Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

Started Feb 19, 2013 | Questions
Molarjung New Member • Posts: 21
Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
1

Dear fellow photographers, how can you possibly appraise whether Your submitted entry has the better chances of ending up among the first 20 winning challenge entries? How should You judge Your own entry before submission? When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

Your recommendations and tips will be highly appreciated (and I hope not only by me).

Many Thanks, Molarjung

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Moshe Ravid

ANSWER:
El Crapio
El Crapio Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
2

Molarjung wrote:

Dear fellow photographers, how can you possibly appraise whether Your submitted entry has the better chances of ending up among the first 20 winning challenge entries? How should You judge Your own entry before submission? When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

Your recommendations and tips will be highly appreciated (and I hope not only by me).

Many Thanks, Molarjung

Here are some tips from personal experience...

1. You need to be a harsh judge on your photos. You yourself have to be your harsher judge. Don't be afraid to discard, don't submit photos with obvious flaws.

2. Try and pretend that it's not your photo when evaluating. Could you then relate to it? Does it mean anything to anyone other than you? Your photo needs to communicate with other people, not just you.

3. Keep in mind that your photo can be really good and still not make top 20. There are greater forces at work here...

4. Also - although it's not something you should be concerned with really - if your photo looks good as a thumbnail, it has a higher chance of getting good votes.

5. Always pp your photo. Almost always you can make it look better, even with minimal post-processing.

Tony Tomlin
Tony Tomlin Contributing Member • Posts: 690
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

If you like your shot and you would like other people to look at it ; enter.

Reviewing the finishing position versus other entries is educational.

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barb_s
barb_s Contributing Member • Posts: 800
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
2

Sometimes you just can't tell how you will do with a good photo.

But if you put nothing into the art of the photograph, you probably won't be in the top 20. You do need to look at what you took, crop it, clean it up, make sure it's really on theme, and not just on the border of the theme. Being off theme in challenges can shoot down an otherwise good photo.

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Barb

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,214
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
8

Molarjung wrote:

Dear fellow photographers, how can you possibly appraise whether Your submitted entry has the better chances of ending up among the first 20 winning challenge entries? How should You judge Your own entry before submission? When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

Your recommendations and tips will be highly appreciated (and I hope not only by me).

Many Thanks, Molarjung

I still don't have the answer to that.  
It's strange that I can tell which entries might do well in a challenge that I host.

But my instinct is totally off when I'm competing.

Maybe some general observations from me as a host:

1/ Streetphotography and portraits ---> Dayshots vs Nightshots... Dayshots will win most of the time

2/ Portraits---> Studio vs outdoors.... Studio shots usually comes in.

3/ Landscapes and Cityscapes ---> HDR vs Non HDR shot .... HDR has the advantage

4/ Any shots ---> DSLR with great lense vs compacts ... needless to say.

5/ People shots ---> Kids vs Adults ... Kids have a strong advantage

6/ Abstracts and macros ---> for god's sake don't submit a nightshot/ high iso/grainy noisy shot.

7/ Staircases ---> Curved stairs win most of the time

8/ People shot ---> Frontal shot beats back shots

9/ Portraits/People as main subject ---> Curvy girl beats old men anytime.

10/ Landscape shots ---> Try to get the mountain reflected off the lake... because 2 is better than 1.

tarakanchik Contributing Member • Posts: 944
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
2

Molarjung wrote:

When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

When you're entering just for the sake of entering.  I used to try to enter as many challenges as possible often time entering pictures that are a big stretch when it comes to matching the topic, or shots that are not of greatest quality, just to finish close to the bottom.  So these days I try to pick challenges that I feel I have pictures very well suited for and of my higher quality. Now, I still finish towards the bottom here and there but a lot less often  I think we all see entries here and there thinking "what were they thinking entering this blurry crooked thing".  So the point is, just because you may have a picture that would fit the theme, does not necessarily mean you should enter it.

PBR Streetgang Regular Member • Posts: 303
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

El Crapio wrote:

Molarjung wrote:

Dear fellow photographers, how can you possibly appraise whether Your submitted entry has the better chances of ending up among the first 20 winning challenge entries? How should You judge Your own entry before submission? When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

Your recommendations and tips will be highly appreciated (and I hope not only by me).

Many Thanks, Molarjung

Here are some tips from personal experience...

1. You need to be a harsh judge on your photos. You yourself have to be your harsher judge. Don't be afraid to discard, don't submit photos with obvious flaws.

2. Try and pretend that it's not your photo when evaluating. Could you then relate to it? Does it mean anything to anyone other than you? Your photo needs to communicate with other people, not just you.

3. Keep in mind that your photo can be really good and still not make top 20. There are greater forces at work here...

4. Also - although it's not something you should be concerned with really - if your photo looks good as a thumbnail, it has a higher chance of getting good votes.

