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A little perspective on the challenge "Perspective: From On High"

Started Mar 27, 2010 | Discussions thread
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A little perspective on the challenge "Perspective: From On High"
Mar 27, 2010

There's a reason why art and science are separate categories of understanding. One of those reasons is that science relies on exacting measurements. Art has a lot more freedom and leeway. An artist creating an image using the best document techniques may fail to create anything more than a mediocre image. One who eschews convention might create something unique and memorable.

The "Ways of Seeing" series attempts to explore some of the many techniques in photographic art. The idea is to expose people to these techniques so they may expand their knowledge ... and to nudge the inveterate practitioners. As much as I'd like to provide complete background for - and create lessons on - these techniques, that's not really feasible. There are plenty of resources on the web that do an excellent job of picking up where I leave off in the challenge description and rules. It's up to the photographer to understand the technique and submit an appropriate image.

Science has excellent methods for determining what is acceptable; art ... not so much. When an entry is submitted, it's easy to spot the entries that fit the rules and those that ignore the rules. However, there's a gray area in between. Some will argue that the gray area should be decided upon by voters. A noble thought, but it usually leads to a gray area expanding toward the wrong end of the acceptable entries. It may also lead to misleading understanding of a given technique. So, my job is to sort the wheat from the chaff. Actually, that's too easy ... it's more like separating the men from the boys.

The "From On High" challenge is about getting an atypical perspective on a subject and suggests getting on a step ladder and not on a tall structure. That leaves a lot of wiggle room, but the key is "atypical." Is looking down off the hotel balcony really an unusual perspective for taking a photo? I don't expect to see many refreshingly creative perspectives, but I'm sure we'll see a few. What we are seeing are lots of images from tall structures. While some are excellent in their own right, they're not really keeping with the spirit of the challenge.

So where does above eye level become a tall structure? ‡

Instead of fretting over the rules, find (or take) an image that is clearly above eye level (but not too far elevated) that is shot downward and is not your typical photographic viewpoint. If you're not sure the image is acceptable, it probably isn't. Now, if your shot is disqualified, it's not because it's a bad shot (lord knows how many of those are not disqualified). Submit a more appropriate image. If you disagree, go ahead and post a rebuttal to my explanation for disqualification. I have (begrudgingly) withdrawn plenty of disqualifications. Please don't pick nits over the letter of the law in the rules ... I'm sure you have more pressing matters (like going to lively cocktail parties).

‡ If you simply must have something to get a handle on a maximum hight, I think it's fair to say anything above two flights of stairs is fair game for disqualification.

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