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The Challenge

by Mete Ozbek

I like to play with light. I like to use the chiaroscuro technique (light shadow games) and low-key lighting in my work. 
I always like to see analog results, and I do not like to see digital SLR bodies that have sensors with, for example, a black and white filter, color filter or nano low pass filter. How I hate that! If I’d have my way, I would never leave my Nikon F3HP SLR. But now I can’t find Kodak or Fuji slide film anymore, which is a shame. That’s why I try to make my digital photos like analog slides. So, I use Lightroom and Photoshop just like I used to use the darkroom to develop my negatives. 

I love photography and I have so much respect for many of the masters since the 1800s. I am especially keen on Sebastião Salgado, Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Ara Güler, and I try to follow their philosophies. My dream is to have a Leica M6 with a 50mm f/2 Summicron lens.

Well, now about my photo “The Challenge.”

Pentax K20D  .  Pentax M50mmf/1.7  .  50mmmm  .  1/60ss  .  f/4  .  ISO800

I knew of an old place where antique materials are sold, and the place has very good natural light, especially in the afternoon. The university students always went there to help the owner whom I have known for many years. When I was there for a visit and chat with the owner, a young friend of mine, Safa, walked in. 

"I asked him to light his pipe, to put on a hat and sit in front of the chess table. I asked him to pretend that he was playing chess against a ghost — this was the result."

We chatted for a while. He knew that sometimes my friends and I went there to take photographs. He wanted me to take his photo too. We went upstairs, where the light was perfect, around 3 p.m. Luckily, he used to smoke a pipe. I asked him to light his pipe, to put on a hat and sit in front of the chess table. I asked him to pretend that he was playing chess against a ghost — this was the result.

This is the equipment I used in this photo:

— The Pentax K20D digital SLR. It has one of the most perfect analog results, and I always love to have that precious camera body around as my buddy.
— The Pentax M 50mm f/1.7 lens. A real jewel. It has much more perfect results than any expensive lenses today, and I love to use it anywhere and in any composition.

Now I have Pentax K5 and I’m starting to really love taking photos with it. For me, there is no need to have a full-frame DSLR. I’ve already had the most valuable full-frame analogs ever made, such as the Nikon F4S, Nikon F3HP, Canon EOS 5, Minolta etc.

I used Photoshop in addition to Nik plugins Viveza 2 and Color Efex 4 to process this image.
I developed my photo in 3 basic steps: Sharpness, brightness and color. But I made only minor adjustments in each step, and I will explain more below.

1) In Photoshop, I added some sharpness to the face and the smoke. 

2) I then used Nik Viveza 2 plugin to create a bit more drama in the light. I decreased the light in the corners and increased it a bit in the center, thus producing the real contrast that I wanted to see. Then I blacked out the window where some distracting objects were visible opposite my model. 

3) Next, I changed the color slightly from blue tones to warm tones using the Nik Color Efex 4 Cross Balance filter. I changed daylight to tungsten and set Opacity to about 50%. This enhanced the color and added to the dramatic effect I was looking for.

I now had the right tones, colors and composition. I had produced some alternatives to this picture, for example, with the window, without the window, color, and a black and white conversion. I liked this version the most and wanted to share it.

I spent about 10 minutes processing this image. 

Normally I don’t remove any objects from my photographs. In this case, though, the room was quite cluttered and I could not move any of the objects out of my frame. That made such a confusing composition, so it was necessary to remove some of them.
I was born in Ankara, Turkey, in September 1966. I started my photography journey when I was 16 years old with a Lubitel medium format analog camera. Up to February 2008, I shot analog negatives and positives, and since 2008 I have used a DSLR.
My photographs have been featured in some digital and printed magazines in Turkey and abroad. Also, have received awards in various competitions, like The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Lee Make History, and in local InterCity competitions in Italy. My work has also been featured in some exhibitions in Turkey, Italy and Argentina.

I’m trying to finish my “About Life” documentary project work and bring it to life.
My philosophy for life is “loving the creatures for the Creator” and I try to show that in my works .
Check out my homepage:
Magnificent photo, and a clear stoy of a passionate photographer. Thanks for sharing!
Very, very good.