Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to artistguy, 11 months ago

artistguy wrote:

This is a gear forum, you're bound to get views based on technical understanding (or lack of it)

I have learned a lot here about improving my composition and subject matter etc. both from direct feedback to my photos and the feedback that many others have received from the photos they posted.

try them in the Landscapes forum

I did post a number of photos in the Landscape forum but my active participation in this forum has allowed me to come much more familiar with the people who give me feedback.

where you'll also get views on technique, composition etc, but you'll also get the apreciation of them as art measured against similar images.

I believe, and it is my experience, that many of the participants in this forum know about those things, as well. And they are willing to share their knowledge.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to maoyama, 11 months ago

maoyama wrote:

I noticed that when taking "people" photos, the general public is overall much less concerned with sharpness and maybe even exposure/lighting than simply capturing a special moment.

Thanks for that insight. The majority of my work is landscape and nature photography. I think the technical issues play a more important role in that specific type of photography. When photographing family events I am much more liberal about what constitutes a keeper.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My opinion
In reply to windriver, 11 months ago

windriver wrote:

I don't care for the first photo. To me, it doesn't "say" anything. I have trouble finding a central point of interest in it.

Thanks very much for that. This is exactly the type of thing I want to discuss in this thread. You are not the first or second photographer to give me that same feedback on that specific photo. Yet, it didn't seem to bother the multiple people who singled that photo out as one of their favorites from my Winter Wonderful Land Flickr Slideshow (16 photos).

The second photo is nice - good light and interesting aspect ratio.

Prior to following a helpful suggestion I received here to change the aspect ratio from the original 16:9, the critique I received on the photo was that it lacked a subject.

The third photo is really good. I would consider cropping the right tree trunk out to draw more interest to the barn; I think that would make a nice print.

Again, this is not the first time someone suggested cropping the right side of that photo. Please elaborate. I wanted to keep the silo in the photo. If I follow your suggestion (as I currently understand it) I will not only cut out the silo but part of the barn. Since the barn is the subject why do you think that cutting part of it out will draw more interest to it?

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NewGirlLiz
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My take on this
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

Out of these three photographs, I like the first one best. It is the one that most appeals to me - although I'd love to have seen more of that reflection that you have in the foreground.

The second one doesn't excite me that much - although it looks like a beautiful sunset. (Or is it a sunrise?) I think that's because there isn't enough to focus on other than the sunset itself. Neither the trees nor the foreground seem quite interesting enough to me.

The third one doesn't really do anything for me either (sorry). Too many different things here and none of them seems to stand out enough to say 'Look at me - I'm what this photograph is all about!' But out of them all, the first is definitely the one I'd sit and look at for a while.

In terms of your question about photographers vs 'the general public'. I do agree with what someone else said, that we cannot class family and friends as 'general public'. Whether they are aware of it or not, their opinions of our work - and the way they express it to us - are influenced by their relationship with us.

I'm very new to photography so I don't have much experience of this issue here, yet. However, I'm a writer by trade and your question resonates very much with my experiences there - which I'll share a bit of in case it helps you with this question.

If a 'normal person' reads a book, they will usually judge it in terms of how much they enjoy it and generally won't look much further than this.

However, if you take a book to a bunch of writers and ask them to critique it, they will look in detail at the technicalities of plot, structure, tension, characterisation, the quality of writing etc etc, and will judge it FAR more critically than your 'general public' guy.

Also, from my experience of working with new writers, they frequently get extremely positive feedback from friends and family, and when they take the same thing to an editor or a writer can often be dismayed when they get a page full of notes on what they should change. 'But my partner/daughter/auntie/best friend said it was the best thing they'd ever read!' they cry plaintively. The thing is, that's part of their job - to support us in our endeavours and encourage us on. That's not to say their opinion doesn't count. Just that if we are trying to improve our work, it doesn't count anywhere near as much as the opinion of an experienced person from the field we're working in.

MPA1's comment about the most obvious pics winning challenges over the 'best' is similar to the fact that best seller lists are often full of books where the author has spun a gripping yarn rather than books with great literary merit.

I guess what we'd probably all like is to produce the goods that win on both technical merit and instant 'likeability' from the general public. And I think that forums like this are amongst the best ways of helping us get there!

