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Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Pencil (Classic Editing)
Camera: Nikon Coolpix 990
Location: Santa Clara
Date: Aug 15, 2002
Aperture: 8.3
ISO: 100
Shutter: 2 seconds
Date Uploaded: Aug 18, 2002


Place: 4 out of 185
Avg (all users): 7.0376
Avg (commenters): 8.3878
Avg (participants): 7.1679
Avg (non-participants): 6.8992
Views since voting: 2681
Votes: 266
Comments: 51
Favorites: 7 (view)

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08/26/2002 03:15:00 PM
Many thanks to all the kind and encouring comments I got. As this was my first time ever to submit a photo to any kind of competition, I'm honored by the reception it got.

Since so many people asked me what this is or how I did it, here goes:

First I've got to say that this picture works a LOT better with a black background. The black part is not uniformely black. In low light settings you can actually see light cone around the pencil and also the shadow under the pencil. I could even see my average fall lower during the day and increase again in the evening. I wish they would change the picture pages to use black background. IMHO that's better for every single picture. With this bright white background you're losing all detail in dark areas of any picture.

The scribbles are thick cotton thread. The whole thing is setup on a dark blue foldable mattress, with a part level and the rest propped up against the wall to form the background. I put the glass from a poster frame on the level part of the matress as reflective surface. I had to wet the thread to make it lay flat on the glass.

The lighting was a bit tricky: I used one spotlight (a regular desklamp with a cardboard tube held in front of it to focus it on one spot) to light the scene from the left side. Since the scribbles needed additional light to keep the balance with the pencil lighting, I used a second spotlight directly from above for that.

In response to a few people questioning the relection of the framing, I do not agree with any of these. The picture would be dull without the relection and it wouldn't work as well with a different vertical framing as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, the focus is not great. That's did probably cost me some rating. I am aware of that and believe me, I tried. I have several theories why that is, but I'm not sure which one is right. Whatever it is, focus is the weak spot of any consumer digital camera. The autofocus is too often wrong, and manual focus is useless because you can't judge the sharpness without a real viewfinder. This and shutterlag will be the main reason for me to upgrade to a DSLR before long.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
08/25/2002 07:21:00 PM
Nice photo. I like the red line. What is it? I don't know about the reflection, can't say if the photo is better or not better with it. Good composition and very good lighting. The pencil is a bit unsharp. I don't know if you did it on purpose but more sharpness would be better in my opinion.
08/25/2002 05:41:00 PM
Nice fade and reflection.
08/25/2002 02:08:00 PM
very nice idea, and nicely implemneted. i have no criticism to offer, just a small nitpick - there's a dot in the lower left corner. your photo is in my top 10 this week. -- gr8photos (9)
08/24/2002 05:03:00 PM
Very cool! Love the red and the reflection. This is my choice for this week's best photo.
08/23/2002 09:17:00 PM
Again I am impressed with the creative imaginations here at this site.
I like what you did here! The lighting, composition, color for mood... it all works!
Very well done...
P.S. It`s a "why didn`t I think of that"...
08/23/2002 09:02:00 PM
great composition and splash of red. love the reflection of the pencil. Lisa
08/23/2002 02:05:00 PM
I love the deep black with the reflection and how it handles, what I'm assuming is a grease pencil. Simple, elegant and striking. 9
08/23/2002 07:02:00 AM
Oooh it's like Swan Lake with a Pencil ballerina! I love the simplicity, the lighting and reflection and the huge amount of empty blackness.
7, Kavey
08/23/2002 12:04:00 AM
I can't figure out your lighting technique...thats good
08/22/2002 12:44:00 PM
There is mostly good taste in this elegant composition, which surpasses the technical aspects, and makes it a very atractive and original image. My favorite for this week.
08/21/2002 11:46:00 PM
too much negative space
08/21/2002 08:50:00 PM
Good job of getting the reflection without any glare. I find the composition simple and well balanced. I think it is artistic and creative too. Good job! (10)
08/21/2002 08:10:00 PM
uniquely simple. a 10.
08/21/2002 05:49:00 PM
I would have given it a 10 if not for sharpness.
08/21/2002 03:48:00 PM
I really like simplicity and "elegance" of this shot. good work. karmat
08/21/2002 11:54:00 AM
Very effective and extremely well shot. Cant help thinking that it would have worked better without the reflection, though.
08/21/2002 06:18:00 AM
Very cool shot. :)
08/20/2002 11:13:00 PM
Love it. How did you get the "raised" appearance.
08/20/2002 09:39:00 PM
08/20/2002 08:47:00 PM
great effort
08/20/2002 08:35:00 PM
Wow this is great! Creative and interesting... please tell us how you did this.
08/20/2002 07:12:00 PM
Composition: Subject Placement, Cropping, Background10,
Technical: Focus, Exposure, Lighting, Processing7,
Challenge: Does your entry meet it?10,
Appeal: Is it Interesting, Motivating, Etc.? 8,
Total Averaged Rating9. Autool
08/20/2002 04:51:00 PM
Composition - very good
Technical Aspects - very good
Meets Challenge - yes
Visual Impact / Originality – high/very good
Other comments – great idea, well done. Top pick for me.

