The Online Photographer

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wicked

I suppose my post below, "Great Photographers on the Internet," making fun of common types of internet critiques of pictures, might be a bit wicked. (I was bored this morning.) I know most people who are writing critiques on internet picture-posting sites are doing so sincerely and with good intentions. Still, I've spent enough time on such sites (please don't assume I'm talking about just one, or any particular one—there are a number of them) that the comments are really starting to drive me, well, nuts.

Constructively, now: my fear is that what these sites are encouraging is not open dialogue, but rather a consensus protocol for acceptable and unacceptable ways of talking about pictures—mostly defining, by omission, what can't be said. Consider this comment, from a reader named Max:

"One thing I believe makes a world of difference. If I knew I was looking at a master's work, I would have no doubt that that cropping that annoys me is exactly what the author intended, and that annoyment (though 'tension' would probably be what the author was thinking of) is the desired result. But combine all our educated prejudices and a lot of amateur artwork being displayed for criticism these days, we get this, the eager need to make 'corrections.' I'm just an amateur photographer, but I noticed that when I asked for critics [critiques?] online for pictures I liked a lot, when I got them I found the whole thing pointless, because I had already thought about all that was being said and I still intended the photo to look exactly as it did. May be it sounds awfully arrogant, but if you love your art as it is, don't go asking for critics [critiques] unless you have a carbon copy of yourself to do it."

Max is on to something here. The internet is in danger of becoming one great big photography club—which often act as arbiters of oppressive group standards, almost always superficial ones. We need to take artists at their word. You can certainly decide for yourself whether you are, or are not, convinced, but suggesting different equipment isn't criticism; neither is suggestions for cropping or the notion that the photographer should have moved and changed his or her standpoint a bit. It is certainly not the enforcement of lowbrow ideas of perfectionism, like touching out a wayward branch or hair or getting rid of a fold in a backdrop or a crease in a dress. Where all that leads is to pictures that are purely and perfectly dull, is all.

Pictures are either yesses or nos. Once it's a yes, then you can talk about its meaning, its qualities, its associations, its emotion. But there's just no point in talking about a different picture that might have been. What's there is there, and what isn't, isn't.

I keep thinking that I should write single-picture critiques once in a while. But then I catch myself. It sounds an awful lot like work.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

Featured Comment by Max: "The standard perception is that we are looking for critique, which in turn is usually conceived as 'style corrections.' But I'd say most of us are really looking for 'connection.' Art is about making connections with others, and style critique is a mere accessory when seen from this point of view. May be we should ask 'what do you like about my picture' rather than 'what's wrong about it.'"

Featured Comment #2 by Pat Saine: "You've described a counter-intuitive internet property that I've previously encountered. You might think that global input to the internet would 'increase' the amount of information on a subject—when in fact, it can restrict information.

"I first experienced this when teaching about using medical digital images. For example, if as a medical presenter, you can copy an image from the internet for your web presentation on, say, diabetic retinopathy. In effect, you have borrowed—as opposed to created—information. This happens often—as it is easier for most computer users to copy an image—as opposed to create a new one (for a variety of technical reasons in the case of medical imaging...) So, over time— instead of multiple images from multiple patients being available for the new student to learn from, the same images have been copied and recopied. Instead of the internet presenting a range of photographs describing the spectrum of a disease, only a small set of images become available. The end result is that our universe of knowledge is decreased.

"I believe that this same phenomena ('copy, don't create') is at the root of amateur photos that 'follow the rules.' "

Pat
www.pjsaine.com

37 Comments:

Blogger Ted Kostek said...

"I keep thinking that I should write single-picture critiques once in a while. But then I catch myself. It sounds an awful lot like work."

Don't be a tease! ;-)

Seriously, it does sound like a lot of work.

But there's no need for a hard-and-fast commitment. Call it your "Once in a while" photo critique feature.

There's lots of folks who would be interested to read these if you write them.

7:45 PM  
Blogger scotth said...

It's tough out there. I used to post photos on critique sites, but I started to get the feeling that what the people offering critiques were trying to do is make my pictures look like their pictures, or worse yet ift some universal standard.

I think it is possible to learn a lot having people critique your photos. There is a point when that becomes constraining though, and I think that is when it gets tough. That is when you have to figure out what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Other people are not going to be able to answer those questions.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew Robertson said...

"The best critique is to explain what you see."