Liz

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Tim200
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

I don't do much landscape and know little about rules specific to landscape, so my opinion probably falls more into general public bucket.  I like the first shot the best, but none of the three are something that I'd want to print and hang on the wall.  The third is least appealing to me - can't put my finger on the reason though.

My mother recently showed me a collection of photos of my children that she chose to print to "show off" her grandchildren.  I've taken many photos of them with the gx7 that I consider well-composed and technically pleasing.  A few of those were in her prints, but the majority were grainy, dark low end p&s snapshots where the subject was composed dead center and way too wide a focal length.  That's okay if a special moment is caught in the shot, but these were plain vanilla posing shots.  Go figure.

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maggiemole
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to KTClown, 11 months ago

KTClown wrote:

MPA1 wrote:

I've often noticed that what wins challenges here is the most 'obvious' image not necessarily the best image.

I'll agree to that!

And I find that's true in competitions generally. Judges have a lot to get through and give little time to considering a photo: what hits them in the face is likely to get best marks.

Maggie

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slimandy
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Dancebert, 11 months ago

Dancebert wrote:

slimandy wrote:

You might be interested in Photosig which is the opposite - a critique website, not gear.

http://www.photosig.com

Be prepared for honest feedback though, not necesarily what you get from family and friends.

Photosig has been down for about 2 weeks. https://www.google.co.th/#q=photosig+down+2014

I have known it to go down from time to time but I have used it most days in the last two weeks without problem and it is still busy.

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Tom Axford
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I doubt that comments here are really representative of all forum members
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

I can only speak for myself, but I rarely comment on posted images unless I think I have something constructive to say (and I think that the OP is genuinely looking for constructive criticism).

In the great majority of cases, I may have an opinion on the images but I don't think I can make any really constructive suggestions, so I say nothing. I'm guessing, but I suspect there are a lot of other contributors to these forums who are similarly not inclined to post messages that are simply of the form "that image is great" or "that image is rubbish" or something in between.

On this occasion, I will make an exception and say that I like all three of your images (with no special preference for one over the others).

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Mellowmark
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

Florida Nature Photographer wrote:

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.

The first two photos lack clear points of interest/ subjects and it's not clear what the photo is of (apart from being of a pretty scene). The second one has nice light but nothing of interest in the foreground. (I appreciate there may have been nothing of interest there).

The third one is stronger as it has a clear subject (the beautiful barn obviously), but I would experiment with different angles and framing, perhaps using the trees. Perhaps a crop would work to make the barn more prominent? Some more interesting light in the sky or on the barn (golden hour?) might help too. Even as is though, it's the best of the three.

Just my opinion though (which does not count for much) - after all opinions are like assh*les - we all have one.

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Dancebert
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to slimandy, 11 months ago

slimandy wrote:

I have known it to go down from time to time but I have used it most days in the last two weeks without problem and it is still busy.

Thanks, that's a relief. It's never been up when I tried or checked one of the sites like http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/  D'oh!  I should have gone the simple route and googled '2014 site:photosig.com'

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Michael Jardine
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Barn: 3 small tweaks
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

Nice pictures. My favorite was the barn. I made three small tweaks, only one of which really jumped out at me - the vertical lines of the barn, out-building, and water tank were not vertical, and that always bugs me. So I rotated to vertical.

The other two smaller tweaks - purely personal - lifted the shadows to show more of the dark side of the barn, and reduced highlights to show more detail of the snow.

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Mike_PEAT
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Photographers are tougher technically/artistically...
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

As a trained photo judge I see more than 20,000 images/prints in competitions. Most are just average, no technical flaws, but humdrum. Some are above average, but no "wow" factor. To excite me an image has to have a wow factor.

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Dancebert
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Re: My take on this
In reply to NewGirlLiz, 11 months ago

NewGirlLiz wrote:

If a 'normal person' reads a book, they will usually judge it in terms of how much they enjoy it and generally won't look much further than this.

However, if you take a book to a bunch of writers and ask them to critique it, they will look in detail at the technicalities of plot, structure, tension, characterisation, the quality of writing etc etc, and will judge it FAR more critically than your 'general public' guy.

