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Photography Question 
Shawn Jennings
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/25/2005
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Contest Categories


I watch the Photo Contest each month and try to study the finalist and winners to determine what the judges see that makes a photo a winning shot. I am confused at how this image was a finalist in the People category. Can you assist me in understanding? It's a good shot, but I don't understand how it fits the People category. Thanks!!! http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1813917&catID=9637&style=&contestCatID=3&rowNumber=3&camID=


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4/3/2006 10:52:17 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Symbolic people. The ongoing chess game like battle for nature to fight off people(chess pieces) which are little symbolic people in their original intent(knights,queens,bishops). Man's, or people, constant competition for habitat, space, resources, land,(the chess board, also known as a battle ground, also known as earth).
Fits into the people category. Like a close up still life of a mask(Afrifcan, mardi gra, Carvinale) could fit into the travel category. Instead of the typical landscape, crowd of people of a far off place.
Be Bold, Be Daring. Bout time somebody tried to color outside the lines around here.


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4/3/2006 11:35:51 AM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  OK, I've gotta give credit where credit is due.

Gregory, sometimes I find your cryptic posts do more to muddy the waters than clear anything up for me, but this time I actually get you. ;-)

At first, I was puzzled as well with this image earning a Finalist in the People category, but your insight to it makes sense.

There was a recent thread debating whether the contest needed additional categories. I avoided joining it this time, because the last time I addressed the issue of more categories, I was basically told, "The categories are fine, live with it."

I think explaining that since art is subjective, the categories could be considered suggestions that are open for interpretation, is much more helpful than saying, "The categories are fine, you're just dumb if you can't figure them out".

This leads me to another question that I'd like some comments on: Does anyone think the judges look at image titles and captions when judging images? My guess is that they wouldn't have time on the first pass, when picking Finalists. Maybe they don't look at them at the next level, either, I don't know.

What I'm wondering is whether giving an ambiguous image a title or caption suggesting why you interpreted it to belong in a category would "help" it any in the judging process.

What do you think?

Chris


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4/3/2006 12:45:45 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  I'm going to have to politely disagree on this one. And not to be a stick in the mud, and to purposely try and argue/debate a point but personally I feel that yes symbolically this photo could represent people but I feel it shouldn't be placed in the people category because it's not a picture of people. Again I do understand the symbology but if we want to play it was 'symbolistic' then I'll have to submit the following picture in the people category:



It represents the battle of people vs. nature and the elements and this is shelter from the heat, cold, and wind. Do you see what I'm saying. If we really want to get 'technical' then every photo ever created would be placed in people because technically, as I beleive it was Ansel who said that every photograph has 2 people, the photographer and the viewer. Just my opinions.


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4/3/2006 1:28:45 PM

 
Sherry S. Boles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2005
  Chris, I wondered the same thing about if they look at the descriptions....Sometimes the description adds to the photo...such as the description of how a photo was accomplished or what effects (if any) were used. Some photos are beautiful without effects but others use effects to get the same effect...the result might be similar but the process totally different. I would think at some point they would look at the descriptions...but I guess that can be added to the list of unsolved BP mysteries...


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4/3/2006 1:39:28 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Didn't get what the picture, nor what Ansel was talking about.


Stick to the urban cornfields category


symbolic


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4/3/2006 2:09:10 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And yes, it appears based on some pictures I've seen, that they do look at titles and descriptions.


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4/3/2006 2:11:40 PM

 
Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  There was another finalist in December 2005, a landscape image, in People category.
Got to
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1578808
and read the last two comments.

Is there a symbolism here? ...perhaps, but the parties admitted the error.

Conjecture: At the finalist level, the judges may not look at categorization.


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4/3/2006 2:30:13 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Justin, the subtle difference I see is that your image doesn't actually have any symbolic "people" in it, where in the other image, the chess pieces were symbolic "people".

This leads into my other question about titles. Suppose the shack in your image was the slave quarters on a Southern Plantation, and you titled it something like "Life as a Slave" or "Growing up with Cotton" or whatever. A title like that can sometimes cause an image to evoke a completely different emotion than it would otherwise.

That's why I'm wondering about titles being considered.

Chris


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4/3/2006 2:44:30 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  well that's true and I do see your point :-)


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4/3/2006 3:08:35 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  LOL Chris! Witty titles :o)!

I copied this from the site under the contest guidelines, Titles & Descriptions, "Although the images are judged primary on the quality of the photo itself, the judges do see what you write in the title and description. Therefore, it is a good idea to put some thought into what you write."


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4/3/2006 3:11:00 PM

 
Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  The maginitude of the judging task has increased by 4 to 5 times from the time the guidelies were written.
I do agree that the title and the descriptions are important part of some entries. Some may not need a title to be simply artistic.

When the judges have to view over 22,000 entries, I am not surprised that the categorization and the title/description are not in the significant criteria at the finalist level.


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4/3/2006 3:23:22 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Thanks Sharon, I think that mostly answers my question. I haven't read through all of the guidelines in a while, maybe I should take some time to review them again.

Sherry, my question about titles and captions was NOT referring to descriptions of how the image was made or what effects were applied. While that information is useful for learning the craft, in my opinion, that information should have NO bearing whatsoever on an image's consideration in the contest.

