Random Photos and Thoughts. Adventures in life as a Amateur Photographer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's It Takes

After a Long dry spell, I am back.

Yesterday, I dropped by one of my favorite wineries. One of the managers of the Tasting Room/Sales Office was busy putting up photos entered in their annual show.

This show is a big deal locally with very nice prizes. It draws both Profession, and the Semi-professional, as well as the Amateur Shutterbugs, like me. [Well selling one photo 40+ years ago doesn't not make a professional, nor selling a hand full of posters. I doubt earning a honorable Mention in the "professional" Category in a local county fair makes one a true profession, either.]

So I wandered around looking at the photos as Richard put them up trying to achieve what was the best look for the over all show. While waiting for my wine order to be processed. [I belong to their wine club. Nice deal 30 busks a month for a red and white selection. This month's red selections was an excellent Fog Head - Pinot Noir, from the coast. Maybe we will try out the Chardonnay selection soon.]

Richard noticed I walked through the exhibit and how took the time to look at the different images. Richard broke down to ask me what I thought. Talk about the can of worms being opened.

Over the next 20 minutes, I spent talking about the different photos, and what was wrong and right about them. I pointed out how the judge's bias showed, and my own humble opinion of the judges picks was not exactly flattering. I pointed out several other images which were far better executed and edited correctly, the n the ones the judge had selected.

This judge picked Birds, Pets and Children in the the standard "Cute" poses. Two the Bird in the wild which were his picks, were excellent and would have made my cut. The two children poses, and the two pet shots wouldn't have made it as winners either, had I been the Judge. One of the images which wasn't a winner, was last years Best of Show, in the division I took a second place. It was actually better than my own image, and that judge did a proper selection.

Which picture would I have picked out of the lot for the best of Show? It would have been either A great shot of El Capitan, from the floor of Yosemite Valley, Winter time Snow covered with the face of the towering cliff, reflecting the light of a Brilliant Red Sunset, and the cliff's image in turn reflected onto a large pool of still, cold waters of the Merced River or an Image of a Highly polished brass trumpet in the foreground with a alpine meadow filled with flowers and surrounded by different shades of evergreen trees.

Richard thought that it might have been photo-shopped. I examined the photo very closely, in the reflected surface of the trumpet's horn, I spied an image of the Photographer, his camera, and the deck of the building and the image of everything else which was behind the photographer. I could see more mountains and evergreen covered slopes which matched with some of the background in the image. Verdict: Excellent image.

I would have been hard put, to pick which was the better image. I think the better of the images was the Trumpet.

So, what makes a photo work in a show and what doesn't work. Well you have to get the judge to notice your shot. It has to contain color or motion which says 'look at me' and it has to continue to draw the attention of the judge/viewer back into the photo. It must be well composed. If it is color the colors must be clear and the edges have to be well defined and not muddy.

What did this judge pick as best of show and Why Didn't I like it?

I'll try to explain:
Picture a Newsweek worthy cover photo. Three firefighters at the edge of Blazing Inferno. Just enough smoke to give the feeling of the size and the foreground has a roaring Mass of Flames. The Focus of the image the Fire, itself. The two fire fighters are knelling or squatting down and have their attention focused on the fire, working with a hose and stream of water, trying to knock down the Fire. Some far, so good. Everyone and everything is busy looking, working, or leading to the same thing, the focus of the image. The third fire fighter who is standing in the image, isn't paying any attention to the Fire or the other two fire fighters and seems to be looking in an other direction at something outside the photograph. The third Fireman breaks the image's focus, and because he is standing, is really the dominate leading figure.

Two firefighters pointing at the focus and the one standing looking away at something out of the frame. This is a common defect of leading a persons attention out of the image, it usually doesn't work paintings and images and in this photo is just more proof of the rule of thumb.

I wish I had access to the images for this blog, but don't. I hope My descriptions work for you. Next time you go to a show or photo exhibit, look at the images and see if you can see bias in how the their were judged. Good judges try very hard to put away their bias. Bad judges allow they to color his choices. Look at the winning images, are they technically correct. Are they interesting. Are they 'standard shots" which are common? Do they contain enough elements of being unique to make you want to look at them a second time.

For those interesting in viewing the Photo show can find direction here:

It was one of the better images as was a very striking image of El Capitan, in Yosemite, all touched with a Brilliant Red Sunset in the winter.

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