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BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Kristie M. Conte

member since: 8/17/2004
 

Better Photo Judges comments


I decided to make this a separate post. Please don't think I'm being negative but I really wanted to try to elicit other member's thoughts.

I have to say I'm not so sure I like this idea of having the judges comment on photos. I've been watching these posts over the last week or so. I thought the purpose was to comment on a photo that caught the judges eye but now I see that they're actually commenting on entire galleries at a time. Does this mean that we'll be able to anticipate just who will win each month? If that's the case, will all betterphoto members get the same treatment?

I do like the fact that I'm able to look at a photo to try to guess what the judges may say (which is a great learning too.), but it seems to me that this kind of commenting can become a little biased. Also, I see a lot more "positive" posts than negative.

Just wondering what others think.

6/20/2005 8:02:38 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/31/2003
  Good idea, Krestie, for starting a new thread on this subject.

I had an expectation that judges' comments are to point out the reasons as to why some photos are winners and why others are not...

As I see their current comment scheme, it's like they are not different from any other friendly greetings..., the difference is they contains "some" constructive comments which can be very helpful...

6/20/2005 8:35:29 AM

 
Terry  R. Hatfield
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Terry
Terry 's Gallery

member since: 1/4/2003
  Sounds Like Your Feeling Left Out Kristie!LOL!I See Nothing Wrong With A Little Praise And A Little Critique At The Same Time,And I Think It Has No Bearing On The Winners Of The Contest:-)

6/20/2005 9:34:26 AM

 
Susan L. Vasquez
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/24/2005
  I half-agree with you Terry...
I think the judge forum is letting us know what will win/final. But in their defense they usually tell us why something works or doesn't. If we take the time to look at what they are praising we know it is worthy of the attention it has recieved.
I agree a bit with Kristie though, I wish praise would be held until the finalists are posted.
(ok, I'll admit feeling left out! LOL)

6/20/2005 9:50:57 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/31/2003
  I hope my sentence above was not too direct..., it so, I blame on my language problem, lol... (no excuse thought :D)

I agree with Kristie on the part that, if the judges' comments are very favorable, then I would think that we could anticipate the photo would be at least among the finalist group. This takes out the mystery of the contest and takes out the fun out of the contest to some extent.

This is the reason why I would like the judges to comment on the past contest entries... and point out the what's good and what's not and what can be done to improve it.

6/20/2005 9:55:42 AM

 
Kristie M. Conte

member since: 8/17/2004
  I think I'm being misunderstood and no, I do not feel left out. I like the idea of the judges feedback...in fact, I spend a lot of time looking through each and every one to see if I can anticipate what they might say which only helps me when I'm critiquing my own photos.

What I'm saying is...I expected from Jim's blog that the judges would pick out random photos to comment on. Over the last few days, it seems that the judges are looking through entries by person instead of just selecting random photos. The reason I mention this is because there are 2 and 3 comments for just one person. So, yes, I do believe it can be unfair to look through and critique several photos by person instead of just selecting random photos.

6/20/2005 10:37:44 AM

 
Connie J. Bagot
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Connie
Connie's Gallery

member since: 5/6/2005
  I could be wrong (and usually am, lol) but what I thought was happening was that several judges are commenting---perhaps simultaneously so that one judge just wasn't aware that a certain person had a comment on a different photo by a different judge. In a totally random system (to really be random it seems that the judges would have to work independently) with over 350 comments.....just seems mathematically likely that this would happen some of the time.

6/20/2005 10:52:30 AM

 
Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2005
  From the atmosphere of the type of changes going on around this site this is what I make of it: (please note I could be wrong)

I think that they want to create a more critique oriented site with more members making meaningful comments. I think that they are trying to show the members 'how' to do this in a freindly mannor. I personally do not feel that they are picking people out biasedly.

I think that they are offering a great service to its members and we should be highly thankful. If your photos have not been picked to be critiqed and you do find that it could be highly helpful to you then, maybe you could look into their services. :o) I can see where it would be wonderful to have an/their expert opinion!! :o)

6/20/2005 11:37:32 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  How 'bout just not reading the comments.

6/20/2005 11:58:54 AM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Okay, I have resisted "showing all my cards" on the contest system that we have developed here at BetterPhoto - not because I want to hold anything back from you. Rather, I want to keep it back from our competitors. I am so proud of the judging system we have set up, and I know that other contests will copy what we do if they ever figure it out. :)

Here's the truth: many judges review your photos, during several rounds. During one round, your photos are bundled so that all photos by one member are together. At this time, we can select your best work, and we can weed out the duplicates and similars that some contestants enter.

