Weekly Competition # 76: Still life in black and white. Competition

Competition Details
Closing Date: 21/12/2008
Judge: Malo1961

Hi folks, It's time to put your brain in high gear. This weeks subject is: A Still Life in black and white. Not everyday s subject, and maybe it pushes some of you out of your comfort zone. You don't have to leave your house.That's the benefit.Subject can be anything. Just remember the next words.Shape, Form , Simplicity and delicate Lighting. Common house lamps can be all you need, B&W means no colour cast. For those of you who don't know were to start, here is an excellent link.Good luck to you all, and remember.....No colour. Slight warm or cold toning is allowed though.
Competition Entries

Malo1961

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 04:55
Hi all,
So now the judging part begins. Before I start ruling, please allow me to share some notes and thoughts with you. They must be seen on a strictly personal basis of course.
It seems this weeks assignment turned out a lot more difficult than expected.
About 50 percent of all the entries were taken last week, and that means something, I'll think.

The interpretation of this weeks theme is something else. When you Google still life photography
you get a large amount of hits showing you a possible direction. As an Old school guy, I always think of the still lifes produced by the old Dutch and Belgium masters in the 17th and 18th century. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Goch etc...... The way they captured every day subjects as a still life is surely great.

Now.......I know in this modern day and age there is lot's of room for discussion and debate about what is what and why.......But still, I have seen entries that couldn't be seen by me as a still life. Sometimes the line between a still life and a close up is very thin, and knowing this makes judging this round without a doubt the hardest one , I ever had to do. And I had my fair share until now, I'll guess. Being the poor chap, judging this round at least gives me the provocative to rule by my standards. So please don't be offended, after all it is just one man's opinion.
OK....and now the fun part:

Dr. Mhuni: Bathroom still life:
A mundane every days subject which in a graphical way is pleasing to my eyes. Due to the birds view it has a kind of depth to it. But.....as a still life, it doesn't work for me. Browsing the bathroom I would have chosen an other subject.
If I had to use the shower head, I would have gone in much closer in detail.

Bigcog : Vodka bottle:
I like your approach on this one. Lighting is very nice, but I think using f4 in combination with your view point provided the wrong placement of sharpness. I think sharpness should be on the top of the bottle way down to the top of the glass. Now my eyes are searching for an anchor point. As if I had to much of a drink.......

John Riley: Planted Pot:
A very good black and white conversion. The overall tonal range is great and pleasing to my eyes. But being presented as a still life it has some flaws. The branch (herbs??) obscures the fine detail of the pot, and the arrangement of leaves and branches around the pot, make it a bit busy to the eye.

Gartmore: Monochrome arrangement:
The lighting is spot on here. And the soft glow indeed makes it very pleasing to look at. If only I could see the bowl or plate this pears are placed on, than it would have scored high marks in my book. Now I can only look at it as a close up.

GX10Cliff: Fishing days:
You captured the structure of the book very nicely, but some how the choice of reel doesn't mix well. (time wise)
The book of Walton is from an other era as the Cardinal reel. To get that old melancholic feel over it, leveling the two subjects by age would be a better choice. An old fishing rod or hooks perhaps? And to bad about the blown highlights on the spool. It kills an other wise great lighting.

GlynM: Mashed spuds:
Still life or busy life?? I see a great subject here, but now there is to much info. Take away everything except the wooden plate and potatoes, focus in a bit closer to loose the tiles, and you would have ended high, here. Because the lighting on the potatoes, the shadows and the structure of the wooden plate make an excellent still life on it's own.

Ben76: The chimney sweep:
The use of natural light certainly pays off dividend here. You captured the structure very good, and the conversion to mono provided a nice tonal range. I am not sure the placement on the tiles is a good choice. The hard lines of the jointing, kind of spoil the overall feel for me.

Ikillrocknroll: Statue at Hermitage:
In your comments you say: this counts as a still life, right? I'll ask you: If you were to take a still life in that museum,
using that statue as main subject, would this have been the final result? I wonder........The lighting is beautiful captured,
the same goes for the conversion to monochrome. But as a arranged still life it doesn't succeed. A great picture, but no still life in my book, I am afraid.

Scottthehat: the man on his head:
What is this, I am looking at? It looks like a bronze or metal plaquette or something. Is it something you have hanging on your wall? Please tell me later. The relief shows some clever craftsmanship, but to call this a still life?
You captured it well, lighting wise. But again.....I can't see it as a still life.

Lilly: Yellow is the colour:
It sure is a still life. And a classical one too, if I may say. A beautiful conversion to mono and an excellent use of toning.
I love the unsharpness behind the colander ( is this the word??) But why was the right hand side cropped off ?
The bottom side I can live with, but the right hand side should have been visible. This will cost you some points.

