WPPI Details
Susan Stripling Photography

WPPI Details

Sometimes my desire to make unique images leads me to a crazy place! 

When I showed up at this 2012 wedding at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, I had no idea that just a few minutes later I’d be creating such a bizarre tableau to take a picture of the bride’s engagement ring! 

I took a hand mirror, a cup of champagne, and a towel over to one of the large windows in the Oheka Castle bridal suite and set up a scene. 

The ring was set on the mirror and my assistant gently poured some champagne onto the mirror while I photographed. 

I love this dynamic image so much that I chose to enter it into the Wedding Division : Wedding Details category of the WPPI 16x20 International Print Competition in 2013. 

I was pleased with my score of 81. I was also pleased when, later in the year, the client chose this image as one of the many images in her bridal album. It’s always lovely to see your clients value the images that you create for them!

I used to run a wedding photography education blog called The Dynamic Range.  I wrote a series of reviews of my experience with prints in the WPPI 16x20 Print Competition, and I wrote a write-up of this particular image!  The description of the judging process, my score, and how I felt read as follows:
Details, details.  It's no secret that I adore photographing the details of the wedding day, and that rings are my personal favorite.  This image, shot in 2012 and entered into WPPI's 16x20 print competition in 2013, was entered in the Wedding Details category.  It received a score of 81, which is absolutely appropriate.
There are two things I want to talk about when it comes to this image.  First of all, let's talk about the score.  An 81 is just right.  An 81 means 'Hey, good image, well done!"  I get a point towards my Honors of Excellence.  It hangs in the gallery.  An 81 is a GOOD score.  The capture is clever, the print is nice, everything is sharp and in focus, and so forth.  An 81 is above average, and this is absolutely above average.  To get over an 85 is a big deal, and to get over a 90 is incredible...and rare.  I can count on both hands the number of times I see something go over a 90 in the wedding categories each year.  The standards are high, and THAT keeps me motivated.
The other thing I want to talk about is keeping it simple.  Sometimes less is really, really more.  Do I love this image?  I do.  Is there WAY too much going on for a competition print?  There is.  There is a lot of water color/shadow/highlight action, a lot of color/highlight/shadow on in the foreground and background, and a lot of detail in the ring itself.  There are a lot of things to look at, and they distract from the ring.
Lest anyone read this and start thinking "Wow, Susan is way worse at photography than I thought!", think again.  I'm taking these images and carving them up with a hypercritical scalpel.  I'm dissecting my work to levels that it should NEVER be dissected....well, unless you're entering a competition!

Keywords: Huntington (36), Oheka Castle (48). 1/160; f/11.0; ISO 9000; 60.0 mm.