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Photography QnA: Free Photo Contest

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Category: Website - About BetterPhoto.com : Free Photo Contest

Find out about our simple free photo contests and enter a photo to win! Here's a link for additional information: Free Photo Contest

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Photography Question 
Joe W. Edmondson

member since: 1/20/2003
  2031 .  My account
Can anyone tell me how to change my email address on Betterphoto or a better catagory to ask this question in?

3/28/2004 10:21:41 AM

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Photography Question 
Susan Loomis

member since: 3/26/2004
  2032 .  wonder how pic's will be showcased?
For those attending, I wonder how the photo's will be showcased on the 20 ft. screen. I called and spoke to hilton people and a gallery and rooms and hall are scheduled.I wish someone attending would give feedback as to how they were done, as for me it was expensive.I have been ill and my photography gave me some positive input, I'd hate to think it was shown for seconds, not days as implied.

3/27/2004 9:29:05 PM

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Photography Question 
Patricia L. Garvin

member since: 3/27/2004
  2033 .  The International Library of Photography
I mailled two letters reqarding the book Chronicle of Seasons which I ordered after being informed that my photo Pennsylvania Sunflower would be published in it. Never recieved. Have had no reply from my letters. Was billed for book.

3/27/2004 3:22:19 AM

Linda Jo Cupps

member since: 1/18/2004
  Dear Patricia, I had ALOT of trouble with them about a year ago. I sent numerous emails to them, sent the letters, I documented EVERYTHING! So, I finally went to my local T.V. Station that works for people in those kind of stituations, and I did get results. I also wrote a letter to the Better Business Bureau in the state that The International Library of Photography is from. I FINALLY got my book and also a check for the book. However, I never cashed the check, but I kept it. I do have my book, (Infact I have two books)....Hope you get results soon. They don't do what they say they will...

3/27/2004 11:46:06 AM

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Photography Question 
Susan Loomis

member since: 3/26/2004
  2034 .  photo contest award fees
I am to get a silver bowl, bronze medallion and for almost $200.00 they'll showcase my photo on a 20 ft screen in the grandballrm in wash dc convention this april.{ I have illness and can't attend] now I hear I had been taken??? please advise feedback tome asap.runningfeathers@yahoo.co

3/26/2004 9:45:47 PM

Leanne M.E. Boyd
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/16/2003
  Yep, I hear you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now add in the Canadian exchange, and you know how much they want me to spend, to be highlighted.

3/31/2004 10:42:45 AM

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Photography Question 
Martin Suez

member since: 3/26/2004
  2035 .  Don t look
just testing , sorry

3/26/2004 12:08:11 PM

Martin Suez

member since: 3/26/2004
  Hello, I m trying to enter a photo, but I cant upload it, because I have to say what camera I used, but it wont let me enter anything. why?

3/26/2004 12:14:27 PM

Rebecka Franklin

member since: 2/9/2004
  Hi Martin!
If you sign in first then you will get a page that will tell you what photos you have entered and disscusions that you have had and other information. On that place is a link where you can "Add a camera". You can pick from a list or type in what kind of camera you have. Then you can rate your camera. After you submit it then you can go back to upload your photo and your camera should be in the drop down list. If you pick from the list it happens right away, if you type it in then it might take a few days before it will show up in the drop down list. I hope this helps.

3/26/2004 12:57:30 PM

Martin Suez

member since: 3/26/2004
  Hi Rebecka, thx for your answer, I guess I have to wait a few days, because I couldn t get my camera from the dropdown menu, but thx for your help.

3/26/2004 1:10:48 PM

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Photography Question 
TakŠcs Zsolt

member since: 2/17/2004
  2036 .  How Many Photos Per Contest Category?
Can somebody tell me how many photos may I submit in a given category? Only one per category or more? I know that it's one photo per day.

3/23/2004 5:04:27 AM

Chris L. Hurtt

member since: 3/10/2003
  I believe it is one per day total.

3/23/2004 8:46:41 AM

  Chris, you are correct, it is one entry per day, not per category per day. Thanks, heather at betterphoto.com!

3/23/2004 9:20:08 AM

TakŠcs Zsolt

member since: 2/17/2004
  OK, that's right, but may I submit more than one photo in a given category? For example, may I submit 3 animal shots in the Animal category? But not one day for all of them.

3/23/2004 11:58:45 PM

  Takacs, yes, you can submit more than one image to any of the categories throughout the month, just as long as you only submit one image per day.

3/24/2004 8:22:31 AM

TakŠcs Zsolt

member since: 2/17/2004
  Thanks heather! That's what I wanted to know!

3/24/2004 8:30:37 AM

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Photography Question 
Angela K. Wittmer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2003
  2037 .  Digitally enhanced photos
Hi... I was wondering if everyone who enters a digitally enhanced photo puts down what manipulations they did... I noticed some of the photos in the last contest (Feb 2004)looked enhanced, but there was no mention of what was done to them. I think it would be helpful to the rest of us to know how they acheived the results. Just my opinion

Angie

3/22/2004 2:45:36 PM

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Photography Question 
Vicki Tillard
WyoWomanPhotography.com

member since: 7/3/2003
  2038 .  monthly entries in contest
I was thrilled to be selected as a finalist in February (my goat for 2004!). Someone asked me how many entries total. Does anyone have any idea?
Thanks.
Vicki

3/22/2004 9:47:12 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  According to the e-mail BP sent me...there were 11,857 entries, of which 572 made the Finals.

Congrats!, ...and good luck in March!

3/22/2004 10:21:34 AM

Vicki Tillard
WyoWomanPhotography.com

member since: 7/3/2003
  Bob, thanks so much for the info. I just re-read my question, and you all must be saying "what the hell is she talking about?"...oops. I mean my GOAL for 2004...
Thanks again.
Vicki

3/22/2004 11:32:28 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  You're quite welcome!...And thanks for the explanation...(I was afraid you were giving up photography to raise livestock.) ;-)

3/22/2004 11:43:47 AM

John Wright

member since: 2/26/2004
  And here I was about to go looking for a lovely goat photo (I've seen lovely goat photos before, but I was sure yours was going to be really good). 8-)

Given Bob's numbers above, that would mean about 409 photos entered into the contest per day (given this year was a leap year), 17 new photos per hour (every hour), and about a 5% chance of being selected as a finalist...

Good job for being selected Vicki... congrats!

3/22/2004 12:15:36 PM

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Photography Question 
Jonathan Lucas
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/27/2004
  2039 .  File/Description Editing After Upload
Is it possible to edit a description after upload? I just noticed a typo. Dang!

3/20/2004 3:18:32 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  If you have a Deluxe Web Site, you can edit through your site (or remove altogether). If not, you can contact BP, and they should be able to fix it for you.

3/20/2004 4:42:30 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  Hello Jonathan. Bob is correct: If you have a Member Gallery or a Deluxe Site with BetterPhoto, you can edit your description, etc., via your Admin Center. If you don't have either a Member Gallery or a Deluxe Site, I would be happy to fix the typo for you. Just send me an email with the photo id# or title and the changes needed. Thanks,heather at betterphoto.com.

3/23/2004 9:23:38 AM

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Photography Question 
John Bora

member since: 3/19/2004
  2040 .  Judging of contest
Let me first state that I did not enter any photos in this contest so this is not "sour grapes" and I did read the criteria for the judging. With that said, I have looked at every finalist and most are well deserving of that honor. However it amazes me of the number of snap-shots that were chosen that do not follow the judging criteria (out of focus, poor composition etc). It also shocks me that alot of you praise these shots instead of giving good solid constructive critisism. You are only hurting theses people by telling them that their work is great. I know that sounds harsh, but if you're going to get better at photography you have to know what you are doing wrong and then given help on how you can fix it. I'm sure that alot of you will disagree with me as to these points and that's fine, but I'm sure there are even more of you that totally agree with me.

3/19/2004 5:26:34 PM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  John, First let me state that I am not a finalist trying to defend the selection of my image. I understand how you might be puzzled why some images are chosen and others are not. I have been mildly disappointed, in the past, that some of my own images didn't make the finals. But...you have to remember that judging is very subjective. Although there are contest rules and there are guidelines for composition, focus etc., Photography is still an art and open to very broad interpretation. That's what makes all art so wonderful (and difficult to judge). I'll bet that if you took the same group of entries and had them re-judged, the outcome would vary every time, not because of poor judging. That's just the way it is. Certainly, there are some stand-outs that no judge would pass on. And, I'm sure there were many wonderful images that were overlooked. And yes, there are some in the finals that make you go hmmm. I'm sure each judge has his or her own preferences as to style and subject matter as well. I agree that constructive criticism is a great way for photographers to improve. Assuming that some of the images in the finals were lacking, I would argue that making the finals may provide encouragement and motivate the photographer to keep at it. I think we all are visiting this site, entering the contest, and taking classes to improve our skills, not to win prizes. The recognition is nice. But, each photographer needs to decide for him or herself the quality of their own images. They are really the only ones who can ultimately judge if a particular image stands up to the message they wanted to convey.

