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Sandy has added the order link to her site at

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.

Minor bug in my schedule-page code made the fancybox plugin crash and burn (it was the piece that greys out contests that have already taken place). Info was still there, but the presentation wasn’t. For what it’s worth it would have started working again after the first contest was over, so it’s a good thing I noticed and fixed it now.

I’ve gotten through July though details on some of the later shows are still rather sparse. More as time allows…

NPC Daytona 2014 competitor

Shots from the 2014 Daytona Classic are up on the site.

Well, almost up.* Probably under a hundred shots to go at this point. I thought I’d better at least get what is up announced before the 2015 season arrives.

It was an unexpectedly BIG show, over 160 competitors if I recall, so there was a LOT of raw material to sort through. I was expecting about half that number.

I also shot this show from further back, full manual, and that’s really helping to solve some of the consistency issues I’ve had from shooting closer to the stage. However the lighting in this venue was extremely dim around the edges, and some of the larger classes flowed past the center-stage area, so a considerable number of photos were not salavageable as color, and another smaller batch just couldn’t be saved.

Consider: If the subject is a dark-tanned physique guy wearing fluorescent jams and tucked away in the armpit section of the stage, that shot is next to impossible to pull off. I’m already walking a tightrope on the exposure levels, and the fluorescent colors make the light meter think there’s WAY more visible light coming in than there really is, so setting the levels is basically just a SWAG at that point.

We are going to have to have a conversation about competitor attire in the near term, though, especially in the bikini and men’s physique classes.

(Generally when a large group is on stage and the edge lighting is less than perfect, the head judge will rotate the competitors like an airplane propellor and they are judged a second time. Of course if the stage is dark on both sides, then the competitors on the ends are just moving from one dark spot to another. A better solution for extreme lighting discrepancies might be to do the rotation similar to the propellors on a twin-engine plane, which would give everyone at least one viewing in the best light. )

We are going to have to have a conversation about competitor attire in the near term, though, especially in the bikini and men’s physique classes. I’m not keen on having to vet every photo for “wardrobe malfunctions” and in way too many cases that situation seems about one hiccup away. So far I have tried very hard to simply cover the shows, not editorialize by omitting certain classes, but it seems things are heading in the wrong direction and there’s a limit to what I’m willing to put on a site with my name at the top.

Even with the large number of competitors it was another great show by Mike and Tony. The competition was first-rate and the show ran smoothly. Enjoy the shots.

*They are all up now.