8:27 PM  
Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

scotth said...<>"...I started to get the feeling that what the people offering critiques were trying to do is make my pictures look like their pictures, or worse yet ift some universal standard."

I used to be of the opinion that soliciting open public critiques was a productive way to get constructive appraisals of your work. After looking at more online "critiques" on public forums than I'd care to count, I'm no longer sure of that at all. The comments tend to advocate rather pedestrian, technical qualities and represent limited points of view. Not always, but often enough to negate much of the aggregate value of the solicitation.

The ability to critique photography is itself a talent. You must set your ego and prejudices aside, try to determine what the photographer's intentions were, and then go from there. It's easier to critique a body of photographs than a single image.

The best site for critique I've found is The Radiant Vista, operated by Craig Tanner (does most of the critiques), Mark Johnson and Matthew Gibson.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Adam Weston said...

Almost from the beginning of your post, it was clear your concept of a critique is quite different from mine. This was confirmed for me when I read "Once it's a yes, then you can talk about its meaning, its qualities, its associations, its emotion." Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is your definition for a critique, or perhaps its what you consider to be an ideal critique. I agree -- and probably most would -- that meaning, associations, and emotion are important parts of a great photo. (I would say that a decent photo simply needs "quality")

The problem is that there are many many people striving to acheive good quality images "yesses", and only when they are able to regularly achieve that, will they be ready to seriously address the other aspects you are more interested in. Many people (such as myself!) WANT to be given suggestions about cropping, angle, and even "lowbrow ideas of perfectionism", because we are still building an understanding of what makes a quality photo. Not that the photo posted can necessarily be changed, and many times it can't be reshot, but the knowledge will help on the next shoot. That's why there actually is a point in "talking about a different picture that might have been".

I am not a very experienced photographer, and I suspect that 97.3% of people posting to sites and soliciting critiques are in the same category with me. I hope I've helped you understand our perspective. And I hope you will reconsider and critique some photos. It's not that much work :)

And when you post photos, Why not ask specifically for emotional/conceptual feedback? A few people will talk about technical details and crops and angles, just ignore that information if it's not useful to you.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"The problem is that there are many many people striving to acheive good quality images "yesses", and only when they are able to regularly achieve that, will they be ready to seriously address the other aspects you are more interested in. Many people (such as myself!) WANT to be given suggestions about cropping, angle, and even "lowbrow ideas of perfectionism", because we are still building an understanding of what makes a quality photo."

Adam,
This is a very interesting comment and I wouldn't want to dismiss it, but read carefully what you've just written: "...there are many many people striving to acheive good quality images "yesses", and only when they are able to regularly achieve that, will they be ready to seriously address the other aspects you are more interested in."

No, no, no, no. This might actually cut to the root of why so much amateur photography is such dreadful crap--because people have this specific priority, this ordering, in mind--this idea you're expressed that FIRST you get the technical details right, THEN you worry about meaning, what you care about, what's in the picture, how the picture works, emotion, connection, etc.

That's flat backwards. You do it the other way around. START by figuring out what means something to you, what you have a connection to, what you love or hate, what turns you on (visually speaking), what you find emotion in. Then start shooting. The other stuff takes care of itself in due course.

I swear to God I'm gonna write a book about this. I've been meaning to for DECADES. I've had it all in my head for so long....

--Mike

--Mike

11:28 PM  
Blogger Adam Weston said...

I did steps in the learning process, and I may be wrong about that. However, I think the rest of my comments are still valid. The main point was that many of us need and want techical feedback, perfectionist feedback, and suggestions on angles etc.

12:03 AM  
Blogger m. said...

This is pretty common with writers' workshops, too. I think most peer criticism tends towards the mediocre. In addition to pointing out the things that obviously need improvement, people tend to point out the things that deviate most from the rules they're used to. Sometimes these are the things that bring life to the story or the picture.

Every aspiring artist needs to learn when to ignore what their peers say.

I think many people use these photo critique sites for validation and just to show their work to somebody who wants to see it. In this case the criticism doesn't really matter.

12:26 AM  
Blogger shaggy dog pix said...

Um, why would anyone go looking for someone else's opinion? I take pictures for me. Yes, I post 'em on my own blog, and, yes, it's nice if someone else likes them, but I really couldn't care less if they don't. The only time someone else's opinion should worry you is if they're paying you. Otherwise, make the photographs you like. Do you really think any of the great photographers ever did otherwise?

