April 4, 2008 @12 a.m: The contest is now closed. You’re still welcome to do the exercise and add your photos to the comments, of course, but you won’t be eligible for the March prize.
OK all you slackers… you have homework. Grab your cameras.
Go outside on a bright sunny day, or somewhere where you’ll have lots of light to work with. Find a subject. I don’t care what it is– a person, a tree, a flower, a fire hydrant– and a background. The only criterion is that the subject is clearly distinct from the background.
Take a picture of your subject in such a way that the background is intentionally blurred. You can use aperture priority, shutter priority, or manual modes at your discretion, though of course one of those is less-suited to this exercise than the others. Don’t just shoot a bunch and hope you get it right, but think about what settings you want to use before you take the shot.
Upload your photo to a photo sharing site (I recommend Flickr but any one will do). Leave a comment with the settings that you used, a link to your photo, and anything else you want to say about the image.
At the end of March 2008, I’ll pick one commenter at random and send them an 8×12 signed print from my flower porn collection.
OK, go out there and shoot!
Update! At a friend’s suggestion, I’m offering two prizes. If at least 20 people submit entries, I’ll give away two prints– one to someone chosen at random, and one to the best submission. Pass the word to your friends, enemies, photography groups, etc. You can enter more than one image but don’t get too carried away… a few is OK, but not a dozen.
Small print: void where prohibited by law. Anyone who clearly violates the spirit of the rules will be disqualified. Don’t put that in your mouth… you don’t know where it’s been. Please make sure your images are worksafe. You can post more than one photo, but you’ll only get one chance at the drawing. It must be a photo that you took specifically for this assignment, not something pulled out of the archives. Play nice. Judging is at my discretion, and is final. SSA might want to show your image in a future entry, but we don’t want any other rights to it– if we want to use it for anything else, we’ll play nice and ask for your permission first.