Shooting Challenge: Coffee

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Coffee

Coffee. You owe that shit. Big time. It gets you out of bed, keeps you employed, and only stains your teeth moderately. So for this week's Shooting Challenge, we're photographing coffee—in beans, brewing, and cups.

The Challenge

Take a photo with coffee as the subject. It can be any sort of scene you like—from an individual cup, to an active shop where a barista is pulling shots.


The Technique

There's no perfect technique for this week, given the scope of the challenge—except, maybe, one. When photographing something really dark like coffee, do so in an area with a lot of light. And if you aim your camera to autofocus/expose at the coffee itself, chances are, it will blow out the rest of the scene.

So flip your exposure to manual mode. Play around with aperture and shutter speed. It's a good week to push the limits of yourself in this way if you aren't accustomed to leaving auto mode.

The Example

Our lead image, by Russell James Smith, isn't just of a pretty cup of coffee, it plays visually on the roundness of the cup, the saucer, the table, and even that bowl of what looks to be olives. It's a very casual, well-composed shot.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.

2. Photos must be taken this week.

3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.

4. Email submissions to, not me.

5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560px wide image in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.


6. One submission per person.

7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)

8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.


9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, February 2nd at 10 AM Eastern to with "Coffee" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameCoffee.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameCoffeeWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions.


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One more rule:

10. Only photos of real coffee may be submitted. No Starbucks venti nonfat soy caramel half foam lattes please. Find a place with a decent barrista.