12:30 AM  
Blogger aizan said...

people that don't know how to critique either piss people off or lay on the frosting. in addition, they're usually awful photographers. they go hand in hand.

so please, mike, write that book!

1:07 AM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

Interesting. I have found that I welcome all criticism, if not agree with it, but I almost always dismiss cropping suggestions out of hand. They might create a new photo that most people would like better, but it wasn't the photo I saw.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Stephen Edgar said...

"I swear to God I'm gonna write a book about this"

But you have!

The chapter in "The Empirical Photographer" that deals with the question "What makes a good photograph" is (to me) is an excellent framework from which to 'critique' a photograph. Despite your advice I have made up a 'checklist' of these questions and I practice using these 'filters' on every picture I see, and really do believe it has sharpened my critical sensibilities.(Interestingly, asking the questions about my own work is quite revealing and depressing!)

I have refrained from directly quoting the series of questions, but feel that this framework deserves more widespread discussion on the blog!

2:07 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

If found this essay addresses a lot of these topics, particularly critiquing to a 'standard' instead of just letting the photo be the photo and taking it from there.
http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Pontification/ab_Why_Flickr_Is_Better/_Why_Flickr_Is_Better.html

2:56 AM  
Blogger Colin [auspiciousdragon.net] said...

Mike: you write it, I'll buy it. Even if I'm pretty sure I know what it is going to say, it would be good to have a touchstone. Something to go back to when the forces of law and order tell me one more time that I've focussed on the wrong thing.

3:36 AM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

Because of the anonymity of the internet, anyone can pose as an expert commentator. So submitting one's photographs to the public at large for critique via internet groups is largely an excercise in frustration on many levels. Many examples have been mentioned here already.

I have found it more helpful to try to develop relationships with a few photographers whose work I admire, and then seek their advice and input. Because a relationship already exists (even if only a cyber one), they are more apt to understand the nature of my work and my relative skill level, and so be able to offer advice, technical or aesthetic, that is actually helpful. I find they are also more likely to be honest in their appraisels. For my part, I am much more willing and able to take critique from someone I know and respect, as opposed to some anonymous "expert" on the internet, where everyone seems to be a "pro" photographer.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

I've also given up on the critique sites. Mainly because they are not critiques, they are technical assessments. I'm really not interested in if the odd crop here or there will make my image somehow stronger. It's my image, not yours. What's your response to it?

Besides, what you're seeing is not what I posted. I calibrate my monitor. Does the person doing the assessment? Is his/her calibration close to mine? We're looking at two different images and you're looking at the wrong one! That's ok by me as long as it's a critique and not an assessment.

7:50 AM  
Blogger free lance expert said...

That's flat backwards. You do it the other way around. START by figuring out what means something to you, what you have a connection to, what you love or hate, what turns you on (visually speaking), what you find emotion in. Then start shooting. The other stuff takes care of itself in due course.

the major obstacle for many 'beginning' photographers is their unwillingness to accept that they need to proceed past connection to some level of execution that makes the content transportable to the viewer. I, for one, am sick to death of murky images, poorly executed, that rely on maudlin titles or text to explain the image.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"The main point was that many of us need and want techical feedback, perfectionist feedback, and suggestions on angles etc."

Adam,
You're under no compulsion to take my advice either, of course. But what I'm trying to tell you is that you DON'T need these things, because they're meaningless. Let me try to demonstrate this with some hypotheticals (I hope you're not one of those people who can't do hypotheticals....)

Let's say you have a photograph of, say, a scene, and at the edges there are some leaves from a tree intruding. Now let's say you're facing an audience of viewers. Half those viewers say they are "bothered" by the intruding leaves, and want them cropped out; the other half of the audience says they love the shapes of the intruding leaves and like the way they break up the monotony of that edge of the picture.

This is exactly the aituation with cropping "advice." THERE IS NO STANDARD and thus, no correct advice. It's YOUR picture, and YOU have to decide. This is just part of being a photographer. It's in the job description.

With me so far?

"Suggestions on angles" is exactly the same thing. What the hell do viewers of the pictures know about how the scene MIGHT have looked from another angle? How do you, even? Your responsibility as a photographer is to get the shot. To get the shot, you shoot the scene from ENOUGH angles and then CHOOSE THE SHOT YOU LIKE. Also, I would argue, part of the job description. If you're vaguely dissatisfied with the angle, then you just didn't get the shot. Shoot more next time.