I'm going to borrow your explanation, it seems like it would communicate better than the one I currently use. My usual explanation is when most people clap to live music, they do it on the down beat. Musicians and those who appreciate music clap on the up beat, not because of a rule or guideline or tradition, but because for them clapping on the down beat is like fingernails on a blackboard.

Those who've studied proportion, space, light, color and composition, etc, AND those who have an eye for them without ever opening a book appreciate photos differently than those who like photos. I include myself, barely, in that group.

In the first photo I see a good background in need of a subject, as others have mentioned. No subject means no focal point.

Second photo has a focal point, the red sky - but it's a stretch to call it a subject. The foreground crop stubble gives depth of field. Mother nature provided 2 colors that work well together. In short, there is more to appreciate than in photo #1

Third photo. People are sentimental about barns. Maybe that explains why basic composition of portrait head shots often works for barns too. Your POV (point of view) has the barn facing out of frame, hemmed in by visually busy surroundings and the frame edge. If it were a portrait that would give a feeling of closed-in loneliness. Nice use of the lone tree and the line of 4 trees to frame the barn.

Put the barn on the left side of the frame with mostly empty land in front of it and it's and entirely different feeling. This barn's site may not have allowed that POV, but such occurrences are one of the frustrations and rewards of photography.

At google images search 'barn photography' for examples of barns on the one side of the frame or square to the frame.

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Trevor Carpenter
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

Interesting topic with infinite answers

I don’t like any of your three shots and if they were mine, they would all be in the waste bin. Oops sorry about that you’d better read the rest.

I’ve seen some shots from you that I really like.

I fully expect that if I showed you three random shots from me you might feel exactly the same.

So what does that mean, it’s all personal. We don’t all like the same music, art or tv programmes so it stands to reason that we don’t like the same pictures. Slight caveat in that people on these forums tend to evaluate technical points that the man in the street might not see or care about but even within this group one person will be forgiving about one flaw that another finds offensive.

There is one exception and that’s the total wow picture. There aren’t many because it has that extra something that makes it really special. Even then someone won’t like it.

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ROC124
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In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

The general public often prefer images that trigger a positive emotional response or memory. The stronger that response, the less important are the technical merits. Many photo hobbyists tend to look first, and sometimes only, at technical merits, particularly related to the gear used.

I like all of the images you presented and don't find that technical issues get in the way of my enjoyment. They all trigger warm memories for me of familiar places. They all succeed in what I think is the primary purpose of a photograph - to create a connection for someone. Since they all succeed in that manner for me, I'm not inclined to get into the technical merits. While they can be improved technically, my first reaction is that those technical improvements wouldn't significantly increase my enjoyment of them.

However, if I came from a different background (we are alll different!) and those images didn't create a positive emotional response for me, I might be inclined to focus on technical issues. Framing, placement of elements and tonality to lead the eye through the frame, to name a few, could all be handled differently and perhaps improved. I could then appreciate them more from a technical standpoint, but they still wouldn't create an emotional connection for me.

The big question for photographers, then, is "Who is the intended audience?" No matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone. In your case, was the intended audience those friends and relatives who enjoyed them images, or a bunch of largely anonymous gear heads on the Internet?

I sell my prints in local galleries, and have learned the clientele of each has different preferences.  I do photography to please me, but then select images for shows based on the different audiences. The one constant is that the photo hobbyists that attend the shows are often highly critical of technical issues, and never buy anything. There is a good lesson there!

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Cirrus888
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

All 3 are very "meh".  Nothing stands out.  I think a poor day for photos in terms of lighting rather that technical inability on your part.

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tnphoto
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 11 months ago

Your friends are going to go easier on you than we strangers, especially if you ask for C&C. We also don't know whether you're a working pro or a beginner, and our criticism really should reflect the different standards we need to apply. Lots of pictures shown here for C&C fall into the "nice enough, but" category: technically competent, with interesting but not outstanding subject matter.

In landscape, location is super important. You're not going to get the same killer shots in the woods behind your house as the guys roaming Yosemite. But you're out there, making images and trying to get better, and I give you credit for that. So here are my comments, FWIW:

1. As others have said, the first picture lacks a center of interest. The image is very busy visually. If you squint, you see that the photo has a somewhat dark foreground, a band of light through the middle and a somewhat darker top. Painters say the center of interest should be the area of greatest contrast in the scene. The greatest contrast is probably the wedge-shaped area of snow in the center and the shadowed downed tree to its right. But that has no more interest than the areas around it. Cutting off the snow in the foreground avoids having the c of i fall off the bottom of the picture.

