Prints that Win: Bombshell

Bombshell by Rod OmanSometimes the key to award-winning photography is not to shoot with a competition in mind. In the case of this Sunset Print Award winner at the recent Twin Cities Professional Photographers Association competition, this image evolved into an award-winner.

Rod Oman, who owns The Imagery Photography Gallery with his wife, Stephanie, was working at the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing as part of a fundraiser for the organization. Oman was joined by other photographers, makeup artists and models as they created scenes focusing on vintage WWII aircraft.

“We were shooting the exterior of one of the airplanes, and someone suggested we shoot inside the plane. I shot away with the model, Elizabeth Noir, looked at the images in the camera back and thought it might be cool to work up,” recalls Oman. “It was really a simple shot with natural light, but the post-processing is what makes it different.”

Bombshell by Rod Oman
Here’s Oman’s original capture before he applied some magic in post-processing.

Oman used Topaz and Nik Color Efex Pro to add more depth and dimension to the image, as well as to evoke the time period. It certainly caught the judges’ attention at the competition as they were drawn in by the storytelling appeal of the image.

“The tricky part was keeping the detail in the background. I didn’t want to lose anything, like the rivets, because all those details are essential to the story,” says Oman.

Oman adds that the title of the image, Bombshell, contributes to the image as a storytelling period piece, and that he was aiming for something in keeping with the period that was eye-catching without being overly provocative.

Rod Oman, who owns The Imagery with his wife, Stephanie, in Burnsville, Minn., has been the Twin Cities PPA’s Photographer of the Year for several years running. In addition to the studio’s high-school senior, families and children portrait photography, Oman also volunteers his services to local animal shelters and the Boy Scouts.

Prints that Win: Stepping Back in Time with John Gladman

Award winning photography and print

Actually, the title of John Gladman’s LexJet Sunset Award and best Electronic Imaging prize at the PPA North Central District photography competition is Morning Rounds. While quite appropriate for the image, it evokes a simpler and more rustic time in the past, though the main landscape image was taken near Lawrence, Kansas quite recently.

Gladman stitched together a panoramic shot of a spot near the river and just around the corner from his studio. He took out the modern distractions, power lines and whatnot, and added the horse and carriage. The result is a story, and “story” is a crucial element in an award-winning image.

“I’m big on taking an image and trying to tell a story with it, so whatever I need to do to tell the story I’ll do it. I come at it from an artistic standpoint; I’m trying to create a piece of art from the things I find in life,” explains Gladman. “I’ve been entering competitions for 25 years and I’ve been a judge myself. I’ve learned that you have to create the details that draw the eye to the image. If you think to yourself, ‘I want to go there and see that,’ then it’s drawing you in enough to score well. Judges look at hundreds of prints, and if it doesn’t grab their attention and quickly tell a story it just gets an average score as they fly on by.”

Gladman printed Morning Rounds on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, his first experiment with it as a competition print paper. Gladman says he’s tried the Fuji and Kodak versions in past competitions, but didn’t score as well. A big difference for Gladman was being able to control the process to his liking by printing it himself on his Canon iPF6100 printer.

Pinup photography“I’m getting requests from other people to print their competition prints now that they’ve seen what I did with the Sunset Metallic. When the light hits it you get a subtle reflection back, while the others are brighter. I’ve had trouble with the other papers balancing out the highlights and shadows; the shadows go muddy and the highlights get blown out, whereas with the Sunset Metallic I was able to nail the entire spectrum,” says Gladman.

Gladman has recently embarked on a new bit of nostalgia that started as a sideline but has since blossomed into a full-blown business called Bombshell. Bombshell is a photo and fine art studio that creates vintage pinup art reminiscent of the height of the art form during the ’40s and ’50s.

“It’s all photographed and then digitally painted with Corel Painter. A lot of what we shoot is printed on LexJet Sunset Hot Press Rag, and they look amazing on that paper. We started it last May and it blew through the roof so much that I don’t have time for seniors, weddings and other types of regular work. We have girls fly in from all over the country to get this done, so it’s kind of insane,” says Gladman.