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Boot Camp III Assignment #1: Results

Results from Assignment #1, in which you were asked to choose someone interesting in your community as a subject and to produce a (reasonably) tight portrait.

The plan was to get you away from the computer and out into the community -- and over 300 of you took up the challenge. The finals from this assignment included portraits from many different walks of life -- an air guitar visionary, and entrepreneur, an organic farmer, a die-hard BBQ'er, a metalworker, a firefighter and a cancer survivor…
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Hopefully, many of you came away with the realization that the most important step in this assignment was actually deciding who to photograph. Essentially you're answering the question, "What am I going to say with my camera?"

Before the final edits, a caveat. Judging photos is at best an inexact science and at worst pure bullshit. I have never been a fan of saying one photo is better than another one simply because the choices are so subjective.

That said, here are a few of the over 300 entries that stuck with me. I have also left comments on the Flickr pages of a couple dozen photos who survived until the edit just prior to this one. But my final edit is as follows, and click on the pics for bigger version and more info:

JP Manninen created a peaceful, trippy vibe in his (or her -- dunno) photo of Tapani "Tappo" Launonen, co-founder of the Air Guitar World Championships in Northern Finland.

I liked the simplicity, mood, graphic quality and expression in this image. The lighting was simple -- one Easy Box soft box balanced with daylight ambient.

Brian Hoffman chose photograph Etsy.com cofounder Jared Tarbell using an over/under combo of lighting. The key was from a 1/4 CTO'd LumiQuest Soft Box III overhead, which left pretty strong/hard shadows. The fill was from a 1/2 CTB'd flash from below that was diffused with … and bath towel.

The body attitude and expression jumped out at me here, as did the lighting and choice of backdrop.


Andy May photographed Andy Jeffrey, a local organic farmer in Somerset, UK. Click the pic to see Andy's caption, which talks about some of the cool initiatives being undertaken by the subject.

As for lighting, he used a full blast from a Nikon SB-28 in a 28" Westcott Apollo soft Box to get a look that reminded me a lot of Seattle-based photog John Keatley's style, mostly because of the way the tones blend everywhere in the photo. Very painterly, with a great environment, pose and expression.


James Davidson photographed local BBQ'er Doug Kitchens in Cochran Georgia along with a product of his work. James used the combination of a shaft of sunlight and pit smoke to create a background for his image.

The environment (and the lighting) was cool for this image, but what struck me was the pride on Kitchens' face. This man knows BBQ.

Reader ESARI (no real name given) went the unsung hero route and photographed Sharif Said, a local metalworker. The image is a vehicle to talk about local economic disparities in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The tools, colors, textures and expression combine with the light to make a striking photo. But the real meat here is in ESARI's using the photo as a platform on which to advance the discussion of something he feels is important.

When you think about it, this is what lighting is all about -- to create photos which will grab peoples' interest so that you can better sell your ideas.

Pedro Cardoso, of Aveiro, Portugal, photographed local fire department commander Carlos Mouro, whose importance to the community is pretty obvious.

The shoot was over in five minutes, four of which was setting up a Nikon SB-28 and an umbrella. The lighting is simple; but IMO, anything more complex would have taken away from the photo. The expression is elegant, stoic and pretty much perfect.

If my house is on fire, this is the type of guy I want showing up.

Last but not least is cancer survivor Meg, photographed by Toronto-based Ryan Couldrey. Meg is currently in full remission from stage four lymphoma, and this photo says so much about her station in life.

Click the picture above for bigger, and a link to a setup shot wherein Couldrey used a down-firing umbrella for key and a DIY Ring Flash Adapter for fill.

But all of that is secondary to the photo itself, where mood, expression and gesture combine with light for a photo I simply cannot stop looking at. Which is why I also chose it as the winner for the first assignment. Ryan wins either a hard copy set of Lighting in Layers or a LumoPro LP160 speedlight.

The portrait resonates. If you scroll down the comments on Flickr you'll see that it even inspired a charcoal drawing from another viewer.

Congrats to Ryan, and even more so to Meg. And also to everyone who completed the first BC3 assignment, the full results of which are here.
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Them's my picks. Feel different? Hash it out in the comments. But be respectful, please.


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