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discussion of wanting critique

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by KillRamsey, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I keep posting pics here and there and nobody notices. Or they do, and my pictures suck. Either way, it's begun to be less fun. -grumpy shrug-
     
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  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I may not see all your photos Kyle, but I consider myself a "fan" of your photos. Don't let the number of comments or pats on the back define how much fun you have with your photography.
     
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  3. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I continue to shoot a ridiculous number of pictures on a regular basis. That 5 week trip alone was 3300 exposures, and I've got another 200-300 since I got back. I just don't get much feedback here on actual images, and that's the only reason I'd bother to post them here, to be honest. I ain't doin' it for anyone else, it's for me, and if I don't get anything back from it, it becomes less compelling. To this day, I have very little idea what I'm good at or bad at, what pictures of mine move other people (to any degree)... I'm pretty bad at judging that stuff. The feedback is incredibly helpful.

    And so forth.
     
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  4. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    If you want constructive criticism ask for it. Post a shot and point out what you think it lacking or what you are not sure works, or whatever. It's tough to expect people to invest time in critiquing a photo if they are not sure that your main intent is just to share an image or to get that feedback.
     
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  5. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Bob
    I understand you are not looking for a critique but some notice that they have been seen
     
  6. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    kyle there is a photo critique forum on the site which I set up in the old days when I was a mod. Perhaps you could try posting a few selected images there and see if you get some feedback.
     
  7. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    I used to post a number of photographs to this site, however that has become less meaningful to me since joining my local photography club, and in recent weeks has all but ceased. I don't believe that sites such as this will encourage people to critique photographs in a meaningful and honest way. People feel uncomfortable about pointing out what they perceive to be shortcomings in others work and don't want to be the first to put their head above the parapet.

    Even within our photography club with say 20-30 members present there is still some reluctance about critique being offered, although our club chairman and a trained judge will critique all entries for print or dpi competitions. His comments are constructive and can generate discussion amongst the club members and of course the photographer concerned can seek immediate clarification of comments made.

    Last night we were visited by a photography group consisting of just 8 members, 3 of whom were present on the night. They showed prints from all 8 members, all obviously talented photographers who have very different styles. The group has been going for over 30 years and has always limited itself to 8 members, new ones being recruited as others move on, as the elderly founder member present put it, "to that dark room in the sky". They meet at one anothers houses and do offer critique of one anothers work, critique that if they are to be believed can be quite honest, which obviously doesn't continually consist of remarks such as "that's great" and the like which are, lets face it, fairly meaningless at the end of the day. Why does the responder think it's great? Is it because it's as simple as being in the same genre that the responder follows, is it the composition, the post processing work or a host of other reasons.

    The other factor is of course that the 8 members are seeing high resolution print images, not low resolution downsized images with all the lack of finesse that a web image possess.

    Above all they are friends, some of long standing, which means that with that knowledge and security, they can be truely honest with one another. That is much more difficult under the circumstances of a site like this, long range criticism from a "virtual friend" can be easily taken the wrong way.

    The bottom line is that friends who have a firm face to face friendship are in a position to have genuine discussions about one anothers work in an honest way that won't be misinterpreted or can at least be easily defended and discussed without the imposition of the web.

    Barrie

    PS, the elderly founder member told us that he has now got rid of his heavy camera kit and is making excellent A3 prints with a compact pocketable camera (could that be classified as a "serious compact"). Don't ask what camera, camera kit is hardly ever mentioned during our club meets, the image rules the evening.
     
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  8. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Hmm... Must look into this. I have an idea...
     
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  9. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    I agree completely. If we want "real" conversation about a photo I think we need a sub-forum that clearly spells out the intent to offer criticism, and I think we maybe need the ability to post photos anonymously. So Luke is not criticizing my photo, just A photo.
     
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  10. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    This got me thinking; you're undoubtedly right about the web imposing certain restrictions (or in some cases, allowing for nastiness and rudeness *cough* dpr forum *cough*), but I'm sure that some improvement could be made if we put some effort into creating the right kind of atmosphere.

