A contest entry… well, almost

Posted in Artistic Photography, Photography Blog, Portrait Photography

I enter different contests from time to time, the main one I like to participate in is Boston.com’s RAW competition.

They have a nice variety of themes, and you usually have to take the picture in the month of the theme, which makes you get out and take pictures! My favorite one so far was the Scavenger Hunt they did back in February – featuring twenty-eight different items (some with specific instructions) to photograph.

One of the professional labs I use is doing a contest right now, and it’s for Baby/Children portraits. I don’t do tons of these, but I do have a few in my arsenal that I could pull from, so I went and found this shot. Of course, when I went to upload it, I found out that it had to be taken between January 1 and May 21 of 2011…. I shot this back in November 🙁 – so it did not qualify!

Click to view Before and After transformation

I’m sharing this here, because I learned a few techniques from the time I took the photo (and did subsequent retouching), until now… I wanted to show off some of the Photoshop techniques I used in this shot. Skin smoothing, hair clean-up, tone blending and eye sharpening – just to name a few.

It’s too bad, because it’s such a beautiful shot!

So, back to the drawing board I went, and decided to go with one of my “Sportraits”. I couldn’t use my oldest daughter, because she’s “too old”. The competition clearly states that the cutoff for age is 12 (she’s almost 14). I actually am submitting the Sportrait and another portrait of my youngest daughter. Who knows, she brought me luck back in December (I won first place in Boston.com’s RAW).

Here’s the first:

Click to enlarge

This was taken using a technique I picked up off another photographer’s website. He used available daylight for his shot, I cheated and used one of my portable LED lights… what’s really cool is that I paid 1/2 of what they’re listed for now… but I digress!

I used the LED light to light her face, then had my SB-800 behind her head to light the stick and the back of her head. I then used Photoshop to convert the shot to Black & White and used a layer mask to bring the color back just to her eyes.

This is the other:

Click to enlarge

This last shot was taken when my little monkey was playing up in the tree. I had my 300mm lens on the camera at the time, and was doing some playing around trying to take pictures of birds around the yard. She was in the mood for a little photo shoot, so I grabbed as many as I could before she changed her mind! I didn’t do a ton of post-processing, I used an effect I have saved in Lightroom to get the “vintage” look.

We’ll see what comes of it, I started in one direction and wound up in completely different one!