The judges have a hard task, the contest is free, there are usually more than 10,000 images to review each month. Frankly, I'm impressed that it's offered at all. Although I don't always agree with their selections, I'm grateful to have the forum for posting images, learning from the articles, instructors, other members, and this very Q&A page. I have also learned a lot by looking at the winning images that don't necessarily appeal to me and evaluating what it was that the judges saw in the image that made them select it. Sometimes, I still may not agree with the selection. But, this exercise has really helped me have a more open mind to the possibilities photography offers. John, I admire the guts it took for you to post your question/comment. I'm not trying to persuade you that all the images in the finals are worthy. I just think BP members need to keep the contest in perspective. If they are relying on the judges to validate the quality of their images, they will likely be disappionted. I now approach the contest as a means of getting feedback from other BP members and just for the fun of it. Finalist or not, I learn from the comments of other BP members and from viewing the images of others. That's really what this "contest" is about.

3/19/2004 7:05:54 PM

John Bora

member since: 3/19/2004
  Points taken Laurie and I do agree with you that the judging is subjective and that's fine, what bothers me is that if you go to alot of the discussions of photos (contest finalists or not) and read the feedback, most of it lacks in helping the person better their technique. The way I see it is most people are afraid to critique anothers work for fear of hurting that persons feelings, but isn't that why people post their photos here, so they can learn from others with more experience? I myself have looked at others photos on this site and just stare with awe and admiration at their abilities and like you use their insite to better my photography.

I still have to disagree with you (in a nice way) in regards to the statement that making the finals may provide encouragement and motivate the photographer to keep at it. Does this help the person get better or does it say to them that their work is good enough.

I understand that the contest is a monumental task and I do give credit to the judges for even attempting to judge as many photographs as they do in a limited amount of time and my hat goes off to them.

Thanks for your response Laurie.

3/19/2004 10:01:19 PM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  John, I do agree that many who comment on images are reluctant to be completely honest in their critiques. I for one typically call it like I see it. I will however try to balance criticism with comments on what's "right" (in my opinion). I'm lucky to have established relationships with a few classmates where we feel free to be very "nit-picky" in our critiques without injuring feelings. I personally welcome brutal honesty. Others, however seem to do better with a softer touch. I know of one person who was ready to put down her camera for some other hobby. She had an image selected as a finalist. It was nice but in my opinion, not stellar. After that, she really began to focus. Her images have improved dramatically. This is what motivated me to respond to your post. It was her experience that first introduced me to this site.

I hear what you're saying. There is a lot of "sugar" being spread around. But, that's ok as long as there are folks like us around to say what we think.

3/19/2004 10:22:33 PM

Tom 

member since: 1/8/2004
  I'm not a finalist either. I did submit what I thought were good photographs and was a little disappointed that I wasn't selected, but after looking a photos that were similar to mine I can see my errors and can understand why.

I agree with you Laurie that each photographer has to decide for themselves the quality of their work.

Not being selected as a finalist this time just motivates me to study my technique and try a few things different next time.

John, I also admire the guts it took to state what you did and I can see your point also but I think that Laurie hit it on the head when she stated that the judging is very subjective. I don't know if they use the same judges every month but if they do, I too feel for them and Lord help them if they fail to meet the deadline this month..ha ha.

You have both made valid points and I appreciated reading both of your view-points.

As for the critiques. I welcome constructive critiques of my work and sometimes will ask for it good or bad. I myself would like to see more "Nice shot but the background is a little busy and it takes away from the subject matter." That's a good critique. I could then go back and look at the photo and possibly say "You know..that person was right" and the next time I was in that situation I would remember that critique and maybe change the depth of field or the composition.

I'm constantly learning from others work, both the good and the not so good and have seen a great improvement in my work...not quite finalist material yet but my day will come.

3/19/2004 10:41:44 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  Good discussion by all on this issue. In general, the photo critiques on this website are mostly very positive "feel good" statements. Guess that's the "culture" here. Encouragement is good!

When the February contest results were delayed this week (with no communication from website managers/owners), I explored other places to post my images. (Not being punitive, just exercising my free market options.)

It has been very helpful to me to enter digital photo contests and receive digital photo critiques on my images. I strongly feel that the other site I participate in has provided very helpful and constructive criticism on my photos. There were some important things I was missing (and I wasn't getting the tips here).

3/20/2004 7:38:08 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  All good points and an interesting discussion. I find value in viewing the variety of images on this site, and marvel at the talent and imagination!

I often post at:

http://www.digitalphotocritique.com

to have my images ripped to shreads, and take what I can from the comments.

3/20/2004 1:40:10 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  Sorry - I just have to put in my two cents... I know it is subjective, and there were hundreds of great photos - I just don't see where the Monks on a rainy day has a place in the finalists. It is blurry! Like camera-shake blurry!! Making finals maybe - but not to be at the top!! It kind of makes a joke out of the other great photos! Sorry - I just had to say it!

3/20/2004 3:37:21 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  Diane raises a legitimate point. The rainy day Monks photo is a mystery to me, also. Maybe there's something there I don't see. Motion indicated by the blur...an exotic location...okay. But, it's not in the "wow" category I've seen in other winning photos in previous months.

Last month I reviewed the winning photos and remember thinking the selections were excellent and worthy of the designations. Not so good this month! Several dubious selections, in my humble opinion.

Well, I guess beauty and art are in the eye of the beholder.

3/20/2004 4:40:09 PM

  Interesting discussion. I have to agree with Laurie that photography is an art and that as such is judged in the eye of the beholder - to differing results as has been demonstrated in this forum. I also agree that different people respond to different feedback and are motivated by different things. As with any individual endeavor - art, business, sports, photography, etc. - finding motivation and dedication to improve is up to the individual. I have been visiting this site for less than a month, however, I have found it extremely beneficial. I have learned a lot through looking at others' shots and through the various discussion forums. I have submitted shots to the contest each day this week - mainly to get feedback and learn as I am a beginner. I have received both positive comments and constructive criticism. Both are welcome. It helps to learn what's right so that you don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater", but on the other hand, honest critiques are very informative and taken as lessons. What I'd like to emphasize is that when we may not get the feedback we're looking for in the contest column, there are other resources in this site to which we may turn. I have received a tremendous amount of help in the Q&A column, including critiques of my shots and/or editing. So I've found that I can get that sort of help on this site just by asking. It's a valuable resource to have a community site this informative and supportive. As far as contest results...as long as people value different beauties and different skills, so we will have different opinions. Keeps things from getting boring! Congratulations to all the place winners and finalists. Good luck to all the March contestants.

3/20/2004 6:31:03 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  Well put, K!! There is a lot more to this site then just the contest, I can clearly say that my photography has improved since being a Betterphoto member. I've learnt far more form this forum, the discussions, the newsletters, and direct communication with my fellow members then anything I've ever gotten out of the contest, and made a few friends too. Even still, there has been benefit from the contest too, simply by giving me exposure to other peoples work. That alone has broadened my horizons in more ways than I can count. I would have never considered making art out of a fork or a toy Wookie flying around in a shoe, but now I am thinking more creatively, because I've seen other think more creatively. In general I think there is too much focus being put on contests and the results... I thought it was there for fun first and foremost. This site is family focused, and kids don't need critics, or need to be them either. On the flip side, both adults and youths can gain benefit from being told whatís GOOD about their and everyone elseís work on this site so that they can incorporate those qualities in their work the next time they shoot. I wouldn't want my kids on those other photo sites, I can tell you that!! Besides, photography is not about how many contests you can win, it's about artist & self expression. Isn't it?

