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Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 06:05 PM
Well, I'm embarrassed and saddened to say that my image submissions didn't pass. I see what the judges were saying regarding some of the images, but wish I had a better idea of which ones they liked, and which ones they didn't. All of the images were images that sold well to my clients, though I do see the lighting issues now (I learned a ton at ImagingUSA). However, I wish I knew whether I should re-submit any of them or not. Since I've already failed, I'd open myself up to any critiques, but I'm not sure how to post that many images, and the images are already gone from the online portfolio. Also, any ideas on what "posing is to static" means? I try to make my subjects look casual, but maybe they still look too posed.

Anyway, if anyone wants me to send the images as a .zip file I can, I just don't know how to make it small enough to post here. I'd appreciate any input.

Angela:(

Tracy_McGee
02-26-2008, 06:11 PM
I'm very sorry to hear that. :( Can you make a Photoshop gallery of the images and then upload it to your server and post a link to it?

Mark_Levesque
02-26-2008, 06:22 PM
Sorry to hear that, Angela, but you neither the first nor the last to have an issue with the image submission portion on the first try, so don't take it too hard. I would take Tracy's suggestion and create a gallery that you can link to (we've had people use flickr, photobucket, pbase in addition to one's own website, so you have options). Your own website is always the first choice, but if you don't have one, use flickr or something. We will help guide you to select your best work. We've helped some people who took several tries, so don't feel bad.

David_A._Lottes
02-26-2008, 06:56 PM
What Mark said....hang in there. You'll make it. :)

As for the static comment I found this to explain what static means with regard to image making.

"At all costs, photographers are enjoined from placing the subject in the middle of the frame, because centered compositions inevitably produce a "static image". To achieve pictorial balance, Kerns (1980) recommends that photographers place the largest object in the frame at one point of intersection on the rule of thirds grid".

So the comment might be referring to the placement of subjects. Are most of your images centered? I would think if it was about subjects being posed they would have used a term like stiff or un-natural. At least that's what Jack says when he talks about my stuff. :D

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 07:19 PM
Thank you Tracy, Mark, and David for the kind words. It's still kinda depressing though. Anyway, as to David's comment on placement, I guess now that I look at them again, many of them are. And I know better, but especially when doing seniors, I find that they seem to want to be right up front and center (especially their more formal head shots).

Anyway, I've created an account on Flickr (my website is currently under construction - another thing I brought away from IUSA - update the website regularly!!!). My id is aglphoto@yahoo.com (not sure if you need the yahoo part or not). So please feel free to take a look, and give me honest opinions. Can I make any of them better, which ones should I totally eliminate (I already know of several), and/or should I totally re-submit (with help from all of you, of course)?

I tried to submit a broad variety, since it said to proportion it according to how you shoot. I do alot of sports and events along with portraiture, so I thought I needed to have those in there. However, I'm sure that the dance recital was a no-go, and I'm not sure about the baseball player either. Also, they did tell me that the dachsund was beautiful, but the background detracted from the image. This was a doggie day event at a feed store, but the puppy was so cute - is there any way to save this one?

Thanks again.
Angela

D._Craig_Flory
02-26-2008, 07:41 PM
Hi Angela;

Could you please post the path to your section ? Just your password isn't enough .. we also need a user name I think.

Mark_Levesque
02-26-2008, 07:46 PM
Here you go, Craig. And you don't need th password (I PMed her to remove it from her post.)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24164661@N02/

David_A._Lottes
02-26-2008, 07:51 PM
Angela
Do you mind if I play around with a couple of the images and re-post them here?

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 08:06 PM
Mark - thanks for answering D. Craig with the link. sorry about that. And I'll go back right now and take the password out. I didn't know if you needed it or not.

David - feel free to play with anything you want. Now that I've had a couple hours to digest the first results, I'm ready to take on all the extra help and critiques I can get. Part of the reason I decided to try for certification, was to improve myself as a photographer anyway, so I guess this is probably what I really needed.

I do have a couple of new ones that I think I can use to replace several others, but I'll wait for more feedback on the ones there first.

