Update: This is in response to a question about picking the top images and so I thought I would add it here to help you understand the process. Image of the week is chosen from the images uploaded to folks portfolios from the past week. You can look through all of the images by clicking into the Member Portfolios down on the right, and scroll through all the images until you see the previous weeks picks, that will be the pool of images to choose from. Some weeks it is twenty pages of images to choose from, other times it is less than ten. So if you want to be in the running for Image of the week, you have to have put up new images that week, and only a few folks do that consistently. I will even try to pull someone in to help me pick sometimes, so that there is no undo influence knowing who the contributor is, but the bottom line is that we have to pick the images that we feel are worth showcasing… and some weeks it can be a stretch to find five that are good that aren’t all from the same person of couple of people… other weeks we have a glut of good shots and it is easier. One of the reasons that some folks keep showing up is that they post weekly and they have consistently good imagery…that is part of the key. If you would like to see more stuff and fresh faces or even your work showcased, then encourage more folks to upload each week with good imagery and work on your craft to make your images stand out.

So this week as I was picking the top five images I was struck by how most of my choices were composites or have some level of extra post processing. That got me thinking, am I just prone to like composites or images with more stuff done to them than just a regular photograph? Do I favor the graphic artist over the photographer? At first I thought maybe that was the case, and then I dug a little deeper into my own head and this is what I came up with… The folks that take the time to make composites generally tend to put more thought and care into the image they are making and eliminate any distractions. Let me explain, there are lots of really nice snapshots that show up every week in the portfolios, but not as many Photographs. I just finished watching Joe McNally’s Behind the Scenes Critique class and it was wonderful. Something he said in there really made a lot of sense. He said “as a photographer the most important thing you can give the viewer is time.” And then he went on to describe how we are bombarded with images on a daily basis, and that a great image makes us stop and take a second look. He said that you can tell the difference between an image that was just a quick careless click and one that had thought and care behind it. A lot of images that we take with our cameras are quick almost thoughtless grabs of a moment… snapshots that anyone could have taken and we have seen a million of the same type of shot and they don’t have anything special to offer so we pass right by them. It takes something special for an image/photograph to delight… it takes time and thought and purposefulness, even if it is taken as a moments notice it has an extra quality that shows that the photographer put thought and care and craft into the image. We need to be more deliberate and thoughtful even if it is taking a picture of something as commonplace as a sunset. Are we just lifting the camera and clicking or are we asking ourselves… How it is composed? How can I make it better? What makes this shot different than the million of other sunsets that I have seen? What is the story that is being told in this image? Does it draw the viewer in and make them want to stop, or is is just another sunset? These are just some of the questions that we should be asking each time we press the shutter. In the end the question comes down to are we happy with taking snapshots or do we want to take images that delight and have something more to them. I think these questions have more time to be asked when someone is working on a composite or in post production after the shoot. They get to craft the composition and shape the image to only the necessary elements, and that is why they will often catch the eye more than a normal photograph if they are done well. It is as if the image is being made in a time machine where the photographer gets to go and move all of the parts around to get the perfect shot… As a we go out to shoot we need to have that same mindset… either I need to move myself or the elements I am shooting in order to get the perfect shot. That means I look at what is in the background and in the corners and if they don’t belong or distract, I move them or I change angles. If the lighting isn’t right I either add or subtract light with flashes or reflectors or do it in post. I become an artist with my camera instead of just a snapshot master, and that takes a different mindset…the mindset of crafting an image instead of taking one. Ok, that is my ramble for today… now on with the images!

Daniel Lynch shows he is no basket case in giving us “Red Riding Hood.” There is a story here… yes, the title helps, but that aside, the viewer wants to know what is going on… we want to know what is going to happen next. We are drawn in. This wouldn’t happen if the image wasn’t well crafted, we can tell by the lighting and the post processing that Daniel in crafting the image and doing a great job with it. This is why it is important, since it is technically well handled, we can trust that the dark shape in the back is there for a reason and not just an accident or an oversight that we will can dismiss. So there is a sense of danger lurking or maybe it is the hero coming to the rescue… there is tension and beauty and it is wonderful. We can tell that Daniel took his time to make this image and in return we reward him by giving him our time and attention appreciating and maybe even showing it to our Granny. :D

Kyle Nishioka is a star this week with his wonderful “Haleakala Comet Trails.” We have seen a lot of star trail images so in order to grab our attention it needs to have something extra. The sheer number of trails and the composition of the buildings that make them look like they are under attack makes this image stand out. The kid in us could picture this being a space war with the other side launching a bajillion star rockets at this base. Kyle planned and prepared and got himself into the right spot to capture a phenomenal event in a phenomenal way. Dang, there is really no easy way to slip a Uranus pun in here, so I will just say great job Kyle!

Steve Augulis takes a page out of his own book to bring us “Bookworm.” This image is just so well crafted… There is a lot going on that makes you stop and try to appreciate it all. The upside down book and the morphing through the pages along with the framing and processing all leave us with a poetic image. I hope that makes sense. It reminds me of a weird children’s tale or I am interrupting a mad wizard and he is looking at me through the book… there is mystery and intrique and I want to know more. This image makes me stop and take a look before I move on to the next one, and that is a winner. For an illiterate Steve does darn fine work! :D (disclaimer: Steve is not illiterate, I don’t think… goofy and gifted for sure, but I think he is capable of reading.)

Peter Hernandez shows us he is Alliterate with “Primarily a Pensive Primate.” There is a sadness and a solidity to this image, and as Peter said he was trying to create a historic aged type of image. There is a sense of sadness or wonder in the eyes of the gorilla, and I am drawn to want to know what he is looking at. The processing and framing are wonderful parts to tie in all of the elements and all the focus is on the gorilla, he has shaped the image to make sure that you are drawn to the eyes and don’t get distracted by anything else. Peter you get a Ape-plus for this one.

Nathan Oickle gets catty with “gq_at_the_zoo_lion.jpg.” I will even not give him too much grief for the wrong species in the title since the TIGER looks so good. :D This would have been an image that we would have seen a million times in magazines without the surprise of the cat’s head. It is the very well executed placing of the head on the body that stops us and makes us appreciate the unreal reality of the image. When we see an image like this, our minds immediately start to make up stories about how this could be or what is going to happen… we can’t help but stop and be intrigued, but if his technical putting together of the elements had be sloppy, we could easily dismiss it. It is the very real looking tiger in the suit that grabs us. Way to earn your stripes Nathan!

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