3/20/2004 7:56:14 PM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  What I find a bit frustrating is that they will not tell you who the judges are. I want to know what kind of background these people have and what are there credentials. Can I take their oppinion and learn from it, or are they just people off the street? Honestly, the contest is important to me, because clients like to hear that you have won contests, it gives them confidence to spend the money to come in for a sitting. I am surprised every month and I also have the "what are those judges smoking!?" reaction to many of the photos who both make the finals and winning photos. And the same to what *didn't make it. I have seen some outstanding images that make me go back and look again and again that never make even the finals. Then a snap shot of a girl in a winter hat wins? Is the lighting good on that....no, is it creative....no how about extrodinary composition...nope, I've got nothing. Laurie, I personally do not think a contest is the place to help stroke someones ego, I think it should just be baced on the best photo. I do think they probably cater to the people spending the money and taking the classes, but I do not know for sure. It is their site and they can do what they want. I do love this site and appreciate all the work they put into it. I also truly care for lots of people here and consider many friends. I love a good brutal, and honest critique but many do not. Some people get very angry when any suggestions are made to better a photo, you just never know. I just wish I got the chance to judge the contest for ONE month! lol

3/21/2004 5:05:12 AM

  As somebody who has made the finals, I just want to throw in the fact that I have NEVER taken a class, nor do I intend to take one. You all are not alone in wondering how certain shots make finals (including some of my own) as opposed to the excellent shots that don't. I guess it's all a matter of taste. If a shot is out of focus, that may be how it was intended, or how the judges THOUGHT it was intended.
I think this site is not oriented to the critique side of things. There are sites that do that, and do it well. If you want to be critiqued, there are plenty of places to get ripped to shreds. I know when I started I was so bad that if someone had said so, I would have packed it in right there. But people took me under their wing and I improved. Many people on site are new at photography and don't need their heads bitten off by mean spirited critics. Ok, I said enough.

3/21/2004 6:21:28 AM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  Carolyn, you have beautiful images, and I don't think anyone would dispute that. It is funny because when I say that there are some that I went back to again and again and shocked that they didn't win, you have two of those photos that jump out at me. Some of the other photos I am thinking of are Iva's of the girl looking out the frosted window from last month. Terry's amazing photos of the horse's. Amy has some darling kid photos that have not make it to the finals. I can think of many others as well, but can not remember who took them. It just seems like there are waaaay to many amazing photos to choose from to pick and mediocor shots. I will say that many of the photos that do not look like anything special on the thumb prints, are beautiful when blown up. Many have made me say.....now I get it, once I see them enlarged.

3/21/2004 7:36:38 AM

  Thanks Peggy, glad some of the good ones are mine. LOL.. After reading this discussion, I went back and looked at the monks full size, and can see it was taken in a big rainstorm, so it looks a lot better full size. I tend to agree on the winter hat shot. I don't get that one at all. And a few others. And Iva's shot was soooo good. I tend to think that it didn't win because it was just a normal looking kid instead of a beautiful one... and that ain't right.

3/21/2004 7:53:57 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  I think that the sheer volume of high quality work being submitted here each month makes the judging process very ardouous.
I too, have wondered why many of the shots which made me go.."WOW!"... weren't picked as winners or finalists, though I can usually figure out what the judges saw in the ones that were.

The main thing to remember is this contest costs nothing to enter, and is a lot of fun. The act of competition, and the critiques we receive here,..(and I've gotten some harsh comments as well as praises),...helps us to improve our craft, and become better photographers. I know that my photography has improved, and for that, I am grateful.

To quote another BP member..(Gregory, I think),..."We should enter a contest for fun, not for validation".

3/21/2004 8:10:04 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Some that didn't make it may have been the 2nd or 3rd entry for the day, so they didn't qualify for the contest. Judging 1,000's of entries has to be a daunting task...

It may be just me, but I don't think it serves much good to rip the winners.

There are other sites, as I mentioned before, where you can get plenty of abuse and/or good critiques.

The Q/A section here seems like a place to get critiques if that's what you're after. Each site seems to have developed a culture of its own, some are brutal and make you never want to pick up a camera again, and some are a bit more nurturing...

Seems to me that this is a well-run site, and if they find a need for a critique area, one will probably show up...

3/21/2004 8:16:36 AM

  I, for one, don't want any bad news! I rip my own shots to pieces enough! I have learned so much just by watching and asking questions. If you need to know what's wrong with a shot, ask anyone and they will be happy to tell you in private, not where everyone can read it. Just my opinion. I love this site just the way it is.

3/21/2004 8:31:19 AM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  This is a good website. It functions well and the "culture" will probably not change any time soon. We may be dealiing with "judging" as a marketing strategy. There are plenty of other websites with other types of feedback paradigms, as enumerated above. I have found that I tend to be blind to the flaws in my own photos. It's a function of ownership in the effort required to capture the image. So, somehow we must all pierce the veil of honesty shielded by our own pride in our artwork. Yes, I will continue to post images on this website, but I will publish more elsewhere. It's tough medicine to swallow, but I've received more helpful tips on a critique oriented website in 3 days than I have here in 3 months. Do I like being told the cropping, depth-of-field, exposure and PS processing need improvement? No! Do I appreciate the peer review? Yes!

What doesn't kill us will make us strong.

3/21/2004 9:09:24 AM

  Some people just function better with encouragement than with criticism. At Shutter City, they will just take your shot and alter it to fit their vision, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. They are nice about it, anyway, but some people forget it's YOUR vision, not theirs!

3/21/2004 9:19:41 AM

  First Off I Have To Agree That The Dissussions Are More Friendly Praise Than Helpful Most Of The Time We All Need To Have Our Toes Stepped On!It Would Make Us Better Photographers. This PHOTO Contest Has Turned Into A PHOTOSHOP Contest The Entire General Category Was A Creation Of Some Sort I Use Photoshop For Enhancments Its Great But Not For Manufacturing Images!
Maybe It Should Be Done In Private Carolyn So As Not To Cause Any Bad Feelings But It Should Be Done!

3/21/2004 9:25:10 AM

Carol Brill
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2003
  Well, Iíve been on this site for about a year now, taken a couple of BP classes, and looked at lots and lots of pictures and comments to try to improve my photography. Iíve also done a ton of reading and looked elsewhere on the web at similar sites, and shot thousands of photos based on that and also comments and photos Iíve seen here. While Iím not in it for the contest per se, Iíve always thought that having any of my entries chosen to be in the finals would indicate positive growth in my photo technique. When that doesnít happen, itís extremely discouraging and diminishes any confidence Iíve built up from positive comments over the past month. I respect all the experience and talent on this site, thatís why Iím here, to learn from it and get better. And I also would welcome more constructive criticismÖI think thereís always something good you can say about an image to temper any suggestions for improvement!

3/21/2004 11:21:01 AM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  I just have to appologise for my rude comments on that photo. I am PMS and it shows! I should know better then to say anything the day after the contest winners have been selected. Actually I was thinking that they were getting better and better. I really do love this site and am very thankful for the amount of work that goes into it.

3/21/2004 11:28:03 AM

  I'm new here, having just discovered this site a few weeks ago. So, this was my first month of daily submissions and following all of the photos as they were submitted and I have to admit that I was very surprised by some of the fabulous images that didn't make the finals.
I actually had 2 photos that did make the finals and I was thrilled! At the same time I felt disappointment for the other photographers' images that I had been awed by and felt deserved recognition.

I think that the main problem is that the contest has grown SO large, probably beyond anyone's expectations. The task of judging has to be a monumental burden and I just hope that they don't discontinue it! I have thoroughly enjoyed the site and have already learned a great deal and am hesitant to complain because it really is a great place to "hang out"!

My suggestion would be to have more categories that are more specific. The way it is now, it's like comparing apples to oranges in each category because they are so broad. For instance having all birds, pets, insects, aquatic life,zoo animals, wildlife, etc. all grouped together is just huge! Sports shots and still-lifes get lost in the masses and I agree with Terry about the general category becoming all about digital manipulation. Perhaps there should be a separate category for that??? The prizes are not that valuable and as others have said, the whole point is the recognition - so why not have a few more categories and a few more winners?

It would be terrific if there were little comments explaining why the top images received top honors - but also more time consuming.......

As far as the critiques I have received, they have been mostly positive and very encouraging and I have loved it! I can tell by the number of responses I do or don't get each day if an image is lacking in quality but wouldn't object to constructive criticism either. There is some sugar coating to be sure but I have read responses that were critical as well and I think all in all it's a wonderful site!

3/21/2004 11:29:25 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  While it's true the the General Category had its full share of rendered images this time, you forget that those images started with a single photograph. No one, not even Ansel Adams was a photographic purist. If you are, you are holding onto the past. Holding onto purist photographic values in today's day and age will only get you applause from your fellow purists. In every realm of art you find this. Watercolor purists don't want to hang their photos next to mixed media artists. Pooh, pooh. Don't forget that in creating digital images that the original photograph is just as important as the final outcome. Garbage in, garbage out.