--Mike

11:11 AM  
Blogger John Bates said...

My wife and I just had our first child: a daughter. (Cheesy proud-dad photos here.) Like most fathers, I want to teach her to grow up strong, smart, and independent. But I do want more. I want to teach her to question authority, but with wisdom, not random rebellion. Photography has shown me a path to doing so.

Before one can break the rules, one must understand them. The rules of composition, framing, lighting, balance, and what-not are effective tools to draw the viewer's eyes, to convey meaning, and to evoke a response. The value I find in a good critique along those lines is in dissociating myself from whatever emotional baggage I bring to the picture in the first place, and in understanding how I might have used those rules to better share my baggage. It's only then that I feel that I can break those rules deliberately.

Of course, a good photograph is a good photograph, regardless of whether the photographer knows the rule of thirds or not. But understanding those rules is the difference between an accident and a purpose. In Mike's example of whether or not to crop the leaves: the decision may be subjective, but the awareness of the decision is not.

The flaw in the critique forums is that they all too often have a more rigid definition of "rule" than I do: they see rules as sacrosanct laws, while they really are just heuristics. Rules of thumb are meant to be broken.

So that's what I want to teach my daughter: if you are going to break a rule, know and understand why it is there in the first place.

Of course, the rule "Understand the rules before you break them" is itself only a heuristic. There are plenty of cases in which a fresh perspective offered by a new, "naive" artist, scientist, or engineer has revolutionized their respective field.

It's a starting point, though.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Max said...

This topic kept me thinking after my last post, and I'm honored you found something of interest in it (sorry for my english though). I kept thinking about a friend of mine who writes short stories and sometimes asks me to read them and give an opinion. And I feel I can only make style comments, which I feel aren't important or helpful most of the time, because I don't relate to his subjects.
There's a big difference to be made here, about what we are looking for when we expose our work to others. The standard perception is that we are looking for critique, which in turn is usually conceived as "style corrections". But I'd say most of us are really looking for "connection". Art is about making connections with others, and style critique is a mere accessory when seen from this point of view. May be we should ask "what do you like about my picture" rather than "what's wrong about it". What's your gut feeling about it, taken as a whole. That answer, if carefully weighted and given, is a lot more informative for us to know that we are "getting through". And lets face it, as it happens to me and the stories my friend writes, sometimes the connection doesn't happen, not everybody feels the same about everything (thank God!).
But when we don't have a feeling about the thing and we stick to make standarized technique comments the soul of it and the taste get completely muddy.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Max,
Right. In fact, the "comment" I most often think of to leave on critique sites is, "You didn't quite get it, did you?"

Of course that's not helpful at all, so I never actually leave such a comment. But very often it's the simple truth--the picture just misses, and there's an end on it.

--Mike

12:49 PM  
Blogger Carsten Bockermann said...

max said:

The standard perception is that we are looking for critique, which in turn is usually conceived as "style corrections". But I'd say most of us are really looking for "connection".

Truer words were never spoken... ;-)
I found the critiques I got on various forums quite meaningless as they focused, as max said, on style. Some liked my style, some didn't, and some 'experts' even compared it to some established photographer's style. Never ever have I received a single comment about my subject or about the content of my pics. All in all, this experience renders the respective forums quite useless for me.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Andy Smith said...

Great timing for me; I had just literally started looking at a well-travelled critique site in the past few days, and was already pulling off my two photos I submitted before reading this article.

My photos didn't include people, but what amazes me is how many "critics" will comment on how the photographer "shouldn't have let part of a person be cropped off," or some other similar comment. According to most internet critics, if the entire person can't be in a photo, apparently they shouldn't be in the photo at all! ;)

Andy

1:35 PM  
Blogger Scott Kirkpatrick said...

Mike, although this series of posts is mostly about the foibles of critique sites, and the foolishness of asking for a critique without being able to say what the picture's objectives are, it also is marginalizing the interesting question that you were addressing through Zen counterexamples a week or so ago, "what is art, anyway..."

Ben Lifson recently cleared his throat to take a position on what seems to be the Other Side of this question, in
http://www.openphotographyforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=425

He wraps up by saying, "there is such a thing, and it is not in the eyes of the beholder."

