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

Slipping Away © Dennis Brennan

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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