I'm not buying the concept that photography is purely subjective and that's why it's okay that we sometimes find "junk" making it to the finals. That's a load of hogwash designed to give the jury team a back door to run out. If you are a professional photographer or even an moderately advanced enthusiast, you should have a very good idea of what constitutes a good photograph or piece of art. If you don't, you shouldn't have a place on a judging team and should go back to school.

Day after day, week after week, I can spot photos posted to the contest that have winning potential. More often than not they wind up in the finals. I don't see every photo entered into the contest because I don't have the time to watch 24 hours a day, but I do spend a great deal of time studying and commenting on the photos here at BP. You don't often find me making superficial "nice image" "great shot" type of comments. If you can't put into words what you like or dislike about a photo, why bother to leave empty accolades? When you see the same people leaving these type of comments on every photo whether it be excellent, good, bad or awful, does that indicate to you that they must not know much about photography, or does it just mean that they are nice, well-intentioned people? Let's assume that deep down we are all nice people. Are we helping each other grow photographically by saying "Nice shot!"? And if we tell people who take lousy photos that their work is great, aren't we encouraging them to take more lousy photos? It does seem to me that you can make a lot of mistakes over and over again until someone points them out to you. Having a light bulb go off in your head is called learning.

It would also seem to me that if you want advice, or a heartier critique at BP, all you have to do is ask! Just write in your comments field "Suggestions welcomed" or "I welcome your critiques." Of all the photos I look at on BP, I've not seen many people make that standard invitation, but the ones who do, have been rewarded handsomely. A great many of the photos that make it the finals I've seen before. Those with winning potential certainly stand out from those that don't have it. But, seeing images with resolution artifacts, glare, no concept of DOF, poor composition, etc., are enough to dishearten people who take the contest seriously and would never dream of submitting photos with such obvious flaws. And when I mention those defects, I'm talking about some of the images that make it to the finalist category. So, with pure mathematics in mind, for every photo that makes it to the finals with image defects, another good one sits in a holding bin and goes no further. I'm sure the photo archives at BP are full of images that got glossed over because someone didn't clean their glasses.

Yes, the contest is free. And the people are warm and supportive of one another. But this is a business. And for every person who comes to BP and dreams of seeing their photos on the winner's page, a good many of them will sign up for classes and purchase books and equipment in the hope they will increase their skill and creativity to go on and win prizes and the honor of awards. Some will hope that the classes will afford them better critiques than they get from the contest. Perhaps they will and perhaps they won't. I've heard both sides of that fence. And some will purchase websites to show off their work even further. So, let's not forget that the contest, although it requires a good deal of work on behalf of the judges, also is the draw that brings people and money to the site and the teachers. Without the contest and the enthusiasm generated around it, the site itself would be missing its strongest marketing tool.

It seems to me that there are certain categories where the criteria of judging is much looser, and others where an almost elitist attitude prevails. If Jim and the judges have already benchmarked their judging techniques against other high caliber photo contests then it's only a matter of them hearing what their viewing and participating audience, their customers, are telling them.

3/21/2004 11:52:59 AM

  Very thoughtful letters you all! I agree we need more categories. Of course, a lot of this depends on why you are here in the first place. Some of us just like to hang out and have someone to talk to, and others are here to learn and still others for the classes and critiques. There's something for everyone. I have met a lot of great people and probably fall into the category of "I can't bear to say anything bad about anyone's shot". But on the other hand, nobody said anything bad about my stuff and I still got better, just by watching what was good. I give up. You guys talk and I'll shut up!

3/21/2004 12:03:47 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Instead of more categories,...how about less submissions?
If everyone submits a photo a day...that's a lot for those who have to meticulously examine each entry to absorb, and still remain lucid to the judging criteria.

I suggest revising the format to only three entries per week. This would force us to be more selective, and submit only what we perceive as our "best work", and cut down on the exorbitant number of entries to be judged.

I would like to commend Margaret for her apologetic retraction for comments for which I, for one, would not want to have been on the receiving end.

And Carolyn,...I hope you never shut up! :-)

3/21/2004 12:42:53 PM

Alisha May Furbish
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/5/2003
  Photography is an art form- it happens to be more technical than others. One person's perfect shot may be a bit too bright to someone else. If an individual isn't pleased with an image they have created and would like suggestions, by all means they are entitled. I agree with you, Carolyn, about the something for everyone philosophy, and I, too, enjoy talking with fellow shutterbugs and seeing great work. I have learned so much in my time here, not from people pointing out my mistakes, just by trading ideas and technique. I look at the contest more as an oppertunity to get feedback, both positive and negative, rather than trying to win something. Finally I agree with all reguarding more catagories, not to raise peoples chances of winning, but to broaden everyone's horizons. Happy shooting to all:)

3/21/2004 12:54:11 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  Terry's comments above regarding the "General" category winners are correct. They are all digitally manufactured images. Seems like this is "Digital Art", not "General" photography. For the judges to choose only "digital art" winners suggests a bias that discriminates against images we can see with our eyes in preference to those only conjured up in imagination. Absolutely should be a separate category for the Photoshop recombinant DNA. I have no enthusiasm for pitting my "natural" images against spliced and stacked images, although the fabricated images deserve a category of their own.

3/21/2004 1:04:42 PM

  Fat chance I'll ever shut up! LOL.

3/21/2004 1:06:56 PM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  There don't appear to be any rules that you can only submit digitally rendered images into the General category. Images that have some degree of digital work done to them aren't excluded from any particular category. If I start with an image of a flower and make changes to it in PS, it's still a flower and I submit it as such.

This month there happened to be more rendered images than in previous months. I think it's a standard rule of thumb that the judges look for images that start with a photograph, meaning nothing is created from scratch in say a paint program, which would be a wholly imaginary image.

As photographers and artists, we all have a vision in our head when we take a photograph. Our imagination dictates how we will adjust our camera settings to best capture what the eye sees and the mind wishes to portray. There is no such thing as pure photography unless you are using a pinhole camera. Screw on a filter, adjust your DOF or shutter speed and your imagination is at work. You're already altering what the eye sees. If you touch up your work in the darkroom, or adjust your lightness and contrast in Photoshop, it's all the same. Call it splicing and dicing, but you still work with photographs.

3/21/2004 1:28:20 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  In response to Patricia's comments:

Digital art is specifically included in the "General" category. Not a problem, except for the fact digital art won 100% of the wins in the General category. It's a crowding out effect, or a judging bias. Why not create a "digital art" category for those who want to produce fifth dimension images.

Since you have suggested that anything other than digitally manipulated (enhanced) images is "old fashioned", let me suggest that some of the currently popular digital art may be as faddish as Salvador Dali's less valuable work.

I do have an important comment to make regarding your assertion that every image entered in the contest started as an original (photographer owned) image. Since there exists no verification process of EXIF data on this website, it's possible for some unscrupulous "artists" to download images from the internet and interweave the images into their images. Please correct me if I'm wrong! I don't mind the "painting". It has a place in the spectrum of digital photography. But, it's a different category from unadulterated and original (but possibly PS enhanced) image production.

3/21/2004 1:48:51 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I agree - digital art should definitely be its own category - and more categories should be considered. When is Jim or someone else from the site going to get involved in this conversation...?

3/21/2004 2:26:52 PM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  Looking at your member gallery Richard I can see why you would feel as you do. The type of photos that you take, scenic and nature photography, probably lends itself to a more "purist" approach than any other. It is a type of work that I admire greatly with those who do it well, and manipulating those types of images to a large extent would take away from the natural beauty of the subjects.

I went back and looked at the general category in previous months and see an equal mix of unadulterated and rendered images. This leads me to think that there is no bias toward any one type of photographic effort, mearly perhaps a larger influx of digitally enhanced images for the month of February.

I don't doubt that anything Salvador Dali produced would now fetch a high price and be considered art, whether it was faddish at that time or not. All new forms of art struggle with the perceptions and biases of the current "norm" that preceeds them.

It seems that the original thought of this thread has been lost as it's been hijacked to other subjects that would have best deserved their own thread.

3/21/2004 2:52:33 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  The thread title is "Judging of Contest", which is the only subject I've addressed. Patricia, if you are accusing someone of "hijacking" to other subjects, please be more specific. Seems like we are on the subject on which you wrote the longest missive in the thread.

Seems you are strongly opposed to "digital art" receiving its own category. Can you be more specific about your reason? Seems to be a win-win situation for all.

3/21/2004 3:21:21 PM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  To your point I shall be succinct. I indicated no preference whatsoever for a digital art category. The current contest categories suit me just fine. I'll give you the floor...