5. Always pp your photo. Almost always you can make it look better, even with minimal post-processing.

I think this is good advice, but challenges are always a bit of a crapshoot.  I think number 4 is very important and carries more weight than it should.  You might want to wait a bit to enter a challenge and see how your image stacks up against the early entries.

MichaelToyeImages
MichaelToyeImages Contributing Member • Posts: 665
The basics have to be flawless...
2

Ensure your exposure is correct, verifying your histogram for lights not blown and darks still retaining detail.

If the positive space, or focal subject, is supposed to be sharp, ensure it is - no evidence of blur or shake.

for architecture or landscape, ensure horizons are level - unless you obviously shot for off-level - and verticals are vertical.

for maximum impact, keep the compositions simple so your leading lines and focal object(s) are instantly observed. also beware of small details distracting the viewer - an odd branch, half a person, etc.

hth

Michael

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Deleted pending purge Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: The basics have to be flawless...
5

MichaelToyeImages wrote:

Ensure your exposure is correct, verifying your histogram for lights not blown and darks still retaining detail.

If the positive space, or focal subject, is supposed to be sharp, ensure it is - no evidence of blur or shake.

for architecture or landscape, ensure horizons are level - unless you obviously shot for off-level - and verticals are vertical.

for maximum impact, keep the compositions simple so your leading lines and focal object(s) are instantly observed. also beware of small details distracting the viewer - an odd branch, half a person, etc.

hth

Michael

+1. Sound advices, all.

Long time ago I was enlightened by an old pro who told me something that may sum it up: "The best pictures are the simple ones, those that can carry a title consisting of a single word".

To this day, it still holds its value for me. The readability of the image depends to a large degree upon the number of elements in it, and the fewer there are, the easier the idea / concept / message gets across.

So, anything that doesn't belong to the theme might be regarded as a sort of distraction, and this is where proper cadring (or "filling the frame with your theme") becomes very important.

selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
OP Molarjung New Member • Posts: 21
Re: The basics have to be flawless...
1

Dear friends, I keep reading with great interest Your most helpful and valuable tips, guidelines and advises. I love Old Arrow's definition of a good picture - "Keep it Simple!". El Crapio's maxim about being the harshest judge of Your own photos is very correct. It is also true that making sure that Your thumbnail is good and salient will increase your chances of ending up higher.

What is left to be done from now on is to put these improving and educational rules in actual practice and see the results in the months to come.

Thanks a lot and Good Luck to You all!

Best Regards, Molarjung.

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Moshe Ravid

christian jacob
christian jacob Regular Member • Posts: 134
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
1

Molarjung wrote:

Dear fellow photographers, how can you possibly appraise whether Your submitted entry has the better chances of ending up among the first 20 winning challenge entries? How should You judge Your own entry before submission? When should You avoid submitting Your photo?

[..]

First of all, I think there are at least 3 different reasons to enter a challenge.

1. In it to win it

2. Look at my shot!

3. Huh, don't know, perhaps this isn't half as bad, let's see how others rate it...

For me, number 3 is more often a reason then no. 1, but of course many times they all come in to play.

As the challenges (should be) anonymous, they can be somewhat better indicator than friends ("uh, nice butterfly"...) or internet fora (where personal relations are often a big factor in critique).

And then I made a new year resolution (last year, but it worked so well I repeated it this year) to have at least on photo in the challenges (either open for entry or voting) at any time, to get off my lazy behind and shoot more ;-), which may also be a motivation of others here.

Some observations I made (and not only here, but also on other sites with challenges), to help you with your question of getting in the top 20:

Something others answering you haven't mentioned: often it's not necessarily the best entry (however this can ever be judged with 100% accuracy, as this is a partly subjective judgement with more then one, uh, category[1]) but the more outstanding:

If you enter a near perfect photo of a landscape, let's say a cloudy sunset at a mountain lake, and there are 10 other more or less as good entries that look nearly the same/are also a cloudy sunset at a mountain lake, another, perhaps not as perfect landscape photo of a, let's say misty field with some cows and trees (but no lake, mountains and sunset) could win, because it's different.

In a similar vein, photos with more subdued colours often don't do as well as they deserve, because the many oversaturated images dull the eye, and they (the not oversaturated photos) get lost in all the blink...

In challenges with more open themes ("your best picture this week" for example), the overall genre / motive preferences of voters show:

Landscape and (cute or exotic, at best both) animals nearly always win, sometimes a portrait (good looking female, or a cute kid); more unconventional motives get a more diversive vote pattern (more like an inverse gaussian then the more common gaussian); in short, the motive is the important part, a mediocre landscape will win against a cool abstract, a half way decent snapshot of a (not too modern) church will win against a interesting interpretion of a modern building (because most people hate modern architecture).