IMPORTANT: We still don't see the member name or know who you are (unless you tell us by putting a watermark on your image, which we try really hard not to look at). We are not favoring anyone - just letting you compete against yourself during one of the many rounds of judging.

So that is what's going on.

6/20/2005 12:36:17 PM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  I want to say three other quick things:

1) Even if one judge says glorious things about your photo, don't assume that you've won or will even place as a finalist. This is important: several judges review the photos, several comment, we are bound to disagree. That's another thing that I am very proud of, setting up a fair, objective contest (where subjective feelings influence how each individual sees a photo) by having many people review your work. If a photo wins, it means several have agreed on it. If one judge loves it, the photo unfortunately may still not win.

2) If a judge tells you to remove a border or make some other change, do not assume that doing so and resubmitting will get you a winner. It might. So do make the changes and resubmit if you like. But if it doesn't win, please don't keep resubmitting. When this happens, all of the judges honestly tire of seeing the same picture. If you don't win, resubmit, don't win again... move on. Go outside and shoot some more. Then come back with fresh work.

3) Please don't tell anyone at the other contest sites about how awesome and wonderful the BetterPhoto contest really is.

6/20/2005 12:37:56 PM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Okay, make that five things, actually. I have two more things to say:

1) Hang In There! If you don't win, just keep trying. Especially now that we have the new judge comments, you will hopefully be able to grow fast and eventually win. Never forget though how prestigious such a victory is - we will soon be getting over 20,000 entries! To be selected as the top 111 out of that many photos, that's a fantastic accomplishment.

2) Melissa theorized that one of our motives is to balance the positive, friendly praise with constructive criticism. It indeed would be very nice to have that balance. As much as I love that BetterPhoto is seen as the friendliest place on the Web, I want people to know that they can get constructive help too. However, if I have one complaint about the judge comments, is that they by necessity have to be very brief. I really hope people do not take things the wrong way. If you ever come across someone feeling bent out of shape about a short, negative comment, please remind them of the following:

All we want is to see your very best, to inspire you and view your inspiring images.

Have fun!

6/20/2005 12:40:23 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  even a nice 75 degrees, somebody's going to be too hot or too cold.

6/20/2005 12:42:25 PM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Yep, no doubt about it. But even if we can't please everybody, we'll do our best (and maybe hand out sweaters to the cold ones).

6/20/2005 12:44:52 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  That first response at first said it came from Jim Zuckerman. Had a keyboard freeze up on you or something?

6/20/2005 12:53:43 PM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  We are actually the same person... No, just kidding.

I forgot that I has signed in as Jim Zuckerman, to check in on his courses.

6/20/2005 1:00:53 PM

 
Kristie M. Conte

member since: 8/17/2004
  Wow, this is great...I had a feeling this would start a fire. Anyway, I appreciate you writing Jim. I didn't know how the judging process worked.


6/20/2005 1:35:39 PM

 
Connie J. Bagot
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Connie
Connie's Gallery

member since: 5/6/2005
  I don't think that Jim exactly "showed all his cards" yet....lol. But I really appreciated the insight into the judging process here at BetterPhoto---and totally enjoyed the friendly informative public posting.

Actually I was pretty sure that it was a good system----just from admiring the fantastic results every month.

6/20/2005 1:57:23 PM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/31/2003
  ...,I thought Gregory was one of the judges, when he said,
"How 'bout just not reading the comments."...
(be careful what you say,.., ....just kidding...)

Well, Mr. Miotke put out the could-fire fire pretty quicky..., I think it's good..., and "our thanks" is due...,... we shall move on............

6/20/2005 1:57:26 PM

 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I just wanted to say thanks to Jim and his team of judges! This new feedback is very informative and an important learning tool. You can show a picture to 15 people and get 15 different opinions, I learned that the hard way from joining my local camera club.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to explain the process and reasoning Jim! Thanks so much and good luck to everyone!

6/20/2005 2:11:32 PM

 
Sherry S. Boles
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/28/2005
  I wanted to thank Jim for taking the time to weigh in on this thread. I appreciate his comments and think it is very kind of him to let us know what's going on. Thanks, Jim! And thanks to the judges, too...I know I'd hate to have to even start to pick from all of the wonderful photos here at BP!