The "purpose" of the photo is to allow the viewer to project him/herself into a lovely place and time.  There's a tension as I want to peek around the curve of the stream in the background.

How would I improve it? You've got to get closer to something and make that the center of interest. My eye is drawn to the hump-like rocks on the right. Move in close, wide-angle perspective, vertical shot. That puts the sun behind me, not so great, so a different time of day would be better. Or move upstream on the far side of the creek (to keep my sidelight) and look for interesting structure for the bottom of a vertical photo.

2. The subject is the red sunrise (or sunset) and the silhouetted trees. The greatest contrast is between the brightest red and the tree in front of it, which is about where you want the viewer's eye anyway. You've taken some care with the foreground, not cutting through any of the tufts of grass. The photo is "nice, but" at this size, but I'd bet it would look great as a wall-sized triptych.

Personally, I'd crop out the small clump of trees on the extreme right.

3. This is another photo the purpose of which is to put the viewer into a nice scene. As I looked at the barn photo I became aware that you'd taken some care with your camera position, showing the corners of the upper windows through the tree branches and positioning the left side tree to show the windows on the outbuilding and the slot windows on the barn without cutting through any of them. The small background tree shows enough trunk to separate from the tree in front of it. Mentally walk two steps left and right, two steps forward and back, and see how that degrades the picture.

The shadowed side of the barn and the silo need more interest, which you can provide with a little digital dodging and contrast enhancement.

It's still a "nice but" image for me, but I think you've done the best you can with it.

Tom

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My take on this
In reply to NewGirlLiz, 11 months ago

NewGirlLiz wrote:

Out of these three photographs, I like the first one best. It is the one that most appeals to me - although I'd love to have seen more of that reflection that you have in the foreground.

When I get time I will post the original version. I'll be interested if you like it better.

The second one doesn't excite me that much - although it looks like a beautiful sunset. (Or is it a sunrise?) I think that's because there isn't enough to focus on other than the sunset itself. Neither the trees nor the foreground seem quite interesting enough to me.

This was the original feedback I received. I just liked the color so I decided to show it. Some have singled it out as one of their favorites. Thus this thread.

The third one doesn't really do anything for me either (sorry).

No need to apologize for your honest feedback. That is what I want. As you may have read others feel differently and that is very educational.

I'm very new to photography so I don't have much experience of this issue here, yet. However, I'm a writer by trade and your question resonates very much with my experiences there - which I'll share a bit of in case it helps you with this question.

Thanks very much for that.

Also, from my experience of working with new writers, they frequently get extremely positive feedback from friends and family, and when they take the same thing to an editor or a writer can often be dismayed when they get a page full of notes on what they should change.

Which is why the feedback here is so important to me. It is absolutely impossible to get folks I know to say anything bad about my photos. I only learn from them based on which ones they like best.

MPA1's comment about the most obvious pics winning challenges over the 'best' is similar to the fact that best seller lists are often full of books where the author has spun a gripping yarn rather than books with great literary merit.

Gripping yarn? Google was no help on that.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to Tim200, 11 months ago

Tim200 wrote:

I don't do much landscape and know little about rules specific to landscape, so my opinion probably falls more into general public bucket. I like the first shot the best, but none of the three are something that I'd want to print and hang on the wall. The third is least appealing to me - can't put my finger on the reason though.

Thanks for the feedback. When I judge my keepers I don't hold them to the high standard of whether I would hang them on a wall. If I think some will enjoy looking at them I will share them.

I would hope to get a few wall hangers a year though. I'm putting enough time into this I would think the odds would catch up with me.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: Our (photographers) taste in photos vs the general public
In reply to maggiemole, 11 months ago

maggiemole wrote:

And I find that's true in competitions generally. Judges have a lot to get through and give little time to considering a photo: what hits them in the face is likely to get best marks.

But isn't that what the average viewer of the photo will do? So wouldn't that accurately represent the perceived value of the photo by most people? How do you think it would be different if they were not so overwhelmed?

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