Tag Archives: competitions

A night of honours

Last night we had the results of the third round of the Hutt Camera’ club 2016 ladder competition. This time I had four images in for consideration. There were two digital images, that had been entered specifically to compete for the overall title. In addition I submitted two print images, that I am considering to be part of my submission early next year for Photographic Society of New Zealand honours. The plan was simply to get feedback from the judge.

I was blown away with the results. Both print images were awarded honours, as was one of the digital images. The other scored a merit (which is the grade below honours) so that was pleasing as well.

Against the cold - Honours
Against the cold – Honours
The Old Map - Honours
The Old Map – Honours
The old Accordion player - Merit
The old Accordion player – Merit
Wild - Honours.
Wilf – Honours.

My image of Wilf is one that proves you don’t need a fancy camera to get the image. This was shot on a small and relative cheap Fuji mirrorless.

Success with Reflections

Each year the six photographic clubs in the Wellington area have a print competition. The host club sets 10 topics and each club submits a single image. I have entered images for selection in most years, and have normally had at least one selected by the Hutt Camera Club. This year was no different and I submitted images in two categories.

The judging was held last night and I was thrilled when my entry in the “reflections” category won, with the judge raving about the image.Reflections

Afterwards the images attracted a lot of attention and I received a lot of questions about how it had been produced.

When I had seen the category “reflections” I knew that I wanted to create something quite different. A very similar  topic was used in 2011 and that time I used a mirror as well. (you can read about that one on this link).

Fortunately just down the road from work is an unusual shop selling a wide of mirrors. It is set out more like an old curiosity shop, and so i knew that it would make a great location. The shop describes itself as a gentleman’s destination shop so I knew that I wanted a particular look for the person. Fortunately I knew that Wellington wedding photographer Jason Naylor fitted that bill, and he agreed to take part.

We had to wait a couple of months to get a time that was not so chaotic for him and the shop owner. We will given full run of the shop after it closed to the public. My daughter assisted with helping set up the mirrors.

The image was lit with a single strobe placed immediately in front of Jason firing into my 7 foot parabolic umbrella. A Lumecube was placed on a light stand just behind him (camera left) to add a little separation.

The shot as presented is pretty much straight out of camera. Photoshop was used to set the tone of the image along with a little dodging. The fifth mirror was a little bit of a mistake however I quite like how it adds a little bit to the image.

Merit in first competition for 2016

Last night was the judging of the first club competition for the year. The theme was “alternative view” and so I decided to enter the image I had taken of Kat. I figured that this was not the normal way that a portrait would appear.


It would appear that I was right as the judge awarded it a “Merit”. This is the second level down from the top mark that can be awarded, so I am really pleased with the result.

Representing New Zealand

This week i got some great news. I had submitted an image for consideration of being selected to represent the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) in an international competition run by the Federation of International Photographic Art (FIAP).

PSNZ was entering an “Open Colour” section and had chosen to base a set on “Autumn Colours”. It needed to select 20 images. I anticipated that most people were going to submit landscapes so I submitted a portrait of Kat amongst the leaves.

Kat_FIAPAs I understand it there was a very high number of entries and so I was really pleased to be selected amongst them.

The shot was taken over a year ago and you can read the full story behind it on this post.

Success in first Club competition of 2015

I was pleased with my results in the first judging of the Hutt Camera Club 2015 Ladder competition receiving a Merit and a Commended. This post is about the Merit image that I had entitled “Mummy”


When the topic of “The Street” was announced I decided that I wanted to do an image of a small child on a large street to show lowliness. I wanted to shoot it against a street that had large buildings on each side which would have further emphasised how small the child was. However in order to be safe I intended to shoot the street and the child separately and then composite the two together.

I took some shots in Featherston Street Wellington one morning while trying to ensure that I dodged the traffic. Around where the old General Motors plant was in Upper Hutt there is a new industrial area that has all of the roads laid out but as they have never sold any of the sections is blocked off so there is no traffic

The little girl is named Aubrey and she is the daughter of Ali, a model I have shot on a number of occasions. I met her just before Christmas and found her to be a very smart and articulate 2 year old, so I had figured that she would be great for the shoot.

Now there is an old adage that you should never work with either children or animals and this certainly came into play.

