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Club Vs Internet

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

  1. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera Well-Known Member

    I was a member of a camera club for over forty years, I enjoyed most of my visits on club night, we used to have 4 print comps and 4 set theme comps but you could only put 6 pictures in to these combined comps we also had the same with slides and later Digital images I did manage to get these cut down to 3 of each.....its strange but hardly anybody ever agreed with the judge but even stranger we all loved to enter the competitions! I still get a buzz visiting a camera club but I am not a member of one now only the RPS.....nowadays I can get as much photography as I want by logging on the net and reading AP and of course I am sitting in my favourite armchair with everything is at arms reach if I need it, most of my friends still come round to see me and I still try and get to Focus to meet people! and boy hasn't photography changed!
  2. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    We have all been happily agreeing on the inconsistency, vagaries and general uselessness of judges. A thought occurred.

    if judges really are so bad and the winner is so subjective how is it that the same few people win all the club competitions (at least in the couple of clubs I'm most familiar with).

    I rather suspect that it's not quite as random as we have been saying.

  3. Digital Dave

    Digital Dave Well-Known Member

    I don't think that anyone here has suggested that judges are useless, in fact just the opposite.

    What has been said, is that that different judges can, and do, mark the same picture differently. I have seen it, as have others, with a good example in this 'thread' where on the same evening at the same club, one judge marked an image at 14 out of 20, and the other judge marked it at 20 out of 20. I think that makes the subjective inconsistency pretty obvious.

    These judges are human beings, not pre-programed computers, and as such will each have their own personal preferences.

    I can't say that the same people always won in my club's competitions, but I don't doubt what you say about the clubs to which you refer.

    Anyone who has been into photography as long as many of us here (50+ years in my case), can tell the difference between a poor photo, and average one, a good one, and an excellent one. Its not really rocket science.

    However, if we are presented with three or four excellent ones, from which to choose a winner, our personal preference will come into play. While a judge may be more skilled than us, he is still human.

    As for the same people always winning at your clubs, I can only assume that they are excellent photographers, so perhaps the experienced members would make the same choice as the judge.

    We all have our own views, and being human, they will differ. Lets face it, life would be very boring if we all thought the same.

    It has been an interesting discussion, with a variety of viewpoints being put forward, but there can never be a consensus agreement 'across the board', so to "agree to disagree" is the sensible option. :)

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  4. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member


  5. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    At our recent exhibition my club asked members of the public to vote for their favorite picture. Personally I thought the winner (one of mine) was too "chocolate box" and I did not vote for it myself but it was useful education.
  6. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I've been taking pictures for much the same length of time and I wouldn't know a bad picture from a good one if it bit me. Even if talking in purely technical terms, a picture of an aircraft fire might win an award for a news photographer; be of immense importance to a crash investigator; be considered an interesting picture by an aviation enthusiast but be considered rubbish by a club photographer.

    Different people are calibrated for different views: "Dangleweed! When I told you to cut out the photography, I didn't mean out of the gallery frames..."

  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Dave,

    I'm not sure I can. I can tell which ones I like more; I can often tell which might be more appreciated for particular purposes; I can pass informed judgement on technical quality. But in absolute terms, for all purposes? No.

    Also, our tastes change. I used to have a lot more time for Ansel Adams than I do today: now, I find too many of his pictures sterile, presenting an unrealistically romantic view of faux wilderness. Conversely, I have a lot more time for Martin Parr than I used to.


  8. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member


    Now we are treading on very dangerous ground indeed. Any suggestion that a judge marked a photograph up or down on the basis of whether or not they "liked" the photograph would seriously bring the integrity and objectivity of judges into question.

    In my experience the undoubted fact that different judges will score the same photograph differently has nothing to do with their personal "likes" but, rather, results from them giving different weighting to aspects of technical and artistic competence.

    The same applies to us as mere consumers. I have often seen photographs that I would assess as excellent but which did not personally appeal to me. Even more frequently, I have seen and liked many photographs despite having to acknowledge that they may be far from technically or compositionally good.

    I suppose there may be some individuals who do happen to like what is technically good and dislike what is not - but that is certainly not a qualification for becoming a camera club judge.
  9. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Because it is not entirely subjective and experience, ability and training count. Do we really need to heat that old chestnut up again?
  10. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I'm afraid so. As that unmade bed proved beyond any reasonable doubt, art is entirely subjective. So is any opinion about its subjectiveness. That being the case, you are free to award points out of 20 and I am free, subject to the wishes of the moderators, to assert the arbitrariness of such an award.

    Looking on the bright side, so far as I'm aware, disagreements about the qualities of art have not, so far, started any wars.

  11. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Well I for one can't be bothered, but maybe there's someone out there who isn't heartily sick of that silly discussion.
  12. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    In all seriousness, would you be prepared to explain just why you think it's a "silly discussion"?

    Just for completeness, I'll make my position clear: roughly 50 years ago, when I started buying film and taking pictures, most "serious" photographers made their exposures onto monochrome film and enlarged their negatives onto Bromide paper.

    There were several skills involved, of which the more obvious might be: assessing the tone range of the original scene; deciding which parts of the scene were most important in exposure terms and mapping those areas to the range of the film; deciding on the best development strategy to bring out the image as visualised; working out which part of the negative to print and how to shade or burn the image to accomodate the even shorter tone range of the paper; deciding how to present the finished print to the best advantage.

    This is a large set of skills and each is, speaking broadly, allowing of objective assessment.