Thanks again guys, I appreciate feeling welcomed into the group.
Angela

Mark_Levesque
02-26-2008, 08:15 PM
Ok, so I went and had a looky. Here's what I see: lots of flat, flat light, and direct flash. I will deconstruct a couple for you. Let's start with the first one. Where is your main? Where is your fill? It looks like an unfortunate case of the "two umbrellas at 45 degree angles". One of the things they are looking for is directional light, and this does not have it. Set your main camera left, and put your fill close to the camera axis 1-2 stops below your main. If you have a background light, use it, possibly with a gel to give some separation, or put a grid on it and aim it back at your subject. This will provide separation and give your subject more of a 3D look. So a very minor change with a significant result.

Now the second one. I see a strong "hat" light, and the rest kinda looks like fill. And it looks a 1/2-3/4 stop underexposed (at least on this monitor). Again, get your main light camera left. Fill with a reflector. Change where your accent light it aimed- it's giving his collar/neck a bit of a hot spot. Notice how there is no definition on the side of the hat that is opposite the accent light. Proper positioning of the main would ameliorate this.

I actually don't mind the sports photo, except as much as you have the lens stopped down that horribly distracting background is in focus. Open up several stops, if you can. And look for a less distracting BG.

No13, the engagement session. Black on black requires good light control. On this monitor at least there appears to be hands and hands floating in black space.Sometimes this effect can be fun, but for an engagement session you may want to demonstrate actual bodies.

No12, dance recital event. All you need here is directional lighting. The pose looks great. Move her a little forward away from the background.

No9 looks fine as is. Nice job. Good detail, texture in the sky. A keeper.

No6, outdoor senior. Ok, you have several like this. Looks like you had equal flash and ambient exposure, which means the subject looks blasted with light. Aim your flash at a 45 degree angle, use an omnibounce or white card, and use -1 2/3 FEC. You just want a touch of light. This is too strong, and looks flat and more or less similar to what you get from a point and shoot, which is fine for myspace, but not for professional output.

I'm sorry. I do not mean to discourage you. I am trying to help. You had the courage to put it out there that you didn't pass the image submission, and that's the hard part. I think you need to make some changes in how you shoot. Honestly, they are not major changes, but they will make a big difference in your results. You will find that the very process of getting certified will improve your work. We are here to help. I would go through your other files and see if there are other images which have more directional lighting, particularly outdoor shots with no flash fill (unless you have some with just a touch.)

D._Craig_Flory
02-26-2008, 08:20 PM
Hi Angela;

This entire process will make you a much better photographer. You mentioned your clients loving your work. If someone never anything but water that is all they know. But, if they taste soda, or coffee, or wine their horizons have now expanded. As you improve, your clients will benefit and find out how much more you can do for them.

Over the decades, when I've been asked how good images must be, to be certified, I've always said "equal to at least a red ribbon in competition". That is an image scoring between 76 & 79 in state, or regional. That category is called "above average". That is also what a certified photographer is ... above average. If you look at your 20 images, which do you feel look above average ? Look through a PPA General Collection book and then look at your photos. What can you do to improve ?

David_A._Lottes
02-26-2008, 08:29 PM
I'm not so great at choosing images for cert or comp etc. so I hope others will help out. What I did was take a couple that I would not have submitted and re-cropped them to fit the rule of thirds thing. (Basically draw a tic tac toe board over the image and put the subject close to one of the intersections of the lines). I think it made a difference on both of these. So I guess I'm saying some of these that aren't working might still be usable. There are some very nice images in your gallery Angela, hang in there. :)

D._Craig_Flory
02-26-2008, 08:53 PM
Hi Angela;

Check this out: http://www.montezucker.com/content.html?page=5
I hope you will learn by comparing what this giant in photography did and how he did it.

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks Mark for your honesty. As I look at the images, especially after watching alot of the images come up in the competition forum, I see what you mean about the lighting. I actually just purchased a large softbox and reflector to try and get my lighting better and more defined. I have been working on that, but after passing the exam at IUSA, I kinda rushed to get images submitted for the deadline. (I didn't even know I was going to IUSA and taking the test till just before I went - the opportunity presented itself at the last minute). I guess I probably should have waited, but thought I'd give it a try. As for the outdoor ones, I never seem to be able to get the fill flash just right, so I always erred on the side of flat, versus not enough. One last thing - I have the engagement couple in the same pose but with different colors and on white background vs. black, and also a black and white version of it - is the pose a good one, should I just change the pose to one with colors, or go with a black and white (the original actually has more definition-I dodged it thinking it looked interesting that way).