6/20/2005 3:37:33 PM

 
Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2005
  I just read the entire thread (I've been out of town all day today). From what I've read of Jim's remarks, the system is fair and is set up to make us all strive to do better each and every time we snap that shutter. Thanks to all!

6/20/2005 3:48:45 PM

 
Debra Booth
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/2/2004
  Thanks, Jim, for this great addition to the site! The Judges critique will provide us great insights for helping us improve our skills by understanding what judges like as well as what they dislike!

6/20/2005 3:59:26 PM

 
KHAWLA Haddad
BetterPhoto Member
Contact KHAWLA
KHAWLA's Gallery

member since: 1/23/2005
  Thought for the mind


Thank you Jim for adding this addition to the site, I believe to have strong community Communication is must and it come for the members sharing there knowledge through there images and quality of it, the form it s truly great tool to have here, it allow us to learn from our mistake and other s.
I like the system after all the winner will have the best work win which it does make total since. As far as the comment on each pics of same person I don’t see anything wrong with that at all, if someone does great job then why not get the knowlegement of there work even if its one person and they have different images.
Its nice to see the judges comment on them and for us to know there perspective on things and to a knowledge it and share it with us what’s best thing in the image to get that image be winning image and what catch the judges eye.
After all this is what we asked for and want for sometime now, and thank god that we all different and have different perspective and eyes, it will be very boring if we all thought the same and did the same.
And remember we all start somewhere and have someone more skill to teach us so share what you know be someone mentor happy shutter s

Here are some thoughts for the mind of photographer s in BP

A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes.
Sam Abell


It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.
Mark Twain


Failure is success if we learn from it.
Malcolm Forbes

Have wonderful night
Kelly

6/20/2005 5:15:42 PM

 
Laura Clay-Ballard
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2005
  great thoughts to share with us, Kelly! Thanks.

6/20/2005 6:17:50 PM

 
Susan L. Vasquez
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/24/2005
  LOL! Thanks for filling us "newbies" in a bit better Jim. I feel a bit silly now! Just learning the ropes around here and this new development of "judge comments" was something I didn't fully understand.
Melissa I'd totally pay for a real critique as long as it's something my budget will afford :) Hopefully it will be something the BP staff will be able to offer someday soon.
I've been posting my photographs at other places for a few years now, but have learned more in two weeks than I ever have anywhere else.

6/20/2005 8:34:31 PM

 
S  J
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/30/2004
  Jim, many thanks for the well detailed information about the contest judging!! It was very helpful and really cleared a lot of doubts that I had.

6/20/2005 10:46:42 PM

 
Rob Bishop
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Rob
Rob's Gallery

member since: 1/5/2004
  This is the same statement that caused me great confusion last year when a discussion about judging took place.
Quote from Jim;

"During one round, your photos are bundled so that all photos by one member are together. At this time, we can select your best work, and we can weed out the duplicates and similars that some contestants enter.

IMPORTANT: We still don't see the member name or know who you are"

I guess I'm just stupid, but I couldn't figure how you bundled all the photos by one member together to select their best work, without knowing who the members are.

Just trying to understand, not really complaining, Gregory.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and answer, Jim.

6/21/2005 12:44:04 AM

 
Donna W. Neal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/8/2003
  Just read the entire thread and want to make a couple of comments. I love that the judges are making comments as that is one of the things I really missed about this site. You never knew why or why not. I would love to see the judges make comments on the winners. So that each of us can read why and what drew the judges eye to that picture above the rest. My opinion is you can learn a lot from what they really liked about a picture as well as what they did not like.

Rob my guess would be that someone other than the judges is grouping the images and that the judges don't see the name of the person taking the images. Especially if you have submitted say 10 dog pictures of the same dog over the month. They group them so that they can pick out the very best of those images. Just my guess

6/21/2005 3:46:22 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com

member since: 10/6/2001
  We all have member numbers, so they are probably using those to group.
Jim, your commentary is hilarious and informative. I really am enjoying this thread!

6/21/2005 6:01:04 AM

 
Rob Bishop
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Rob
Rob's Gallery

member since: 1/5/2004
  Thanks Donna and Carolyn. Someone else groups them, or they use our member number. Hmmmm. Okay. On with the contest!

6/21/2005 10:11:16 AM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Thanks to all for your kind, appreciative comments.