Lenscape: Lilium:
Well.....coming from somebody who has a very strong opinion on B&W, you did very good. I like this a lot. The flower is showing her full beauty and the used lighting is spot on. The dark leaves at the top show a nice detail, although I am not sure about their arrangement. It seems a bit cruel to chop them off like that. But overall a very pleasing picture, so well done!

Tony-O: Kettle:
This set up sure qualifies as a still life. One subject that has a lot of potential. The shiny material makes it hard to cope with the reflections. They distract a bit. (did you try a polarizer, to get rid of them a bit?) And to balance out the shot a bit more you could have cropped of everything from the lowest bar down. The dark reflection is getting to much attention now. Overall a good effort. But still needs some work.

Davidtrout: Down in the garden.....:
This one made me laugh. Thinking outside the box, yes! But I know that you know what I had in mind, when I decided on this weeks theme. Overall a great picture ,with a lot of humor in it, capable of winning several different competitions with different themes. But not this weeks still life contest, I am afraid.

Father Ted: Metal Conductor:
I like this one very much. The play with light, to get the shadow to “perform” just finishes it of. The grainy effect of the noise, the cool toning on the metal and warm toning on the floor add a nice feel to it. And makes this little piece of metal come to life. An excellent and careful thought out idea , which turns out very good. Well done.

Beakynet: just for fun:
You had all the ingredients there, waiting for a nice arrangement, and some careful lighting. But you decided otherwise.
High marks for a self portrait, but as a still life................naaaaaah.

Beebee: Tools unused:
Every piece of tool here, could have made a great subject on it's own. Providing a nice background and careful lighting
would have brought you far. Now it shows to much info and as a whole it doesn't convince me as a still life. Sorry.

Hefty 1: Fleur:
Delicate is the word I'll choose to describe this picture. It shows the quality of the 77 ltd. I would have liked it with a bit more contrast. It seem a bit flat for my taste. And was it necessary to go in so close? Were does a still life end and becomes a close up? Showing the whole flower and more of the vase, by stepping back a bit more would have added a lot more to this picture, as a still life , I mean.

Josh: Ssssssh:
A small porcelain figure which has great potential as a still life. You obviously tried hard to show the delicate material
but the halogen lamp wasn't maybe the right choice. I think natural lighting from a diffused window would have done a better job. Now the spots of highlight are a bit to present. And the soft focus effect of the net in front of the lens doesn't take that away. I wonder how it would look, if you had decided to use a white background . Maybe the delicate porcelain figure would have stood out even more.

Joshua Hakin: Barbers Table:
A lovely arrangement of barbers tools. The natural light of the window gives a perfect “feel” over the subject.
The detailed structure of the wooden tabletop brings life to the whole scene. Nothing to comment on the monochrome part. The only thing I am not sure about is the used angle of view. It's dynamic (maybe to.....) Each individual item would make a great still life on it's own, but grouping them together works also. Well done.

Bernadette: Memento mori.....:
Well......you certainly did your homework on this one. Using an old Dutch master from Haarlem as inspiration for your picture. And in that you succeeded very well. It has an old and fragile feeling over it. Carefully arranged items that tell a story. The lighting is perfect, and so is the overall tonal range. None of the items seems out of place or not belonging there. The open book could be a modern paperback, but if so, it was clever disguised. Obviously you have a great eye for detail. The slight brown toning on the wall gives just that bit of extra. Well done!

STEVEPOXON: Water Lilly on pond:
This one seems a bit flat and lifeless. I pulled it into PS, and levels showed a huge gap on the right side. The slider can be pulled back to 190. Than the picture comes to life. It isn't a still life, and as a nature/flower close up it lacks contrast.
In this case the conversion to monochrome seems counter productive. I can imagine the greens of the leaves, in combination with the white or yellow of the Lilly would have a lot more impact in colour. But regardless of that, it needs some serious levels adjustment. Just try it, and you will see.

Rapala: lamp post and tree:
A dynamic composition, great control over lighting in harsh conditions. A city scene, were the lamppost has to survive against the tree, with some help from humans. But it is no still life. And for a scenic close up, taken in a city the chopped of bottom is a bit drastic, in my view.

Viewfinder: snapshot:
A nice still life of a modern watch. Excellent dof, provided by the small sensor of the compact camera used.
This is one field were those little and sophisticated gems prove their usefulness. Great subtle lighting and excellent detail, even in the metal of the wrist brace. Well captured.

Mikew; Glass and orange:
As a study of light, you did well here. I love the shadow providing a nice counter point. The way the orange was placed
raises some questions to me. I am not sure it benefits the whole scene in this way. And the orange looks a bit worn out.
To much sun received on the outer shell, perhaps? I think using a glass and orange as main subject there needs to be a bit more to make it exciting.

