and am up against some photographers with terrific and original ideas. Thanks to all that voted for my entry. I am certainly very “Happy”!

Well Leslie, I’m very happy too, as I’m sure everyone else was or will be when they see your winning images. The backstory is incredible too, and this is exactly the sort of thing that I meant by what I said about getting involved in these assignments during the intro, which I wrote in my manuscript before reading your backstory I should say. I’m so pleased that these assignments push you a little further, and your resulting images always show that, as do the amount of votes you get from the community.

Your planning for this shoot was incredible, right down to the pop-up velour background. Your use of the ambient side light makes for a beautiful portrait to begin with, but then you have the second image with the lady made up as the clown with exactly the same pose, right down to the expression on her face. I also find it fascinating that the lady has her mouth in almost exactly the same shape as before, yet the Happy clown make-up turns it into a smile. This is obviously what the make up is for, but it’s ironic, with the two crucifixes on her cheeks too, above what we could perceive as tears. Your subject has a sense of calmness and distinction about her that really just amplifies your excellent choice in subject. Congratulations on first place, but more so, on the realization of such a wonderful photography project. Now I just need to go off and see if I can find the rest of the photos online too. Excellent work Leslie, as usual.

So, once again, do try to get involved in these assignment folks. I know that life often catches up with us, and I myself don’t enter every month, but I’m always happy when I do, and feel as though I’ve grown a little as a photographer by trying.

Note that the October Assignment which was on the theme of “Hands” is currently open for voting, until the end of November 7th in just three days now, so do come along and vote please at http://www.mbpgalleries.com, and also note that the theme for November 2011, is “Machinery”. It’s open to interpretation, but this should be a relatively easy assignment to shoot for, so give it some thought to ensure that your images stands out. Do be careful shooting for this one too, if you end up near machinery that you wouldn’t normally get close to. We don’t want anyone getting hurt for the sake of a photograph.

Your entry has to have been shot during November 2011, so you can’t just rifle through your image archive for this, and you’ll have until the end of the last day of November to upload, no matter what time zone you live in. I look forward to seeing your entries. You can see the posting guidelines etc. in the Assignment forum at www.martinbaileyphotography.com/forum/ if this is your first time getting involved.

End Notes:

And talking of winners, before we finish, I’d quickly like to let you know that we drew the winner the Drobo giveaway that we kicked off three weeks ago. Nat Parnell from the UK will be receiving a nice shiny 4 bay Drobo very soon. After a little communication, it seems that Nat is a very talented Web Designer, with lots of recent work to take a look at over at http://threethings.co.uk/, so do check that out if you are interested in getting a professionally build Web site made. Congratulations to Nat on your new Drobo. You’re going to love it, I assure you.

Also note that I was a co-host on the This Week in Photo Podcast again this week, so do check that out as well, by searching for TWiP or This Week in Photo in iTunes or going to the www.thisweekinphoto.com Web site. Episode #226 should be in the pipe no too very long after I release this MBP Podcast episode.


Show Notes

Assignment Scores: http://mbp.ac/2011scores

Nat Parnell’s Web Design site: http://threethings.co.uk/

Music created and produced by UniqueTracks.


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