Prints That Win: Prepare There’s Trouble

Award-winning master photographer Terry Blain was not always telling her story from behind the camera. She spent the past two decades traveling all over the country looking for interesting people to capture; however, in her early days as a model, she was the one who was captured on film. One day, after a particularly uninspired photo shoot, she realized that she would have set up the shots differently, had she been the one taking the pictures.

Utilizing her experiences on both sides of the camera, she has a self-awareness that helps her envision the best way to optimize the lighting, the setting and the model to strike the right tone and properly tell her story. “Putting the models at ease and making them comfortable is the best way for me to get the most flattering shot,” Blain says. “Often, I want to accentuate and flatter the highlights of the scene while downplaying the low-lights. I’m lucky enough to have experiences on both sides of the lens to help me clearly communicate this to my clients.”

Prints that Win: He Has Arrived

He Has Arrived by Julia Kelleher

Julia Kelleher, owner of Jewel Images in Bend, Ore., says she initially struggled with this composition, entitled He Has Arrived, but decided not to worry so much about the end result and plow ahead with her concept.

The result was a 100 score and a LexJet Sunset Award in the Master Artist category at the PPA Western District print competition held in late August.

“We get so stifled during the creative process because we’re scared the outcome won’t be what we want it to be. Instead, we should be going back to our childhood way of thinking and just have fun with it. Obviously I care what the final product it is, but I finally said to myself, ‘Let’s try it and see what happens,’ which allowed me to be more creative and produce the end result I was looking for,” says Kelleher. “For the longest time I was scared to enter that category because I didn’t think I was technically sound enough to do it. When the pieces started coming together, however, it was technically sound and it looks like everything belongs, rather than just Photoshopped together.”

The composition was created in Photoshop and finished in Corel Painter. Kelleher had to match the lighting from the studio capture of the mother and son featured in the image with the forest and woodland creature scene she created around them.

She used Corel Painter to paint additions to the forest and better blend all the elements into a seamless whole. The time-consuming part was matching the lighting from the original studio shot and adding the correct color tones for each element in the composition, she says.

“It was a matter of layering the animals in, using a lot of blending modes and layer masking to get it just right,” says Kelleher. “Where it really comes together is when you take it out of Photoshop and bring it into Corel Painter: you can make things more seamless and blended, so that really helps give the image its final touch.”

Prints that Win: Evil Eyes

LexJet Sunset Award Winner Peter Burg

The title of this print that won a LexJet Sunset Award at the Florida PPA conference this past year likely caught your attention. Sometimes a title gives you an impression that’s different than your expectation before you actually see the image, which can boost the impact it makes.

It fits the image here, captured by Peter Burg, Burg Photographix, Maitland, Fla., but it also caught the judges by surprise when they saw it.

“It’s impact. You get a mental image from the title, and then, boom, the judges come around to it and while it might not be what’s expected, it still fits,” says Burg.

Burg is a car aficionado. “That’s my thing,” as he puts it. He captured this image in early morning light at the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance car show.

“I usually photograph cars early in the morning with the light coming behind them and using the sky as an open reflector. If you wait too long to shoot cars you get too many specular highlights,” he explains. “I masked out the entire background after I captured the image, and then created the background. It had more of the appearance that it was shot in a studio, but the giveaway is the reflection of the trees. I do quite a bit of post-production, taking out unwanted glare and smoothing reflections.”

Burg adds that he went back and forth about whether or not to keep the reflection of the trees in the image, but liked the effect and kept the reflection. By the way, the headlights are actually that color and you may notice what appear to be horns made by the windshield frame.

The image was printed with a Canon iPF6100 on KODAK PROFESSSIONAL Inkjet Photo Paper, Luster Finish. Besides the quality of the paper, Burg chose the Kodak paper since he was aiming for his ninth Kodak Gallery Elite Award.

Prints that Win: Curves of Iris

Award Winning Print by The Portrait StudioMichael and Tina Timmons, owners of The Portrait Gallery, Vassar, Mich., have been featured here before for Prints that Win, but for their printing expertise. Sterling photographers in their own right, they also know how to print for competition, and print winners.