David - thanks for the crop ideas. I wouldn't have thought of that crop for the girl with the wheel, but I like it. So, is there any way to salvage it lighting wise? Could I burn in the wagon wheel some and the right side of her face to make it look more directional? Any thoughts anyone?

Craig - thank you. I just purchased a 2007 Loan Collection book a couple of days ago. It should be here tomorrow. I was hoping to study it to possibly go for competion, but it looks like I'll be working on my certification images more first. And I just took a look at the Website you recommended. I printed off some of the stuff to read later tonight. Thanks again.

Also, I'd like opinions on the black and white? Most of those were photoshopped to make them paler and softer, but now I get the impression that the judges probably didn't like them that light. Could any of them be salvaged, or should I stay away from black and whites completely? Do the judges like to see Black and Whites at all?

Well, I'd better stop for now before everyone gets tired of this thread. I appreciate any and all other input

Angela Lawson

Mark_Levesque
02-26-2008, 09:40 PM
It's ok that you rushed to get your images in, Angela. You have plenty of opportunities to get past this hurdle, and now you have a better idea of what they are looking for, so you can look through your existing work for examples closer to what they are looking for as well as modify your practices to produce images that are more to the reviewers' liking (your customers will thank you.)

I think the pose of the engagement couple is fine, so you may have a better example of it in one of your other takes.

Now you are shooting with a Kodak. Do I take it that it has no TTL flash metering? (I am not real familiar with that camera.) If you are setting the flash power manually, start at maybe 1/16. You want just a touch of flash, not a whack. :) Enough to get rid of rocky raccoon eyes, but not wash out the face. And if you are aiming it straight at your subjects, stop! Or get it off camera.

No, the girl with the wheel is not salvageable. Don't spend any additional energy trying to rescue it. Work on finding something better that you already have or preparing for your next shoot by practicing the techniques that will give you better lighting. Channel your energies in a direction that will move you forward as a photographer and the images you need for your certification will come out in the wash. I know, I know. You want to be certified now. Well, the right thing to do is comb through your existing work and see what you can use, and forget about the rest. It doesn't matter if you made a good sale on the image or not; this is all about the technical aspects. And once you have identified the useful images that you already have, you will know how many additional images you will need to submit for the next judging. And then you can create them with each new customer you have.

You might have overdone the photoshop processing of the BW images. Can you post them with a more direct conversion? (Not just desaturating- a real conversion, but less "other stuff" done to the image.) but there is no problem submitting well done monochrome images.

Finally, don't worry about people getting tired of this thread. People who tire of it can move on. In the meantime you are asking questions that a dozen other people lack the wherewithal to ask themselves, and they are glad you are asking for them. You'd be surprised at how many lurkers there are.

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 09:48 PM
Thanks Mark. I think my head is starting to spin - but I already see alot of the problems so it's helping.

Anyway, here's an image I just took two days ago - with the new lighting set-up. Am I in the ballpark? Should I still tone down the cheek a little? Don't be too harsh on the kid though (he's mine).:) Loves to play with mom in the studio.

Angela

David_A._Lottes
02-26-2008, 10:06 PM
So, is there any way to salvage it lighting wise? Could I burn in the wagon wheel some and the right side of her face to make it look more directional?

What Mark said ......again. :)

It was just an example of using cropping to get your subjects into the thirds. The little boy is cute! The lighting could use a little more modeling but the boy's a winner. :cool:

Mark_Levesque
02-26-2008, 10:14 PM
Yes, that is already an improvement. Now this one you can help a little bit in photoshop, because it already has some modeling and directional lighting. That is the right track. Follow it. :)

D._Craig_Flory
02-26-2008, 10:18 PM
Hi Angela;

I'm posting your image as I see it. Please note how much deeper it is as well as how I made it look like you had a better lighting pattern. Yours didn't show any shadow on the cheek at all.

