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Show a pic - CONCLUSIONS
As some of you noticed, I decided to donate some time and critique beginner's photos.The thread (which reached 150 posts) is here:.

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1002&message=26745005.

Now, some conclusions and personal thoughts..

I've reviewed 56 pictures plus some short words for extra-numerary images every now and than..

Multiply this with 5-10 minutes average per image, and you'll find out that it was a pretty large job..

I want to thank all the participants. You gave me the opportunity to look quite a large number of images from very different people. It was a very good exercise and will definitely change the way I shoot. Hopefully for the better .

My personal favourite image is the black and white seascape here:http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1002&message=26749615.

It was one of the first posts and probably did not received all the laudations it deserved. Bravo again..

The most common mistake I saw was tilted pictures. And it's probably the easiest to fix. Do it if you are going to post/print the image, it's worth it. You wouldn't keep a slanted frame on your wall, would you? .

I wish I had the time to do this kind of "time donation" once a month. But that's just wishfull thinking. It's pretty hard and time consuming work. It will happen again when it will happen. Maybe others will pick up the trend and donate some time, not necessarily for beginners..

Remarcably, no one got offended - or at least they did not say so..

I hope I did not miss any image; I'll apologize if I did. I am sorry for the two image rule, but it's not a day job after all .

I'll encourage you, the few beginners, to keep shooting and every now and then post your selections. There are some photography forums around. You'll feel very rewarded and improve much faster..

So, thanks again for the participation. It's been a good thread. I'll ask you to kindly leave online the images for some time, so others will be able to see the image and the critique, not only read the post..

Finally, a special word for those who really started up the thread, posting image without knowing what to expect, and to those that spoke up, both for me and my criticism and for the thread itself. Guys, you made it possible. Thanks on behalf of all the readers..

Regards and good luck on your photographic journey,.

/d/n..

Comments (18)

I followed the whole thread and I'll miss it. I hope someone else will start a similar project. I appreciate how quickly you responded to the pictures once they were posted. Thanks again...

Comment #1

Thanks for your input, on my photo and on everyone else's. I agree with you entirely that the b&w seascape is terrific..

Let me play the devil's advocate for a second, though, and critique your critiques. I'm not remotely offended by your commentsindeed, they were very informative, and have helped me to understand better the areas of photographic composition I ought to be paying attention to as I learn the craft..

However, I wonder if maybe some of what we're running into here is differences in taste. Some photographs here offered up what I might call an inspired awkwardnessa strangeness in presentation of subject that you often regarded as error, when in fact I sometimes chose to see it as aesthetic choice. The seascape you like so much seems to be aiming for a certain "perfection"it would be a superb magazine cover, or would fit beautifully in a book of nature photographs. Its appeal is instantly obvious, and fairly universal. But I wonder if maybe, in some other cases, what you chose to see as amateur mistakes are in fact evidence of a nascent personal aestheticand perhaps an unusual one..

In my case, you assessed the poor control over DOF in my image, and suggested that the focus point was in the wrong place. In fact, this image was one among thirty or so I shot of my subject, and it was the one that actually got closest to what I was trying to get ata kind of strained semi-abstraction. The shallow DOF was an aesthetic choice, as was the blurring, in the foreground, of parts of the subject (a little cluster of dead leaves)..

Now, it may be so that these were poor choices. They probably were, given my inexperience. But they weren't the result of poor control. This may come off as sour grapes, especially since you're donating your time for freeplease don't take it that way. I'm not at all offended, and in fact am flattered you took the time to help. But your response to the image makes me wonder what we're actually talking about when we talk about a "good photograph"...in my case, I often don't like to know, right away, what it is I'm looking at.

You wouldn't criticise, say, Lou Reed for singing out of tune...I'm kinda going for a Lou Reed thing, rather than a Callas thing. Know what I mean?.

I was reading an online article about the Contax G2, and it's autofocus. And accompanying the article was a photo illustrating how the AF can "choose wrong"in this case, focusing on the tall grass in the foreground instead of the obvious subject, a house, that stood blurrily behind it. But the picture of the grass was great! The photo became something about seeingabout what we choose to see when we look at things. The accidental photo became about solitude and introspection, instead of being about architecture..

Just a bit of food for thought. Thanks again for your work, and for taking a look at my picture!..

Comment #2

Thank you for taking time to do it. I think your critique was very valuable. I don't see why people would get offended, they can still like the picture even if it has photographic "rule" flaws,and they can learn from it to make them even better next time..

Thanks!..

Comment #3

I did not submit any photos but I read every one of your critiques and learned a lot from them. I appreciate your taking the time to do this..

Pat..

Comment #4

Inverseroom wrote:.

