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Club Vs Internet

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by Blrry I, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Blrry I

    Blrry I Member

    This isn't an excuse to bitch at Club Competition Judges (they have a pretty tough job) it's just me trying to reconcile the difference between successful club competition images and a successful internet one.

    After two years of entering or attending club competitions I am constantly bemused by the rejection of images that have been cast aside due to the judge deeming them to have blown out highlights. No matter how small or minor or even if they are integral to the image. I've even seen a sunrise photograph criticised as the sun looked 'blown'.

    However the same images (not mine) placed on 500px or Flickr receive high accolade or even win various internet competitions!

    From what I've seen, in my limited experience, is that to do well on-line the image has to be quite striking. Blown highlights or other technical faults are forgiven to a certain extent.

    Put those images in a club competition ,no matter how small, and they get crucified. However put a mediocre image that is taken with the rule of thirds, pin sharp all over, leading the eye in from the left and with nothing to bright in it and you're almost there.

    ".....that will do well on-line but the judge will slaughter that in a comp...." is a common phrase I hear quite often. Is this the fault of the internet excepting low standard work or the judges being to fixed in their opinions?

    The difference between successful photography on-line and at club level seems to be poles apart. Or is it just me?
  2. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    There are one or two threads running at the minute on here about judges in club competitions. I can't speak about 500px as I don't use it but as for Flickr I don't put a lot of stock in the comments unless I know who the person is. I've seen so many atrocious images get the ubiquitous 'Awsome!' comments when I would be embarrassed to post such an abomination. I think you are more likely to get an honest appraisal in the Appraisal section on this site.
  3. lisadb

    lisadb Well-Known Member

    Don't get me started about blown highlights. If an area is very white but still below 255 it often gets classed as 'blown' - apparently white isn't allowed. :confused:
  4. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    The wonderful thing about the internet is that everyone can air their opinion, it being pretty difficult to exert peer pressure on someone 1,000 miles away. The idea that you'll get a more honest opinion on one site rather than another is, let me think of a suitable word here, an abomination.

  5. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    I probably shouldn't post after a couple of beers. ;)
  6. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I simply do not know why anyone attributes any degree of credibility to comments received on internet sites such as Flickr or, indeed, website "galleries". You know nothing about the technical qualifications, skill level, knowedge base or artistic talent of the people making the comments. Repetitive, clichéd comments such as "Great Capture!!!", "Wonderful Image!!!!", "Brilliant!!!!!" give the game away. I suspect most of the folk that "award" such comments are in the "click-clique" game, hoping that if they give favourable comments, they will receive the same in return.

    Anyway, how much can anyone tell from an image transmitted online and viewed on a computer monitor?

    Competition judges? Well we have been there before. Personally, when I have a huge amount of respect for the quality of work produced by someone, as is the case with most of the judges we invite to assess our efforts at my camera club, then I equally have a great respect for their judgements and comments. That is not to say that I always agree with them. But at least I know that their reasons for holding one view are probably better-derived than my reasons for holding an opposing view.

    On the "blown highlights" question, I agree that, after over-sharpening, this is possibly the most common reason for an image receiving adverse comments from a judge. But it is usually a completely justified criticism.

    In nature there is rarely any such thing as an area of pure white. (Very occasionally you might find one in a man-made construction). For example, "white clouds" rarely are featureless, white streams in waterfalls rarely are featureless. White plumage on a bird never is...... etc., etc.

    One very useful way of correcting a blown highlight in a cloud or a waterfall or bird plumage that I learned from the constructive comments of a competition judge was to clone in some detail, at an opacity of around 30-35%, from a darker area of the clouds, waterfall, plumage, blonde hair or whatever. It works most of the time.

    There are some types of judging that I am not keen on. Yesterday morning I went along to Stirling University for the SPF Inter-Club PDI championship. In the first round well over a hundred photographs were projected, each for around 3 seconds, and the three judges each pressed a button from 2-5, giving a total score out of 15 with no comments being made. I am afraid that I need more than three seconds to make any sort of assessment of a photograph, other than simple initial visual impact (sometimes called "wow factor") and, in "normal" club judging, I learn far more from the comments than from the scoring. I left after the first round and went a couple of miles along the road to attend a presentation that Rikki O'Neill was giving to the RPS Scottish Digital Imaging Group yesterday afternoon.

    But, to summarise my response to the OP - in my view, the "judgement" of people on Flickr or suchlike is virtually worthless while the judgement of club competition judges - even if I might not always agree with it - is usually worthy of close attention and respect.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  7. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    As a general rule, blown highlights are a no-no, just as they were in the days of transparencies. However. the 'Rules' are there to be broken and in some cases - 'hi-key' or pure white background - they are also used for a purpose. As ever, experience and knowledge, sometimes hard won, are important for photographer and Judge alike.

    And that is the key with the internet assessment. You will get people looking at an image without that technical & aesthetic understanding or looking at it for a fraction of a second or maybe no more than three or four at most or seeing only the main subject (and nothing more), or maybe all three, before hitting the Like/Dislike button and moving on. I would suggest treating that total Internet assessment of Likes/Dislikes with caution.

    Secondly, an internet image at 500px may not reveal all its flaws just as viewing DPIs - in my experience - at the front, middle, back of the room/hall is very different inspecting them at no more than six feet from the screen or in an A3+ (or larger) print.