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i93/DC47/TheFedora.jpg

Art_Wright
02-26-2008, 10:23 PM
Hi, Angela!
The picture of your son is a great improvement! Here is a website that will help you with off-camera strobe http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

Being on this forum is a great place to learn...

Darren_Osgood
02-26-2008, 10:34 PM
Angela, I'm sorry to hear that you didn't not make it your first time at bat. I couldn't muster enough to go the first round and probably wouldn't have made it based on some observations and comments here. So I thank you for starting this thread and sharing your images.

Thanks to everyone else who's helping Angela, myself and all those others on the sidelines looking to make the next step!

Now back to weedle down yet more of my possibilities :-0

Darren

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 11:26 PM
Craig - Just a quick question. Would you submit it this way for certification? I've read a bunch of the comp. threads, and see that it's how to submit for competition (the mat with the thin line). But for certification, should I submit them like this, or should it be just the image, especially since we are submitting such a low res. file when we upload.

Thanks for the help.

Angela_Lawson
02-26-2008, 11:28 PM
Darren - Thanks for the words of encouragement. After all the input today, it is actually nice to know that I'm not the only one out there who needs the help. Maybe between the two of us, we can muster enough help to get us passed in May. : )

Angela

D._Craig_Flory
02-26-2008, 11:44 PM
Craig - Just a quick question. Would you submit it this way for certification? I've read a bunch of the comp. threads, and see that it's how to submit for competition (the mat with the thin line). But for certification, should I submit them like this, or should it be just the image, especially since we are submitting such a low res. file when we upload.

Thanks for the help.

Hi Angela;

More & more I'm trying to do creative treatments on client prints. But, I'd suggest you simply study what I did and tailor it to how you can start improving what you do.

Cassandra_Sullivan
02-27-2008, 02:50 AM
Craig - Just a quick question. Would you submit it this way for certification? I've read a bunch of the comp. threads, and see that it's how to submit for competition (the mat with the thin line). But for certification, should I submit them like this, or should it be just the image, especially since we are submitting such a low res. file when we upload.

Angela - you'll want to read the Image submission guidelines. One of the first things:
They must be from twenty different job assignments completed within the last 24 month’s......Self-Assignment images are not considered a job assignment and will be rejected.
Unless you hired yourself to take your son's portrait, then you probably shouldn't submit it. I mean they may not know...but you never know who's reading these forums.

2nd: The images should be prepared as they are for a client, (as opposed to competition/salon images). ... “Prepared as they are for a client” is only meant to prevent additional re-touching or manipulation explicitly for the purpose of this review.

So unless you'd normally present an image to a client like that, then you wouldn't submit it for certification that way.

It is a cute portrait though! Oh and kudos to you for admitting to the rejection...I can't say that I would have been that brave. :o

Karen_Linsley
02-27-2008, 03:57 AM
I just found this thread, or would have responded sooner. Angela, don't let it get you down. I too did not pass the image review on the first try, it was not so much discouraging as it was wondering what on earth are they looking for? You are getting some good feedback here and I will go soon and take a peek at your images too, but did want to respond now. Thank you for having the courage to post. I will only say, don't take that "images as they are prepared for a client" too literally. Prepare your images more for print comp than for clients and you will do better. I'm on a mission to get that wording changed, because I think it is inaccurate! I think they should word it: "prepare images for print comp and to get scores of 76 or higher." Print comp means a lot of art work, cropping to rule of thirds, no flat lighting.

Betsy_Finn
02-27-2008, 07:22 AM
Hi Angela!

I didn't pass my image review the first time either -- but it was a learning experience. (one of my main problems was the submission method prep, frankly). Anyways, sorry to be a latecomer to the thread, but yes, the suggestions you've already gotten are definitely worth listening to (like you need me to say that...hehe).

The wording issue Karen talks about is valid. But, I assume since not everyone enters competition (although many photographers do photograph their clients with competition images as a goal). There's a fine line between "improving" images that need a little tweaking to be right, and completely manipulating images to fit the bill. And I think the latter of the two is what the powers that be want to avoid.

The process isn't a quick and easy one, but you will definitely see a marked improvement in your work as you complete this *fun* process (well I hope you do! :) ). I could see the difference in my work then and now, and it is definitely a result of this whole certification process (and print comp too I admit).