    Digital, however, started a process of deskilling the technical aspects of general photography. In round terms, the majority of digital cameras, set to automatic mode, will produce a finished picture that would score highly in the equivalent areas to all those purely objective evaluations.

    With that taken away, photography has reached the goal of the original experimenters and provides a way for the technically non-proficient to record whatever they wish to place in front of the lens. It is for this reason that I say there is no sensible objective way that a picture can be assessed. The assumed word there is "digital". If all these competitions were restricted to monochrome film, developed and printed exclusively by the entrant, then there would, indeed, be a basis for an objective evaluation, as there was back when I started learning that trade.
  13. Digital Dave

    Digital Dave Well-Known Member

    De Javu. :) Been there, and done that, albeit my results were very average, but it was good fun, and quite a 'learning curve'.

    Digital is a 'piece of cake' by comparison.

    The use of Photoshop also involves a 'learning curve', but is easy to 'undo' and correct if not happy with the result.

    Composition is still in the hands of the photographer.

  14. lisadb

    lisadb Well-Known Member

    I sat in the audience at a club comp where a judge threw a couple of (good) cat photos out because he didn't like cats (he said so at the time). Needless to say he wasn't asked back again. :eek:
  15. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I don't like cats - horrible independently-minded creatures that just don't accept their place in our society.

    But, just because I don't like cats, I would not rubbish a photo of one if it was a good photo. It just so happens that I have never seen a good one yet.

  16. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I don't like cats - horrible independently-minded creatures that just don't accept their place in our society (a bit like Sejanus.Aelianus).

    But, just because I don't like cats, I would not rubbish a photo of one if it was a good photo. It just so happens that I have never seen a good one yet.

  17. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    Wot? Little me?


  18. nCognito

    nCognito Well-Known Member

    You are quite right, at family do's my 7 and 10 year old kids will grab the DSLR and scamper off to merrily take a few hundred pictures. Half will be blurred, a quarter will be unidentifiable and the remaining quarter will make it on the disk drive which holds our family pictures. They are in full auto and some of the pictures are quite OK, especially since my 10 year old joined his school's camera club and learn't the rules of composition. Being short, their pictures sometimes have a unique and interesting perspective but this isn't the whole story.

    I am not as experienced as many here but my dad taught me to shoot with a Pentax he brought back from Japan in 1972, (which I still have) and I took a photography O'level in 1984. I can still remember waiting for my turn with the school camera, (we had two but only one had aperture priority, OM-1 and OM-2 I think). I would then go off and shoot a roll of film, which I had loaded myself into a reusable film canister, develop the negatives and make a print. Some of my portfolio prints took days, dodging and burning, hand cutting masks, sometimes hours of darkroom work destroyed by a few seconds inattention.

    I went to London last Thursday with the express intention of taking some night time 'cliche shots' and I have spent the entire weekend and a good chunk of this evening working on 2 images in Lightroom and Photoshop. After two days working on them, I am still not entirely happy and have gone back to the start many times but what I hope to get to is a final image that I will be proud of.

    It is the same now as it was then, I am working in colour, the cost of a mistake is less and the techniques and tools are completely different but I still want an image that I am proud of. At least now I don't have to be happy with nearly there or good enough, I can just keep going until I am completely satisfied and try many different techniques.

    So I agree anyone, even a 7 year old can take an OK picture but there is still skill in preparing and presenting a good picture and a good judge should be able to spot this.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  19. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    Everything you write makes sense but this last bit leaves me struggling. Let's go back to Mademoiselle Emin's bed. Many people laugh at it, a lot of people think it's a great con, Charles Saatchi paid £150,000 for it and then sold it for £2,200,200. So, is this good art?

    It's an extreme example, I grant you. However, it does put the question in perspective: who is a good judge? What qualifies someone as a good judge? How can you show, in any objective fashion, that someone is a good judge?

    Lest I be accused of arguing for the fun of it, this is a very real dilemma for a lot of people and probably why Flickr and similar sites are so popular, allowing participants, as they do, to post what they like and others to find their own personal choices of "good". Someone wrote here, not long ago, that this site seems under used. Could that be because some people have appointed themselves the arbiters of "good" and those with different tastes are driven away?
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  20. nCognito

    nCognito Well-Known Member

    I do see your point. Ms Emin's bed was a reflection of her life in an art installation, in the eye's of two beholders it was worth £2M. I'm not sure you can seek objective criteria to judge art of that nature.

    In photography, we can use technical criteria but the problem is once someone has learn't the criteria they are an expert, so we have a lot of experts here. Beyond technical you have subjective judgement and then it is difficult and you will have disagreements. I don't always agree with competition winners but I can usually see why they have won. Your earlier point about mastery of technique leans towards the technical, while really art has to be somewhat subjective and in that you will get variation.

    Sometimes a photo will just grab me by the b***s and squeeze, other times a highly regarded photo will leave me cold. They may both be equally technically competent but why does one cause a visceral reaction and the other not?

    In life there are two types of people, ones who can show you how good you are and encourage and ones who can only tell you how good they themselves are and discourage. I try to be the former but am probably too much of the latter. We have both on here and I quite deliberately don't link to my flickr or website, though I will post up images for critique. I can only hope that judges, whatever their subjective bias, can also provide good feedback and practical advice. You don't have to listen and perhaps your best option is to find another judge but at least when there are judging panels I think it evens out and we get close to the right result. The Internet is the world's biggest judging panel and it is natural to gravitate towards sites which relate to you the best. flickr is so big anyone can find a group that meshes with their thoughts, this site is much smaller.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014

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