    Thirdly, Judges have to find a way of shaking out images and finding a winner. There are easy 'tropes' that can be used by Judges under time pressure and forced by the digital age to be rather more subjective than in the past. These tropes can be blown highlights, under-exposure, images needing cropping, central subject placement, pictures of 'two halves' as well as "Not ABLT/Sunset/Kiddy pic/Flower shot!". Getting beyond those quick assessments can take time, experience, technical knowledge, aesthetic understanding and appreciation and more. That generally is not taught to judges if, indeed, it is actually possible to do so. It is certainly not taught to the vast majority of photographers. You either have a chunk of it inside you or you pick it up as you go or both. Of that latter, right now I hold up Irving Penn as a glowing example.

    BTW, editing - as well - is a skill almost never discussed or taught in photo magazines or clubs. I find editing my own work very difficult. I suggest that may be a common problem among photographers, especially and most of all amateur photographers.

    Fourthly, blown highlights can make a picture but they generally have to be there because the photographer knows what he/she is doing and has done so deliberately. There ain't no substitooote for that!

    Finally, we all see pictures slightly differently and find different aspects of many images more important than others. I can rabbit on about Irving Penn's use of heavy blacks where another viewer may see dense shadows, under-exposure, morbidity, etc., etc.. The blown or very pale skies and de-saturated images of some contemporary environmental portraiture, for example, {I bet there's at least one in the Taylor Wessing and I haven't been to the exhibition yet ;)} are not to everyone's taste or because they are not so common (we still haven't totally emerged from the Kodachrome/Velvia era :D) and not so easily appreciated.
  8. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    Or, to summarise an alternative view, the "judgement" of amateur club competition judges is virtually worthless while the judgement of Flickr posters- even if I might not always agree with it - is usually worthy of close attention and respect.

    It depends, to some degree, on how you pronounce "tomato".

  9. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Let me take the "blown highlights" question, that I mentioned a couple of posts up the thread, a little farther.

    Here is a photo I took in France a couple of weeks ago. It is not quite sunset, so the sun is still in the picture.

    The sun is "blown" and ruins the photograph and I would expect a club competition judge to mark it down for that reason. I would agree with him/her.

    So, if I was going to enter that image for a club competition, then I would deal with the blown highlight. It is not difficult to do.


    Of course, another reason that a judge might mark it down is that it is a very clichéd image. I would have to agree with that, too. But, while I could not expect a judge to ignore the blown sun, I might hope that he was not too aware of the cliché! There is always an element of luck in competition.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  10. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I was saying in another thread that I see little connection between the images in my Bleeding London set that are getting faves on flickr and the ones I know are the best. Would a club judge see things differently? I like to think so.
  11. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    ...which raises the question as to who is the better judge of your photographs: you or the viewers?

    :confused: :confused: :confused:
  12. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Interesting. On my screen it isn't blown, PhotoEcosse, but the biggest problem that leapt out at me was the 'donkey's ear' emerging from the back of the third figure on horseback. Does look a tad over processed. Did you 'do much' to it? Cheers, Oly
  13. Alex1994

    Alex1994 Well-Known Member

    I know next to nothing about camera clubs, but how are the judges chosen?

    Are they 'ordinary' club members who take it in turns, or are they 'full time' judges?

    Do members vote for them, and do they receive any training (such as 'How to Detect Blown Highlights at 20 Paces') or have to pass a test or something? Are they chosen because everybody thinks they're really expert photographers - or just expert in pointing out other people's faults?
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    They have to qualify for itwith PAGB I believe and have a lot of experience.
  15. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    If any judge claimed this was blown, they'd need their eyes examining. But blown does not refer to the sun itself, but to what it is illuminating in the sky around, or the on the ground. Photographing an unobscured sun and getting anything other than a white blob is a highly technical thing and beyond our equipment. It will also cause terminal underexposure. This sun is clearly obscured and the haze does not look at all blown.
  16. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    You, the photographer in general, or me personally?
  17. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Maybe a fuller explanation could be helpful.

    What follows is simplistic and maybe a little out of date so forgive me if it is. The basics are right though.

    Club photography in the UK is organised in 'associations' . At the top is the PAGB (Photographic Alliance of Great Britain). Beneath are County organisations. In my Case the KCPA (Kent County Photographic Alliance). Each club is typically affiliated to its county organisation.

    The point of telling you that is that both levels have panels of judges. Typically at county level judges volunteer. I don't think that photo distinctions/qualifications are a requirement - but loads of experience is an absolute must and being a 'name' in photography also helps.

    All judges at county level go through a training/selection process and selection onto the county panel is NOT a foregone conclusion. Having been selected a new judge is then 'mentored/observed and helped' by a senior judge for his/her first few 'bookings'.

    My club (don't know if all clubs do it) reports on each judge after his performance. Enough negative reports can lead to removal from the judges list.

    At the next level up (PAGB) a judge must be nominated and go through a further pretty rigorous selection procedure (it's all on the web if you care to look) before being let loose at the higher level.

    So you can see that the judges ought to be OK - but, as threads on here testify, no amount of training/feedback/experience weeds out every one of the hopeless cases. Add to that the emotion that's generated about our own work (also evident on this forum) and you will appreciate that a club judge has a pretty difficult task.

  18. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath


  19. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Well it depends. ;)
  20. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    I'll be the judge of that... OMG

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