But, the sure fire way to be in the Top 20 is to only enter challenges with no more then 19 entries (on the last possible moment of course, just to be sure)

[1] what i want to say (but can't find the word to do): you can vote a photo on its technical merits, and its composition, and it's accordance to the theme, and its originality and and and...)

Deleted pending purge Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
2

This opens one of the most sensitive (although sensible) aspects of the basic reasons for Challenges in the first place - their educative component. If it is left aside, the mediocrity will continue to prevail, and it has established its firm position in almost evertything human today.

The reasons for such a sorry state of affairs is general lack of education, and effective thwarting of all attempts to highlight and spread the importance of it. I presume it is an automatic effect associated with sheer mass of would-be photographers, which in turn gets augmented by the unbelievable ease of taking photos, equipment availability, and prevalent lack of will to learn how to properly speak the Language Of Light. It has become a sadly commonplace fact that not many people want to learn anything beyond using the pre-arranged modes and pressing of some button, or touching some spot on the screen.

The industry tries to remove the photographic knowleges from the camera users, offering replacement terms, tools and ways of thinking. Never mind that the technical principle goes on using only four basic elements (blend, exposure, focal length and sensitivity), since our light has not changed (very much) from Day One till now. But ready-made "situations modes" removed even that from conisderation: nowadays it's Pets, Fireworks, Landscapes, Portraits, Birthdays, Boiled Eggs S, M, and H, things like that.

Soon it will be so, if it isn't in my Modes, it can't be photographed.

And then we have the Challenges, richly visited by such photographers. Luckily, not all are like this, and there still is this minor part that knows what they do with their tackle. These, and many among the more interested, would like to learn more. They expect this to come from their challenge-evaluated work.

Do they get what they want from the challenges being the way these are now? Hardly. The stats, the undefined challenges, votings and whatever else we know goes on, nothing can really ensure any consistent response. Thus, no progress can be measured, or used to any advantage. Looking at almost all of this Forum's themes, you can see the truth in this. The Challenges, the way these are, produce yet more mediocrity, against all good intentions.

There is a huge, previously written quantity of text upon what to do about it... Will it ever happen?

Dunno.

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Fil

merops
merops Senior Member • Posts: 2,193
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

El Crapio wrote:

4. Also - although it's not something you should be concerned with really - if your photo looks good as a thumbnail, it has a higher chance of getting good votes.

I take the "although it's not something you should be concerned with really" to mean something like voters are only looking at thumbnails (and should be looking at full size photos), or voters are more likely to look at full-size photos of good thumbnails.

I think you're wrong about what causes what. My experience of entering challenges/competitions at a lowly level is that the overall cleanness and balance of a composition has a big effect on a photo's chances - and that the thumbnail is actually a very good way of judging this without getting distracted by other issues.

Deleted pending purge Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
1

This issue could be solved by another change in the Challenges, in a way that images can be seen as thumbnails, but can only be voted upon at their standard and/or maximum size. It should be thus reprogrammed, so that whenever a vote is to be cast, the image enlarges automatically. Some of the people used to vote on thumbnail sized entries would probably complain because their "voting speed" would be impaired, but voting on thumbnails was never correct, and should not have been possible in the first place.

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Fil

merops
merops Senior Member • Posts: 2,193
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
2

OldArrow wrote:

This issue could be solved by another change in the Challenges, in a way that images can be seen as thumbnails, but can only be voted upon at their standard and/or maximum size. It should be thus reprogrammed, so that whenever a vote is to be cast, the image enlarges automatically. Some of the people used to vote on thumbnail sized entries would probably complain because their "voting speed" would be impaired, but voting on thumbnails was never correct, and should not have been possible in the first place.

There are two separate issues here:

One is whether it is 'correct' to use thumbnails to vote. I have a personal view on this, but I'm happy to accept the view of those who do the hard work setting challenges etc.

The other is why photos that look good as thumbnails do well. This might be because they have been judged as thumbnails. Alternatively, they might have been judged full size, and the kind of things that make for a good full size image (clean, balanced composition, including distribution of light/dark areas in photo) also make for a good looking thumbnail. This was my point.

Deleted pending purge Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

The logic behind this is quite clear, since we all know that the most successful images are simple, and more times than not, the simplicity of those will produce also those interesting thumbnails. So it is possible to be drawn to an interesting thumbnail, open it, and find a well-made image, yes.

On the other hand, there are more cases where this wouldn't work so well. For instance, an image which shows fine tonal ranges, subtle detail and not much of strong graphic might appear dull in the thumbnail form, and reveals its richness only at maximum enlargement.

Consider a foggy meadow at sunrise. I wouldn't expect it to show a sensational thumbnail, but such work could well be the one to stare at for a long time, right? In the meantime, a contre-jour silhouette thumbnail of any bikini beauty might generate hundreds of clicks - and sometimes still prove to be a disappointment.