    Hence my suggestion for a photo critique contest:
    https://www.photographerslounge.org/showthread.php?t=31659
     
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  11. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    As for THIS site and photo critiques, I feel like people here are so well policed, both by themselves and the mods, that the chances of weapons-grade snark are all but nill. I know what most of you are good at, what aspects of your whole process ("Look at that over there" all the way through processing) I admire / don't admire, and I'm excited by the possibilities of having feedback come from you. I'll get to work.
     
  12. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    The hardest part for me is not knowing what the hell I'm talking about. KillRamsey posted a bunch of shots yesterday. One, a selfie under a lit up "LOVE" sign really struck me as a wonderful shot. But I'll be damned if I could find a good way to express why I thought it was so good. He also posted 4 or 5 other shots, which I thought were all fine, but not so compelling. But again, other than saying that they just didn't grab me I don't know how to describe them or offer ways to improve them.

    I see folks elsewhere constantly critique photos because the horizon is not straight or a limb got cropped off. Yeah, I get it, the basics are important, but that sort of "critique" is not so interesting to me. I want to learn how to capture a compelling shot vs a typically mundane one. Maybe asking too much, I know. :smile:
     
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  13. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Very, very well put. Learning how to express WHY I like a shot (or don't, nicely), is probably a big step in learning what it is that I actually like in the first place, which might lead to being able to recreate it more easily instead of stumbling into it by accident. Beyond learning more about the skill of shooting, I need to work on the skill of critique, because one leads to the other.
     
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  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    With apologies to Paul (I'll post another photo to pay the price for the yappin' I'm about to do), I feel pretty limited in my ability to critique also. I'm like the Supreme Court ruling on obscenity way back when, "I can't define it for you in advance, but I know it when I see it". Generally any critique I'd offer is gonna fall into either lack of content (or interesting content) or composition. On rare occasion, when a composition is pretty good but could be better, I might have an actual concrete suggestion for how to improve it. But often I've got nothing to offer that would be useful. And, often enough, if there's nothing there, all I could say is "there's nothing there" and I can't really comment much more constructively on how to make it better. I like the idea of a critique forum more than the reality of them. I like Paul's idea better - just post stuff and if someone is compelled to comment on it, positively or negatively, go for it. But trying to take on the task of helping someone else get better is beyond me - I have a hard enough time trying to critique my own stuff and making IT better...

    OK, this is one of my favorite recent images, from a couple of months ago...

    14551712857_d9e59c95dd_h. Last Night Sunset-15-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    -Ray
     
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  15. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Not Critique but I want to know how certain things are done

    I'll start a thread shortly
     
  16. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    That sucks Ray. :wink:

    I'm still waiting to hear how you coax those blues out of the Jersey Shore Atlantic. Post-processing magic or are you just adept at making the sun and clouds work for you?

    It is a very good shot imo. Somehow I think that little foamy edge in the foreground pushes it up a notch, as the does the balance between sky and clouds and breakers and flat ocean. It is easy to take a "nice" shot of the ocean basically like this, much harder to make it stand out. Well done.
     
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  17. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I can tell you that I like this a lot, that it's the sort of shot I sometimes try to take, and never capture this well. As for why, I would say:

    1. It's got a nice centering / framing component to it, mostly from the curve of the waves and the mostly-centered could formations. There's a line that goes diagonally up and left, starting with that little flat water protrusion, then up left through the cresting waves, the part in the clouds, and there we find...
    2. The action, in the form of a bird, who is perfectly framed by that almost-break in the clouds. It's clear soon enough what we should be looking at, what the "point" was other than just a nice scene.
    3. The tones and processing are tasteful, not intrusive, and serve to add depth and interest to the 95% of the shot that isn't water and sky. It's very cool and blue, looks like a semi-chilly evening on a beach, which is great.
    4. And finally, the horizon is straight. I don't think of myself as a stickler, but I'm realizing lately that I very much am. If it's off, it bugs me. It's one of those things that cannot Make a photo in any way, it only has the power to Ruin a photo.
     
