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Platitudes or Progress
Posted By: jfdavis58, 12-06-2006, 10:50 PM

There isn't a specific topic area for this question, but it pertains almost exclusively to this material: Photos.

Well, I'll live dangerously: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Are we at a crossroads?

Frankly folks, when I want gushing praise, unbridled admiration and the good old "atta boy" type comments, I go visit my mom. It doesn't matter what photo I show her, it's heaven sent. I'm her greatest and ... Well you get the picture.

From most everyone else (family) I get the typical, "that's nice". All except Beth. She tells me what she "sees" in total confidence that failing to do so will cause her much more discomfort. I'll yell, or ask if she is blind, or being stupidly funny.

And I join groups like this forum because strangers cannot hear when I yell and frankly shouldn't care. They cannot see me pacing the floor or brooding in the corner and it wouldn't matter anyway. After a while they know that my mood is darkest when I think I'm being mislead.

You see, I value honesty above fine metal or jewels. And honest friends are the only ones I truly care to have.

I'm very hard on my own photography; ninety to ninety five percent of it never leaves my desktop--it's never shown. And four of the remaining five percent can probably be improved.

At the very least we should be honest enough to say that the color is off or in the wrong space, the subject is not sharp or the presentation has one form or another of defect or artifact. Not every photo is outstanding, wonderful, beautiful or well executed, but if we label each with these descriptions then you eliminate at least one reason for me to visit my mom.

So I put it to you for consideration: Platitudes or Progress?
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12-07-2006, 01:34 PM   #16
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Okay, why not join the fray?

I like getting feedback on my photos, so long as it's constructive. Saying "What an awful photo" isn't helpful. Nor is saying "What a wonderful photo".

Everyone is qualified to critique a photo! Who cares if you haven't even bought a camera yet? If you're planning to get a camera, you must've looked at photographs, so you must have some idea of what works for you. It's good practice to think about what it might be, and explain it.

Here's an exercise - next time you look at a posted photo, write down one thing that you like about it, and one thing that you think could be better. Doesn't matter if you post it, this is just to force you to articulate what it is that you like. I bet you find that you notice the same things that people comment on who do post comments!

I'm not hoping for extensive comments from everyone (we all have lives, right? Right?? ) but something more than "nice" or "icky" would help. Like "Nice, I like the way the light emphasizes the subject" or "Nice, but maybe it would look better from a slightly higher pov". I try (and probably fail miserably) to include some sort of comment about what I like or don't like, particularly if it seems like the poster is asking.

Several of you have suggested explicitly asking for critique, or having a critique forum, this may be a good idea. In the meantime, anything I post, slash away... nicely! I won't learn anything otherwise.

Julie

12-07-2006, 04:10 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
Okay, why not join the fray?

Everyone is qualified to critique a photo! Who cares if you haven't even bought a camera yet? If you're planning to get a camera, you must've looked at photographs, so you must have some idea of what works for you. It's good practice to think about what it might be, and explain it.

Here's an exercise - next time you look at a posted photo, write down one thing that you like about it, and one thing that you think could be better. Doesn't matter if you post it, this is just to force you to articulate what it is that you like. I bet you find that you notice the same things that people comment on who do post comments!

Julie

Absolutely right. Everyone is qualified to critique photos, and I think that it is always helpful to point out something that you liked and something that you dislike about it. (if you could move along now to my photos, I'd be very grateful!)

Duncan.
12-07-2006, 04:59 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by clarenceclose Quote

Whenever someone posts a photo, they should get some feedback, even if it is neutral. A post with no comment is like getting the silent treatment from a spouse.
[snip]
Have people put a C&C, CR, CR Harsh on their threads if that is what they want.
[snip]
I agree with this..

No response to posted images can be discouraging, but a full blown analysis of the 584 faults that you managed to include in your favourite masterpiece can be devastating.
Using some recognised key such as 'C&C', 'CR' or 'CR harsh' at least allows posters some means of requesting a level of criticism that they (think) they can handle.

BTW what does 'C&C' indicate?

dave
12-07-2006, 05:57 PM   #19
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Comment and critique.

12-07-2006, 06:26 PM   #20
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You don't have to worry about me, man. I may be the most critical person you will ever know - show me a photo and I'll go to town!

;-)

The choice of what to include in your frame and what *not* to include in your frame is maybe the most basic and important question of any photographer's work. If you don't wish to hear criticism on that particular aspect, my opinion is that you are making a big mistake and could be missing out on the very feedback you so desire to help you grow in your art. Naturally, delcaring all nature photography as meaningless animal porn does no one any good, but if you are shooting people and your subjects are limited to family, encouragement to find new models or shoot in a wider circle of friends may be just what you need.

Posts along the lines of "I hate pictures of flowers" etc. are useless, maybe that's what you meant by not wanting critique of your subject matter?

Matt

QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
E,
I understand where you are coming from. My question is how do I entice you and the other experienced people on this site to let loose on my photos? I'm very new at this and want to learn. I live in a rural area with little available in the way of classes and rely on the net for my info. I want and crave criticing on everything from composition, framing, and pp.
The chosen subject is a different matter. You may not like my topic but am hoping you can tell me how to make it look better. How about putting something like "CR harsh" in the header? Would that get you to tear into my work?
Regards,
Ken
12-07-2006, 07:10 PM   #21
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Hi Julie. As a (likely) well known over commenter (at least on the DPR Pentax Challenge threads), I guess I'll join in too, mostly echoing your thoughts.

QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
Here's an exercise - next time you look at a posted photo, write down one thing that you like about it, and one thing that you think could be better. Doesn't matter if you post it, this is just to force you to articulate what it is that you like. I bet you find that you notice the same things that people comment on who do post comments!

I'm not hoping for extensive comments from everyone (we all have lives, right? Right?? )
I like to think I offer at least "1-liners" when I comment at all. Someone call me on if I don't. Anyway this is very good advice. The biggest thing limiting my commentary is the time it takes... It's hard and time consuming if you really put the mental energy into this process that it deserves.

QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
Several of you have suggested explicitly asking for critique, or having a critique forum, this may be a good idea.
A specific 'critique wanted' sub area is a great idea IMO. But again, the time consideration would limit how much I would particpate. Regardless, it's high risk giving criticism where no was asked for. Some of my efforts on DPR have met with a resounding thud and I think I'm careful to be constructive in expressing my opinions.

QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
In the meantime, anything I post, slash away... nicely! I won't learn anything otherwise.
Oooo... I know where you live on pbase. Better watch out what you ask for.
12-07-2006, 07:18 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Constructive criticism is always a good thing. But...

The thing I dislike the most is the so-called "rules of photography" which are the essential critieria for a lot of so called experts or pro critics. Like rules of horizon to be at 2/3 sky and 1/3 ground or ocean in a photo, composition of foreground, subject and background, or subject never being in the middle etc. I think whatever works will be fine - if the technique does not work out, people can express opinions. I hate to hear stuff like re-iteration from a standard photography technique book, regurgitated just for the sake of criticism - that is what most photo critic fora suffered (constant whining without tips or improvement) ...
Hi roentarre. You have a semi-valid point about the "rules". But please be open minded if / when you get input like "I think this would be more dynamic with the horizon off center". The "rules" can and should be broken. But often times, following the "rules" (at least loosely) makes for a stronger image. So I agree 'regurgitating' the rules just for the sake of criticism has no merit. But 'regurgitating' them to improve the image (at least in the opinion of the reviewer) absolutely has merit.

-Mark
12-07-2006, 07:34 PM   #23
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Posts along the lines of "I hate pictures of flowers" etc. are useless, maybe that's what you meant by not wanting critique of your subject matter?

Matt[/QUOTE]

Hi Matt,
That is exactly what I meant. I've started a project on trying to document the lobster industry in Maine. You may find the subject boring, dull, or just plane dumb, but it's what I have chosen to shoot. I'm hoping that some people will be kind enough to lend their experience in helping me reach my goal regardless of what they think of the project. Ideas on how to compose, what to include or cut out are all very important and the greater range of ideas I get the better off I will be.
Most of the photos on my site, Ken Regier's Photo Galleries at pbase.com need to be re shot because they are not good. I will be doing that over time and hope to pick up some tips on better ways of capturing this unique and colorful life style.

Please take a look and let me have your ideas by this forum or email.

Thanks,
Ken

12-08-2006, 08:03 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by SWEngineer Quote
It's hard and time consuming if you really put the mental energy into this process that it deserves.
I agree with that - it's hard to put into words the very visceral "I like!" or "What's the point?" reaction. You do pretty good one-liners, though.

QuoteQuote:
Oooo... I know where you live on pbase. Better watch out what you ask for.
Uh-oh! I'm in for it now. Me and my big mouth.

Julie
12-08-2006, 11:12 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by vievetrick Quote
Jeff this is a good point. I have over about a year and a half or so been playing around in about three different forums. DPR was one of my favorites as far as a Pentax info forum (until now). The next was Popphoto forums, this site particularly liked for the reason you talked about. You can usually get alot of feed back both good and bad. At first I did not post any pictures after seeing some amazing work buy people I believed light years ahead of me and my little *istds. Then I thought about it. Hey, these people could not have always been this good they all started somewhere. So I started posting shots. I felt there I did get the good, bad and ugly comments. That is what I wanted. Now that I type I think more then once I have included in my posts something that I was looking for was ", good bad or ugly comments welcomed". I think for the most part people post shots that they think are great and want to hear that. I know I do. Unless of course I am trying to learn something new. Meaning I post a crappy picture and say how could I make this better or what did I do worng. Or what should I have done. As far as responding am guilty as charged in usually only giving the attaboys. However, lately I feel I have learned enough hanging around forums, reading countless articles about this and that, that have been giving my two cents about what I don't think work in a shot. But I try and include that it is my opion and we all know that opinons are like.... well you know we all have one . Like said before how will we learn if everyone says hey your stuff is great, when if is more then likely okay. I am buy no means an expert but I think we are all looking for the same thing, to get better at our photography. I also agree that constructive criticism is one thing being mean is another. While I am on a roll realistically isn't it all subjective? I think a picture of a can of Cambell's soup is and advertisement for soup, Andy puts a bunch of them together and it is art. My point? who knows, but I know it takes a little courage to post your images on these sites to be viewed by hundreds if not thousands of people. When you do so you should expect some feed back, GOOD BAD or UGLY.
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