Aubrey woke up from her afternoon nap in a bad mood and by the time she arrived at the location it had not improved much. Unfortunately when we arrived we also found 5 police dog cars at the gate as they were using the area for dog training. While they were all under control and well away from where we were shooting Aubrey did not like the look of them at all.

I decided to shoot anyway so Ali carried her down the road, put her down and then quickly walked away. The shots were taken in a single set as by this stage Aubrey was heading towards the sort of tantrum that only 2 year olds can throw.

I ended up not putting the composite together as I thought that the image was strong enough without it, and given that it got a Merit then the judge agreed.

Success at Central Regional Salon

The Central Region of the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) basically covers the Lower half of the north island. I believe that the boundary is just below Taupo but it does include the East Coast city of Gisborne.

This year I entered both a print and a digital image into the Open Category of the salon, and had another image included in the Hutt Camera Club’s print set. I am really stoked with the results.

Because my Club was hosting the conference I actually got to help out with the judging session so was on hand to hear the comments of the judges who actually had no idea who had shot the images.

My print of the “Late for the Ball” image really resonated with the judges and it scores a merit and came third in the competition.

The print of this image actually looks better than the digital version
The print of this image actually looks better than the digital version

The  story behind the image can be found on this blog post.

My “Waiting for the model call” image was included in the Club set with the overall set coming second in the category. The story behind this image can be found on this link.

The final hanger shot is quite different from the earlier version
The final hanger shot is quite different from the earlier version

Finally my image entitled “The Fall” got an “Acceptance” in the Digital Category. Not as high as I would have liked but the standard of the images in the section was very high.

The fall
The fall

This image was actually a late substitution. I had intended to enter the hanger shot into the category but when it was selected for the Club entry I was under the impression that it could not go into an individual competition. Unfortunately by the time that it was discovered that this was allowed, it was too late.

The success has spurred me on to enter the images into consideration for NZ Camera which is the actual print publication of PSNZ.

Double success at final club judging

Last Tuesday was the final judging of the 2014 Ladder competition and I had two images entered. I was very pleased with the results as both images received “Merits” (which is the second to top score an image can achieve).

The set topic for the round was “From beneath” and I submitted this image taken at the old brickworks in Melbourne.0218_L4_S_EncasedClimb

For the second image I decided to enter my “Late for the Ball” into the Open category.Late for the Ball_Small

Very pleased with the overall results, however they were not good enough to actually win the competition.

Mixed results in Creative Focus

The Creative Focus Competition is a nationwide competition organised by the Pukekohe Camera club that has an aim of promoting photography that pushes the boundaries of traditional images both in terms of in camera techniques as well as post processing. The competition is in its second year.

Last year I entered four images and all four received acceptances, so i had high hopes of being able to repeat that process again. I entered four image again in a category they referred to as “fusion” however the more common term that should have used was composites.

This year I was not as successful having only two images (shown below) being successful. At first I was disappointed by this but then I learned that they had received twice as many images as the previous year. This meant that their rejection rate had to considerably higher as all the successful images are printed in a book after the competition.

Autumn Goddess

The stories behind the image can be found in Autumn Shoot and Late for the Ball articles Late for the Ball_Small

Late for the Ball

Late for the Ball_SmallSome times the inspiration for a shoot seems to come from random events. A couple of months ago I saw a box of old patterns in a book sale and bought them. My wife had been talking about using them to cover other objects and I instantly thought that it would be quite cool to make a dress out of them. My daughter then dashed my plans by telling me that patterns generally only contains half of a side because you folded the fabric in half to produce the whole piece.

Knowing that it would be difficult to completely cover a model in a single pattern the concept emerged of a girl that had run so late for the ball that they were literally trying to sew the dress around her.

Posing with the Black & White lingerie set
Posing with the Black & White lingerie set

Rather than post a casting call I approached a model (Suzie) and makeup artist (Crystal) who had both expressed interest in working with me. I had coffee with Crystal to go over the details of the shoot because I knew that hair & makeup would be quite unusual from what she had normally done for photoshoots. I knew that I would be compositing the body but I wanted the face to be from a single image. This meant that I wanted one side to be completely made up while the other was bare.

I sent a photo of Suzie and the dress to Crystal and left it up to her to come up with appropriate makeup. I did want to be slightly theatrical with the look in that I wanted large style rollers in the hair.  Crystal informed me that such things are not really used anymore but what is used really didn’t work with the look anyway.

