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Monday, February 14, 2011

Tootin My Horn

I always cook breakfast with a cat on my shoulder..........who doesn't?

I like to think I'm a fairly modest person.  But sometimes you need to give yourself a little pat on the back and share your accomplishments (even the small ones) with others.   Follow the jump for more.

So with that, I would like to announce that I am now a bonafide, super awesome, "award winning" photographer.  I submitted the image above (click on it to see it larger) into a "Chaos" themed photo contest.   I titled the image "Parenthood", which for reasons obvious to any parent, connotes chaos on a daily basis without fail.

No, this was not some super high profile contest complete with an official panel of award winning judges, but I could go so far as to say the contest was international with entries from around the globe.  This contest I am talking about actually takes place monthly on a photography forum I am proud to be a member of located at  The contest takes on a different theme each month (the theme in this case was "Chaos"), and there are always a multitude of impressive entries.  The winner is decided by a vote of photoforum members.  You can see all the entries and how the voting went down here.  If you look, you will notice that my photo actually tied for first place with the photo titled "The Cable Guy" (a very good picture in it's own right).  Since this was a tie, the final winner (Me! Yaaay!) was chosen by the moderators of the forum.

Each contest even has an official sponsor (Lowepro in this case).  My prize for winning was a very impressive Lowepro camera bag that holds a ton of gear but manages to stay fairly compact for easy transporting while looking very sleek and stylish. (They did not pay me to say that, but I will be willing to take payment for future endorsements of any Lowepro gear..........just sayin if anyone knows anyone at Lowepro)

So, was this some prestigious contest capable of propelling careers and turning unknowns into legends?  Absolutely not

Would anyone ever know about it if I didn't shamelessly point it out?   Nope.

But am I proud that I won?  You betcha

Here is the setup info on how I got the shot:

So obviously, it was totally set up.  The final image actually came out almost exactly as I envisioned, though.  I wanted to give the impression of a chaotic scene revolving around breakfast.  You know, cook breakfast, feed the kids, talk on the phone, hold the baby, take care of the animals............and the list goes on.  I had my vision, so now I needed to make it reality.  But first off, this was taken at 8:30 pm, not 7:00 am. I had to artificially create the lighting ambiance.  The lighting consisted of two speedlights mostly overpowering the ambient CFL room lights.  Actually, almost all of the light came from one SB28 fired at half power into the ceiling, filling up the room nicely.  The other light was a Lumopro LP160 at roughly 1/16th power, snooted and aimed at my beautiful daughter intently pouring her milk.  She took her job of pouring milk very seriously.  Too seriously actually because an overflowing bowl of milk would have definately added to the "chaos" ambiance.  The point of concentrating the one snooted light on her was to create an impression of morning light coming through a nearby window.  It doesn't necessarily stand out (and I didn't want it to), but the image would have been much more "flat" without it.

Now I had my lighting set how I wanted, all I had to do now was take the picture.  The only problem was I was supposed to be part of the picture, and you can't have someone else take the picture or you violate the contest rules.  And since I was supposed to be holding my son, a cellphone, and a cat (who is definately NOT declawed), it was nearly impossible to use a remote trigger.  The only other option was to utilize the 12 second timer for the shutter release.  So, with my daughter in place on the countertop, I pressed the shutter release button which gave me 12 seconds to throw the cat on my shoulder, grab the baby, and pretend to be talking on the cellphone while directing my daughter to "pour the milk now!!!!!".  Miraculously, this only required one take to get it right.

And after all that, the claw marks on my back and neck are almost fully healed as well.

They were totally worth it.

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