#179: Centered

My last challenge entry was in September. Our category was Centered Composition. Per usual, I went one step further with my entry to include a subtext of having a centered mind by stacking rocks along their center of gravity, a zen meditation practice.

Center of Gravity © 2013 NATE METZ
Center of Gravity © 2013 NATE METZ

rank: 7th
1/183 sec, f2, ISO 50
pp: resize, USM, export

On the same day, I shot a second contender. I opted for the above shot because of the multiple interpretations of the challenge theme. I still really like the minimalist approach to the second shot here that also has some of my favorite elements of macro and texture.

Center © 2013 NATE METZ
Center © 2013 NATE METZ

CHALLENGE: OPPOSITES

OPPOSITES © 2013 NATE METZ

These photographs were all the “rejects” that I did not select for entry in the challenge. I opted for this image of a mushroom because I believe it is much more impactful for the theme of OPPOSITES.

mushroom_DSC_1281
MUSHROOM © 2013 NATE METZ

STATS:
rank = 16th
1/125 sec, f8, ISO 200

I opted for a simple set of opposites shared in a single subject where the frame would highlight the differences. The closeness and color conversion really emphasize the theme. I received some great feedback on how the frame seems top heavy and that the top portion out of focus might have looked better as the smaller 1/3 of the frame. However, I like it as is because in the competition for your eye, it really pushes the oppositional tension between the top of the mushroom and the underside.

173: Favorite Spot

It’s my first time at this specific spot, but a favorite nonetheless. In my free time I hike the many trails local to my area which led me along a small pond’s edge where nature had mottled a full frame!

Nature's Mottling © 2013 NATE METZ
Nature’s Mottling © 2013 NATE METZ

rank: 20 of 22
1/40 sec, f2, ISO 64

Again, I’m rather disappointed with my ranking. That is until I remember I snapped this in passing on my iPhone and did not spend a lot of effort in capturing a favorite spot on the trail. It’s a classic yield for effort, thought, and planning. Onwards!

Delmarva on View

LLphotocontestPoster1

I was in Starbucks this week and got super excited when I saw a flier on the community bulletin board for a local photography contest. It’s called Delmarva on View: Delaware, Maryland & Virginia in Photographs. Proceeds benefit the Lewes Public Library in Lewes, DE. If you live in the tri-state area I suggest you check it out!

What I think is really cool is the professional and amateur entry levels, and the wide range of entry categories like Growing Delmarva: Agriculture & Farming and The Good, The Bad, The Nor’Easter: Four Seasons. I have selected three images from the past 12 months for the seasonal entries covering autumn, winter, and spring. You’ll have to wait until after June 18th when the judging is complete so I can show you the images I selected. I didn’t choose any summer images I like will be part of my exhibit at the Newark Arts Alliance for Summer Streets.

I’d love to hear what you think of the photo contest and the take on themes! Comment below!

SMOKE

Smokey Cactus © 2013 NATE METZ
Smokey Cactus © 2013 NATE METZ

It’s almost hard to believe that another challenge has come and gone. While on vacation in North Carolina this month, I had about an hour in the Biltmore Estate Conservatory to take photographs. Tucked away in a side room were the cactus including this Old Man Cactus. With my signature tight framing, the wisps of hair instantly reminded me of thick wafts of smoke. I knew when the challenge prompt included this direction– “The theme of your photo should clearly be smoke, NOT a person smoking, or the word (smoke). You are welcome to use as much post processing as you like.” –black backgrounds with white or colored smoke in elaborate, decorative patterns would be common. As quickly as I thought I’d experiment with that type of photograph, I decided to upload Smokey Cactus.

I’m happy with how well my entry fared in the challenge voting. The feedback I received through comments were about the technical proficiency and how it related to the theme. All but one comment acknowledged that it was a creative interpretation and different in approach. The lone dissenter’s comment was arrogant,disrespectful and narrow-minded. So, I won’t discuss it further. I am grateful at the warm reception and hope that my work continues to challenge a status quo, to make my viewers reexamine their own beliefs, and to make such bold statements!