Jim msp
08/20/2002 03:43:00 PM
Nice use of color, lighting and framing. There is one bright spot in the lower left hand corner, but I'm not deducting points for it, since it could be easily removed if the rules allowed spot editing.
08/20/2002 02:17:00 PM
what a stunning photo! this gets a 9 from me for now...
08/20/2002 01:53:00 PM
Nice picture, I would love to know how you achieved this affect!
08/20/2002 01:38:00 PM
Excellent work! very well executed. I enjoy all of the black space - very appealing - there's something gentle about this. Someday I too will be able to do such work. :-) It is very very apparent that this took a lot of time and effort. 10
08/20/2002 12:47:00 PM
lovely photo! The reflection adds so much to this shot... This shot holds a lot of nice visual impact, and yet it is simple and straightforward at the same time :) great shot... = 10 - jmsetzler
08/20/2002 08:40:00 AM
I really like this one but the white spec in the bottom right corner is really annoying. 9
08/20/2002 07:49:00 AM
lovely effect - how did you achieve it, so black a background and a great reflection.
08/20/2002 07:30:00 AM
VERY Nice, I like the simplicity, the framing, the colors. Would be interested to know how you did that. Great
08/20/2002 03:39:00 AM
Absolutely fantastic ! I hope we'll get to know how his was achieved.
08/20/2002 01:00:00 AM
Very attractive. Lighting, angle, ROT all good. What was your reflective surface? I can see a little reflection behind the upright pencil also. =9 syamjonimi
08/19/2002 09:10:00 PM
very nicely set up. I feel this could be better vertically framed, capturing the full reflection, and having a more symmetrical feel. A good attempt but could be improved I think. Like the hidden support feel.
08/19/2002 07:11:00 PM
Like it a lot. Here's what I would've done: center it and then have the reflexion come out of the right lower conrner and the actual pencil from the top. Just an idea...
08/19/2002 06:50:00 PM
The best of the "pencil standing on its end" picture. 8 -lennier
08/19/2002 06:21:00 PM
Nicely done! Maybe a good candidate for "how'd they do that"
08/19/2002 06:00:00 PM
interesting. i would like to know how this was done.
08/19/2002 03:15:00 PM
Cool, one of my top picks this week.
08/19/2002 02:03:00 PM
OK, here's another one for "How'd they do that?" Please send it in so we know. One of my favorites for the week. Excellent job.
08/19/2002 01:42:00 PM
very very cool picture!
08/19/2002 01:08:00 PM
Very creative! Took me a moment to figure what you used for the writing.. great job! 10
08/19/2002 11:42:00 AM
Fascinating shot – the lighting creates a surreal atmosphere to a surreal shot. If this had been just a tad sharper I would have given it the max… It's inventive, it holds the attention and it makes you wonder – how did you do it? Great shot (9)
08/19/2002 11:21:00 AM
This is a very creative idea and nicely executed. I wish the scribbles were a bit more in focus. I can't really see what's going on there. It kind of looks like paint, but I think that it could be because it was dont on a mirror. Lighting turned out great. The bottom pencil almost looks a bit distorted, but as I look closely, it's just heavily shadowed on the non light side. Practically unavoidable. Great shot. This one is on the higher end of my voting this week. Congrats and good luck with the challenge.
08/19/2002 10:31:00 AM
thats really neat! i would really like to know how u got the pencil to stand up like that. i love the reflection from the pencil but not from the scribbles..id like to know how u did that also...great photo!
08/19/2002 09:44:00 AM
Very, very creative shot. Perfectly composed, visually stunning photo. lhall-10
08/19/2002 07:07:00 AM
Wow. Not quite sure how you managed to setup this shot but I like it.
08/19/2002 03:16:00 AM
What can I say but WOW! One question... how did you get the pencil to stand up?
08/19/2002 01:37:00 AM
Very cool. The reflection is great.
08/19/2002 01:15:00 AM
Originality and technique excellent sulamk

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