Womble: Eyes:
Very good control over form and light here. The strong diagonals add depth to the scene, and the structure of the
wooden floor is very good captured. I am not so sure about the heavy shadow of the skull itself. It is so dominant
that it takes away all the attention of the skull. The subtle whites of the beaver skull are a bit lost now. Maybe some local dodging and burning could have lifted the main subject, providing the attention it clearly deserves.
Overall a very good try, with a difficult subject.

And now the final results:

Bernadette : Winner
Father Ted : Second place
Lilly : Third place

Joshua Hakin: Highly Commended
Hefty 1: Commended
Lenscape: Commended.

Congratulations to the lucky six, and a big thanks to everyone, who found the time and inspiration to enter this round and making my task extremely difficult.
Over to Bernadette, to set next weeks theme.

Happy Christmas to you all, and may the best of light accompany you on your photographic journeys in the year to come.

Martin.

mikew

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 07:58
Coo you must have been poised to spring into action to provide such detailed and thoughtful judging so quickly!

Well done Bernadette and well done Martin for the excellent judging.

Personally I thought it was a very tough topic, in one way constrained but in another way totally open!

Mike

Bernadette

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 08:24
Thank you Malo1961 - what a nice thing to wake up to!!! I agree with Mikew that it was indeed a tough topic... despite the initial feel of 'easy-peasy...' I really liked Father Ted's conductor and Lilly's Yellow composition, but every image gave me something to take away and think about. Well done to everyone.

Thanks for the judging Martin and also for providing the link to the article which was very helpful. The feedback on pictures is also very, very helpful.

Next competition topic is up....

johnriley

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 08:38
Do you never sleep Malo1961? Well done with the judging and a terrfifc winner.
Best regards, John

Father Ted

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 08:41
OMG!!!!!
Second place!! I can't believe it! Thank you very much. And to come ahead of Lilly in B&W...what can I say...sorry Lilly

As Mike has said, thanks for the quick, yet very detailed judging. And congratulations to Bernadette for a well deserved first place.
Getting there! Thanks to you guys

Pentax K10d, *istDL, Kit lens ( 18-55mm ), 50mm f1.7 lens, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Prinzflex 70-162 manual lens, Various old flashes.

davidtrout

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 09:07
You're an early bird Martin - results posted at 4.55am GMT, but I guess that's 5.55am where you live. That was excellent judging with comments that really focussed on the subject. You had some great entries so congratulations to Bernadette whose Momento mori was truly artistic and a worthy winner and to the other top entrants. I got the result I was after, I made you smile.
david
PS Good to see that both MikeW and Lenscape who contributed well argued opinions on the validity of B+W in the Forum entered first class pictures in this competition.
PPG: http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/davidtrout
Last Edited by davidtrout on 22/12/2008 - 09:10

josh

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 09:18
Congrats Bernadette, great tonal image. Thanks Martin you put a lot of effort in to judging this one.
JOSH.

Dr. Mhuni

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 09:45
Cheers for the judging Martin and congrats to the winners. Wasn't sure myself whether mine counted as still life but had little time to capture anything last week as I was preparing to come to the UK, so put it in anyway.

Now in the UK, and a very happy man after a trip to SRS on Saturday!
Mhuni

500px

lenscape

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 09:56
Well done Bernadette and the others placed.

Thanks for the comments Malo1961 and davidtrout (just above).

The B & W discussion David referred to would have had another, somewhat considered and researched, post from me which I spent over an hour on - but for this buggy web site throwing it all away. I lost heart and couldn't be bothered to do it all again.

When are we going to get all the bugs fixed?

This was an interesting competition but now what I'd like is for all the entries to be posted in colour in the gallery and we can decide if any of them are actually better in mono. . I know mine isn't and I wouldn't mind betting that Bernadette's would look stunning in subdued colours.

I'll post mine a little later.
lenscape
K20D, K10D, K-m, MZ3, Metz 58-AF1, Optio MX4 & Linux.(No Windows)
(Gone: *istD, ME Super, Super-A)

beebee

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 10:07
I had a feeling I would learn a lot from this comp - and I wasn't disappointed. Fantastic analysis of each and every shot. Very detailed and informative feedback for everyone - well done Malo1961. Back to the drawing board for me - again!!
Everything is possible - just not today.
K7, K100d, 18-55mm kit, 50-200mm, Sigma 70-300mm, 50mm f1.4, 16-45mm f4.0, 50-135mm f2.8

hefty1

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 10:22
Excellent judging Martin - I'm very pleased to get a commended so thank you!

