Peter Steeper: Eating at the Trough

UPDATE: There was a mixup in the date on our third-place winner, with Flickr having the photo as a 2007 shot, when it fact it was shot four years ago and dropped into Flickr in 2007. While still an amazing photo, the "Ants" photo was removed from the competition by mutual agreement between the photographer and myself. Thus, 5th goes to 4th, 4th goes to 3rd, and a vote-off is held for 5th place. More here. For informational purposes, we are leaving the photo and description up as inspration to ant-infested photographers everywhere, including myself.

"Eating at the Trough," by Canadian amateur photographer Peter Steeper, was made with a Canon G3 point-and-shoot digital camera, a 420 EX flash and an off-camera cord.

Says Peter:

"After an incident in the kitchen with ants I decided to take advantage of what I thought was a great photo opportunity. Then my wife discovered what I was doing. The experiment ended suddenly."

As for the outpouring of familial support for his domestic photographic endeavors, he notes:

"The background is one of my wife's fine white china dishes. I am banned from ever using her china again as a prop."

Chase Said:
Conceptually brilliant.

The vision it took to create this shot is impressive. Note from the shooter's description that an incident in the kitchen turned into a creative opportunity.

Whether it's an obsession with photography or simply a creative thread in the photog's brain - being attuned to this moment as a great moment to create a cool shot is something of a wonderful gift/talent.

Combine that vision with a solid execution (love the highlight on the right and the shadow on the left defining the "depth" --and thus thick consistency-- of the syrup). The highlights on the ants' little bodies are really cool for bringing them to life, and I'm guessing that the bubbles in the syrup were a happy accident, but they add something to the value of this shot too.

This image has some of the same characteristics of the winning shot you'll see soon -- people will stop in their tracks to look at this shot. It's got visual mojo.

I Say:

As I mentioned in the lead-in, this photo epitomizes the idea of the photographer making the photo rather than the gear doing it. A point-and-shoot and a small flash, with dash of spontaneity, led to a spur-of-the-moment photo.

Some might call the light simplistic. IMO, much more would have been overkill.

And the light was necessary for more than just aesthetic reasons. That close of a macro shot needs some aperture to control depth of field. At such clse range, even a small flash makes small apertures possible.

The smaller chip size of the P-n-S camera helped, too. A smaller chip means more depth of field for a given aperture setting. (This would have been a much more difficult shot to pull off with a dSLR for several reasons.)

But beyond the technical stuff (there were far better technicals displayed elsewhere in the pool) this is a photo that could be used to convey many different ideas that have nothing to do with ants.

They are us, whether we are blue-collar workers, guys at a bar, sugar addicts, mooches, or any number of other things.


Great shot, Peter. And thanks for your gracious understanding about the date.


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