3/21/2004 3:26:08 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  What do the judges check? EXIF data verification in rendered photos? It's a problem that should be addressed. I really don't care, but I can create a PS image from "borrowed" images that could win the general category contest on this website. (As long as no one checks my sources.)

Patricia, I checked the images in your gallery. They could not be more lovely and professionally presented.

3/21/2004 3:48:19 PM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  I agree with Bob C's comment that submissions should be more limited. It always irks me when I review the contest submissions only to find 10 mediocre shots in a row submitted on the same day, by the same person, in the same category. This must drive the judges absolutely crazy. I don't understand why anyone would even do it unless they are using this site as a platform to post their family photos so other family members across the country can log on for a look. I also agree that limitin the entries would force contestants to get better at editing their own work. A valuable skill for anyone wanting to progress. I would limit the number of entries even more...say 10/month max.

Regarding digitally manipulated images...There is a big difference in my mind between "enhanced" in PS and "created" or manipulated in PS. Photography FOR ME has always been about capturing a moment in time in a creative or artistic way. For me, the image should remain true to the original subject. Fussing with color, contrast, etc... doesn't change the basic composition or subject and can greatly enhance the photographers original vision. Images that have been manipulated to the point where they have little or no relationship with the original, have gone beyond photography and have become "graphic art". Just as a painter may use a photograph as a reference when creating an oil painting, the "graphic artist" uses a photograph as a reference. You would never call an oil painting a photograph. Why call graphic art a photograph? I'm not implying that there is anything wrong with "graphic art" images. On the contrary, I find them to be every bit a work of art. I just question whether they should be judged in the same category. Of course, the big question is where to draw the line. When does a photograph go from just being enhanced to evolving into graphic art. I know it when I see it but I can't define it.

I also disagree with the "garbage in- garbage out" comment. You don't necessarily need to start with a great photograph to end up with a great "graphic art" image. I have taken a number of my own bad images and worked some PS majic on them and ended up with a nice graphic art image. I see nothing wrong with this. But, it certainly doesn't represent my skill or talent as a photographer.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to add an additional category for "graphic art", especially considering some of the new courses that are being offered. I would hate to be the one that has to come up with the criteria or rules that define the category. But, it would help eliminate some of the frustration that is clearly being felt by many, based on this discussion so far.

3/21/2004 4:11:15 PM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  I've tried to take this discussion from a point of view other than mine:

A few thoughts from Ansel Adams:

"You don't take a photograph, you make it."

"Photographers are, in a sense, composers," he wrote in his autobiography, "and the negatives are their scores. They first perform their own works, but I see no reason why they should not be available for others to perform. I am sure that scanning techniques will be developed to achieve prints of extraordinary subtlety from the original negative scores. If I could return in twenty years or so I would hope to see astounding interpretations of my most expressive images. It is true no one could print my negatives as I did, but they might well get more out of them by electronic means. Image quality is not the product of a machine, but of the person who directs the machine and there are no limits to imagination and expression."

One time when Ansel was shooting in the Sierras with some friends, he came away from his camera and walked into the scene. He grabbed a hold of a tree limb, ripped it off the tree, and tossed it aside. When his more environmentally concerned friends made an uproar, he simply stated that it did not belong in the picture.

I think the quickest way to limit the number of entries would be to charge a fee... How about $10.00 for each entry?

3/21/2004 6:25:15 PM

  I have read all the responses in this very interesting and passionate discussion. A few points really did strike me. One being, why does the judging on BP seem to be so secretive?! I have always wondered who the judges are. The other thing I have always wondered, is why the images from each cut aren't posted. There are people who might have several images make the next to the last cut, and never know it. This really isn't fair, and could be very disheartening for a photographer that never makes the finals. I was told when I asked, it was due to the large number of entries. That doesn't make sense, as every month someone locates the URL to where each set of cuts are posted.

Now for my opinion (and you know what they say about those! :-)

Photography is like any other art. It is completely subjective to each and every person. I belonged to a photo club for many years where we had professional judges come in once a month on competition night. There were only so many judges, so we had the same people judge numerous times. After a few years, you basically knew what images would win depending on who the judge was.

As to the comments on images that aren't sharp, in focus, etc. That is also very subjective, even depending on a persons age. I was looking at a teen magazine while waiting to get my hair cut over this weekend. I didn't see one picture in that magazine that I would consider a good photograph. I am sure that a 20 year old would greatly differ with that opinion.

OK, I'll shut up! :-) Closing Comments: I think we all feel that we take great images that belong in the finalist and winners circle. I of course don't feel that way, that's why I almost quit BP twice! :-) I think we have to all be understanding that we are all human, and none of us are perfect. There are many variables: Judging, ages, levels of experience, cultures, digital vs non-digital, enhanced vs non-enhanced, etc, etc! We are all thrown together on this web site for better or worse. I think we just need to be understanding of each other, and make everyone feel welcome. As for what type of feedback one wants to leave, that is another personal decision. I prefer both types, good and bad. As long as the bad is constructive!

Lets all realize we are in the same sandbox, just have fun, share our knowledge and experience, and appreciate and learn from each other's differences!

Thanks,

Stephen

3/21/2004 6:48:27 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  Sorry Damian - can't agree with you on that one! Once you start charging, I stop posting! I can't afford it - that's what I love about this site... But if the limit of 1 per day isn't working, then make it one picture per week...

3/21/2004 6:50:11 PM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  That was the point I was trying to make, you get what you pay for...

I couldn't afford it either, once the results are posted, they're posted and ancient history as far as I'm concerned, gotta keep moving.

3/21/2004 6:59:10 PM

  I forgot to speak to one additional point. I very much agree with having more categories, especially one for digitally enhanced/ created images.

Stephen

3/21/2004 7:51:08 PM

Gianna Stadelmyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/7/2004
  WOW! Such passion and some really well-made points. Hardly know where to begin. I joined BP a little over a month ago and I LOVE it! I have received both positive feedback and helpful, gentle, constructive criticism...usually the "criticism" by e-mail; and I welcome both. It is what helps me learn. And I agree with the many people that said that the encouragement helps me know what I am doing right, what people tend to go for and what they don't. And I don't take my photos thinking what will BP like? I take photos of anything and everything that interests me and sometimes put a graphic spin on them with PSP8 for fun. I was surprised to have made the finals and felt honored to be there and would like to think that the finalists aren't chosen to encourage them to keep going, but to give a good photograph a little recognition....that's what I will believe in my world:-) I never expected to place as a winner with the wonderful images I have seen on this web-site. So many creative, talented people. I looked over all the winners to see what I personally could take from each photo. What I liked about them and what I didn't.

I feel in the month I have been a member, that I have greatly improved. I know I have a long way to go, but I will keep shooting whether I win, make the finals, get good or bad comments...whatever. Because I love photography. It has become a passion of mine and I think anyone willing to put down their camera for lack of positive feedback or not winning or placing in a contest doesn't have that true inner desire and are taking pictures for all the wrong reasons. I submit pictures sometimes that I know are not contest worthy, but are just shots I had fun with and want to share with others.

I also give constructive criticism when I see fit...and I am by no means an expert to be giving out criticism, but I would want people to tell me about my own photos and I give it in a manner in which I would want to receive it. I have told people before what I like about a shot and then tell them that it would be so much better if the power lines or the tail of a bird leaving the photo were cropped or cloned out. I think some people might take it harder than others, but as long as it is well-meaning, there's no harm in it. All the comments are good-natured that I have read - and I HAVE read some constructive ones. I don't even mind people posting "criticism" publicly. That is how others may learn from my mistakes. If they see all positive comments, it won't help someone visiting my photo. If they see that I should have tilted the rose for a better composition, they might then use that information the enxt time they are shooting a macro.

Someone earlier said, and I will 100% concur that they can gauge the "success" of a photo by the amount of comments they receive on it. If people like it, they will say, if they don't, they usually don't say anything at all. I will say something if I see a good photo that could be made better by a simple step, but if it is something I can't quite put my finger on, then I won't post any comments at all. And there are so many entries each day, you kind of have to pick and choose which you are going to spend the time to comment on b/c you can't possibly give feedback on all of them....it would consume your day! And how would we get out there and seize more photographic moments?!

As far as the judging, yes, I would love to know who the judges are...it would even be a bit of recognition for them. I just assumed they were BP instructors or something.