Rob, you ask a really good question. Sometimes I am so embedded in the daily grind here I forget what it's like to be looking at BetterPhoto from your direction.

To answer your question, I've developed special administrative pages that do this grouping automatically and just show us judges the photos, without the member details.

Thanks again everyone.

P.S. Hopefully you should see the finalists today. Then the winners in a couple of days.

6/21/2005 11:10:54 AM

 
Rob Bishop
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Rob
Rob's Gallery

member since: 1/5/2004
  Thank you very much, Jim. Now that makes sense. And now, on with the contest!

6/21/2005 11:23:16 AM

 
Heather  Inich
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/15/2005
  Although I would like to win, I am just grateful for the comments and feedback I get. Thanks for having such an awesome site where we can put our work out there for others to see and critique!

6/21/2005 11:47:26 AM

 
Fawn  M. Schutt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/31/2004
 
 
 
I havent commented on this, but I felt the time has come When you think about it, who has the right to tell you, what photos of yours are good or bad? Personally I dont like negative comments simply because it DOESNT inspire me to get better; weather it is constructive or not! I am not going to go change something because someone else who has a title says it would make the photo better. Let me be good at the level I am at, and you can be good at the level youre at. Am I making sense to anyone?
I think it is poor judging to base the winner on (And I quote from my photo commented on by a judge) Tilting Horizon Lines on a ocean photo. The Ocean IS tilted. That is the way God made it, and no one can change that or else it looks very unnatural. I like that you (Jim) let us know how the system works, but still, I dont believe photos should be judged on such a small insignificant items. I find it very unfair.
Yes I have seen some photos that are not worthy to win, but that is because the folks upload them to share with family members and dont realize what their doing by entering them. But on the flip side, I have seen some very worthy ones that dont win. But the ones who DO win, seem almost fake to me. Too many special effects or too much Photoshop. They dont look like photographs, they look computer generated. What happened to raw, natural photos?
I think that judging photos that are not photos my appearance, is not a photo contest. What you are really judging is how well people know how to use Photoshop. And in that case, you should create a special category for Photoshop-ed photos.
People are going to stop entering if they try and try and dont understand why they arent winning because of a small fault they cant fix, like a bird that flew into the beautiful picture in the distance, or a small line. It is sadly inevitable.
Just keep improving the system and maybe in the end, all will be happy.

Fawn

6/21/2005 12:20:28 PM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/27/2004
  Oh my gosh! I'm shocked and amazed at how this works! We're bundled.... I never would have guessed. So that leaves out any possibility that you're just overlooking all my really fantastic images you don't pick (wink, wink). Well, this is food for thought isn't it.

Thanks for running a great site--and I actually like this method of judging. Sounds like a good system.

Karma

6/21/2005 4:48:56 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Need another life preserver, somebody went over board again. Starboard side, before a tilted ocean washes her away.

6/21/2005 5:47:12 PM

 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I feel the urge to respond to Fawn. I've been at BP for over a year and a half and truly believe it is the best run photo contest on the net! If you have something against it then you can go elsewhere. I don't know too many places that have this many talented photographers who openly share their expertise and are more than willing to help beginners. I also don't know too many places where you can have a FREE gallery to showcase your work. Plus all the free services they offer (camera reviews, articles, tips, etc.).
Anyhow, no one is forcing anyone to enter the contest. If you don't like being judged the way BP does it then you could just not enter. I think it is an extremely fair contest and it is very hard when you're competing against professionals - but when you do finally get a finalist it makes it all the more sweet!

6/22/2005 11:13:22 AM

 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  PS- Greg: Very funny!

6/22/2005 11:14:01 AM

 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  One last thing for Fawn - in October 2003 there were about 13,000 entries each month - and now there are over 19,000. I don't think BP is worrying about everyone not entering anymore.
And everything is fixable, including the bird that flew in. To enter an on-line contest you have to scan in your film pic or download your digital pic and it takes 5 seconds and just a teeny bit of skill to clone out that distraction. If you don't like Photoshop you can try GIMP - it's free and does almost as much!

6/22/2005 11:16:43 AM

 
KHAWLA Haddad
BetterPhoto Member
Contact KHAWLA
KHAWLA's Gallery

member since: 1/23/2005
  Diane very well don!!!
you hit it right on money .

6/22/2005 11:28:28 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  Gregory - LMBO!