:)

Angela_Lawson
02-27-2008, 02:12 PM
Thank you Cassandra, Karen and Betsy. I appreciate the helpful hints and words of encouragement. :) And I really do appreciate all the other help from everyone else. I really want to become better at what I do, not just for the sake of certification. I'd like to maybe enter some competitions someday too.

Anyway, many of the things that have been suggested have been things I know, but didn't put into practice like I should. I was awake last night mulling things over, and I think where I got stuck is that once I started doing it one way, it became a habit that I was afraid to change. See, I started out in photography doing the typical Memory Mate sports photos. Since much of it was done wherever I could get the coaches to give me a little spot, I used alot of flat lighting to make sure I got rid of shadows on faces if outside and was usually put in a small corner for individual shots in the gym. Most of the coaches I've dealt with the last couple of years don't like to give up much practice time, and I can't get them to schedule pictures for any other time. Anyway, it's not a proper excuse, I shouldn't have let it carry over into my portraits, but I guess that's probably how it started. Anyway, now I'm going to work hard to get that changed. And though I guess I shouldn't use my son for certification, he makes a handy and cute model to practice on, since the grandparents love the pics no matter what. (I live in a very small upper Michigan town, and I'm not real busy this time of the year - can't seem to get the seniors to want to come in with tons of snow still on the ground).

After all that, I still have another question to all who have been reading? I've been shooting all of my outdoor portraits the same way as my sports stuff, with my flash on a stroboframe bracket that puts the flash about 6" to 8" above my lens, and allows me to tilt the camera vertical or horizontal and keep the flash above the lens. Mark suggested tilting the flash and bouncing, but whenever I've tried that, the light seems to be way too high. So should I not shoot with it on the bracket? If not, should it be mounted on the hotshoe and bounced, or completely off camera? I don't have any assistants at this point to hold anything, so I'm unsure how to handle that. And if I keep it on the hotshoe, would a small flash softbox work as well as tipping it up and bouncing, or am I still not going to get enough of a catchlight in their eyes? This is probably very elemental, but once you get in the habit of doing something one way, it's hard to change.

Thanks for your help.
Angela

Karen_Linsley
02-27-2008, 02:33 PM
Hi Angela, you can get the light off the camera without an assistant, just put it on a tripod or light stand. I have mine aimed into an umbrella, the light is bounced back onto the subjects. I usually have an assistant, but once in a while I must work assistant-less. If you have the light on a tripod you can do it. And yes, I would experiment with different light modifiers to see what you like best. There's a thread here about using one of those sheets of foam that prints from the lab come packed in. You wrap it around the flash and secure it with a rubber band, bouncing the light off the foam. It was quite some time ago, do a search on light modifiers. It works pretty well!

Once you branch out into off camera flash you'll wonder why you never did it before!

Keith_A_Howe
02-27-2008, 02:46 PM
After all that, I still have another question to all who have been reading? I've been shooting all of my outdoor portraits the same way as my sports stuff, with my flash on a stroboframe bracket that puts the flash about 6" to 8" above my lens, and allows me to tilt the camera vertical or horizontal and keep the flash above the lens. Mark suggested tilting the flash and bouncing, but whenever I've tried that, the light seems to be way too high. So should I not shoot with it on the bracket? If not, should it be mounted on the hotshoe and bounced, or completely off camera? I don't have any assistants at this point to hold anything, so I'm unsure how to handle that. And if I keep it on the hotshoe, would a small flash softbox work as well as tipping it up and bouncing, or am I still not going to get enough of a catchlight in their eyes? This is probably very elemental, but once you get in the habit of doing something one way, it's hard to change.


