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Photography.Book.Now competition sponsored by Blurb

Photography.Book.Now
Got a book in you? This looks like it might be a fun project (the chance to win $25,000 is just icing, really):

The Photography.Book.Now International Juried Competition seeks entries for its second annual competition celebrating self-published photography books and the photographers behind them. The grand prize is $25,000 to finish – or start – a photography project of the winner’s choice. Entries will be accepted in three categories – Fine Art, Editorial, and Commercial. The first-prize winner in each category will receive a private portfolio review with members of the judging panel.

Submissions will be accepted through 12:00 pm PDT on July 16, 2009, at http://www.photographybooknow.com. The Photography.Book.Now International Juried Competition is presented by Blurb, the creative publishing and marketing platform that enables anyone to design, publish, share and sell bookstore-quality books.

Details on the three categories (these are new for 2009):

  • Fine Art: The field of contemporary art is the arena to which many photographers now aspire. Whether your working methods are conceptual or stylistic, your aesthetic deadpan or modernist, or your artistic practice rooted in the world or performance, this is your chance to showcase your best photography in book form.
  • Editorial: Photography can create compelling narratives, especially in book form. Whether it’s a long-term project, a photo-documentary, or a series of editorial spreads, this category celebrates the photography book as an experience that is more than just the sum of its parts.
  • Commercial: Superb commercial photography—which can include fashion, corporate, and advertising work—goes beyond just a great product shot. The commercial photographer understands the importance of distinctive visual aesthetics and arresting branding. From fashion to advertising photography, we invite you to showcase your most compelling commercial work in book form.

Anatomy of a photo: Balvenie Scotch

Several unconnected events converged to make this photo (below). First, I received a review copy of The Nikon Creative Lighting System by Mike Hagen (from rockynook and NikoniansPress publishing). A review is on the way. Second, and more importantly, I received as a gift a bottle of Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old single malt scotch.

Read on to get details of the lighting setup and what I think works and could be improved in this photo.

Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old

The setup

This scene was lit with two off-camera flashes. The first reflected from an umbrella directly to camera left set at -1.3 EV. The second directly behind the bottle, aimed at about a 45 degree up angle and towards the camera at 0 EV (TTL mode, normal sync). This flash was zoomed to 50mm. Both flashes were triggered wirelessly from the D90 built-in commander which did not contribute to the exposure. 98mm, 1/60s, f/5.6.

Flash setup

The good

Let’s talk about what I like in this photo and what I don’t like. First, the good. Overall, I got the effect I was going for. The scotch seems to radiate with a warm, inner light (which is just how it makes you feel). The tone is somewhat dark and moody as one would expect from a drink that’s so, you know, manly.

I intentionally used settings to blur the background container while still keeping all of the important text legible. I very much like the reflections of the whisky on the container. The background is dark and all of the attention is on the bottle. This photo (shot as a JPG fine) was cropped, resized, and sharpened slightly. No other image adjustments were made. It was the best of about 15 different takes.

The bad

FlawsFlaws are more interesting thought, aren’t they? For starters, the bottle isn’t full (a). I was willing to sacrifice a perfect photo for a dram or two. I guess that makes me a bad photographer. But I have no regrets.

I zoomed the flash behind the bottle to 50mm to help minimize light spill (b). You can still see some light reflecting off the bottle, lower right. This would be virtually impossible to completely eliminate without using a snoot for the flash but is easily removed in post-processing.

There’s even more light spill lighting up the side of the container behind the bottle. Whether this is a flaw or not is a matter of taste. Again, it could be eliminated with a snoot on the rear flash. This area would be more difficult to deal with in post.

I have a feeling that the photo would be better off without the window reflections on the bottle (d). Or perhaps, with cleaner reflections. Closing the curtains or moving to a different room without windows would have helped. It would be very difficult and time-consuming to cleanly remove the reflections on the neck in post so this is definitely a decision you want to make while shooting.

A little extra light on the tube container in the background (c) would have helped balance the photo a little better and added interest without taking away from the bottle. Maybe just a little rim lighting on the left side. Or maybe a dim spotlight thrown across “The Balvenie”…

What do you think? Any tips to share? What would you change about this photo?

Enter drawing for a free 2-week lens rental

A winner has been chosen! Borrowlenses selected Bryan who wants to get his hands on the Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 AF DX. Congratulations! Thanks for playing, everybody.

BorrowLensesWhat better way to get acquainted with online lens rentals than with a free rental? The folks at BorrowLenses.com contacted me over the weekend and generously offered Photodoto readers another chance to receive a free 2-week lens rental. This is the second promotion we’ve done with them. Bryan Villarin was the winner of our last drawing and spent some free quality time with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Leave a comment describing which lens you would like to rent and why you want to rent it. Leave a valid email address so that we can contact you if you win (your email address will remain private and is used for no other purpose).
  • Open to U.S. residents only.
  • The winner will need to place an order online with a valid credit card number to receive the rental. The card will not be charged but is required to ensure that the lens is returned. BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and camera bodies.

That’s it! The comments will remain open until midnight on Tuesday March 17th, 2009. After that, BorrowLenses.com will choose a winner and we’ll announce it here. Good luck! And a big thank you to BorrowLenses.com for sponsoring this giveaway.

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