Prints that Win: Rendezvous

Rendezvous by Gary MeekMaster photographer Gary Meek, owner of Gary’s Studio of Photography in Hot Springs, Ark., says that Ansel Adams’ concept of “pre-visualization” is one of the most important aspects of photography. Gary and his wife, Kathryn, also a Master photographer, were traveling through Florence in October of last year when they came upon the scene shown here.

Pre-visualization was vital in turning this scene into a Sunset Print Award winner at the recent Arkansas Professional Photographers Association annual competition.

“I envisioned a long, narrow image to enhance the doorway, the placement of the bicycles and repetitive shapes and forms in the stones. Here, I found the angle I wanted and called it Rendezvous because it might be the two bicycles or the two people who own the bicycles behind the closed door,” says Meek. “Pre-visualization is so important because the amateur eye sees selectively, but the camera sees objectively. The professional makes their eye see objectively, and through lens selection, camera placement and creative cropping, makes their final image see selectively. Back in the film days when we shot in the snow, which is rare in Arkansas, and by the time we got the film developed and printed the snow was gone forever, and all you saw was telephone lines and power lines. But the professional will see those and then through lens selection and camera placement they’ll make sure they’re gone or less obtrusive, because back in those days we didn’t ever say we’ll fix it in Photoshop. That’s one of the advantages of growing up as a film shooter; it had to be right in capture because you couldn’t do much in processing like you can now.”

Meek captured Rendezvous with a Nikon D800 at f-5.5 @ 1/45th ISO 400 and a 28-300 f 3.5-5.6 Nikon lens with a focal length of 92mm.

Post-capture, Meek added some texture and a copper wash to the image to enhance the masonry. Moreover, Meek seeks to create timeless images that aren’t dated, so he took out any extraneous power lines. After printing Rendezvous at 9 1/2″ x 20″, Meek added a textured mat as a border.

“I like to put an inch or so of matting around it, which enhances the image. It has to be right so you can’t just slap any mat on there. To complete the color harmony, I always try to pull something from the image itself for the mat and then add a texture to the matt. When you buy Crescent Mat Boards, for instance, you have a choice between smooth and textured, and if you have a textured image you want a textured mount board,” says Meek.

The judges were impressed by the balance and composition of the image, with the basket on one of the bicycles as a focal point. Meek says he wanted to ensure that the viewer’s eye is drawn to the basket first so it doesn’t wander aimlessly around the image.

Randy Taylor, Taylor Made Photography, Edmond, Okla., was a judge at the Arkansas competition and selected Rendezvous for his judge’s trophy. “It draws you right into the subject matter – the two bicycles right outside the doorway – and enlists your imagination to complete the story. The texture, contrast and color harmony – everything – came together to give the viewer a beautiful experience. I have all this beautiful photographic art I do, and my wife asked Gary if she could buy a copy of his,” says Taylor.


Printing to Win with Sunset Photo Metallic and eSatin Inkjet Media

Photography competition printing

There’s no doubt that picking the right images to use in a competition is the first step toward winning it. However, presentation is a key element, especially the print medium used to portray the image.

“When we print for competition we like to print on LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper because it really pops,” says Becky Hardgrave, owner of Hardgrave Photography in Knoxville, Ark. “We also like Sunset Photo eSatin Paper and use it for all of our client work because it picks up the depth of the image and is very solid and durable.”

Black and white award winning photographyHardgrave won first place portrait in the general division at the recent Arkansas Professional Photographers Association’s 2012 print competition. That same print, called Revival, won the Delores Shrader Award for best black-and-white image.

Two other images – one printed on Sunset Photo Metallic called Urban Blooms and another printed on Sunset Photo eSatin called La Princessa – merited.

“Everything scored higher than usual. I don’t know why; maybe after ten years I’m learning the game,” muses Hardgrave. “Being able to print my own makes it a whole lot easier to enter print competitions because I can see it right away. It’s different seeing it on the screen than it is on the paper because then you can see what you need to adjust when necessary. I also sought out the help of a couple of different people who do a lot of competitions and got their ideas on which images were worthy for the competition.”

Revival: This was Hardgrave’s showcase image, scoring higher than anything she’s ever entered in competition. “I met Robert [the subject for the image] at church and I knew he would be great for this project I already had in mind; not by his looks but from our discussions about life.” Sunset Photo Metallic was the perfect medium to bring out all the subtleties of the image. “I was shocked and very excited; it was nice to get a first place and an affirmation of my skills,” adds Hardgrave.

Urban Blooms: Printed on Sunset Photo Metallic, Hardgrave captured this image on San Antonio’s Riverwalk during the 2011 Imaging USA event. “I took several photos and never did much with them, but got to playing with them one day before Delta School and threw it in with several other to get some advice on what to enter,” recalls Hardgrave.

La Princessa: Printed on Sunset Photo eSatin, this image is from a session with twin 15 year olds who were looking for beautifully lit, classic portraits printed at 30×40 for their Quinceanera Party. “I just kept looking at the 30×40 print and decided to print it for part of my print case at competition,” says Hardgrave.