However, I wonder if maybe some of what we're running into here isdifferences in taste..

Absolutely! and I tried to underline those cases where it's a matter of taste..

Some photographs here offered up what I mightcall an inspired awkwardnessa strangeness in presentation ofsubject that you often regarded as error, when in fact I sometimeschose to see it as aesthetic choice..

I am trying to look at the bigger picture. The thread IS in the beginners' forum. So, when I see a compositional rule broken, I mention and critique it. If you read the whole thread, you noticed that there were a few cases where breaking the rules worked. If the rule is broken and it does not work (to me), _I_ rate it as an error..

My position is: first master the rules, then break them. I'll give you an example: have you looked at Picasso paintings? I am talking about the cubist ones, that made him famous. They broke all the rules and started a new movement. However, if you look at his older works, you'll see that he first mastered the technique..

But I wonder if maybe, in some other cases, what you chose to see asamateur mistakes are in fact evidence of a nascent personalaestheticand perhaps an unusual one..

In my case, you assessed the poor control over DOF in my image, andsuggested that the focus point was in the wrong place. In fact, thisimage was one among thirty or so I shot of my subject, and it was theone that actually got closest to what I was trying to get ata kindof strained semi-abstraction. The shallow DOF was an aestheticchoice, as was the blurring, in the foreground, of parts of thesubject (a little cluster of dead leaves)..

The critique thread ended and ended will stay. However, I stand by what I wrote. It could be a difference of taste, of course. So, I have a suggestion: post the image on some critique sites. 90% sure, you won't get such a detailed critique, but you'll get ratings, which are more quantifiable. You can try photosig, photo.net, and probably there are more.



Like a bit of visual confusion, a sense of unbalance. You wouldn'tcriticise, say, Lou Reed for singing out of tune...I'm kinda goingfor a Lou Reed thing, rather than a Callas thing. Know what I mean?.

Yep. However, if *I* would sing out of tune, the dogs would start howling and a state of emergency would be declared..

Just a bit of food for thought. Thanks again for your work, and fortaking a look at my picture!.

You are wellcome!.

To all: by all means, experiment. Break the rules. But first, know those rules. At least at the beginning, break them one at a time..

/d/n..

Comment #5

Wonderful, that's a great reply! I didn't know about the critique sites and will go check them out..

In my real life, I'm a writer and writing professor, and I agree, you have to understand the rules in order to break them correctly. In my case, it's often very hard to discern what irregularities in someone's work are the result of inexperience, and which are the result of unpolished inspiration...and even in my own work, sometimes it's hard to tell. I'm accustomed to having to submit myself to a great deal of criticism, then trying to sort out what's constructive from what misses the point. The teacher and artist are always at loggerheads, always trying to read between the lines, to understand where the other is coming from... I would imagine the same is true in any creative arena..

Anyway, I think your criticisms of my picture are valid, and valuable, and already have me thinking about other approaches to the subject matter. Thanks again.....

Comment #6

I thought you had a really good balance of focusing on the positive and negative. I learned as much from all the positive points you found in the photos as I did from the negative. I also was impressed that 3rd party readers kept to themselves and didn't turn the thread into a critique of your critique although they could certainly do that on this thread...

Comment #7

I feel using sites like Photosigc o m can be a rather daunting experience for beginners; also they can be very cliquey (as indeed can camera clubs). I suppose looking at the photos there can encourage people to try harder, but often it will encourage them to copy someone's style and end up with what ammounts to a pastiche. Flikrc o m is quite useful for it's broad range of more modern styled shots and general usage..

Critique can sometimes be damaging, and whilst photography is easier if a camera user has an inate artistic talent, it nevertheless can be learned as a craft skill. Being ignored... that's the real enthusiasm killer ... particularly if you feel your shot has merit..

And with respect to yourself (original poster) how did you find the process of getting your own first photo critiqued on-line? I know that people in my line of work (editors) can be incredibly unforgiving to something that might just need a little bit of straightening..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #8

Jasonmolinari wrote:.

Thank you for taking time to do it. I think your critique was veryvaluable. I don't see why people would get offended, they can stilllike the picture even if it has photographic "rule" flaws,and theycan learn from it to make them even better next time..

Because it's very easy to slide from critiqueing the image to critiqueing the photographer. It's the difference between "the colors are way off" and "don't you at least know the sky shouldn't be magenta?". And sometimes the second critque can be more to the point, unfortunately..

This works both ways - the critiqued will easily assume that you critiqued him, not the image. Maybe not him, but his technique... slippery slope..

Thanks!..

Comment #9

Hi,.