Congratulations to Bernadette and all the other entrants for another enjoyable competition.
Joining the Q

Cliff-P

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 10:38
Congratulation Bernadette Father Ted and Lilly. Thanks martin for Excellent judging and very good feedback. Didn't think you where an expert on Angling though, never even thought about the time scale between the two objects. (another lesson learned).

Anyway Congrats again to all winners, and hope you all have a great Christmas.

Cliff.
Cliff.




My Flickr link
Nikon D750, D7000 , Nikkor 80-400, 70-300 and 18-200 lenses

mikew

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 12:34
lenscape wrote:

This was an interesting competition but now what I'd like is for all the entries to be posted in colour in the gallery and we can decide if any of them are actually better in mono. . I know mine isn't and I wouldn't mind betting that Bernadette's would look stunning in subdued colours.

I'll post mine a little later.

I think my entry looked better in colour and I had to abandon my original idea as it only worked in colour.

I'll try and post it later on.

AND HAVE DONE SO!

link

HERE

Mike
Last Edited by mikew on 22/12/2008 - 17:32

Tony-O

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 13:42
Hi Martin,Congrats to Bernadette,and also to a very imformative judging session,it really is very helpful,learned a lot. The polarizing filter,it never even occurred to me that i might use one indoors.
As far as the cropping is concerned,i take your point but i liked the B/W domino/liquorice allsorts,ying yangy kind of look.Don't know if that makes any sense.Anyway thanks again for the time you put in.Tony-O
K7,DA*50-135, 35mmLTD Macro, 21mm Ltd, Voightlaender 58mm 1.4 NOKTON SL,Ricoh GRD,GRX, Zeiss 100mm f2 Makro Planar.Zeiss Ikon ZM,Zeiss f1.5 C Sonnar.

It ain't no sin to take off your skin,and dance around in your bones.Tom Waits.

Malo1961

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 13:48
johnriley wrote:
Do you never sleep Malo1961? Well done with the judging and a terrfifc winner.

Actually......I do get enoughzzzzzz zzzzleepp, rightzzzzz nowwwwzzz, for instanzzzzzzzzzzz
Best regards,

Martin.


Curious about my photography?? Just Follow the Light.

Father Ted

Link Posted 22/12/2008 - 20:38
lenscape wrote:


This was an interesting competition but now what I'd like is for all the entries to be posted in colour in the gallery and we can decide if any of them are actually better in mono. . I know mine isn't and I wouldn't mind betting that Bernadette's would look stunning in subdued colours.

I'll post mine a little later.

Done
Getting there! Thanks to you guys

Pentax K10d, *istDL, Kit lens ( 18-55mm ), 50mm f1.7 lens, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Prinzflex 70-162 manual lens, Various old flashes.

lenscape

Link Posted 23/12/2008 - 11:22
The (a?) colour version of my entry is now in the gallery.

Again, I prefer Mike's entry in colour. In fact, something along those lines would be a really effective image that I would have on the wall. Some classy cut glass and a less bashed orange or maybe a lemon or lime. Hmmm...

I like it.
lenscape
K20D, K10D, K-m, MZ3, Metz 58-AF1, Optio MX4 & Linux.(No Windows)
(Gone: *istD, ME Super, Super-A)

Lilly

Link Posted 28/12/2008 - 15:05
Well Congrats to Bernadette, a classic for sure, I did love the barbers table as well. You are very correct Martin, I was most bad, should have noticed that, I must have been 'avin one of those 'croppin' days!!! WHAT was I thinking of???
I had a panic and searched for the original to see what it was originally like LOL! Found it, can I have some more points please!

ps) can't seem to paste the link!

[IMG]http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u193/lillymermaid/IMGP2167_edit_1.jpg[/IMG]
website
BLOG
FLICKR

Pentax: K20D; FA50mm 1.4; FA135mm 2.8; FA 17-28mm; FA 80-320mm; AF360FGZ
Sigma: 30mm F1.4EXDC; 10-20mmEXDC ..... LENSBABY 'Composer' ,
Last Edited by Lilly on 28/12/2008 - 15:08

Malo1961

Link Posted 28/12/2008 - 18:31
Lilly wrote:
Well Congrats to Bernadette, a classic for sure, I did love the barbers table as well. You are very correct Martin, I was most bad, should have noticed that, I must have been 'avin one of those 'croppin' days!!! WHAT was I thinking of???
I had a panic and searched for the original to see what it was originally like LOL! Found it, can I have some more points please!

ps) can't seem to paste the link!

[IMG]http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u193/lillymermaid/IMGP2167_edit_1.jpg[/IMG]

here's a couple for you:******
The original uncropped version was better, I think.

best of light to you,
Martin.
Best regards,

Martin.


Curious about my photography?? Just Follow the Light.
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