Prints That Win: Skylake

By all accounts, Jeff Gulle should have been a doctor. But one of his sisters, who was also studying medicine, convinced him to follow his passion … and that’s what eventually led him to the world of photography. He started working on the yearbook and newspaper staff in school, and kicked off a career in photojournalism.

After mastering medical photography and covering crime scenes, he eventually ran a highly successful portrait studio before “retiring” eight years ago to go to work as the photography program director at North Georgia Technical College. Today, he shoots for the love of it, he says. And that certainly shows in his award-winning work, like “Skylake,” pictured above, which won the 2015 Sunset Print Award at the Georgia Professional Photographers Association annual competition.

Prints that Win: The Mechanic

The Mechanic by Jeff Gulle

Jeff Gulle has found photogenic locations to demonstrate photography techniques to his students at North Georgia Technical College in Clarksville, Ga. The garage featured in this Sunset Print Award winner at the Georgia Professional Photographers Association competition, The Mechanic, is one of those favored spots.

Though it has the appearance of an HDR capture, Gulle says in situations like this where there is a lot of clutter he “cranks up the clarity and sharpness.” And, during processing, he did some cloning to clear out some of the distractions, like hoses, shelving and the cinderblock background, and shaded the edges.

“There’s really nothing in this photo that’s new and it works together in telling the story,” says Gulle.

Gulle used three lights to illuminate the image: one placed in the hinge of the pickup hood to illuminate the subject, one behind him and one illuminating the background.

“It was a little embarrassing, because my remote flash system wasn’t working and I spent 15-20 minutes fiddling with it in front of my students before I went back to using Nikon’s built-in wireless system to set off the flashes,” recalls Gulle. “I used a 24mm wide-angle lens at a 5.6 f-stop and dragged the shutter to 1/30 second.”

Gulle printed the image on Sunset Metallic Photo Paper. Gulle adds, “I’m addicted to the Sunset Metallic paper.”

Prints that Win: Watching and Waiting

Award Winning Print by Jeff Gulle

One of the “secrets” of a great portrait photo is bringing out the character of the subject. But what if the subject is a character? All the better, as you can see from this recent winner of the LexJet Sunset Award at the Georgia PPA print competition.

Entitled Watching and Waiting, pro photographer Jeff Gulle was commissioned to produce publicity photos for a ghost town-themed amusement park near Maggie Valley, N.C. called Ghost Town in the Sky.

With a group of students in tow from North Georgia Technical College in Clarksville, Ga., where Gulle teaches, this particular image was fittingly captured at high noon.

The problem with high noon is the lighting, so Gulle and his students waiting patiently for clouds to pass over and lit the Preacher from the right to ensure an image with depth.

“I love having the students with me. It elevates my photography since I need to explain everything that goes into the capture: picking locations, lighting, posing, and so forth,” says Gulle. “I tried lighting him from different spots and angles, but lighting from the right was the best shot.”

Gulle did some minor touch-ups with Photoshop, eliminating the sky peeking through in the top right corner by cloning and bringing the greenery up to fill the space and then adding a grainy, gritty touch with a Topaz plug-in filter.

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.