I may be opening the doors for criticism with that statement, but so be it. I've never looked at an image and thought, "This image would be more beautiful if I knew what settings they used or what PS filters they applied."

If I see an image of a beautiful landscape and I can't tell that they skillfully cloned out some specks on their sensor and replaced a dull sky with a blue one with white puffy clouds, so what? I don't feel like I've been tricked or cheated in any way because I enjoyed the image.

If one image is beautiful straight out of the camera (ANY camera) and another image only looks beautiful because the photographer skillfully manipulated layers in order to get good exposure detail in both shadows and highlights, so what? The final product is what's important to me.

Chris


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4/3/2006 3:39:49 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  El capitan is in landscape category now, so just a case of unintentionally putting it in the wrong place. And it dosen't add much to any argument of too many pictures not being scrutinized enough. You found one of of 20,000+
And it's ridiculous to try and say a flat and plain picture of a barn/house is doing the same as the picture with the chess/animal pieces, when you can tell there wasn't any intention to do something similar to what the intent of the chess picture.
Not to mention calling it a sublte difference between the two.


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4/3/2006 4:41:16 PM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  i wasn't trying to compare mine in any way to the chess picture. it's a great picture and deserves the finalist tagged to it, but it should've been put in the macros details whatever category. yes I can see how we can come to the conclusion that this is somehow related to people but there is no direct emphasis on "symbology" between people and wood. the photog doesn't state it so how do we know his intentions? this should've been judged according to "people". if I put a studio shot of a person in the landscape it wouldn't fly no matter how you try and related it quote-unquote symbolically to landscapes. it doesn't fit. simple as that. if I were to have seen this in people I would've thrown it out unless the author stated the "tension of animals and people" or whatever. and yeah that photo is flat and plain and boring and sucky, that's why it's not in the contest. not in any category. as you notice it's not even in my gallery. so no I wasn't comparing them and yes I still feel it should've been tossed. the author didn't state he was "symbolizing" anything.


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4/3/2006 5:13:52 PM

 
KV Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/25/2005
  If you talk to some of the old timers at BF, they tell you post as many pictures in different categorys as you can for better chance to get a finalist or 2. From what I've seen, that rings true. Personally, a great image is a great image, whatever category it lands in. I have accidently placed some in the wrong category due to the scrolling mouse and never noticed it until a week or 2 later. Not going to bother removing it after that long. I think they should do away with the categorys until the make the finalist round and let them be placed by the judges. Save me the headache of what to place in the urban corn field category. Please Greg, never stop the sarcasim, I live for it. lol carry on.


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4/3/2006 7:04:08 PM

 
Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  eclectic minds just want to know and see things much differently than most.
yeah my medication might be running out again.
but enter as many times as you can is,and it's just my very stupid and very humble opinion that it becomes more like taking a shot rather than a compelling entry.composition.story?
why not give the judges a break and by personal choice limit yourselfs to one entry per month.ya know not 30 in each category.
self discipline and knowledge could offer more of a quality of presentation of work than a volume.
it's hard to question a persons work that is very good and also question how they got there.wow they broke the rules.they are made to be broken.
i am glad to this day I live in cornfield county,and gregory's comment is just that.not at all a derogatory remark at all.
i think it's confusing to most,but so is life?
so if you think your gallery looks better with many finalists and winners,well ok.if you think you have learned your camera and settings,ok.
i guess if you don't want to lose don't enter,sam


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4/3/2006 9:13:34 PM

 
Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  Theories and conjectures are part of our lives.
Proof is hard to come by.

The rules and guidelines are definitions which may be used to prove the theory.

The judges make decisions, and therefore, their statements are definitions. Is one of the judges amonst our audience?... for a moment I thought there may be...


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4/3/2006 10:02:18 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  "I would've thrown it out unless the author stated the "tension of animals and people" or whatever"

Dosen't need to be stated. You see the picture, you see the supporting title. That's when you get into the fun part of photography/art. You can take a landscape of land. Or you can take your person in the studio, and if you shoot it a certain way, you can have what's called anatomical landscapes. Concepts and exploration. Fun stuff. Without it you're stuck in babies, flowers, and housecats.
You can be like water. It can freeze, even disappear, then return to water as rain. Or the rock, not changing until it turns to dust. Never to return as rock.


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4/3/2006 10:40:48 PM

 
Sherry S. Boles
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2005
  "Sherry, my question about titles and captions was NOT referring to descriptions of how the image was made or what effects were applied."
Just for the record, I was stating that I have wondered if they look at the descriptions, like Chris wondered about the "titles and captions." Further, I wasn't stating that one image was any better than another image because of using effects/PS...simply that the process was different. (Apparently there was a misunderstanding what I was trying to say...thought I'd clarify...)

Thanks, Sharon for that clarification...I didn't remember reading that! :)


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4/4/2006 12:19:59 AM

 
Jagadeesh Andrew Owens   Dare I enter this fray of contention and debate? I'll just say that all the time debating and lobbing back and forth between everyone could be spent shooting the next winning (or losing,but thanks for trying) photo!! Happy shooting, all!


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4/4/2006 6:35:25 AM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery
  Andrew, I try work my (losing, but thanks for trying) photos in between Q&A's LOL!


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4/4/2006 6:57:11 AM

 
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