And for the contest, that's not my main reason for posting pictures each day, but it does make it even more fun and I would hate to see them take it away if it became a problem. I get to see some photos that I wouldn't have otherwise seen when they show up as a finalist or winner. We all just have to keep in mind that it must be a daunting task judging SOOO MANY photos, and that photography is an art form and art IS really subjective - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that stuff:-)

The only ones I really wondered about were the out of focus ones that didn't seem to be purposely so and a few that looked like the "snapshots" you would see on fujifilm.com's picture of the week. But, being that I am not a pro, I am assuming that there was a quality in there that the judges saw that I am not aware of yet and it is something else to learn from.

I have rambled long enough, but wanted to voice my opinion. The nice thing about this forum, it is in writing, so if you get bored with me, you can just skip down the page or skim the contents!

I salute the judges for their hard work and love the BP site. I have made some friends here and like I said earlier, have learned a lot and feel that what I have learned is making me a better photographer. Thanks Better Photo!

3/22/2004 3:11:07 AM

Gianna Stadelmyer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/7/2004
  OK, two more things I forgot to add in my earlier rambling. One, when the posting date for finalists passed about four days, I did contact BP using "contact us" asking when they would be posted and they responded right away and told me that they were taking longer due to the high volume. They also stated the time delay in one of the newsletters.
Two, I agree with others about the categories. I posted some things in Graphics, details, and flowers thinking because I did a good bit of PSP work that they belonged in a grpahics category, when they should maybe have been placed in general. I did the same thing this month before the winners were posted. I also placed some photos in landscape and travel because they were places or things I saw and photographed while traveling when maybe they would have been best placed elsewhere. Lumping a borad range of categories together does make it difficult to decide where to place something.
Perhaps if the categories were separated more, it would help make the judging easier and more efficient and also help the photographers in deciding which category to use. Just a suggestion:-)

3/22/2004 4:04:53 AM

  Who cares who the judjes are.,,
They know what they are doing and they always pick sellable very sharp images. If blur is in the image, it's generally intentional and the judges know it. THey looks for sybolic images with bold color, meaning, textures,shapes and design. Line are important too. THe image has to make sense compositionally. The way the image is composed is EXTREMELY important in a contest like this. I think that the judges are doing a FANTASTIC job in the contest and I see no reason at all to complain! TRy going to other contests and you'll see the same images winning there as you do here. These judges are on the money with their final decisions!! ~DONNARAE~

I do think that an extra category or two would be nice or maybe different categories per month.

3/22/2004 4:23:55 AM

  One more thing regarding comments. Comments are wonderful but most of the time they are not accurate. I think that the only people who give accurate critiques that are helpful are the insturctors. If anyone has questions about why there images didn get selected a teacher may explain what the problem wos with image. I have learned a great deal from the classes and professional honest critiques from the betterphoto instructors.You can never stop learning and betterphoto classes are a great way to start.

3/22/2004 4:33:50 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  "They know what they are doing and they always pick sellable very sharp images. If blur is in the image, it's generally intentional and the judges know it. THey looks for sybolic images with bold color, meaning, textures,shapes and design. Line are important too. THe image has to make sense compositionally. The way the image is composed is EXTREMELY important in a contest like this."

Odd that you mention all of these important criteria for judging Donna. I think if you honestly look at many of the finalists as well as a few of the winners, you wouldn't find this to be true. From the comments that I hear privately as well as on the boards, I respectfully submit that everyone wouldn't agree with you on this assessment. On the other hand, if you are correct, perhaps we should pay more attention to your work. We may all learn a thing or two from you! : )

3/22/2004 4:40:14 AM

  True or not, we can definitely learn from Donna. She is always willing to help and if it wasn't for her, I'd have quit a long time ago.
On the other hand, I can see some of the finalists every month that have me shaking my head as to how they got there.

3/22/2004 4:44:18 AM

  To make the statement that the judges know what they are doing is very subjective! They judge based on preferences, subject matter, their experiences.. in other words, they judge just like any one else would. "Through the filtered glasses that their life experiences have created!"

For example, I wouldn't give you a dime for a Picasso, but there are people who think he was the greatest painter that ever walked the earth!

3/22/2004 4:52:57 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  No one would disagree that the criteria that Donna states are important, should be how images are judged. It just seems to many that the standards are inconsistently applied.

3/22/2004 5:03:31 AM

  Thanks Patricia, & Carolyn!! I appreciate what the two of you said.

I'd like to know what picutres were questionable that were selected as winners. I'D ALSO especially like to see which ones some peope think should have won and didn't!

3/22/2004 5:59:31 AM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  This started out as a discussion about the judging in general. I'm not trying to be a hall monitor here or anything. But,I would like to suggest that if folks want others to name specific images or comment on specific images that made the finals, they do it directly via e-mail. Asking for specific images to be singled out, could be hurtful to the person who took the photo. If there are constructive criticisms to be made about the winning photos, it should be made on the photo's thread or directly with the photographer. Also, the comments are getting a bit more accusatory. Once posted in this forum, they can't easily be taken back. I have seen this type of posting cause signifcant animosity in a prior class. I just hope everyone will clearly evaluate what they are about to post, consider how it will "read" to others. Then decide if an e-mail response would be more appropriate.

3/22/2004 6:22:54 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  I agree that it would be totally inappropriate to single anyone's images out and discuss them in a public forum. No one's images deserve that kind of scrutiny, good or bad. To get back to the start of this thread it would seem that the art of judging can stand to be reviewed with as much interest and passion as the art of photography.

3/22/2004 6:34:44 AM

PAMELA CM LAMMERSEN
BetterPhoto Member
pcmlphotography.com

member since: 1/19/2004
  Hello all
and sorry, but I also have to jump in haha,

I agree with some others that this months contest winners dont seem to be up to par with others months (my own opinion), but there again the judges can only judge from the images they recieve. Maybe last month was a lull for entrant qualitly ? who knows maybe the judges were all in a big hurry?

either way I still enjoy sorting out my own personal favourites and 'non'-favs then think to myself what I would or wouldnt do with them to improve. For me this is all learning and I think it is great. As others have said 'this is a free contest' and just keep that in mind.

thanks and good luck to everyone on there future shooting.

-Pamela

3/22/2004 6:57:53 AM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  Sorry Donna Rae but I respectfully disagree with you. I have just started the past 3 months submitting photos into some professional photo contests (non Internet) I have had 3 out of my five win a place and another one make honorable mention. None of the 3 even made finalist here at this site. It IS subjective. The judges have a style they like and that is pretty consistant.

3/22/2004 8:00:05 AM

  Hi Margaret, The judges do have a style that they like. The style is called a great image. They are professional appearing images which are, sharp,eye catching images with bold color when they are suppose to be, unusual angles etc, good subject matter and marketable. The composition always has to be correct and so does the exposure.That's where the WOW factor comes in.It's a combination of the right things ..The images can't be cluttered and the subject should be known at first glance.The veiwer is drawn in and stays there at the subject. Nothing should be distracting.They need to be designed perfectly.The B&Wimages display the same characteristics with the exclusion of color. They are purely design and tone. Look at Mr.Browns first place win last month.That image is designed perfectly and sharp as a tack.Take a look at any of the instructors images on this site and you'll see what I'm talking about. Take a look at any of the big winners and you'll also see it there. Be open and view. I'd like to see your images Margaret. They must have had a reason that they didn't pick your images Margaret. There are so many great images on this site to choose from and only a certain amount can be chosen but if they were super wow images they would have made it one way or another. I'd like to see your images and personally critique them. TO get a professional critique, you must take a course. The courses will open your eyes and you'll really understand what it's all about then.. Why don't you upload the questionable images for us to see and we can all see these beautiful images of yours.

3/22/2004 9:27:56 AM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  Donna... You have described what should have happened, but did not happen in the Feb. contest. There is no "wow" factor in more than a few images in the winners circle. Certainly are some great images, but not of the caliber of previous months. That's the problem! Water over the dam now, I think!

3/22/2004 9:36:47 AM

Rob Friedman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/24/2003
  One point: I think the daily feedback (or affirmation) really does drive folks to experiment more. I think it's great that you can submit one a day, and take chances with what you're doing without fear of having eggs thrown at you. I'd really think a change in that format would be a negative for the site.

I know folks are not as critical as they can be with comments, but, as some have said, it seems that folks tend to criticize more by not commenting at all (just like their mammas told them...if you don't have anything good to say...). Perhaps if someone really wants help or criticism there could be a special category to which to upload photos or they can write that they especially want criticism in the description. I'm sure folks would be willing to help out.

I do think that most folks enjoy the friendly nature of the site, which encourages them to take more photos with the hope of improving.