Two ways to avoid this would be,

- no possibility of voting on thumbnails,

- voting on all entries in a challenge.

The reason behind this:

- all entrants deserve proper evaluation of their works,

- no proper evaluation can be given if the works have not been looked at in the best possible mode,

- basic honesty of voting, from every aspect.

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merops
merops Senior Member • Posts: 2,193
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
1

OldArrow wrote:

The logic behind this is quite clear, since we all know that the most successful images are simple, and more times than not, the simplicity of those will produce also those interesting thumbnails. So it is possible to be drawn to an interesting thumbnail, open it, and find a well-made image, yes.

On the other hand, there are more cases where this wouldn't work so well. For instance, an image which shows fine tonal ranges, subtle detail and not much of strong graphic might appear dull in the thumbnail form, and reveals its richness only at maximum enlargement.

Consider a foggy meadow at sunrise. I wouldn't expect it to show a sensational thumbnail, but such work could well be the one to stare at for a long time, right? In the meantime, a contre-jour silhouette thumbnail of any bikini beauty might generate hundreds of clicks - and sometimes still prove to be a disappointment.

Two ways to avoid this would be,

- no possibility of voting on thumbnails,

- voting on all entries in a challenge.

The reason behind this:

- all entrants deserve proper evaluation of their works,

- no proper evaluation can be given if the works have not been looked at in the best possible mode,

- basic honesty of voting, from every aspect.

Forgive me, but you still seem to be missing my point.

2 questions:

- Should images be judged at max size/resolution?

- Is images with good thumbnails doing well evidence that people are judging from thumbnails?

My point is that these are two separate questions, and that it's possible for the answer to the first question to be yes, and the answer to the second question to be no. Indeed, from a logical perspective, the answer to the second question is no (it's not evidence, despite being consistent with this interpretation), because we cannot tell from the obseravtion whether it comes about because people are judging from thumbnails, or whether images that are judged highly at full size also look good as thumbnails. (ie A and B are related, but did A cause B, or B cause A?)

The first question is a matter of opinion, and I'm quite happy to accept yours as being much better informed than mine

Deleted pending purge Senior Member • Posts: 1,197
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?
1

merops wrote:

...

Forgive me, but you still seem to be missing my point.

2 questions:

- Should images be judged at max size/resolution?

- Is images with good thumbnails doing well evidence that people are judging from thumbnails?

My point is that these are two separate questions, and that it's possible for the answer to the first question to be yes, and the answer to the second question to be no. Indeed, from a logical perspective, the answer to the second question is no (it's not evidence, despite being consistent with this interpretation), because we cannot tell from the obseravtion whether it comes about because people are judging from thumbnails, or whether images that are judged highly at full size also look good as thumbnails. (ie A and B are related, but did A cause B, or B cause A?)

The first question is a matter of opinion, and I'm quite happy to accept yours as being much better informed than mine

OK, although I think it is not that simple, I'd say that yes, the entries should be judged at the highest quality resolution available (depending upon the three sizes provided by the program, and the original resolution / size provided by the entrant).

An image with good-looking thumbnail is likely, but not automatically, the one that may have been judged as a thumbnail.

In such case, the image will be improperly viewed, and thus unjustly judged - as any image that was not properly seen to be evaluated. But such an image is also likely to be more often enlarged for viewing / judging, than those entries which have not so good looking thumbnails.

And of course, there is absolutely no evidence as to how people will vote. Whatever voting mode you can imagine, I'm sure there is someone that applies it. Voters will differ in their approach, rule-awareness, photographic knowlege, thematical familiarity, personal preferences (photos, themes, cameras, color, BW, effects, cultural/sociological/educational/religious, etc.), responsibility, computer skills, even things like monitor calibration.

So the causality is rather more like knit than tied. And however you look at things, the fact is that we do not know, except that anything possible is actually happening.

El Crapio
El Crapio Forum Member • Posts: 76
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

merops wrote:

- Is images with good thumbnails doing well evidence that people are judging from thumbnails?

No, "horrid images that look good as thumbnails" doing well is evidence that some people are voting without viewing the photos properly.

Look at this one for example. Full view tells a different story, than thumbnail or small view.

http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Entry.aspx?ID=668393

Wildbegonia
Wildbegonia Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Is Your Challenge Entry a Winner?

El Crapio wrote:

merops wrote:

- Is images with good thumbnails doing well evidence that people are judging from thumbnails?

No, "horrid images that look good as thumbnails" doing well is evidence that some people are voting without viewing the photos properly.

Look at this one for example. Full view tells a different story, than thumbnail or small view.

http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Entry.aspx?ID=668393

That is a great example you had chosen to illustrate your point, boy.  How can one forget that one!

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