IPS Photo Challenge – Week 2

It’s hard to believe week two has already passed! With so much going on, I was unable to complete each day’s assignment, but I shot as many as I could. This is harder than I thought it would be!

Day 06: Tools

Canon 20D, 1/10sec. f/5.6, ISO 200 Sometimes tools just don’t work…

Instructor Review and Critique: “I like the cause & effect relationship of the bent nail with the discarded hammer. You’ve done a good job preserving highlights, but I’d like to see a little more contrast.

“This shot has the nail as the subject instead of the hammer and goggles (tools). This one rides the line very well due to the strong relationship between the hammer and nail, just be careful in the future.

“Most of the time emotional impact has everything to do with playing off sub-conscious associations between tangible objects and abstract concepts. Your caption can be an effect way to bridge this illusive gap. For this shot, your caption could play off a popular American-ism: the bigger hammer management method. Your caption could read, ‘A bigger hammer isn’t always the right answer.'”

Day 08: Athlete

Canon 20D, 1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 I didn’t really have time to shoot this assignment until around 11:00P.M. At this time of night I didn’t exactly feel like going around asking for anyone to pose for me so I tried doing a self-portrait. It’s a lot harder than you might think! After many tries, I picked the best one and went to post it before the 12:00P.M. deadline. Unfortunately, the Internet was not working. Needless to say, this picture didn’t get posted, and thus has no instructor review and critique.

Day 09: Letter

Canon 20D, 1/60sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 As I was brainstorming various ideas for this assignment, I happened upon an old, decorative 19th century style feather quill and inkwell. With these objects as my lead off, I wrote up a simple, equally styled letter patterned off a letter written by Civil War private John McCorkle in 1864. I put all the components together, shot a few different setups, and chose this picture as the best of the bunch.

Instructor Review and Critique: “Good! I really like the way you’ve framed the letter with the quill, inkwell, and blotter. You’ve kept your shadow detail, but have lost some highlight detail.

“I like the idea, but feel the execution is a bit cluttered. I’d really like to see the second bottle (on the left) removed, and the shot framed portrait/vertical. This would place the salutation on a third and emphasize the “letter” over the other elements.”

Day 10: Large

Nikon D70, 1/500sec, f/4.5, ISO 200How great indeed is the difference between these two storage devises! Yes, both are labeled 64, but the little “GB” makes all the difference in the world! To achieve this concept, I looked all over the place for the largest CF card I could find. Sadly, my searching produced only a 4GB card. With the way technology is progressing today, 4GB just doesn’t make the cut when it comes to portraying “large”. As I was bemoaning this fact, a scheme popped into my head. Hoping a little Photoshop work wouldn’t exceed the editing provision in the rules, I inserted a 6 in front of the 4. This little edition makes all the difference in the world too. (Actually, this edit really isn’t the best idea because, with a little research, you will find that Kingston doesn’t sell red colored 64GB CF cards. Oh well! Maybe I’ll take the picture again when I get enough money to afford a real one :).)

Instructor Review and Critique: “Great lighting! I really like the highlights and shadows, but would like to see a little more depth/in-focus. (It feels a little odd that the “4” on the Kingston card is in focus, but the letter “i” in the word below is out of focus.)

“While the PS manipulation is out-of-bounds, with it the other CF card is unecessary. You’re connecting with your audience without needing to compare the size…much like a shot of an elephant doesn’t need a mouse to say ‘large.'”

Personal Remarks: “Your right. I should have written the caption differently. I wasn’t taking a picture of a ‘large’ CF card, I was taking a picture of the ‘large’ difference between the two cards. In this light, the other CF card is certainly necessary. There are two ways of looking at this picture, and I evidently conveyed the wrong meaning in my caption.”


  1. Robert November 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Nice shots James! I’m sitting here with a critiquing crew consisting of Mike, Ben, Daniel, Josh, Matthew, and I. We concluded that your pictures are top notch. We thought the edition of the 6 with the 4 was pretty amazing. We would have never guessed. Great work!

  2. Daniel November 19, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    I especially like your hammer/nail idea! I think anyone who has ever used a hammer can identify with the feel of frustration and annoyance you captured in that picture. 🙂

    BTW, did you Photoshop in the drop of sweat on your cheek in the 2nd picture? Just curious – it looked a bit too perfect. 🙂

  3. James November 20, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

    Well, Daniel, I technically didn’t Photoshop it in; I just moved the drop of water over from where it was on my cheek. I didn’t look right there, so I moved it where it would make more sense.

  4. Allen P. November 22, 2008 at 9:04 pm #

    Very interesting shots. I can tell that a lot of time went into them. Here are my critiques.

    I did not see the goggles until I read the critique. Even still, I have to look for it every time I see the picture. I love how the nail sadly stands there with the hammer lying exhausted a little bit away.

    Very good lighting. The shadows under your chin and your eyes are perfect. Also, the athlete is in perfect focus, while the weights in the fore- and background are out of focus, yet clear enough, bringing attention to the subject of the photo. The drop of sweat and the look of concentration really make this picture – as if you are very serious about your athletics.

    I love this shot; it is so quaint. The main problem is that the flag looks plastic and very modern. Is it plastic or silk, or neither? Also, I would have liked to see more detail on the letter itself. As the instructor said, the highlight detail here was lost. Does the letter start “My dear Jenny?” I really like the pen. Where did you find it?

    I find myself feeling bewildered with this photo. The words on the cards seem to be motion blurred, and I feel like I have to catch up with them so I can read them. The contrast between the two was lost on me at first, because I could not read the 64MB. Your addition of the 6 is well done. It looks like it belongs!

    It is so hard to be honest when critiquing your work! But, in reality, I don’t think you would appreciate me be dishonest, would you?

    Keep up the good work!


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