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What is the difference between a lottery and a photo competition with an entrance fee?

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by Chester AP, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    In a lottery every ticket has the same chance of winning the big prize, and in a photo competition with an entrance fee we are subject to whatever the judges may like this year, knowing that the winning images will probably be taken with hardware that costs many thousands of pounds. A few years ago I went to an exhibition of winning images from a well-known competition and the winning 'junior' entry has been taken with a Nikon D800 and a 500mm F4 lens, using automated exposure...

    And now, if you pay, you can have more than 1 entry in each round of APOY.
  2. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    So hardware gives them some kind of advantage?

    You sound like you're not having much luck. Bad news is few people are, the numerical odds are massively against you and equipment is the least of your problems.
    Done_rundleCams and Roger Hicks like this.
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Mike,


    To the OP: The reason winners often have expensive kit are

    (a) They've been doing it a long time (which is the same reason they're winners)


    (b) They're obsessive (so they spend more than they need to on kit).

    I've met quite a few excellent photographers who use very basic kit. Mostly, though, they don't enter competitions because

    (a) They lack self confidence


    (b) They have better things to do.

    Judges DO NOT look at the equipment used (and indeed, almost invariably DO NOT know or care). Believing otherwise may be balm to the soul of unsuccessful entrants but it's effectively just an excuse.


    Rasha and Done_rundleCams like this.
  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    And what pray is wrong with using automated exposure?
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    That too.

    The classic objection, I believe, is LMF, Lack of Moral Fibre.


    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  6. retrofit

    retrofit Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm going to give it a go this year.
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  7. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    At the risk of annoying many people, I believe that automation is great for washing machines but in photography is just allows people to be lazy.

    If the camera does so much of the work, where is the interest and challenge? (Are you learning how to use the camera's software, or are you learning about photography?) Perhaps the real test of skill and experience is, given an old manual SLR and a 36 exposure roll of transparency film, how many correctly exposed and focussed images could you get? In the example I gave, the technical data made it obvious that the image was taken on 'everything automatic', with the user merely pressing the shutter button at the right time. Probably 20 or 30 images (or hundreds?) were taken on the 'machine gun' setting and the best one selected later.
  8. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member


    Have you ever looked at the book of Magnum contact sheets?

    I think it IS important to understand about exposure nad how it works. Doesn't mean there aren't times when letting the camera do some of the grunt work is a good idea. I was shooting a moving target in very variable lighting conditions on Monday. Decided that for all that I do know how to use a light meter and read a grey card and twiddle various buttons to get a 'correct' exposure, I was probably going to miss my 'decisive moment' if I didn't go and use some of the automatic settings that my camera allows me to choose. So I did. I think sometimes, to use your washing machine analysis, being a 'good' photographer means knowing when it's appropriate to handwash your woollen or silks, and when you can bung everything on a quick wash.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
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  9. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    That doesn't annoy me, merely strikes me as rather unintelligent. If automation gives me the result I want, I use it.If it doesn't, I don't.
    At the end of the day, HCB would tell you that pressing the button at the right time is the key bit of photography. Doing everything manually all the time might make you a better technician, but doesn't make you a better photographer - or for that matter, a better person. And never mind a camera as advanced as a 35mm SLR, I can assess distance and exposure by eye, having used many cameras with no focus aids or meters. That has absolutely no bearing on my ability to take a picture worth looking at.
    What really is lazy is to blame other people's success on having better equipment or using more automation than you. If they're regularly taking better pictures than you, they're simply better photographers than you, and if they're doing it with automation, they're probably smarter than you, too, and concentrating on content more than the technical side. The technical bits are a means to an end - a decent picture - not the end in itself.
  10. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    At risk of contributing to the burgeoning thread drift;), I use often manual exposure - and I use it for no other reason than that I like to use it. I prefer the sense of having been a little more involved in the resulting image.

    However, auto-exposure is often "just the ticket", and I have no hesitation in using it on those occasions. I don't really see any point in an 'absolutist' stance on auto- vs. manual exposure.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  11. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Fully automatic or manual...?

    I can't decide, so I think I'll just stick to using aperture priority on my DSLRS (for as long as it's giving me the results I'm looking for) and good, old fashioned "rack o' the eye" on my un-metered film cameras.

    Cheers, Jeff
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  12. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    The other thing I was going to add is that even when I set my camera to fully manual (which is probably more often than not) I still make some use of the built in light meter and the various metering options to help assess what result I might get. I learned film photography on a k1000 which had a very similar set up. i don't see that as being all that much different to using aperture or shutter priority really
    Andrew Flannigan, peterba and AlanW like this.
  13. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Lazy moi? and who are you to pass judgement on how I want to send my time?
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Photography is little to do with operating a camera, right exposure, DoF etc (you master those in a very short space of time if you're any good). It is all about the picture, seeing eye, anticipation, visualisation....all the things a technician in Japan can't build in. I would suggest you go outside, point your camera on fully automatic at the first thing you see, bang off about 50 of the same and then try to find a winner amongst them. Tricky eh?
    Ffolrord, Roger Hicks and Geren like this.
  15. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Why is that a bad thing????
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  16. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Good points, Geren. Another very famous Magnum photographer, apparently, would have benefited from auto-exposure. His printer regularly had to rescue him back in the days of 'manual everything' cameras. Cheers, Oly
    Geren likes this.
  17. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Hi Mike,
    Excellent points. The Japan Camera Institute did some research about what 'went wrong' with consumers use of their members' production, what the major faults were and how they might be overcome. The age of auto-modes and auto-focus came and the facilities were made widely available on cameras. The JCII repeated the research. The same faults were still apparent.
    Cheers, Oly
  18. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    If using the camera meter for reference I can't think of many cases where setting exposure manually is any more advantageous to using Aperture/Shutter priority mode with exposure compensation. These would be a moving subject against a variable brightness background and using a shift lens (which messes the camera metering). In other uses it is just a preference whether to use the compensation setting or the aperture/exposure time setting. In many cases compensation will be zero so the automatic mode is overall more convenient a starting point.
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  19. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    What is the difference between a lottery and a photo competition with an entrance fee?

    I stand a chance of winning the lottery... :(

    Could be why they have introduced (on some cameras) composition aids into the viewfinder/screen display.
  20. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Pete, right - again! The advertising for the original OM2 (and the Pentax ES before it?) made much of the point that in Aperture Priority the camera could and would set a fractional speed whereas in manual the photographer was limited to significant fixed settings, such as half-stops. The OM2 also metered the light off the actual film surface within a certain shutter speed range. Cheers, Oly
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017

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