Boot Camp III Assignment #4: Results

Results from Boot Camp III, Assignment #4, in which you were asked to create a "36 Hours In…" style travel package about a place near you.

This was a more demanding assignment than the first three (which is why it was saved for last) and that really showed in the number of entrants. To those who completed the shoot, congrats. And I hope that you learned more about your own turf by looking at it through the eyes of a potential visitor…

First, some notes on what was a very difficult selection process. The first cut was pretty easy, the survivors for the most part being the sets of pictures that created a sense of place and worked well together.

Then it got much tougher, to my eye at least. There were some strong set of photos with weaker captions / itineraries, and vice versa.

But there were several sets of particular merit, and here are my favorite five. If you'll permit, I am slipping into newspaper picture editor mode from here on out. Minus the gratuitous profanity.

As always, click on the pics for bigger and (far) more info. In fact, I strongly suggest clicking through to enjoy the vicarious weekend getaways that await you.

Linköping, Sweden

Traian Pop implores us to visit the 7th largest city in Sweden with what is essentially a set of three rural-looking photos. Nothing so terrible about that, except the itinerary really left me wanting to see something that shows what the city itself is like.

The three photos were very nice. I especially like the bomber and the way the light brings out the plane and grass.

But I have to tell you, if I ever turned in a feature set with every photo shot with a 10-22mm lens set at 10mm, I would henceforth forever be known in the photo dept as Tenmil, the ultra-wide angle photographer.

A superwide has much more impact when you use it sparingly. When you hear that little voice in your head say, "Damn. Everything looks good when shot with a 10mm…" that voice is lying to you. Mix it up.

Another thought. Only one person visible in the set -- small with no face. I felt that the other two photos would have benefitted with the addition of people.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Heading south towards the equator, Eric Sari (whom you may remember as the winner of Assignment #3) submitted three absolutely beautiful photos, along with a great itinerary.

Unfortunately, said itinerary left me absolutely pining for a scener -- something with a sense of place. Also, Eric shot the entire assignment without including any … what's the word I am looking for here?

Oh, I know: People.

People are important subjects in travel packages. They allow us to better imagine ourselves in the destination, or simply to get a start on the people-watching we will certainly be doing while there.

Even landscapes and lodging photos will usually have a person shoehorned in there somehow. They are our surrogates, and are very important.

Don't get me wrong -- the individual images are beautiful. As singles, among the best of the lot. But I really do not feel as I have a sense of the place. Which is the primary goal of the genre.

Oulu, Finland

Back up north we have JP Manninen's take from Finland. As far as pure photos, I thought this was the tightest edit of the bunch that was also able to give me a sense of the location.

The photos were subtle, elegant and full of information. There were no wasted images. They had people, places, food -- a couple of choices for a lede photo, too.

But the photos had to stand on thier own. Meaning that the itinerary was more of a collection of individual photo captions than a package geared to the potential traveler. And it is not something you would notice so much -- if it were not for some of the other itineraries showing how additive they could be to the photography.

That process of comparison, of course, is the entire idea behind a shared assignment. We see how others do it, and learn to up our own game.

Reno-Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Next we head to the wild wild west of Nevada, where Carrie Compton has your schedule completely packed with stuff to do. Very nice selection of food/bev, locations and activities.

The itinerary was atypically done -- very conversational. I'll give her brownie points for trying, but it was difficult for me to get behind it. It was comprehensive though, if in its own way.

Some very strong photos, though. In fact, the only thing that bugged me was the edit. Two things really struck me in what was otherwise a very strong collection of pictures.

One, the leaves detail. Very pretty, very graphic, but added absolutely no real info about the destination. It is a gorgeous little trap to use up one of the few visual bullets you have available to fire in this piece. You grab it, of course, in case you end up being short on pics and need a CYA.

But she wasn't short, and did not need it. In fact, that was my other problem -- duping the lady in the blue top with the dog. This is a final edit. I know you love both of your babies, but choose a favorite and chuck the other one. I'd lose the vertical, and it didn't even feel like a tough call.

Otherwise, I love the photos. Your scene setter allowed you to go simple and graphic with the others and get away with it. Very, very nice.

Highland Park, Los Angeles, USA

The winner for Assignment #4 is Allison Achauer.

I loved that she went all niche and limited the subject matter to a neighborhood. You'd think that would be too restrictive, right? But in my experience, when you are in need of some creativity the best way to spark it is to impose some rigid limitations. Fewer choices = more creative solutions.

The itinerary was killer. It really made me want to visit this neighborhood. She introduces us to several personalities -- real people -- and a funky art gallery along with food/drink/nightlife. But more to the point, her captions and itinerary significantly improved the experience of viewing her photos. Gold standard.

I felt at first that the photos were food/drink-heavy. But the package she wrote justified them as a valid roadmap to experience Highland Park. You remember how, in writing class, you could spout off just about any theory you wanted in a term paper, as long as you could back it up and defend it?

Exact same thing. We are communicators. It all counts.

Nit pick: I could have lived without the soda bottle line-up photo. But in the context of multiculturalism of the neighborhood, it is completely defensible. Speaking of pictures, they are tough to see this small. Click the pic for her itinerary, which is a story in itself, and then click through to see some of those little postage stamps above are actually nice photos.

As a bonus, Allison reports that one of the outtakes was actually picked up by the LA Times to illustrate an interview with the subject. No surprise there.

And as far as I am concerned, I would have no problem assigning her to do the next "36 Hours In..." that was within driving distance.

Congrats to Allison Achauer, winner of the final Boot Camp 3 assignment. She wins:

• A Lighting in Layers Boxed DVD Set
• A LumoPro LP160 speedlight
• A new Honl Baby Bounce
• A new Honl CTO Kit
…plus some extra goodies thrown in for good measure.

Allison, please shoot me a Flickr mail with shipping address and we will get the booty on the its way.

You can see a slideshow of the entrants here. Make sure to click through to check out the information about some of the destinations, too. They will give you wanderlust.

And again, congrats to all of you who participated in not just this assignment but any or all of the others. I hope you had fun and learned something along the way. I know that I very much enjoyed viewing and editing your photos.

We'll have to do this again sometime.


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