How do we get the two of you to discuss or debate this with some common examples on the table? You each appreciate many of the same things, but apparently for rather different reasons.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Gilps said...

I took the shot.

You didn’t

I was there

You weren’t

I know what I was trying to say

You haven’t a clue

I don’t care about the lens used, camera system, storage method, etc etc

You obviously do

What I think I am trying to say is that these are the reasons I don’t post anymore, I found I really didn’t care what anyone else thought, If I new I liked the shot then that was that! You are your own best critique, I am still amazed at my ability to shoot absolute rubbish, the compulsion to release the shutter is very strong.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Thomas Passin said...

I agree with much that has been said by MJ and others about working with the picture that is, rather than the one that might have been.

I find it helpful to speak to "what works (for me) and what doesn't" rather than waht is good or bad, right or wrong.

At the same time, there are a lot of people who want to improve what they are doing - which often means that they start to see things in a way they never had before. For these people, it can be eye-opening to be led through different crops, histogram adjustments, whatever.

But that all happens best in person, not in a quck comment on a web site.

Even better can be for them to compare their pictures of the same scene with yours, especially if you can spend some time with them discussing, well, what works and what doesn't in the two pictures.

My father was an excellent B&W photographer. He told me that he changed from being an OK photographer to a good one by going with a professional friend of his on a shoot - it took, I think, two weeks.

His friend did nothing in the way of instruction but say "stand next to me and look where I look". By the end, Dad said that somehow he did see things differently, and that's when he found that he had changed into a really good photographer.

4:47 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

The Featured Comment by Max is spot on. I know that this is certainly (I now realize) what I am looking for when I post art.

4:51 PM  
Blogger S Bowen said...

I post photos on a so-called 'critique site' but I do so because they are readily available for friends, family and myself. Occasionally, I receive critiques such as, "You should have cloned out that branch..."

I agree with others here who declare that the photographer's vision is ultimately a personal thing that either connects with others or does not.

As for the cropping dilemma, it should be noted that many great early photographers refused to crop their photos--what they saw is what you get. I tend to agree. For a few years, I shot exclusively with a Leica rangefinder and 38mm lens. It taught me to see, to compose carefully, to find the 'magic,' to seek out the moment when the inner voice says, "Now."

My struggle these days is to portray in my photos that 'magic' I saw and felt at the moment the image was recorded. In my old darkroom days, it was almost annoying at times to try to bring to life what I had felt when looking through the viewfinder, because THAT was the most meaningul thing to me, a moment which could never be shared no matter how well the chrome or print looked. Nowadays, the struggle is through software.

Ultimately, photography is a very personal thing. Simple snapshots of family members can hold tremendous meaning, as much or more than a perfectly wrought artistic print which summons forth the 'magic.' And that is where no critic can go.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Only one more little thing that I think arises from this thread: If we take the online critic role, we shouldn't comment on pictures we don't have strong feelings for. It's the only way we can do the author a service, I believe.

8:31 PM  
Blogger David said...

Mike

I think I follow most of what you have said on this thread. I'm not sure, though, that I entirely follow this:

"Half those viewers say they are "bothered" by the intruding leaves, and want them cropped out; the other half of the audience says they love the shapes of the intruding leaves and like the way they break up the monotony of that edge of the picture.

This is exactly the aituation with cropping "advice." THERE IS NO STANDARD and thus, no correct advice. It's YOUR picture, and YOU have to decide. This is just part of being a photographer. It's in the job description...THERE IS NO STANDARD and thus, no correct advice. It's YOUR picture, and YOU have to decide."

OK, but what if an audience of respected photographers said I think the emotional message of your (my) photograph would be stronger if you cropped the leaves on the edges out. I KNOW it's my photo, but I want to know if the message is being conveyed as strongly as it might. Can I not learn from someone (not "anyone" on the net) who has the experience to understand what creates a stronger message. Maybe, even though I thought the color of the leaves at the edges enhanced the message, in fact, it overly complicated the image by drawing attention away from the main message.

Are you saying that I can't become more adept at understanding how my image might be stonger by understanding how elmeents that I initially thought added to it are actually detracting? Are you saying that this criticism now makes the photo the critic's photo, not mine and thus I cannot learn from that? I must admit that I don't follow that.

I admit I must be missing your point here, but can you help me out?

