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Blog: photographer Craig Okraska

DEDPXL 07 (part 1)

Last November Zack Arias posted the final DEDPXL photo assignment of the year - except instead of offering only his critique (which is generous to begin with), he announced he'd be giving away a Hasselblad 500 c/m medium format camera...with a Mamiya Leaf Aptus-II 22 digital back, courtesy of Capture Integration out of Atlanta.  O.M.F.G.  

The assignment was to produce an image based around the theme "the world has changed."  Aside from shooting for the theme, the only other requirements were that it contained three elements: a human element, something spilling, and a news delivery device.  And, it must be new work.  Those were the only stipulations.  Easy right?  It's only easy if a Hasselblad/Mamiya Leaf isn't at stake!  

I put a ridiculous amount of thought into this project, and justifiably so.  The Hasselblad would have been an amazing prize in and of itself, but to be paired with a Mamiya digital back, you'd be an idiot not to invest valuable time creating new wrinkles in your brain thinking about this.  My first instinct was that I needed to come up with something that wasn't obvious.  I figured spilled coffee on your newspaper or iPad was the first thing everyone would think of - it was mine at least.  After thinking about it more, I initially settled on Google Glass since it's not something readily commonplace at the moment.  How cool would it be to have a photo from the user's point of view?  Cool, but a lot harder to create than I imagined.  That was my first endeavor, but the result wasn't acceptable to my standards.  I decided pretty quickly that it was a great idea, but it just wouldn't cut it for the prize.  

Quickly thereafter, the idea of a radio popped into my head.  As an avid public radio listener who listens via old school radio wave physics, it was something that made sense to me.  Also, I didn't think it would be an obvious go-to for my competition.  Being the resourceful person I am, I ask my wife what she thinks.  "How about a painter spilling paint while listening to the radio?"  An image immediately came into my head and I loved it!  Genius Anika.  Here's the result...       

When I sketched out the idea, we had completely different visions.  But, that didn't matter.  As long as I could create what I saw in my head, I knew it would be a cool image.   After all, it was a great idea.  I think it could have been executed a hundred different ways and it would still be great.  Luckily Anika was willing to model for the shot (normally she doesn't like being in front of the camera, but I think she understood the gravity of success with this assignment).  Though not everything comes out exactly as I envision it, this one came pretty close.  The biggest differences were the stool, the paint set/stand, and the radio.  It's what I had to work with, but I think they worked. 

For the photog geeks out there, here are some of the details.  The glass of water was a separate image layered in.  It only took 2 or 3 takes to get the water right, so all in all it was a quick process.  As for the lighting, I used one AlienBee 1600 in a large softbox, set up just outside the window, and triggered with Pocket Wizards.  Since this was shot at night the power didn't need to be too high.  There was enough power to create a nice back-light along with enough light to bounce around the room to provide the scene with enough fill.  I also added a kicker on camera-left to add a touch of light to accent Anika (notice the hard shadows on the floor). 

All in all I think it came out nicely.  Now if I could only convince Zack and Meg that it was as cool as I thought...

Stay tuned for DEDPXL 07 (part 2)