I didn't submit any photos for critique but I did follow the entire thread. You got off to a rough start on the first day and I was sure the thread would degenerate even further, but to my surprise, you started getting some takers, and in my opinion, you offered some very good critique. Its not easy to do, and of course, it can be very subjective, however, I thought your observations were valid. I think it was due to your honest but courteous comments that the thread was a success..

As you pointed out, it was intended for beginners, and I agree that it's important to know the "rules" before you can really know how and when to break them effectively. If you ever decide to volunteer your time again to a similar thread, I might even gather up my courage to post one or two of my own shots. I do know the rules, but achieving the results I see "in my head" is still a challenge for me, and being objective about my own images is even more challenging..

Congratulations on a job well done!.

Marion..

Comment #10

Yeah, good job for not getting sidetracked by the forum police..

I'm also glad you agreed with my assessment on the B&W sea image. A few people walked away wearing blue ribbons like it was a "photo challenge". A few people walked away understanding more about photography. Almost no one walked away with less. So your thread was a success. ..

Comment #11

Since you mentioned having seen tilted pics so often, (also one of my pet peeves) I'll throw out what little I know about PS and solve the tilt problem! (It's really easy.).

Using the Ruler tool, draw a line along whatever you WANT to be level, (be it a street sign, distant building , horizon, etc.) Go to Image-> Rotate-> Arbitrary and "OK". (When you click on 'Arbitrary', it will tell you how far off level you are, ie. the angle.)Hope this helps someone,Oh, and thanks from me also for taking the time to do this,JonGive me something to shoot..

Comment #12

JD807 wrote:.

Since you mentioned having seen tilted pics so often, (also one of mypet peeves) I'll throw out what little I know about PS and solve thetilt problem! (It's really easy.).

Go to filters/distort/lens correction.

First leave on the grid and remove any barrel/pincushion distortion (if any).If it's the case, correct any perspective distortion..

Then remove the grid and use the straighten tool, and draw a horizontal or vertical line..

Voila..

Using the Ruler tool, draw a line along whatever you WANT to belevel, (be it a street sign, distant building , horizon, etc.) Goto Image-> Rotate-> Arbitrary and "OK". (When you click on'Arbitrary', it will tell you how far off level you are, ie. theangle.)Hope this helps someone,Oh, and thanks from me also for taking the time to do this,JonGive me something to shoot..

Comment #13

John farrar wrote:.

I feel using sites like Photosigc o m can be a rather dauntingexperience for beginners; also they can be very cliquey (as indeedcan camera clubs). I suppose looking at the photos there canencourage people to try harder, but often it will encourage them tocopy someone's style and end up with what ammounts to a pastiche..

Totally agree. Those sites tend more towards established or natural born artists. But as inspiration goes, they are top notch. Imitating something you like isn't always bad. It is a good way to try and learn new things. You just have to know when to stop copying and start understanding techniques so you can incorporate them into your own style.



Flikrc o m is quite useful for it's broad range of more modernstyled shots and general usage..

While I have seen some serious talent in Flikr, I also see a lot of what you may be calling "modern" and I'm thinking "garbage". Not that I can't appreciate the occasional abandonded building in wierd cross processed looking colors, but there's only so much of that sort of thing I can take..

And maybe it's just me but this trend seems to be self promoting at Flikr more than anywhere else. To me, the real talent I see doesn't break too many rules at once unless they are going all out. A lot of what I've seen highly praised at Flikr wouldn't past muster at a stock agency. On many levels..

Critique can sometimes be damaging, and whilst photography is easierif a camera user has an inate artistic talent, it nevertheless can belearned as a craft skill. Being ignored... that's the real enthusiasmkiller ... particularly if you feel your shot has merit..

Improper critique can certainly be damaging. What devnull did here was admirable in my opinion. He gave some good critiques from what I saw. (Not considering myself a beginner anymore I didn't participate actively.).

Good critiques can be hurtfull if you have thin skin. But if one can see past the inevitable sting to the ego, you can almost always gain something from it. I know I have grown with every fault found much more than with empty praise. A good critique should leave you feeling a little put in your place, yes, but with an eye towards how to improve the next shot..

When I critique an image I do try to find both good and bad when I can and point those things out in order to help the photographer learn and grow. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer people willing to give an honest critique these days because so many people came looking for them but were unwilling (or unable) to take honest criticism and wanted to excuse their mistakes as artistic expression. True artistic expression rarely requires any explaination. It will speak for itself..

A couple of good sites for amatuer competition and critiques arehttp://www.fujimugs.com andhttp://www.panachallange.com I mention these simply because they are the ones I've used and learned a lot from. I have no affiliation beyond that. They are completely free and each has an active community, but not such massive participation that you get lost in the crowd. Check it out! The current topic at FujiMugs right now is "Addiction". There's still time to get an entry in...Chefziggyhttp://www.pbase.com/chefziggy/lecream..