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  18. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Ray - Last night sunset

    Only thing that bugs me is the frame - rounded corners thin black thin white
    its a classy shot but the frame isn't - mostly because of the corners (IMO of course)
     
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Well, thanks all, but I wasn't LOOKING for critiques (or compliments) - I just included the image because this was originally in a different thread that was supposed to be about posting images. So I did in deference to Paul, the OP.

    Kyle, I appreciate the detail you went into in breaking down why it works for you. I honestly couldn't have done that other than the bird and the little arc of the foam in the foreground, which were both about 95% luck. I was aware of them enough to take 5% credit, but that the timing ended up working this well was just lucky. I just don't tend to think in a way that breaking down details of an image naturally happen in my head. I just know what I like and what I don't, but rarely know exactly why. I've seen images I found breath-takingly good that I couldn't point to a single detail or element of to explain why.

    Dean, I process everything and I'm sure I pulled a bit out of the color, but I don't recall manipulating the color - just the amount of detail and "pop" in the clouds, which weren't as pronounced initially. It was just that perfect time of day where the sunset just starting behind me gave the sky to the east that perfect "glow" and accentuates colors you usually don't see. In the sky and the green/blue sea.

    ReD, thank for the input. I use that general type of framing for pretty much everything I keep. I certainly get why some don't prefer it (which is true of other parts of my processing as well), but I do, unless I'm printing and framing something, in which case I often lose the border. For some reason, I just like having a border to define the edges and I've just gotten comfortable with that little rounded corner...

    -Ray
     
  20. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Just getting back to generalities here and how it can work I'd like to express four opinions, and make one point.

    1. Anyone can be a critic, there is no bar exam or certification, but it takes a certain frame of mind to critique constructively. Consider for a moment the words of Anton Ego, the restaurant critic in the film Ratatouille:

    In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.

    If you don't get what I am getting at here, please read it again until you do.

    2. Critiques work best if you "play the ball not the man" - in other words, if you are being critical, ensure that you are criticising the image as presented and not the photographer. This may sound really basic, but it is a very easy trap to fall into. Consider the phrase "What were you thinking of when you took this photo?" - ten innocent words that could be taken in at least two different ways. If you are going to critique, please read your words back to yourself before you press the post button. You may not mean to sound mean, but your meaning may be misconstrued.

    3. The value of a critique is reduced by preconceptions and prejudices. Case in point; I detest 99.9% of all HDR images I have ever seen. The 1% I do not detest, I probably do not recognise as HDR. That is a prejudice, and it is mine. If I pisssed on every HDR image that was offered up for critique I would not be offering anything constructive to the photographer, and I would be impoverishing myself.

    4. It's unhelpful to fall into the two most common traps - being too nice, and being too nice to say anything at all. In the first, you are simply condoning - and encouraging - mediocrity, thereby reducing the quality of images commented upon and giving false hope to a photographer for whom a guiding word would be a blessing. Saying an image is "great" when it is not, is a form of cruelty, in my opinion, because that photographer will have a harder fall in the future as a result. In the second, you are doing something nearly as bad - you feel you should comment, but are concerned that your words will come across as harsh and overly critical. This is the critical equivalent of not speaking up when you should, and is to be avoided.

    Those are my opinions your mileage may and probably does vary. The point I would like to make is this. You should have understood from the foregoing that I hold the view that you don't need to be experienced for your opinions and insights to be valuable as a critic, and you shouldn't need a thick skin to seek and to receive critical input. We can all learn, and where better than amongst friends? As a member, I will happily offer up images for criticism, and will expect others to do the same. As a moderator, I will put my boot on the throat of anyone who approaches this in the wrong spirit, and either offers destructive comment or bridles inappropriately at honest comment delivered with good intent.

    Am I clear?
     
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