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  #11  
Old 06-13-2012, 10:04 PM
emka emka is offline
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This account is now disabled, I do not know what it is there.
I agree with Lisa, and Rosemary, and Chris - the community, the friendships made, the support from other members is what counts. But you know it well. I cannot understand some people here, who post regularly but never write anything. What is it worth without any feedback? Even if someone write that doesn't like something (and why!), it has value.
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  #12  
Old 06-14-2012, 03:56 PM
mjw364 mjw364 is offline
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Smile Well...

First of all I have to ask what do we mean by "quality" - quality like many concepts is a socially constructed, subjective term and one photograph's "quality" is another photographer's subjective, aesthetic dislike. It is always going to be a contested term just as the interpretation, critique and meaning ascribed to images on TE are always going to be dynamic, wide ranging and diverse.

For me, personally, this image doesn't have that je ne sais quoi that attracts me to an image. I could say why... someone above said somethign along the lines of the colour of blue...an old master.... well it isnt that great it's an image that is low in contrast and could just be a snapshot taken of a woman with little planning and thought or composition and use of light subjectively speaking. The eyes looking direct to camera - well yes that works. But the biggest thing for me is the fact that in the context of what this photographer is trying to achieve in some way i.e a photojournalistic statement about suffering and the aftermath of an earthquake it doesn't tell that particular story. The note underneath the image dosen't even match the image. Her? His? No legs? Suffering? Would you feel any of those things without the title and note? I don't think so.

As for the practice of critiquing - it depends on many things. I have only recently joined TE and I am relatively new to photography so I would welcome thoughtful and constructive critiques even if I am not up to the standard of some on here because not only am I learning from the critiques and from viewing other images I am also learning to critique by reading the critiques of those who spend time giving meaningful critiques. As yet I'm not sure I yet understand fully what it is that I am suppposed to be commenting on in my critiques.

The other issue is one of time. For me I am very busy at work and since joining (and since reading this thread in fact), actually I now feel a certain communal pressure to critique a lot even if I am not sure what I am doing due to my lack of experience as a photographer. So given my time constraints I have started to write short critiques that have a quick point to make rather than provide a more comprehensive type of critique that some do give because they have more time. This is because I kind of sense a sort of invisible, or unwritten, community rule that says critique or be excluded implicit in what I have read above. Sure I understand the importance of community and understand the power of groups, virtual or otherwise, to make people conform to the "norm". I also understand that perhaps I should write critiques as to why I don't like somethign too because this is helpful.

I am also getting a sense that there are those on here who feel themselves to be some kind of elite and who are clearly very talented and skilled photgraphers but dare this inexperienced newcomer say something negative when they have a zillion back slapping remarks from their established friends on here? Do I want to upset the community and risk the virtual exclusion from the community and never have another critique of any of my work mediocre as it is and subsequently learn nothing at all? So I don't critique when perhaps I should.

I think perhaps people have to consider why it is they actually joined this community? Maybe they need to remember that they are dealing with real people too. Maybe we need to remind ourselves of the general ethos of TE and one of its aims which I gather is to help each other improve as a supportive community and to share knowledge. I don't know, maybe I am being to much of a romantic idealist? All I know is after a little over a week that there is a community here which has been welcoming and kind to me but I am getting a sense emerging that there are also "groups" within TE who spend time congratulating each other, rather than being honest and not looking outside their own community within the community. I'm not interested in hierachies I just want to learn.

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  #13  
Old 06-14-2012, 08:34 PM
ChrisJ ChrisJ is offline
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Default Critiquing problems

Hi Michael

I see your dilemma. My advice would be if you have something negative to say, word it tactfully. There are subtle & inoffensive ways to critique, & unsubtle & offensive ways to critique.

One example image:
http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Nor...oto1368883.htm

eg Subtle: The maximum size allowed on TE is 800 px. It would be better to use full size, I think. 512 px is a little small on my monitor. The blur might be an artistic statement, but I'm sorry, it really doesn't work here for me. Most images look much better using the rule of thirds. This image is poorly composed with the horizon dead centre. Have a look at some of the master paintings and look up 'golden mean'. You'll soon get the hang of it. I would suggest blurring the pixellated sky.

Unsubtle: "This image is terrible. It's unsharp, out of focus and all the backslappers who critiqued it are liars. I can hardly see it! It's too small (512px; height: 384px) Invest in a REAL camera! Poorly composed with the horizon line dead centre. What were you thinking! The sky is badly pixellated."

There is also the 'sandwich' technique. eg

"The color contrasts are wonderful between the red & blue, but I must be honest & point out some serious flaws with this image. a, b, c, d."

Then conclude the note with encouragement, eg with a little practice I am sure you will improve in no time as your learning curve develops."

