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Category: Contests

2016galaxyBWFirst show of the year done: Shots from the 2016 Galaxy are up on the site.

Some short notes:
– This was a busy weekend for contests; there were three NPC shows and at least two others. I’m hoping that all the shows had good photo coverage; if not we photographers probably should try to get more organized.

– Still quite a few competitors who insist on performing a short choreography routine before they take each pose, but I guess there’s no getting rid of it.

– This is the first show I’ve attended with the new Men’s Classic Physique class. Overall, I like it.

Shots came out reasonably well; shot tethered again– still learning the power of darktable but getting a little better at it each time. I hope. ;)

Enjoy the shots.

2015 Ocala Cup female bodybuilding competitor Shots from the 2015 Ocala Cup Classic are up on the site.

Ocala was the site of the last show I competed in, so I was very pleased that Sandy Rivera chose to bring bodybuilding back to this under-represented area of the state.

Despite being an inaugural show, things ran very smoothly, everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation, and as a bonus a nice gift was made to the Special Olympics.

The venue did present some challenges, however. When I first saw the backdrop I was intrigued to see how the background color would work (as a nice change from the customary neutron-star black).

By the end of the evening, though, I had sworn off all things orange, including cheddar cheese, pumpkin pie, sunsets, and Tang.

The venue lighting also needs some attention before next year. Lighting is probably the single most overlooked aspect of any show. For most dramatic productions, having bright oases on the stage is an acceptable, even desirable, condition; but for a competition prejudging it’s vital to have consistent, bright light across the width of the stage. You can see what I’m talking about in some of the prejudging shots.

I also had an issue with a slightly blurry portion of the visual field that I haven’t been able to track down yet. That area of Ocala is supposed to be haunted, so that’s one possibility, but it’s more likely that my UV filter had some fog on it, though I wasn’t able to locate it then and I can’t replicate it now. I’ve tossed that filter in any case, just to be sure.

Normally the shots don’t take nearly this long to bring up on the site, of course; the delay was partly due to not wanting to conflict with sales of the full-size shots (being handled by Sandy), partly because I normally only shoot the prejudging (between the morning and evening shows I took over 3,400 shots (!)), partly because the shots needed more post-processing than usual, and partly because it’s a very busy time right now– the new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, you get the idea.

jenniferStilson2015After the morning show I also did a quick shoot with Jennifer Stilson. She was a real trooper despite being almost ready to pass out from the hunger and stress of competition (I wasn’t in much better shape by then, but that’s beside the point). Her husband was a godsend, handling the reflectors when the off-camera flash started going balky, she looked great, and the location is a hidden gem (Adrienne Smith showed it to me when we shot there), so we were able to turn out a nice batch of attractive and interesting photos.

All in all, Ocala was a lot of work, but it’s what I enjoy. I hope you do as well.

Sandy has added the order link to her site at ocalacupclassic.com.

2015 Gainesville womens physique competitorShots from the 2015 Gainesville Classic show are up on the site.

This one took a while as I was very unhappy with my settings on the white balance. Usually I just set the warmth to “tungsten” and forget it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there were a number of LED cans or spots added to the stage, and the white lettering on the logo behind all the competitors was just, well, purple. My fault for not looking for it in the preview shots, and for assuming nothing had changed since last year; I should have looked around up there to check it out. Anyway, I had to adjust the histogram on pretty much every shot, so that’s why they’re running a little late.

I shot tethered using Entangle on Linux again and it worked a treat; just need a better way to stand the laptop on its side since the shots are sideways. Since this show, I’ve also installed a lighter-weight distro and swapped the drive for an SSD, so the next shoot should absolutely fly– I can go from power-off to login screen in twelve seconds, and the proprietary video driver makes it even faster.

As usual Tony put on a wonderful show, and this one had the added bonus that the proceeds go to cancer research at the University of Florida, so I was happy to help out in a small way. There are still lots of other great shows this year; next up for me will be the Ocala Cup Classic on October 24.

lakelandbwShots from the 2015 Lakeland Classic are up on the site.

I love this little lakefront theater because of what’s outside; one of these days I’m going to get there really early and do a shoot.  Inside the lighting is a challenge, but I had some new tools with me to help.

In borderline lighting, it’s often quite easy to miss minor motion blur using the camera’s tiny viewer.  Using a rock hammock for the tripod to hold my laptop, this time I shot tethered using a Linux program called Entangle to grab and display each shot, including histogram and data, almost as soon as I took it.

Practical upshot, I was able to push the margin way further than I normally would, and get feedback right away as to whether I’d gone too far.  I still had a few misses, but far fewer than normal at this venue.  Someday maybe I’ll win the lottery and drop a couple grand on a really fast telephoto, but until then this helps me squeeze more out of what I have.

The show itself was well-run and the competition was good.  If I had one comment for the competitors, it would be this: Do all your homework.  The judges go to a lot of extra time and effort to put on a series of posing and judging seminars throughout the year.  The seminars are not expensive and what you learn is invaluable.  They’re put on for your benefit: use them.

Enjoy the shots.  Next up: Gainesville, one of my favorite shows (and no travel).

Img_1726aShots from the 2015 Ancient City show are up on the site.

Unusually, the lighting was a bit off for the prejudging; that led to a lot of shadows on the shots, especially on the left side of the stage.  I was shooting from near the sound booth which mitigated the lighting difference across the stage somewhat, but it was still noticeable.

(I wonder if portable equipment would be powerful enough to remedy such situations?  If so someone should definitely look into having such equipment on hand.  One never knows when lighting could go bad, even during the show.)

I was able to compensate for a lot of the issues, though I’d still love for someone to develop a wireless foot-pedal to replicate the main dial for fast-changing light levels.  The battery pack already presumes you’ll shoot at a 90 degree angle and so adds a second main dial, which implies that it should be straightforward to add a wireless control to that.

Enough rambling.  Enjoy the shots.

2015 Suncoast women's competitor Shots from the 2015 Suncoast are up on the site.

Due to unavoidable schedule conflicts, I won’t be able to make the Tampa Bay or Central District shows. So when my schedule unexpectedly freed up for the day of this show, I jumped at the chance– Jefferson High has some of the best lighting of all the venues I’ve been to.

There was an obstruction in the middle of my usual seat of choice, so I had to sit a little closer than I have been of late. This was both good and bad; being closer I got great color and a nice hint of bokeh on some of the closeups. On the minus side, the sharper angle revealed greater variations in contrast due to a competitor’s postition on the stage, I had to shoot around people in front of me, and with the signage on the stage I could forget about trying to hide the parallax in the composition. :)

The level of competition was excellent, though I had to discard most of the bikini rear shots because there was just– how do I say this gracefully?– too much southern exposure. That aspect of bikini class has gotten out of control and frankly the NPC should have stepped in to correct it two seasons ago. Other than that, though, I was very impressed.

This was the show’s second year and I think it will be around for years to come. Enjoy the shots.