Thanks,
David

10:07 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

David,
I'm saying you decide how to crop your own pictures. How do you decide? By doing it. Crop it one way, two ways, three ways, four ways. However many ways you can think of. Then put them up on your screen next to each other, look at them, and decide. What do audiences know? Audiences don't know anything. You decide.

You'll learn a lot more by making your own decisions.

--Mike

10:48 PM  
Blogger canfraggle said...

I will tell a lame story here. Please bear with me. I was in my first college art/photography class and was getting critiqued by a bunch of classmates and two professors, all of whom were art, art semiotics, visual art majors/masters etc whereas I was the black sheep economics major.

I had eight prints of self portraits relating to the topic of "Public Sspaces" and I just slapped them up on the wall in a square pattern. The first thing the professor asked was "why did you arrange it as a square?". I just sort of shrugged. I never considered the issue. She looked a bit pissed off after that.

In retrospect, I am grateful for that comment. Sometimes photography can be "too easy" in that it's not a massive effort to get something to look at, but to create someting great you have to stop and consider every aspect, minutiae included.

Some people prefer comments that are more to do with concepts rather than technicalities. This ties in with a previous post Mike regarding whether art needs to be "beautiful or not". It implies the question "With photography, are you an artist or a craftsman?" and that in turn raises the implication that to be an artist you must create ugly but somehow meaningful things whereas to be a craftsmen you have to create beautiful but souless things.

Sorry, that was a bit off track. Anyway, in summary: I believe a critique, as a learning exercise, should not just be a trawl for comments but also a situation where you have to stand up for your creation and if not justify it, at the very least explain it.

And now I'm wondering what the hell I just wrote.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Victor said...

For my own work, either love or hate, ambivalence upsets me as it defines failure of the picture to communicate.

For a new or experienced photographer, if a cropping or angle suggestion was not seen when you were taking the picture then you are not working hard enough. Learn your lenses and your camera so you are as familiar with them as your own eyes. If you have a zoom, set it to one position and do not change it until you can see the same way with your eyes. The same for cropping, keep looking until your frame is telling the story you want to tell.

How will you know the true critiques, watch the faces of the people who look at you pictures, the expressions will tell you all you need to know!

2:26 AM  
Blogger Tony Rowlett said...

From the very beginning, photography critique got off on the wrong foot. The reason I suspect this is that the photos of mine that receive the highest praise started out as mere accidents.

11:00 AM  
Blogger PJ Saine said...

Mike -

You've described a counter-intuitive internet property that I've previously encountered. You might think that global input to the internet would 'increase' the amount of information on a subject - when in fact, it can restrict information.

I first experienced this when teaching about using medical digital images. For example, if as a medical presenter, you can copy an image from the internet for your web presentation on, say, diabetic retinopathy. In effect, you have borrowed - as opposed to created - information. This happens often - as it is easier for most computer users to copy an image - as opposed to create a new one (for a variety of technical reasons in the case of medical imaging...) So, over time - instead of multiple images from multiple patients being available for the new student to learn from, the same images have been copied and recopied. Instead of the internet presenting a range of photographs describing the spectrum of a disease, only a small set of images become available. The end result is that our universe of knowledge is decreased.

I believe that this same phenomena ("copy, don't create") is at the root of amateur photos that 'follow the rules'.

Pat
www.pjsaine.com

12:07 PM  
Blogger DonovanCO said...

About 14 years ago I attended a photography seminar in Telluride, CO taught by True Redd. His advise was outstanding: know the standard rules of composition and then immediately break them. Put that horizon line way at the top of the frame; put it way at the bottom of the frame; let that shadow line dive right down to the corner of the picture; etc, etc. He also stressed watching the edges of the frame for distracting twigs, leafs, etc, and most of all: use the lines of the subject to create a strong image (shadow lines, building lines, mountain ridge lines, whatever).

He would like Sam Abel's photo of the nose of boat in the center of the frame, I think.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Arie Friedman said...

I just got to read these posts after spending the weekend processing a batch of my own photos. The sad part of this for me is that these types of critques come from inside my own head. I have never posted a photo for comments, but I have managed to completely ruin good (i.e. ones that I like) photographs by "adjusting" them out of existence. Crop just a bit here, apply the rule of thirds there, sharpen, adjust the curve so its perfect...

Often when I go back to look at my pictures, the best image is the one I took FIRST and messed with the LEAST. The next 50-60 on the memory card are my failed attempts to listen to my own internal internet know-nothing.

12:19 PM  

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