Suggest solutions. eg Landscape photography is best done early morning or late afternoon. Use full size, add saturation. Crop the sky to the 1/3 rule. Add contrast, I'd suggest cloning out... & so on.
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  #14  
Old 06-14-2012, 09:33 PM
Keitht Keitht is offline
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I totally agree with the broad thrust of ChrisJ's thoughts on critiquing. A totally negative critique can be demoralising and I think it's rare for a photo to have no redeeming features. That said I have seen a few over the years
For me the most valuable critiques are those which explain what the critiquer sees as the good and less good elements of a photo along with their thoughts on alternative treatment of the subject.
Those receiving the critique should always remember that critiques are subjective and therefore opinions differ. Just because opinions differ it doesn't mean one is correct and another wrong.
Some content may be factual e.g. sloping horizons, colour casts but most will be personal view e.g. crop out x, move the main element of the image.
Consider all critiques, even those which you don't initially like, as that is definitely the way to learn.
The more you contribute the more you are likely to get out of the site, but please don't get drawn into any of the mutual admiration groups who would give glowing 'critiques' of a photo of a black cat in a cellar with the light out!
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  #15  
Old 06-15-2012, 09:51 AM
mjw364 mjw364 is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 525
Smile Thanks

Hi Chris and Keith

Thanks for your thoughts above.

Its not so much a problem with HOW to critique or the social etiquette - its the WHY and what to say given that the "language" or vocabulary of photographic critique is new to me.

I critique academic pieces of work as part of what I do for a living so am very familiar with the sandwich technique and the 'how to' etc but I am attempting to function in a whole new area of expertise which is not mine here - that's my issue as much as anything and I know it will come with time and practice based on what I learn as I go along and from critiques. It would be like the photogrpahers on here attempting to critique in technical academic terms the work I assess on psychological and sociological theories - they just wouldn't have the knowledge to do so at the outset.

Critiques are a very important part of learning how to take photographs as well as their appreciation - as Emka says above there is always something of value in a critique. A critique and the ability to critique informs how we then go away and think about the next shot we are going to take too and it is perhaps an overlooked aspect of what it is to be a photographer and perhaps in some cases on here not considered as part of a necessary sense of self reflexive praxis.

Anyway - those are my thoughts for the day! Chris thanks for critiquing one of my images - I left a reply - about what I learned! Thanks.

Last edited by mjw364; 06-15-2012 at 09:54 AM.
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  #16  
Old 06-15-2012, 10:50 AM
ChrisJ ChrisJ is offline
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Posts: 2,572
Default Jargon

Here's a basic jargon buster of the more commonly used abbreviations to help:

POV = Point of View
DOF = Depth of field
ISO = International Standards Organisation
PP = Post Processing
BG = Background
FG = Foreground
HDR = High Dynamic Range (nb: Strong HDR is not allowed on TE)
TFS = Thanks for Sharing
NR = Noise Reduction
OE = Overexposure
UE = Underexposure
OOF = Out of Focus
The Lab = Post processing application tools (Photoshop, Gimp, Photofiltre, Picasa 3, Noise Ninja, Neat Image et al)
Density = exposure is correct, ie, not oe, or ue. Easy to adjust using levels in Photoshop
Graphism = dark vs light
Perspective = use of lines
Selective or differential focus = shallow dof
Over Saturation = color is 'overdone': yellow, red, & green, tend to show up over-saturation first
Texture = rough or smooth, often revealed by good lighting
Tones - the gradual shifts from solid black to grey to solid white ie the grey scale, included on TE.
Circles of Confusion. The circles of light points in an out of focus image
Bokeh - the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur in the bg

If I think of any others, or other members spot a glaring omission or 2, post away!

Last edited by ChrisJ; 06-15-2012 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Additions
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  #17  
Old 06-15-2012, 12:54 PM
delpeoples delpeoples is offline
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Post Greetings Michael

Greetings Michael and hello regulars

Welcome to TE, it certainly looks like you take some great photos and are settling in well. As John (tyro) and I always joke, it's an addiction, but there are worse addictions we could have

I empathise with how you're feeling, and remember feeling the same way, a little like the new kid in school. Initially. But don't worry, that soon will change. Like you say, the TE'ers are very welcoming and kind.

As you've read above, my personal opinion is that TE is a community and as such, is a microcosm of the world outside. I'm not saying that's a good or a bad thing, but it is what it is. As in any community, you get your share of nutters, egomaniacs and people that you just wouldn't talk to if you saw them in a pub. You also get (and this is the overwhelming majority) some wonderful, interesting, talented and funny people.

The term "backslappers" / "mutual admiration societies" have been used here time and time again in a pejorative sense. The people who use it in this way again seem to ignore human nature and the fact that this is a community. Of course there will be photographers whose work you like, admire and want to learn from. Some of them you may even meet personally! There will also be photographers whose work does not interest you, that you cannot learn from, or just plain don't understand. Is it wrong to gravitate towards that photographer to which you identify and want to learn from, or have met in person and really like? In everyday life, people gravitate towards other people who share their interests and priorities. To suggest that it shouldn't happen here is again ignoring human nature.

Of course there's another issue here: if someone critiques my photo, I feel it's good manners to reciprocate by critiquing one of their photos in return. Some do not agree with me about this, and that's their right. But I shouldn't be howled down for what I think. The critique does not necessarily need to be all sweetness and light, but at the very least, I feel obligated to look at the photo and write what I think. I try not to offend, I try to point out the positive aspects of the photo and to constructively - and kindly - criticise the negative aspects of the photo.