Comment #14

That tool ruins images. Use it on an image with a sky and change the barrel/pincushion, and you'll notice that the sky becomes a semi-circle of banding colors. Whatever this tool is doing, it's messing with the colors of the image..

The perspective change part of it might not, but I no longer trust this tool at all...

Comment #15

Eclipse Optics wrote:.

That tool ruins images. Use it on an image with a sky and change thebarrel/pincushion, and you'll notice that the sky becomes asemi-circle of banding colors. Whatever this tool is doing, it'smessing with the colors of the image..

Possibly. I haven't use the barrel/pincushion distortion for a few years - better lens. However, I don't remember having problems with it..

I will test it..

The perspective change part of it might not, but I no longer trustthis tool at all..

Understandably. However, the perspective is ok as far as I see - I did use it recently. It's that or T/S lenses ..

Comment #16

ChefZiggy wrote:.

John farrar wrote:.

I feel using sites like Photosigc o m can be a rather dauntingexperience for beginners; also they can be very cliquey (as indeedcan camera clubs). I suppose looking at the photos there canencourage people to try harder, but often it will encourage them tocopy someone's style and end up with what ammounts to a pastiche..

Totally agree. Those sites tend more towards established or naturalborn artists. But as inspiration goes, they are top notch.Imitating something you like isn't always bad. It is a good way totry and learn new things. You just have to know when to stop copyingand start understanding techniques so you can incorporate them intoyour own style. It is a process for us all, I think..

It's call inspiration  As a good example, it's amazing how some Rolling Stones work sounds remarkably like Beatles... and some Beatles sounds very Beach Boyish .

Flikrc o m is quite useful for it's broad range of more modernstyled shots and general usage..

While I have seen some serious talent in Flikr, I also see a lot ofwhat you may be calling "modern" and I'm thinking "garbage". Notthat I can't appreciate the occasional abandonded building in wierdcross processed looking colors, but there's only so much of that sortof thing I can take..

I'd avoid Flickr. Nota bene, I dislike yahoo's services, but the recent rights blunder tops it off.And it's more a "social" that a photography site..

And maybe it's just me but this trend seems to be self promoting atFlikr more than anywhere else. To me, the real talent I see doesn'tbreak too many rules at once unless they are going all out. A lot ofwhat I've seen highly praised at Flikr wouldn't past muster at astock agency. On many levels..

Critique can sometimes be damaging, and whilst photography is easierif a camera user has an inate artistic talent, it nevertheless can belearned as a craft skill. Being ignored... that's the real enthusiasmkiller ... particularly if you feel your shot has merit..

Improper critique can certainly be damaging. What devnull did herewas admirable in my opinion. He gave some good critiques from what Isaw. (Not considering myself a beginner anymore I didn't participateactively.).

You both are right, critique can be damaging. However, it's better than the alternatives. Not getting feedback can seriously slow one's progression, and the praises one gets in some forums/sites for seriously bad pictures can even mess up that person..

One more thing. Posting on a photography site will open one's eyes. He/she will see what people like and dislike and what gets people's attention; hopefully, will learn not to take shortcuts. For example, in many, many sites a young woman's portrait will get much more exposure than a spectacular abstract or landscape. And the ratings will start higher..

So, it will be a kind of peer review. One will learn his strenghts and weaknesses, and will learn to stand for oneself..

When I critique an image I do try to find both good and bad when Ican and point those things out in order to help the photographerlearn and grow. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer peoplewilling to give an honest critique these days because so many peoplecame looking for them but were unwilling (or unable) to take honestcriticism and wanted to excuse their mistakes as artistic expression..

And because it's hard work, really .

True artistic expression rarely requires any explaination. It willspeak for itself..

A couple of good sites for amatuer competition and critiques arehttp://www.fujimugs.com andhttp://www.panachallange.com.

I didn't know those, but I'd avoid on principle the "camera brand" sites..

My favourite is photo.net. Photosig also yields decent comments, but it's more work to post if you don't pay for an account. I've read very good things about deviantart and smugmug, especially deviantart. Haven't tried those iet..

/d/n..

Comment #17

Thanks for taking the time and critique our photos devnull..

As a beginner critique is extremely important, you cant fix what you do not know. Critique is the one thing that has improved my photos the most, and one of the biggest reasons I use these forums. Info is everywhere, opinions are with the people..

Thanks for having a look at my pictures and I'm glad you selected my image as your favourite. Its going to be the first image I print..

Sorry about my late answer, I'm serving in the military atm(Finland).

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/14807929@N05..

Comment #18

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