First of all you shouldn't need a flash outdoors. Look for the right light and photograph there. I only use a flash outside when I have absolutely no other choice like a completely grey cloudy day and no way to rescheduale. Next, Mark was talking about bouncing the light on indoor photographs where you have a ceiling or wall to bounce off of. Outdoors you don't have a ceiling, so if you point the strobe at the sky it's never gonna bounce back. If you want to use flash indoors or outdoors, you are going to need to invest in something other than just an on camera flash. We can all GLADLY help you get the best results possible with just on camera flash, but those results will still not elevate your work to the level it needs to be to pass CPP. I am not trying to be mean but from the questions you are asking here it's obvious that you don't have a good handle on lighting yet. I would suggest you find a class or mentor to study light with. Not trying to toot my own horn but Camp Howe at our studio in June is the kind of class you might look for. There are lots of other educational options out there. I don't know where you are from but Heart of America conference in April is held in Council Bluffs this year. There would be many great speakers for you to study with there. I am sure where ever you are you could find a conference or program to help you out. The thing is you have the desire and nobody can teach you that. So you are already a good step of the way toward success. Lighting you can learn, you just need to find a teacher. Best of Luck!
Keith

Cindi_Delaney
02-28-2008, 04:02 AM
Talk about coming in late!
Honestly Angela I just want to say thanks. I'm just recently joined PPA and I haven't even bought the book yet.
It took great courage to ask for help. You are an inspiration.
Hopefully someday in the future you can help critique my stuff.
This is very exciting stuff. I just found out about certification and the PPA and I've been a photojournalist for year. Also doing sports, weddings, events and family portraits. All the usual stuff. Got a lot of happy clients. But now I feel a new challenge and want to improve my craft.
Now I live in a small town (20,000) and I'm the only studio.
Thanks again for being brave.

Angela_Lawson
02-28-2008, 03:30 PM
Thanks Cindi. I appreciate the kind words. I'm not sure about an inspiration, but I am trying to look at it as a positive way to improve, though it is still a little discouraging. However, I understand many of the mistakes I was making, so I'm already improving what I do. Much of what I was doing, I did out of habit, and just kinda got stuck. Anyway, as, I think it was Darren, posted as a tag line..."I am 1/2 way there" to my certification, since I already passed the exam, so I'm trying to keep an upbeat spin on things. And there have been a number of very helpful and nice people that have offered assistance.

I did have a little chuckle when you mentioned a small town of 20,000 though. : ) Where I live in northern Michigan, we have about 3,500 locals. The rest are tourists that come in for the ski season or summer season, and aren't really looking for portraits. And there are several other photographers in the area, so I do have competition, but this is the first year working in a studio outside of my home, so I'm hoping for more business, and with that more ability to improve.

Anyway, thanks for the message, and keep me posted on how things go for you - us newbies to the forum will have to stick together for awhile I think. It sounds like some of the gang on here know each other REALLY well. (Sorry guys, but I've been reading some of the threads from the last conference you attended, and it sounds like you guys had far to much fun). Just kidding!!

Thanks again.
Angela

Cindi_Delaney
02-29-2008, 01:28 AM
You bet Angela. Although I have about 70 to 75 degrees now we hit over 115 in the summer and all of our 'snowbirds' run north. Our little town of mostly retired folks dwindles to about half.
But we do need to stick together.
Now I'm heading over to Amazon to order the book!
I have a son who wants to get his CPP after I get mine, so I guess $110 isn't too bad.
My other son pointed out that I spend more than that on 'toys' for the studio all the time. ;)

Keith_A_Howe
02-29-2008, 04:43 AM
Cindi, When my wife was going to take the CPP exam she ordered the book through an interlibrary loan. It didn't end up getting here soon enough for her - but still she didn't have to pay for it. You might try that.
Keith

cat_broderick
02-29-2008, 01:17 PM
Thats what I did-had to look for the right edition, though. The best I could get was 8th, not 9th.

Cindi_Delaney
02-29-2008, 03:03 PM
I was able to order the 9th edition through Amazon for 86.00, new.
So while 86 for a book seems high I'm trusting it's a very important book.
And like I said I have a couple of apprentices that want to study. And I'm sure I can write this off, right?

Heather_L._Smith
02-29-2008, 04:06 PM
I was able to order the 9th edition through Amazon for 86.00, new.
So while 86 for a book seems high I'm trusting it's a very important book.
And like I said I have a couple of apprentices that want to study. And I'm sure I can write this off, right?

You bet, girl! That's what I paid for my copy several years ago. I would offer it up to someone (when I'm done!), but it's marked up pretty good... lots of highlighter and underlining!

This is a great book - with tons and tons of information. And, yes, absolutely write it off!