I honestly find that this has been the major factor in improving my own photography. Have a look at the start of any of our Galleries here and then at our latest shots, and you'll see what I mean.

You've obviously read my note above. I'm sorry you took exception to it - maybe you're referring to me as one of those "talentless self-elected elite" - who knows. I really don't care, but I care about TE as a community. Of course we all try and welcome a newcomer by writing some critiques to their photos. But try and look at this practically. If, after a while, those critiques we write you aren't reciprocated at all, we're going to give up trying. Human nature again, mate: we're here to help each other, it's not a one-way street. I want to learn as much as you do. Why should it be okay for you to accept my help but not to reciprocate by offering your help?

Just because someone is new to photography doesn't mean they don't have something interesting or constructive to say. There's a huge range of photographers here from newbies, holiday snappers, serious amateurs to professionals. There are people here with physical conditions such as double vision and Parkinsons Disease, and yet their photos, their notes and their critiques are interesting, educational, beautiful, but above all valuable.

You're obviously articulate, and have excellent photographic and post-processing skills that we could all learn from. Given what you do for a living, you're probably far more qualified than me to write a constructive critique. As far as time is concerned, of course you're busy, we all are, and 20 critiques a day is huge. So why not do what you can with what time you have?

I think you've got alot to offer this site, and I hope you hang in there and enjoy the addiction.

Cheers
Lisa
PS: Speaking of addictions, time to start the vino
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  #18  
Old 06-15-2012, 01:53 PM
emka emka is offline
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Hi All,

Thanks Chris for the excellent lesson of English (and not only) how to write critiques, I found it amusing and useful and liked it very much. Thanks also for the list of abbreviations. I remember when I joined the site (almost five years ago) and was quite confused reading about POVs and DOFs and TFS. I looked in Google what it could be and couldn't find it. There are two more: IMHO - in my humble opinion, and also Papagolfade - the photo of the church, specially on Sunday, after TE Member Papagolf.
Yes, we can learn many thing on TE if only we want it. I am not native speaker in English or Italian or Spanish and I use the opportunity to learn the languages. But all about learning may sound boring so the most important thing is: WE HAVE FUN. I am sure Lisa will agree.

Last edited by emka; 06-15-2012 at 01:55 PM.
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  #19  
Old 06-15-2012, 03:55 PM
mjw364 mjw364 is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 525
Smile Hi Lisa

Hi Lisa

Thanks for the welcome. I'm sorry you thought I was taking exception to what you had said above... I wasn't. Sorry if I made you feel that I was "having a pop" in some way. Actually I agree with you on many points in all of your posts on this thread.

Like you I think it good manners to reciprocate when someone takes the time to comment on your work in any manner they see fit since as you say... they don't have to say anything yet they do - I am grateful for that and it's how we learn and that's why I am here, as is everyone I presume.

I wasn't referring to you as a member of a self-conglatulatory elite either - I was simply outlining an impression that I was beginning to feel after trawling through some of the galleries and reading some of the "critiques". I wasn't pointing the finger at anyone either, or denying human behavioural tendencies in the microcosmic world of the TE "mirror". Perhaps I am just guilty of being idealistic in my hopes for human beings! Ha ha.

In fact your friend Tyro was one of the first people to offer me exactly the kind of feedback on here that I was hoping for and actually in the last day or so after participating on this forum I have received several critiques that I have found very valuable (positive and pejorative) and I am now starting to look at the images here in a different way - more like a photographer than the novice that I really am!

I think one of the difficulties with a hobby like photography is that it can be a solitary and isolated activity and at the end of the day we take photos to be looked at by others. TE is one way that they can be looked at and people with more experience and knowledge than you can provide feedback from which to learn. As you point out this is an essential aspect to any improvement. As I say in my earlier entry above the ability to critique and to accept critique is an essential skill/ability for any photographer.

I am already thinking to myself when I pick up the camera - given the images I have looked at on TE and the critique's I have read - how should I be taking this shot - and that's the whole point - as you say.

I am going to "hang in there" as you say - not doing so was never a question. I have learned a lot in a matter of days and that's exactly why I came on here. I feel like I am more fully immersing myself in photography and it is becoming the first thing I think about doing - like an addiction - and it is partly fed by the advice and feedback which I have received thus far. It's forcing me to think about what I am doing - as I said in my entry above - self reflexive praxis is essential and if others can broaden my vision as I reflect on my practice then it's all good.

Thanks for replying and nice to meet you on here. Go easy on the vino... otherwise I can see a new thread "Should we question the quality of images produced by those drunk in charge of a camera?!"
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  #20  
Old 06-17-2012, 09:42 AM
delpeoples delpeoples is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,449
Talking Hi Michael

Hi Michael

No problem! Thanks for your response and I look forward to crossing paths with you here. Enjoy yourself!

Cheers
Lisa

PS: I like your thinking about being drunk and in charge of a camera. There are a few of us where you can tell whether the photo has been taken before or after lunch, just by looking at the horizon
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