3/22/2004 11:17:12 AM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  Thank you so much for clearing that up for me Donna, I guess while getting my photography degree and running my own photography business I must have missed that. If you re read the posts you will see that I DID mention some of the photos in the past I was surprised did not win or make it higher then they did. NONE of them in which being my own. I agree that they do not need to be picked apart by you though, they did not ask to be a part of this. I am now washing my hands of this discussion.

3/22/2004 12:58:51 PM

Alisha May Furbish
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/5/2003
  I think the judges do a good job. Judging is subjective, but there are general characteristics that make a photo compositionally, exposure-wise, etc. I think the judges pick the photos that are sharp, that are correctly exposed, etc., and out of those comes personal preference. I may not have been drawn to every finalist and winning photo, but that doesn't mean it is a poor photo. There are, and will always be photos that get passed over, hardly as intentional slight, but out of sheer volume of images. I do not feel it is my place to judge anyone's work unless asked, and who am I to say a BetterPhoto winning image isn't any good? As I said before, one person's favorite image may be too bright or busy for someone else. So I participate in the site, respect the instructors, and photographers, both pro and amature, for sharing work and ideas.

3/22/2004 2:35:51 PM

  Ok, guys and gals, let's all go take a cold shower and can this discussion before somebody else's feelings get hurt. Alisha's comment above is right on the money, so let's let it go at that.

3/22/2004 3:10:32 PM

  Hi Margaret. I wasn't willing to pick apart your images. I'm sorry but I'm not paid to do that.. That's the job of the instructors here at betterphoto or your past teachers or friends.

. Is there anything wrong with me liking the images that the judges pick . They can't pick everyones images. I'm sure that your pictures are beautiful too. CONGRATULATIONS on your past wins with them . I'm very happy & proud of you.
I had an image that won a cash prize in KINSA 20 years ago that didn't reven get noticed here at betterphoto but they can't pick them all. Maybe it wasn't good enough for todays standards and the resolution & sharpeness were poor or something.I don't know but I din't worry about it. I kept pushing and learning more.
I also posted for a year or so here without making a finalist and never complained.I was working as a newspaper photographer & freelancer while learning. I had been shooting for 20 years and realized that I never learned the right things on my own. It took betterphoto's winning images and winning classes & instructors to teach me the real way to shoot creatively.I'm still learning; in fact!I'll never stop trying to learn.. I love betterphoto.com. It's my home away from home and I respect EVERYTHING about this site including the great judging!
It's a wonderful place to REEEEAAAALLY learn how to shoot creatively and learn what a good image is. IN TIME... Have a nice day. Donnarae~

3/22/2004 3:18:02 PM

  Well I think "Rainy Days and Mon(k)days.....' is an excellent shot depicting just that.....monks scurring about in the rain, hence the movement and the color & composition are wonderful too! I agree with all that some excellent images are overlooked but see no real fix, judging over 10,000 images must be a daunting task! Bob is right on the money about limiting the amount of entries, a year ago the contest had maybe 3000 entries now it is always over 10,000. I think 3 or 4 entries a week for members and 1 or 2 a week for non-members would help the current situation....just my 2 cents. I love this site and the wonderful people here and feel I have grown as a photographer from the classes I have taken and the inspiration of viewing excellent images!

Ellen

3/22/2004 4:14:13 PM

  As was stated in an earlier response.. Who are the judges? Most competitions make a point of noting who the judges are. Why is it such a secret with BP?

3/22/2004 4:55:35 PM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
 
 
 
Wait! I think I know the answer to Stephen's question. Until informed differently...

3/22/2004 5:04:03 PM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  Now see, I knew you could be lots of fun Richard!! : )

3/22/2004 5:07:44 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  This whole q&a has been funny to me.

3/22/2004 9:24:16 PM

  Absolutely fascinating discussion. Thanks, Carol, for letting me know about it. I enjoyed reading all the different points of view on this issue.

3/22/2004 10:48:50 PM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  It stands to reason that you may never find out who the judges are because if they were known there would be an inordinate amount of pandering and politicking going on.

3/23/2004 4:59:06 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  One last thought before I, like Peggy wash my hands of the thread. There is an old Turkish proverb... Whoever tells the truth is chased out of nine villages. : )

3/23/2004 5:23:25 AM

  Too late to wash your hands of this.. it is in Black & White now! LOL :-)

3/23/2004 5:29:58 AM

PAMELA CM LAMMERSEN
BetterPhoto Member
pcmlphotography.com

member since: 1/19/2004
  Gee John,

Bet you didnt know you would open such a can of worms! :-) I find this discussion quite a laugh :-)
very interesting...

-Pamela

3/23/2004 6:41:05 AM

Angela K. Wittmer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2003
  I agree... I think that the contest needs to be limited to 1 photo per week per person. I think this will make the judging process easier. I also think there needs to be a separate category for digitally enhanced photos & those who do enhance should disclose at least SOME of the information on how they achived the result. I have been discouraged in the past, looking at the winners & finalists but I also realize the judging is very supjective & even though there may be a set standard there is still something very subjective about judging. All of us look at the submissions and there are photos that "jump" right off the pages at you & others that don't. I am partial to animals & portraits & I am sure others are partial to other types. We just need to respect the opinions of the judges & keep trying & learning. I do think that limiting the submissions in some way is a good idea........... JMHO

Angie

3/23/2004 7:28:19 AM

Peggy Wolff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2003
  I agree Angie, I think if we only sent in one or two in a week, then they wouldn't have such a huge job to do. Heather had left a note that they are working around the clock trying to get them done in time. Also Angie, my knowlege in PS is pretty limited but I know some of the basics. There are many here that know TONS more then I do, BUT I am always willing to help answer questions when I can.

3/23/2004 7:35:42 AM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  In defining a Digital Art Category, for ďmanipulatedĒ images you also have to redefine whatís not considered Digital Art for each of the other categories, and then police each entry to make sure it conforms to the rules. Putting the administrative nightmare aside, any attempt enforce this would be futile, because every image displayed online IS a digitally manipulated image whether itís done via firmware in the camera or scanner that commits the image to the digital format, or software on the local machine, or even the very setting the BetterPhoto servers are programmed to display the image. People that understand this stop talking about manipulated vs. non-manipulated and start talking about ďacceptableĒ levels of manipulation. Equally futile. Since the criteria on which people react is not based on how much manipulation went into the image, but how ďbelievableĒ the result is. This serves no purpose but to alienate the surreal, which is a bigotry that many ART forms have suffered over the ages. If this is the direction that Betterphoto is heading, why discriminate against just digital forms of manipulation? If weíre going do it letís do it right, and include any form of chemical, mechanical, or optical manipulation. Included in this list are: Colour enhancing, sepia, and infrared film, artificially generated lighting (including flashes), polarizers and coloured optical filters. No use of props are allowed in any way, because, hey, you are adding in something that wasnít really thereÖand thatís called manipulation. Most DEFINITELY cross hatch, star, blur, mirror image, and any other special effects lens filter are out Önow come on, those are just blatant! Along that line, Polaroid transfers, hand-painted Black and Whites or any other such obscenities, are strictly banned. While weíre at it, might as well include all darkroom techniques, and just to make sure that these are not being employed you must send in your film undeveloped. Digital camera users are even more highly suspect, so you have to send your camera and flashcard in, and BP will make the picture on your behalf (donít forget to specify what it was you wanted to shoot). Implementing this would have the added bonus of solving the too many entries per month problem as well. (continued)

3/23/2004 10:16:41 AM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  (Continuation)

Iím being obnoxious I know, but Iím just being consistent with this whole tread. BetterPhoto is unique and wonderful BECAUSE it doesnít blatantly discriminate one way or the other. I have not found another contest or site that I can say this about. If you havenít noticed, there are 4 categories that favour images not heavily post processed digitally, and only 1 that does. Even at that, of the 5 category winners and the Grand prize winner, Iím not detecting massive digital manipulation in ANY of them including the GENERAL category winner. If Iím wrong, and there is, then they deserve to be where they are based on that merit as well. If you feel your images canít compete, itís time to be honest with yourself about why. Pulling down other peoples work to elevate your own is not the answer. I come here because itís open to everyone, Beginner and Pro, Film shooters and digital shooters, purists and digital. I love it because I can learn so much from people with more experience than me, and I can give back by sharing my experience with those with less (and Iím surprised much Iím learning from those with less experience too!). This contest is a success the way it is. Nearly 12, 000 entries canít be wrong. If you donít like the rules of the game, then why are you playing?

We donít need to open more categories, we just need to open more minds.

