I discovered Zack Arias of DEDPXL in rather a roundabout way. I was driving to work and saw a friend of mine sitting on a wall in Lamlash with his camera. This is the dude that sold me his D300. I wondered what he was doing and I got the answer when I saw a picture he’d posted to Flickr with the weird tag #DEDPXL.
‘Huh?’ I thought to myself. So I did a bit of digging and soon found my way to Zack’s site where the first assignment video was posted. Always on the lookout for inspiration for my #365, I decided to submit a few pictures for the first assignment. I looked some more into what DEDPXL was all about and pre-ordered the OneLight 2.0 lighting videos. I’ve now been through that course and am the proud owner of a new lightstand and 150cm umbrella and I’m loving it! His teaching methods are exemplary and, for the first time since buying my SB800 around 10 years ago, I have an idea of how to use it! Those videos were incredibly helpful!
At the end of the first assignment, Zack sat down with his wife Meg and recorded a video critique of the submissions and it was super helpful. It’s incredible to think that a pro with chops like Zack’s would give his time like that at no charge. I was in! Now, I’m not sure what his methods are for choosing which pictures to critique, but none of mine was picked. ‘Fair enough,’ I thought. There are probably thousands of submissions!
The second assigment was entitled Repetitive Shape: Form / Pattern / Rhythm and I got into it quite early. I submitted a total of six shots, two or three of which I should’ve taken back out the pool because I didn’t really think they were that good, but, stupidly, I left them in. And this time, Zack DID pick one of my shots. Which one? Yep, you guessed it. One of the ones I wish I’d removed.
I watched the long-form video and got a C with some good feedback, but in the short-form video I got a D with the comment that it was ‘kinda boring and sucks’. I felt crushed. I knew the feeling would pass, but I’d had the worst day and had to go and play a gig that night and was kicking myself for not waiting to watch the critique. The long-form critique was actually valuable, and I knew Zack’s comments were on the money, but the shorter critique where I got a D made me sad and angry and all I could think of were the words ‘boring’ and ‘sucks’. Such is human nature I suppose: ten good reviews and one bad one and guess which one you’ll dwell on?
These were my three favourites of my submissions:
I like the sky and the sun flare, but especially the sandbags and the story that they represent. I’m not sure about the stones in the foreground.
I like the triangles that the roofs make and the way the chimneys go into the triangle of sky. I wasn’t sure about the crop, whether to crop the right-hand edge off and, now that I’m looking at it again, I think I should probably have done that. I remember playing around with the crop before I posted it, so I must’ve chosen not to do that for some reason.
I grabbed this one while I was waiting on a train and it’s one of my favourite shots of my #365. I’m not sure how I could’ve made this better, so critique would be useful.
So, what have I learned? Well, firstly, I need to be far more judicious in selecting my submissions. I guess four selects is about right for an assignment, but I have to be sure that they’re keepers. That log truck should never have been in there.
Also, learn to take the criticism. I know it can be a bitter pill to swallow, but I also know that I’m getting incredible value just from the inspiration that I get from the group to get out there and think about my photography. All it’s costing me is time and I would do well to think on that when I consider just how much I’m getting out of it.
The third assignment, Shadows, has just been set, so it’s time to get back on the horse and think my way into making some great shots that I can be proud of! If I’m proud of them and get a bad grade, well, we’ll see how that goes if it comes to that. But it won’t. Will it?