16th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Manipulated Images


"Animal Crackers"
By Steven Shpall

About Steven Shpall

Click on photo for larger image.

"I was going to San Diego, and there was the zoo," Steven Shpall, 54, said about the inspiration for his photo. He wanted to think how he photographs the animals that would be different.

"It just sort of popped into my head," he said.

Shpall, a dermatologist who lives in Mountain View, has been photographing since he was a teenager. He used to have a darkroom at home, but after college he put off his pastime. Six years ago, his wife gave him his first digital camera -- and he's pursued photography with a passion ever since.

Using a Nikon camera, he took about 100 photographs at the zoo. Angles and lighting played key roles in the photography, he said.

"With animals you just try to get a good shot when they're looking at the camera, so you get their eyes," he said -- "a clear shot of their face with their eyes open."

He used a home studio with white paper and lots of light to take a picture of the cracker box.

Although he does not eat animal crackers and his kids are grown, he thought it would be an interesting concept. He used Photoshop to make his digital composition.

"You have to isolate the animals; you have to mask them out," he said of his technique. "You have to create shadows appropriate for the picture."

"It's always fun," he said.

--Susan Hong

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