Fawn, if you don't like criticism, don't invite it. When you enter a contest, this one or any other one, you are inviting criticism. Yes, the ocean is tilted, but it is not visible withing the view of a camera lens. Don't take it so personally. They were just offering a suggestion as a way to improve your photos. Personally, I have never entered the contest because I don't think my pictures are good enough to win, but I may do so sometime in the future just to get that criticism. It would help me to improve.

6/22/2005 1:29:38 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/27/2004
  Having never entered a contest here I probably should not be stating an opinion, but like Kerry and Diana I felt that I had to respond to what Fawn wrote. Personally, the entire reason why I post my images on this site is to get feedback. Sure, I am thrilled when someone tells me that an image I made is well done, particularly when the critique comes from someone whose own images I admire. However, often the most valuable critiques are those that offer suggestions for making an image using a different approach. The only time I completely disregard comments is when the commenter is just being nasty. Fortunately, that does not happen often on this site. I have learned a huge amount simply by participating in these conversations, by viewing other peoples galleries and by reading the critiques done by the judges. Even if I dont personally see the reason why a judge selects a particular photo I know enough to know that I dont know as much as that judge probably knows! Art may be subjective, but there are rules that one needs to know inside and out before deciding to break them.

6/22/2005 2:01:02 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/27/2004
  Oh, Fawn, one last thing: take it from someone who lives by the ocean; the ocean is NOT tilted - the beach may be tilted; the dunes may tilt; even the horizon may tilt; but, the ocean is not tilted! My images of the ocean, mostly done at sunrise, sometimes end up tilted, but that is due to my focusing not the ocean deciding to tilt as I hit the shutter.

6/22/2005 2:07:18 PM

 
James Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  Hi guys,

Thanks again for your kind comments and support.

Guess what? You now have a ten-day advance notice on the monthly theme. Check out our new page dedicated to this theme category:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/themes.asp

Be sure to refrain from doing the new theme until current contest has run it's course. For example, for this month of June, you'll want to continue to enter "scary travel photos" until the end of the month.

Spread the word in the discussions, Q&A and your emails... Tell all your contest friends!

6/22/2005 3:10:54 PM

 
KHAWLA Haddad
BetterPhoto Member
Contact KHAWLA
KHAWLA's Gallery

member since: 1/23/2005
  Thank you so much Jim this is great !!!
we sure will spread the word on this excellent!

6/22/2005 3:13:23 PM

 
Michelle Lea  Guinn
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/3/2004
  Wonderful Job Jim!!! Keep up the excellent work!!! mlg

6/22/2005 3:18:37 PM

 
kerby lee pfrangle
BetterPhoto Member
Contact kerby
kerby's Gallery
pfrangle.com

member since: 4/19/2005
  Jim

Pictures of beach fun.

Does that mean you have to be on an actual beach.

Alot of us live in the middle of the country and not near an ocean so this will limit your entries.

How about (fun in the sun) instead of picture's of beach fun.

Kerby

6/22/2005 7:22:37 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  some people can travel and not be scary, didn't seem to be a hurdle for anybody. can't you just take what's there and work with it for once? See what you can come up with, experiment. Beach, lake, pool, beach party, it's all water and swim suits.

6/22/2005 8:09:18 PM

 
kerby lee pfrangle
BetterPhoto Member
Contact kerby
kerby's Gallery
pfrangle.com

member since: 4/19/2005
  Gregory

If it water than it ok. You can do alot of things with swim pools and lakes.

I was thinking about the beach at the ocean.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Kerby

6/22/2005 8:25:03 PM

 
Pat Welsh

member since: 8/20/2004
  Hi Guys first of all let me say well done to all the comp winners .
Like they say it is a honer just to be picked in the top eight hundred , My self I have no objection to any of the judges comments and I am also sure that the judges don't judge a all page . infact I my self have been a second place winner and dam proud of it .
But what I do find is that it is very difficult if you are not in the SLR class I looked at the grand finel winners photo when it was first posted, even then I new no matter how good my photo was I could not match the lens of these slr camera they are so darn clear , But that wont stop me from posting and trying to get a first place .
So judges keep judgeing .
and well done everyone in the May comp.
Pat.

6/23/2005 5:04:36 AM

 
Matthew Slyfield
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/5/2005
  Kirby,

I live in Wisconsin. There are plenty of beaches on lake Michigan as well as the many smaller lakes here. Look around, I am sure you can find a lake with a beach in your area.

Remember, beach != ocean

Matt.

6/23/2005 9:49:47 AM

 

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