Prints That Win: Back Alley Beauty

When Chicago, Ill.-based photographer Michael Novo attended a destination wedding as a guest several years ago in Monte Carlo, he captured a brilliant shot of the bride on the stairs with a point-n-shoot camera. Everything was perfect: the lighting, the composition, the ambiance and of course, the bride. Excited about his newly discovered talent, Novo came home from Monte Carlo and immediately purchased nicer equipment. However, as he started delving deeper into the world of photography, he realized that perfect shots don’t just happen.

“I learned that I couldn’t rely on the light to just be right. I had to create the perfect lighting. I got lucky before, having the right lighting and right setting,” Novo says of his initial foray into professional photography.

After treating it as more of a hobby and dabbling a bit, he decided to show his work to some trusted friends in the industry. They offered some constructive feedback and suggested that he take classes and compete. Novo started working with a bog-box studio with two additional local area photographers, doing 40-50 wedding per year. Initially, he was hired as the third photographer, eventually moving up to second, and finally earning the Lead photographer position. Although he was gaining experience with the studio, the much-needed training was still elusive.

Finally, after about two years of event photography, Novo discovered a couple of photographers who drew him in with their style. He attended two separate 5-day workshops with Knoxville-based Bryan Allen. Allen’s Savannah and Knoxville workshops were beneficial in helping Novo learn the artistic aspects of photography. Working with technical specialist Kevin Kubota helped him learn more about the lighting and editing facets of the industry. He continues to work with both mentors and will be joining Kubota for a motorcycle tour through Italy later this year.

Through all of the training, workshops, event opportunities and practicing that Novo has accomplished over the years, the best piece of advice for improving his craft came from Grand Master of WPPI, Jerry Ghionis. The advice? One word: “compete.” As Novo learned when he first started competing, “you really aren’t as good as you think you are, but with each competition, you learn something. About you or the art, or the competitors. You go in against the best of the best. There are no levels, no ‘beginner’ groups. You are immediately tested and pushed to your limits. That’s how you improve.”

His wedding portraits are created to bring out the personalities of his clients, and that’s just what he did with his Sunset Print Award-winning print “Back Alley Beauty.” As a first-time recipient of the prestigious Sunset Print Award, Novo said the opportunity to capture the happy couple as they walked into their nuptials was too hard to pass up. “It’s important they see their style in the images. I’m taking the photos for them, not for me.”

Looking at his body of work and seeing the joy he brings to his clients on their special day, Novo realizes he’s come a long way from that first destination wedding image he captured. For him, it’s not how often one of his images is viewed, it’s about evoking emotion. As for his signature style, he says, “You might view it [an image] often, or you may view it rarely. But you will always feel it.” As long as you feel it, he’s done his job.

Prints That Win: On Fire

Orlando, Fla. photographer Gary Shaver has no shortage of beautiful scenery surrounding him, but with so much beauty, it takes a keen eye to catch what some may miss. As part of the Orlando Camera Club, Gary and the group often go on “shoot-outs” to local hot spots like Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Bok Tower to practice, learn and teach in a group setting.

While on one of these shoot-outs, as Shaver was teaching other members of the club some tips and tricks about photographing flowers, that he noticed a bloom about three-quarters of the way opened. “Once I lined up the shot, I realized there was a full bloom in the background that created a fiery halo around my partial bloom,” said Shaver. “Then it was a matter of using the deflector and diffuser and adding a little texture during editing.” The result was his Sunset Award-winning shot “On Fire.”

Prints that Win: Photography in the Twilight Zone

Michael Zerivitz, DDS is a Deltona, Fla.-based dentist who’s had a lifelong fascination with photography. Though his photography is a sideline to his successful practice, Zerivitz has been practicing photography since high school.

Award winning photographyThat continual practice, plus the help of his professional photographer friends in the Orlando area, helped make Dr. Zerivitz a distinguished award-winning photographer.

“I set photography aside after college while I raised a family and started a practice. Then I went to back to school at Daytona State College, which has a great photography program, and started getting together with mentors in the Orlando area,” says Zerivitz. “I have some really good professional photographer friends who have a group called the Portrait Artists Group and I was fortunate enough to be invited to join them. I have to give credit to my friends and mentors in the Orlando area who have helped me become a better photographer.”

Zerivitz was recently honored with a Distinguished Award in the Architecture category and a LexJet Sunset Award at the recent Florida Professional Photographers convention for his work entitled Twilight Zone.

Zerivitz captured the image while touring the Israeli Supreme Court building. A certain passageway with windows lining the corridor leading to an interior courtyard caught his fancy so he stopped and took a frame. Later, the image caught his eye again.

Though it’s not the type of shot he usually takes or enters in competition, he did some minor adjustments to it in Photoshop and Nik Software to make it more high key and had the image printed by photographer Tim Kelly.

“We mounted it and matted the print, and then hand-cut the deckling along the edges. There was a little exit sign that was visible in the corner we took out, but other than that it’s a straight shot,” says Zerivitz. “I call it the Twilight Zone because it reminds me of the opening of the old TV show. I think the judges liked the monochromatic image with tones that are all in similar ranges.”

Despite his busy schedule fixing and fine-tuning teeth, Zerivitz is pursuing Certified Professional Photographer and Master Photographer degrees and had one of his images accepted into the PPA Loan Collection this year. Last year Zerivitz was among the Top 10 Florida Professional Photographers and was Photographer of the Year in his local guild.