Challenge 168: SMOKE
PS postprocessing: crop, levels, auto color correct, resize, USM, export
Rank: 13th
Nikon D80: 1/125 sec, f5, ISO 360

CHALLENGE: 5

Sleigh Trails © 2012 NATE METZ
Sleigh-trails on Christmas Day © 2012 NATE METZ

It was a much better way to start out the new year on the photo challenge front. The theme, 5, left me faced with several obvious choices: dice, watches/clocks, hands/feet/fingers/toes, money. I opted for a grouping because it lent more freedom creatively as to how 5 would show up. I was not having much luck finding five of anything in a natural setup without my physically placing 5 items together. Remember I’m not a huge fan of studio work and forcing a shot under controlled settings. In the last few days before the deadline I resigned to sit this round out because I wanted to submit a photograph that fits my aesthetic and my voice. After posting Linear Sunrise, I glanced back through all of my shots and realized that a different frame had five contrails. And as I reflected more on my audience I did tell a white lie and say I took the photograph Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve because it fit the story better:

Santa’s sleigh left 5 contrails criss-crossing the sky on Christmas!

I received some nice, positive feedback that I had an unexpected approach and that the backstory information was fun. I know this photograph is a success because I managed to keep my point of view and add some fluff that would appeal to a specific audience that would help them to understand my work.

14th Place
Apple iPhone 4
1/539 sec, f2, ISO 80
Post-Processing– PS actions: crop, levels adjustment, hue shift +15, saturation +3, lightness +3, resize, USM, export

My constant comparison of my work to others in the challenges does appear to be unhealthy to you readers of that I am sure! It only appears that way because I’m not sure what else to talk about in these challenge entries. A huge part of the content for my art blog for a challenge entry is the competition, the judging, the comparing. I’m also really just putting myself out there (here) as I define my artistic voice and learn how to present my work. I have an exhibit coming up this summer and this forum has been instrumental in me learning to speak intelligently about my work and my process.

Thanks for reading!

BEAUTY

Cold Fall Oak © 2012 NATE METZ

I entered the photo challenge again: BEAUTY. I opted for a beautiful subject often overshadowed for a loved one’s portrait, the flashy flower, and picturesque landscapes. The voting showed this preference, ranking my submission at 38 of 39. Once again, I do not feel that my technical skill or composition was off the mark, but it is my point of view as an artist. I am not a classic photographer; I do not shoot in a studio; I do not carry 3 flashes. I am grateful for a comment received during voting that complimented the technical aspects of the photograph and questioned my cropping. The balanced critique helped me to solidify my choices leading up to the final composition.

I really like my entry. It is consistent with my aesthetic of tight crops and use of color. I am studying translucent light, so I was happy to include my work there, here. And, as I stated with the photograph during the challenge, I think the understated colors of late fall are very beautiful. My solidarity, strength and staunch conviction of my work is captured beautifully by the oak tree!

Plants & Trees

I took advantage of the most recent photo challenge to shoot some more translucent shots of the fall foliage. We have one tree that is always the last to hold onto its leaves. When they change it happens over about 3 days and then they are all gone like in a flash fire of orange. Timing didn’t work out well with the challenge to get that coloring, but I am happy with the muted colors I did capture.

I ranked 20th, falling behind similar shots of trees with more vibrant foliage. I could have walked another 20 feet to another tree with vibrant leaves, but the light play of the sun was much more pleasing on the first tree. My intuition even let me know that if I didn’t shoot a traditional fall colors photograph for the challenge I couldn’t win. With the next challenge theme up, it’s on to the next one!

Letters and / or Numbers

I seem to have fallen into the every other challenge entry pattern. If the theme doesn’t resonate with me, I have a hard time brainstorming ideas. And, if I have to force a frame, the results just don’t stand out. Challenge 163 was proving to be another uninspired theme. Sure, letters and numbers are all around us, but they never stood out to me above their utilitarian purposes. Letters and numbers are a means to an end and my interactions with them were not amounting to much of a photograph. I had resigned to not enter (again), justifying my lack of participation with being busy with my book, gallery entry, and life. One rainy night in Philadelphia changed all that. Below are the shots that I came home with. Keeping my promise I included some informational text to provide context

A screen projects historic texts from world medicine onto the Thomas Jefferson University campus in center city Philadelphia. The sculpture is copper and granite, created by Jim Sanborn 2009.

In my comments, it was said best “goes beyond basics” like most entries of a keypad, road sign, and books. To date, it is my best received entry: 2 / 24. The shot on the bottom right was my entry; the other three were close contenders. The biggest critique is the tree on the right-hand side. I like it for two main reasons: 1) I like how the lights behind the leaves created a mottled effect in a similar but less intelligent way than the screen, and 2) it contrasts a natural element against the copper of the screen and brick building behind. What do you think?

Ars Medendi at Night © 2012 NATE METZ