Shooting Challenge #28 -- The Winner Is...

By Martin Snelling on at

For our last extended-entry window Shooting Challenge (which was my fault entirely as I seem to have lost the ability to read a calendar), I set you the task of photographing your favourite playthings.

As usual, the standard of entries was very high, and so picking a winner was rather tough. But a winner was picked, and so it gives me great pleasure to announce that Chris Dean wins this week's Shooting Challenge with his series of AT-AT photographs. By positioning the AT-AT in different locations and poses, he has breathed life into the toy and turned it into a dog. I also loved the sea in the first image; the over-exposure has transformed it into a snowy, frozen wasteland.

Here's how Chris made his photographs...

"I've been waiting for a chance to take these photos of my AT-AT for some time and although I know photos of a one behaving like a dog aren't uncommon, thought I could have a bit of fun with my location and the weather.


Saturday 1st February was a cloudy but sunny day down in Brighton. Annoyingly windy enough to keep blowing it over and cloudy enough that when the sun did come out I quite often over exposed the image. In this case it was slightly over exposed and had to bring the exposure down a bit in Photoshop. I played with the colours too making the greens of the sea more vibrant and reducing the saturation a little on the AT-AT. The result, I hope, is of a dog looking excitingly out to a very battered coast.


I had a stick in some of the shots but preferred the ones without. I've added a vignette to the edges too. This was taken on my Pentax K-R camera with a Sigma 28px manual lens. I opened up the aperture as much as I could to 2.8 to make sure the background was out of focus, I think the shutter speed was around 2000th of a second."

"This was taken today (Monday 3rd) making use of a sudden burst of Sunshine on my patio and a quick trip to a pet shop to get a dog bowl. The equipment and f-stop is the same as above. I did try a 50mm quicker lens at 1.8 but preferred the wider angle again. This one again plays on the AT-AT's likeness to a dog, being fed some rebel scum this time around. I've purposely darkened to the background a little and added a vignette too."

"Again same equipment as before, 28mm lens, K-R, f 2.8 but I believe the shutter speed had to slow to about 15th of a second in my much darker kitchen. Also again I'm playing on the same theme as image before (the AT-AT's likeness to a dog, being fed some rebels) but this time in a more obvious kitchen counter setting. I've done very little to this image except a bit of colour tweaking and a vignette.


I'm not a professional photographer and the camera isn't the greatest, but I had fun and this competition got me out shooting a subject I've been meaning to take in a long while. So thanks for that."

Congratulations Chris, not only have you won this week's Shooting Challenge, you've bagged yourself a set of Grado Headphones too.

Honorable mentions must also go to the following (in surname-descending order):

Andrew Wilson -- I loved the use of forced perspective across the set of images:

Sam Wheeler -- A well thought-out composition:

Robert Newitt -- A good use of natural light:

Spencer Hart -- Superb low-key technique:

Piotr Chmielinski -- Another fab concept with a lot of potential:

For additional information on how these togs made their individual images, check out their descriptions over on our Flickr page. Going forward, I will be adding descriptions to the winning and 'runners up' photographs so please ensure you write something a bit more detailed than "I took it on my iPhone".

You can see all of the finalists over on our Flickr page, so do go and check them out. Let us know in the comments below which is your favourite.

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.