Here are some of the stories (Prints that Win) of other LexJet Sunset Award winners:

Printing to Win with Sunset Photo Metallic and eSatin Inkjet Media

Bridging the Realism Gap

Something Old, Something New

Old West Shootout in the Southeast

Bridge over Water

Walking the Lonely Street

The Artisan’s Workbench

The Perfect Image with the Perfect Paper and Laminate

David Ziser Wins Sunset Award for Print on Sunset Photo eSatin

Prints that Win: Bridging the Realism Gap

Painting photographs with Corel and Photoshop

Ann Naugher, owner of Hopkins Fine Portraits in Tulsa, is sought after far and wide for her artistic portraits of children. They bridge the gap between the realism of photography and what can be the surrealism of painting.

“My clients’ issue with a painting of their child is that it’s their child, and they don’t want to lose the realism of who their child is,” Naugher explains. “This bridges both worlds nicely where it’s an artistic feel but it looks like their child.”

In other words, with a painting, like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’ll get. The image pictured here, called Windswept, perfectly illustrates this delicate balance. It’s a beautiful and artistic rendering of one of her client’s children, but it retains the character and essence of the subject.

Windswept won a LexJet Sunset Award in the Electronic Imaging category at the PPA’s Southeast district competition, and for good reason. It’s a tasteful, colorful and rich image that takes an ordinary portrait (displayed at the bottom right of the accompanying picture, below the final “painting”) and takes it to the next level.

“I’m more artist than technician, so the end result is based on feel. I retouch the photo so that the portrait starts out as the best possible portrait it can be. In Photoshop I start by drawing what I want that’s lacking in the image into the image. Then, I take the image into Corel Painter and not only paint what’s there, but I’ll add to it in Painter with the different brushes until it feels right,” explains Naugher. “I think it’s important to repeat colors and I tend to like images that have depth to them, so I like to work with the point where light is entering the portrait. In this case, it’s behind her, and instead of a tunnel of light I created a more circular feel to the background.”

Naugher adds that she usually applies oil painting highlights to the canvases that are produced from the digital work, which was not done for this competition. And, most of her competition prints are from actual client work, as was Windswept.

Prints that Win: Something Old, Something New

Award winning photographyIt’s rare to find someone from the next generation of photographers who prefers to shoot film over digital. This year’s LexJet Sunset Award winner for Best Quality Print and Presentation at the Plymouth Center for the Arts competition and exhibition, The Fine Art of Photography, is more than just a throwback to traditional photography.

Elizabeth Ellenwood enjoys the interaction of the historical and the modern in both her photography process and in the subjects of her photography. Her winning print of Boston architecture exemplifies this seeming contradiction.

“The image is from a series I started for my senior thesis at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. I started photographing Boston architecture because I enjoy the combination of historical and modern architecture that overlays each other,” says Ellenwood. “I photograph with a Tachihara Field Camera, which renders everything in the viewfinder upside down and in reverse. It’s great to work with architecture from an almost abstract point of view. I’m a film person at heart; it’s what interested me in photography in the first place and it still holds true for me.”

Ellenwood scanned the color negative, printed it on the school’s Epson 9800 on Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper, then matted and framed it herself. Like the image itself, it was a unique blend of history and modernity using analog and digital tools.

Photographing Boston architectureEllenwood was introduced to the Plymouth Center for the Arts exhibition by another Sunset Award winner, Neal Rantoul. A year after Rantoul won the award, Ellenwood took one home.

“When I moved to Boston I started to get involved in the local photography community and met Neal, who became a mentor to me and was very inspiring. He sent me an email about the Plymouth show and encouraged me to enter. It was exciting for me because this photographer I really admire won the same award the year before,” says Ellenwood.

Prints that Win: Bridge over Water

Award winning photography and printing

Award-winning photography is often a fortuitous combination of skill and luck as was the first-place winner of the Commercial division and LexJet Sunset Award winner at the 2012 Professional Photographers of North Carolina print completion, Gregory Georges.

Georges co-owns Jonathan Penney Inc., a New York-based fine art print making business, with the company’s founder, Jonathan Penney. The skill is obvious in the presentation of the image, Bridge Over Water. The luck was in finding the scene at the right time.

Georges captured the image at the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge over Coos Bay on US 101 in North Bend, Oregon, with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III using an EF70-200 at 148mm set to 1/320 @f/8.0 and ISO 100.

“I was fascinated by this beautiful old bridge. It was near sunset with lots of clouds and not much color, so it was very monochromatic to begin with. I got very compulsive about locking-down my tripod, and using mirror lock-up to minimize vibrations to get the clearest image I could,” explains Georges.

Equally important, says Georges, was the combination of Adobe Camera RAW 7 RAW file conversion and black-and-white conversion done in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.0. “Silver Efex has absolutely amazing features that really bring out the best in a black and white image,” says Georges. “My vision was to make the print look like a mechanical pencil sketch without pure black tone and yet still show extremely fine detail.”

He printed on a fine art watercolor paper at competition size – 16″ x 20″ – on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880. Georges says that those who saw the print at competition were amazed by the amount of detail in the image, especially the individual cars crossing the bridge and fine line detail of the wires on the bridge.

“Monitors, color calibration tools, media, ink technologies and printers are so awesome now that if you edit it well on your computer you will get an amazing print. I also use ColorByte Software’s ImagePrint RIP, because it’s giving me extraordinary paper profiles,” adds Georges.

For more information about Jonathan Penney Inc., go to www.jonathanpenney.com.