Shooting Challenge #29 -- The Winner Is...

By Martin Snelling on at

For the last Shooting Challenge you were tasked with diving into the dark and mysterious world of low-key photography. For many of you it was an opportunity to get really creative and as usual, you didn't disappoint.

The standard of entries was particularly high this week and it made picking a winner that little more difficult. So who is the recipient of coveted Shooting Challenge crown this week?

Congratulations this week to Dhinakaran Annamalai for his set of low-key photographs that cover a range of subjects and shows Dhina has some real talent for low-key work. All of his images are first-rate, but I was particularly drawn to the rising smoke -- I loved the simplicity of it.

Here's how Dhina made his photographs:

Set-up: Canon EOS 60D, Tripod, Wired shutter release, Manual mode, EFS 18-135MM lens, Hoya NDX400 filter lens, aperture 32, exposure time 8 sec, ISO: 100, Background: Black cloth.

 

I wanted to illuminate the subject from all sides and still keep dark background but, couldn't achieve using single fixed light source and reflectors. After trying different options, here is what worked: Used 8 seconds exposure time with Neutral density 400 filter and during this time I moved the light source (table lamp 40W) around the subject.

 

Post-process: Lightroom, minor global edits like brightness, contrast & saturation.

Set-up: Canon EOS 60D, External flash - Yongnu speedlite YN568EX -- ETTL mode, Tripod, Wired shutter release, Manual mode, EFS 18-135MM lens, aperture 13, exposure time 1/250 sec, ISO: 100

 

Description: I'd played with smoke photography before and thought of trying it again for this challenge as it nicely fit the low-key category. Getting a satisfying shot with less blur and nice flow would take several attempts and it's really time consuming and tests your patience. Went through the same pain and finally when got this shot after around 50 attempts.

 

Post-process: Lightroom, minor global edits like brightness & contrast. Cropped few pixels on the right to remove part of light source.

Set-up: Canon EOS 60D, External flash - Yongnu speedlite YN568EX - ETTL mode, Tripod, Wired shutter release, Manual mode, EFS 18-135MM lens, aperture 22, exposure time .3 sec, ISO: 100

 

Description: From my experience, taking smoke photo is easier than using kids as subject :) Expression constantly changes and so does camera focussing as they get easily distracted. After several attempts I was happy with this shot as the face angle, hood and lighting looked perfect to me.

 

Post-process: Lightroom, minor global edits like brightness, contrast & saturation.

Set-up: Canon EOS 60D, External flash - Yongnu speedlite YN568EX - ETTL mode, Reflector screen, Tripod, Wired shutter release, Manual mode, EFS 18-135MM lens, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/250 sec, ISO: 100, Black backdrop cloth , Black plexi sheet

 

Description: External flash placed to the left and reflector to the right. Got this shot after numerous attempts.

 

Post-process: Lightroom, minor global edits like brightness, contrast & saturation.

Set-up: Canon EOS 60D, External flash - Yongnu speedlite YN568EX - ETTL mode, Reflector screen, Tripod, Wired shutter release, Manual mode, EF 50mm lens, aperture 5.6, exposure time 1/250 sec, ISO: 100, Black backdrop cloth, Black plexi sheet

 

Description: Similar to previous image LOWKEY4.jpg. External flash placed to the left and reflector to the right. Got this shot after numerous attempts.

 

Post-process: Lightroom, minor global edits like brightness, contrast & saturation.

Well done Dhina, a much-deserved win.

As is customary, honorable mentions to the following creative souls.


Tim Drysdale -- Beautiful colour tone and interesting subject matter. You get extra bonus points for your camera setup. You now have me wanting a monorail camera!


Patrick Raven -- A great concept and image that's well-executed.


Paul Verrall -- A fun, yet scary Jurassic Park-inspired photograph that makes great use of the low-key technique.


Stephen Allwright -- A great steampunk-inspired portrait.

For additional information on how these togs made their individual images, check out their descriptions over on our Flickr page where you can see all of this week's entrants. Do let us know in the comments section below which are your favourites.

Thanks to everyone that participated in the Shooting Challenge; there will be another one next week.

Martin Snelling is a Hampshire-based photomatographer and wearer of fine hats. He tweets here, Flickrs here, and does his website stuff here.