3/23/2004 10:17:36 AM

  Well said, Eric. :-)

3/23/2004 10:21:32 AM

Richard H. Hahn

member since: 1/26/2004
  Eric, you have provided a parochial and anachronistic argument. Although, you are entitled to your opinion. Considering the rapid evolution of the digital arts, seems like a throwback to another era to lump surrealistic art with traditional (or realistic) images. At least there should be a broadening of art categories, as photographers become more prolific in many different directions. I would simply suggest the dividing line should be between what is real (what can reasonably be expected to be seen with one's eyes) vs. surreal (what can only be seen in one's imagination). That delineation should resolve your concerns about the fuzzy line between photo enhancement and image rendering.

After all, an art gallery contest would not combine the judging of sculptures with oil paintings. They are different categories.

Surreal images, like eyes peering from flowers, or a person climbing out of a bottle are wonderful in their own right. Just a lot different than the real images some of us prefer to capture and look at.

3/23/2004 10:56:25 AM

Patricia A. Kuniega
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/17/2003
  It's always nice when someone levels the playing field by calling everyone obnoxious. Atleast we all know where we stand. : ) I chose to bow out perhaps a bit too soon, but how could I not respond to your post? I would disappoint those who know me better.

The first part of your post addresses my concerns about splitting the categories into digitally manipulated vs. non, and also calls to mind the task of defining "manipulation" vs. enhancement. I was with you in all good humor until part II.

No one was talking about digital manipulation in the 1st prize category nor the Grand Prize, although I'm sure some "enhancements" were made. Who knows? Who cares? The reference to digital manipulation within the general category was in the 2nd prize tier. I also don't think anyone was pulling down anyone's work in the attempt to elevate their own. What's done is done.

Everyone enjoys this site for various reasons, whether they be the learning experience, the contest, the commraderie of like-minded individuals who "see" the world as you do, or the feedback. Whatever the pay-off is for any given person, they choose to stick around because they get something out of the website. That doesn't mean that a process can't be looked at in a closer light or that those individuals can't strive to understand better how that process works. The judging process seems to elude some people and each month when finalists are selected many more people rub their heads and wonder what it is that the judges are looking for. If it was as simple as Donna Rae's assessment, we would all be on our way to cranking out winning images. But the art of photography is an elusive thing, as is, apparently the judging process. I think the questions and comments have been asked with an open mind and a willingness to learn more about the process of winning image selection.

3/23/2004 11:19:50 AM

Angela K. Wittmer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2003
  Man ... did I open a can of worms or what??? (sorta feel like a puppy who just got its nose smacked with a newspaper!!)

What I meant by my thought in regard to digitally enhanced images are those that people "add" images,distort colors to an extreme, etc, basically altering in such a way that it would be impossible to see thru the naked eye vs a dream state... all I wanted was to know if there was some alteration done to it& how it was achieved so that we may learn more about the art form.

I was not demeaning any photos to make mine look better in my own eyes (did I mention anyone's work... nope!)& I have a VERY open mind, I think it would be better to have these photos compete in their own category of something that is surreal vs real.

Some of us are still learning about Photoshop & are curious how some people make these images...I "play" the game because I am trying to learn more in regards to photography & giving a little tidbit of information on how a photo was altered could help me understand it better.

Time for me to shut up ! :)

3/23/2004 1:08:31 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  The only person I specifically called obnoxious was myself, and I truly believe itís been a theme consistent (although not constant) throughout the whole thread. Iíll leave it to the readers to make up theyíre own minds if my assessment is correct, and to whom, beyond me, that it may apply.

Richard, I donít think your example applies here, since the Betterphoto Categories are based on subject types, but Iíll use it to reword my earlier sarcastic point. I certainly do think itís fair to compare sculptures to oil paintings if the Art Gallery ran a contest and the entry criteria was ďPeopleĒ, rather than media or style type. Provided, of course that all entrants are relevant to the subject of People. The difference oil paintings at sculptures are not that big really, since they both strive to move the viewer on an emotional, spiritual and/or intellectual level, through visual impact. Each can be judged against the other by the viewer on itís ability to just that. They are both visual arts after all. This was the point I was trying to make earlier. If we start segregating one style (Digital Art, or whatever it ends up being named), you would have to do it to the others. If the categories were restructured by styles, then people will want subcategories in each style, because there will be arguments that you canít compare an animal to landscape. From there, who knowsÖa category for bird, mammals, architecture, insects, winter scenes, etc. I just donít think itís necessary, when they are images designed around the same goal as above.

Iíve have viewed the Galleries and Websites of everyone that has posted to this thread, most of them not for the first time. Iíve taken something of value away from each of them. Many individual images of varying STYLES moved me greatly. Others did not. Iím sure the ones that did, do not do it for others. Could I rank them regardless of style in order of my favourites? Yes, I can. Would others criticize my choices of one over the other? Undoubtedly.

3/23/2004 1:35:26 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  I will now respectfully "take it off line". Since I'm sure everyone is tired of me. If not, please e-mail me, and we can continue on a one to one basis. I think it is wonderful that we are all so passionate about, Photography, topped only by being able to express our views and ideas in free debate. There are others in this world not so lucky. Regards to all - - Eric.

3/23/2004 1:44:19 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Thought they already had landscape and animals in seperate categories. Any way, yall have gone off the deep end. Magazines already have a category for digital manipulated images. It's not a hard thing to do. A picture with somebody having green light coming out their eyes wouldn't cause any confusion for me.
But sometimes you have to deal with what you got. One time I saw a picture in American Photo or Photo (think that's the title) in their annual contest of a girl with red dyed hair, and a nose ring. A simple shot, close up with probably a 50mm, looking straight at the camera, slight smile. And her face was slightly off center of the frame. Plain background, and shaded light from a front porch or something like that.
It wasn't a first place, and I could see how somebody wouldn't consider it first place. But I really liked it because it made me think of those girls with a slight edge to them, that are kinda passed over, maybe even looked down on becaue they aren't the blonde cheerleaders, Life in the O.C, in with the in crowd type, that if you get to know them are really nice girls, that have a good sense of humor, and are a blast to talk to.
And that's what I thought of as soon as I saw the way she smiled. And that's why I liked the picture so much, while others may have thought, well it's in focus but she's not doing anything.
Of course there's some pictures in the BP contest that I don't see how they won. There's the chicken that won first place, a toy lizard one time, the wide angle close up of pets or farm animals, some crooked pictures, and somebody really likes cat pictures. But somebody likes them.
So you want to please the judges, look at the instructor galleries and just copy what they do. They're probably the judges anyway. Look at past winners, you'll see a lot of pictures keep showing up over and over. Go shoot the mirror landscape reflection in the lake. You want to be happy, shoot what you feel.
Surprised somebody remembered I said it, but I'll say it again, enter a contest for fun, not validation.
I may have to uncheck the email box on this one.

3/23/2004 2:17:13 PM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  No kidding Gregory....this has gotten way out of hand. I'm regretting that I was the first one to respond to John's original post. By the way, I think I was the one, in my first post, that suggested entering the contest for fun, not validation. But, as you said, it bears repeating.

I can't believe I have spent so much time following this thread....time that could have been spent shooting, reviewing new contest entries, or uploading new images!

3/23/2004 3:10:50 PM

  If everyone would stop responding, we could get back to normal, maybe. Soon we won't even HAVE a contest to argue about because the whole site will be full of this discussion thread! Laurie is right, let's all go shoot something.

3/23/2004 3:18:23 PM

Eric Highfield
BetterPhoto Member
StoneHorseStudios.com

member since: 8/16/2003
  ....and not each other!!! :-)

3/23/2004 3:26:15 PM

  Good point, Eric!

3/23/2004 3:29:22 PM

  It does my heart good to see you are all so passionate about your Photography. LOL :-) I agree! Get out there and shoot!

3/23/2004 3:38:19 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  I'm talking about saying it in a thread a couple months ago.

3/23/2004 3:53:37 PM

Laurie Meehan-Elmer

member since: 10/13/2003
  What can I say Greg...Great minds think alike!:) Hope to see you all in a class or in the contest.

3/23/2004 4:07:27 PM

Joshua Logan

member since: 3/29/2004
  photography is open and subjective, but there are still industry rules & guidelines, and if you break those rules, that is fine, so do many other professional photographers, but you need to give well thought, and complete analysis on why you did a certain thing a certain way, to illustrate your creative intentions. If any thing was art, know one could ever fail art school....picasso wouldnt be worth anything. there is such a thing called "elements of design" & "principles of design", and they apply to photography.

4/1/2004 12:42:21 PM

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