Prints that Win: All Systems Go!

All Systems Go by Kelly Schulze

If you’re familiar with DockDogs, you might be a dog lover, and particularly a lover of dog-oriented sporting events. DockDogs is a canine aquatics competition with a number of events including Big Air, Speed Retrieve, Extreme Vertical and Iron Dog.

This Sunset Print Award-winning image by Kelly Schulze, CPP, owner of Mountain Dog Photography in Monkton, Vt., exemplifies the essence of DockDogs. The subject, Madison, is retired from DockDogs, but still enjoys a leap off the docks into cold Vermont waters. Madison was adopted from a local animal shelter before her DockDogs career.

“The client knew she wanted a photo of the dog jumping off the dock because the dog used to compete in DockDogs. She also wanted the fall foliage in the background, so I scouted a few locations to find the best spot where the light would hit just right,” explains Schulze. “We did that shot at sunrise at a local pond. I knew as soon as the sun hit the dog and the leaves in the background that it would be bright and colorful. I was wading up to my hips in water to get just the right angle and to get closer. We did about 20 minutes of shooting so I knew I could get it just right with a good pose with the dog’s paws in the air.”

Schulze asked the client to throw a tennis ball straight off the dock to ensure the dog would be in the range Schulze set for sharp focus. Schulze measured the width of dock and found the f-stop that would encompass that range and set the shutter speed as fast as possible to catch not only the dog in mid-air, but the water droplets that flew off the dog as it jumped.

“In post processing I didn’t do a whole lot. I removed some interfering branches that were coming out of the dog’s head that I couldn’t account for when I was shooting. I darkened some of the trees because they’re bright white birches in that light, and I flipped the image horizontally. The dog was jumping to the right of the frame because that’s where the color and the light was. If I had gone the other way I would have been shooting against blue sky and wouldn’t have the same impact,” Schulze says.

Schulze knew she had a great image for competition and printed it on Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta with her Epson Stylus Pro 3880. The image wowed the judges at the recent Vermont Professional Photographers Convention in late March with its combination of stop action and Vermont fall colors.

As the name of her studio implies, Mountain Dog Photography specializes in animal photography all over New England, including pets, show dogs, livestock and wildlife. “Sometimes the owners jump into the shot, but I photograph all different species and it’s pretty exciting.”

Prints that Win: Old West Shootout in the Southeast

Award winning photography and printing

Ghost Town in the Sky, located above Maggie Valley, N.C., is a themed amusement park that’s preparing to re-open to the public. As part of that, the “ghost town” needed some publicity shots and turned to veteran photographer Jeff Gulle.

Gulle used the opportunity to educate some of the students from the photography class he teaches at North Georgia Technical College in Clarksville, Ga., and to produce a competition-worthy image. Gulle accomplished both, garnering a LexJet Sunset Award for his image entitled Showdown at the Georgia PPA print competition held in conjunction with the PPA Southeast District convention.

“It was a beautiful day and it worked out really well. I photographed various characters they feature at Ghost Town in the Sky, and my favorite was the Preacher,” says Gulle.

Gulle perfectly posed the Preacher with the ghost town as a backdrop. Since he shot the scene with a wider angle the buildings skewed a bit so he straightened them out in the editing process and added a Topaz Photoshop plug-in filter to make the scene “grittier” in keeping with the ghost town theme.

Gulle says he’s been printing more of his own work over the past few years since he acquired an Epson Stylus Pro 3880, and uses it in the classroom as part of the instruction. He plans to use the gift certificate that came with the LexJet Sunset Award to buy his favorite Sunset paper, LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper.

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