The studio I had booked for the day is in an old house so I knew that I wanted to use the room as is. I collected a number of props from home (some under strict instructions from my wife such as her dressmaking scissors were not to be used to cut the patterns) and staged it to look like a sewing room.

The final selected pose
The final selected pose

Suzie had brought a number of sets of lingerie so that we could see what they looked like under the patterns, which were attached to her with double sided tape.  We selected one red and a black/white combination to try out. We started with the red set.

I had decided that the way we were going to shoot it was to do the patterns first and then the dress. I was shooting tethered into lightroom which meant that we could see a larger sized image than on the back of the camera.

Suzie took up different poses and once we had them I went through and selected which one I liked the best. Suzie then got changed into the other lingerie set and we shot a few images based around the poses we liked the best from the first series.

Wearing the dress
Wearing the dress

After looking at both sets it was apparent that the red lingerie set produced a much stronger look.

Suzie then put on the dress and we concentrated on getting as close to the chosen pose as possible. Lightroom made this a lot easier as we were able to compare the two images side by side. With the help of Crystal checking the images it did not take long before we had what I thought was a reasonably good match.

Once I had the images loaded on the home computer it was a simple matter of bringing them both into a single file and masking out. I increased the saturation in the lipstick and painted Suzie’s finger nails.

It was quite a fun shoot where pretty much everything went to plan. Thanks to Crystal and Suzie for their assistance in bringing this together.



Just Hanging Around

The finished image

The original inspiration for the shoot by Alessandra Favetto.
The original inspiration for the shoot by Alessandra Favetto.

Last Sunday I has a full day in a Lower Hutt studio to produce images that will be entered into national competitions. The first was inspired by an image I saw in the July issue of F11 magazine by Italian photographer Alessandra Favetto.

I has long held the view that models are often treated as mere clothes hangers, and so I knew that I could use the image as a base. However I wanted to have more than one person in the final image and to have the models hanging from a rack of some sort.

I posted the image in a modeling Facebook group and as I suspected got an immediate response. While I had initially thought that I would cast three models I ended up selecting five. Past experience from shoots had taught me that it was unlikely all five would make it to actual shoot day.

I also knew that the shot could be something that required assistance so I managed to elicit the help of fellow photographer Alan Raga.

As I suspected would happen, in the week leading up to the shoot one model discovered that the timing clashed with a family event and a second one sprained her wrist and ended up in plaster. A third model then failed to respond to any of the communications sent out in advance of the event, and simply didn’t show up on the day. This was exactly the issue that I had spoken about in my recent blog post on “Tips for models“.

The initial shot
The initial shot

In the end Summer & Renee turned up right on time.  I had asked the models to bring a number of outfits so that we had a good variety. Renee brought a small suitcase while Summer only brought two (both of which were very similar). We selected initial outfits and the girls got changed. I had to ask Summer to go and change her bra because she had a purple one on under a white top.

In terms of preparation this was going to be a very easy shoot because no hair or makeup was required. I knew that it would require several images to be taken though and then composited together. Past experience in this area has taught me that when you plan to do this having the lighting, camera position and focal length consistent between all shots make it so much easier in post.

The staging for the shoot was very simple with a large fabric backdrop that extended onto the floor and covering a small platform for the girls to stand. The hangers were suspended on another backdrop support. Once the girls were in position we raised the support up to create the illusion that they were hanging from it.

The illusion of being suspended

The main light was a large octobox set just left of the camera and high. The fill light was set camera right and down low. I was shooting tethered into a laptop with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Once we had the shots of the girls on the hangers we removed the platform and positioned two high backed chairs in a similar position to where each model has been standing. The girls then raised themselves up and I took the photo.

I had originally envisaged three models on the rack but  decided that there was room to shoot four so both Renee & Summer got changed and we repeated the process again.

Putting the images together was relatively simple process as the hem of the skirts provided a good point to merge the images. The hardest part was blending the backdrop and in future I will chose a material that is much more consistent in colour.

As often happens when you look at the images in post you realise that there was something that could have been done better during the shoot. In this case it was the realisation that the dress chosen for Summer in the second shot (orange) was actually hanging next to her in the first series. Fortunately colour is easily changed in photoshop.

The competition it is being entered into closes on August 13 so I still have a little time to tweek it further before then.

It was a very smooth shoot and it only took 40 minutes to get all the images we needed. Thanks to Renee, Summer and Alan for making it an enjoyable event.