This time around, Tina is being honored for her capture of an Iris from her garden called Curves of Iris. Michael had quadruple bypass surgery (!) last year following a heart attack. We’re pleased to report that he’s recovering nicely, and the Timmons are back to their frenetic pace.

“Needless to say, we were home a lot more than we normally are, so I had more chances to enjoy my flowers. This year I didn’t get to see them at all,” says Tina. “I shot every day through the Iris season, and picked my favorite to enter in competition.”

The result was this beautiful rendition, which won a LexJet Sunset Award at the Professional Photographers of Michigan print competition. Tina says that her typical method for capturing flowers is to use a tripod and a macro lens, followed by some enhancement with Nik filters and some additional cleanup in Photoshop.

“Sometimes we’ll add a reflector fill outdoors, or we’ll do subtractive lighting if the flower is in open sun. We’ll use those tactics to control what lighting is available in nature,” Tina explains. “The Iris has a poetic motion about it with the leaves and the way everything blends together. When I work with any flower I’m very cautious about what’s in the background so there’s nothing distracting, including other flowers.”

The standard print medium for competition and the couple’s interior décor work is LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin, printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 9880 wide-format inkjet printer, which is then laminated. Though Curves of Iris was printed in the usual way, it was printed for this competition on a Hahnemuhle watercolor paper to provide a more fine-art look to the image.

Prints that Win: Snowy Morning

Snowy Morning by Cheri MacCallumCheri MacCallum, owner of Art by Cheri, Idaho Falls, is a photo painter extraordinaire. Photographers around the country send her files to paint digitally in Corel Painter to add that extra value that comes from painted portrait photo.

Moreover, MacCallum’s work has won various awards, including the LexJet Sunset Award two years running at the PPA Western District Competition. We profiled last year’s winner, Dennis the Menace, and had to wait for national competition judging to unveil this year’s winner, entitled Snowy Morning, which scored 100 at the PPA Western District Competition.

Snow Morning Award Winning Photo by Cheri MacCallum
This is the original capture of Snow Morning before Cheri MacCallum applied her digital painting magic.

MacCallum found the scene depicted in Snowy Morning on a little dirt road outside of Idaho Falls. The first snow had just blanketed the landscape and MacCallum saw great potential in the composition.

However, it wasn’t until she added the digital painting that she thought it would be competition-worthy. And competition-worthy it was, grabbing the attention of the judges for its composition, lighting and use of accent colors so that the viewer can almost feel the chill of that day, contrasted to the warm tones of the wood in the dilapidated fence and early winter foliage. “Adding the accent colors really helped a lot in the feeling and mood of the image,” she says.

“We went back a couple of weeks ago to see what it looked like in the summer, but we couldn’t find it,” says MacCallum. “We’ll have to try to figure out where it is so I can capture it in another season and contrast it with the winter scene.”

MacCallum printed the image for competition on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin on her Canon iPF8300S, and says she chose the eSatin in part for its thickness and durability. “The year before I used a gloss paper. I liked how it looked, but it was very easy to ding and crimp, so I went with a thicker, more durable paper,” she adds.

Prints that Win: Nice Catch

Nice Catch by Melissa Jeffcoat

Nice Catch indeed. This LexJet Sunset Award winner, which won Best of Show at the Texas PPA print competition earlier this year, certainly caught the eyes of the judges at the competition, and for good reason.

It’s a picture-perfect rendition of Americana, and more specifically, an Oklahoma slice of it. The red road brings attention to the focal point of the image, which was captured by Melissa Jeffcoat, owner of Melissa Jean Photography in Tecumseh, Okla.

Jeffcoat set up the scene with her two boys, having them walk up and down the road until she captured the scene as she originally envisioned it.

“My older son caught the fish and they kept walking until I got what I was looking for,” says Jeffcoat. “I bribed them with snow cones.”

Jeffcoat says the image reflects almost exactly what the scene and the lighting looked like at capture, excepting some work to take out some distracting sky on the horizon and filling in with some trees. Shot at dusk, Jeffcoat says the timing was right to bring out red of the road and all the other subtle tones that make this an outstanding image.

The image was printed for competition by BWC in Dallas using a chemical photo process on a glossy pearl paper.