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#1 Scubysnaps

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:01 AM

Hi,
I entered these images as a threesome portfolio recently to an underwater photography club, but they didnt meet the top 14 out of 25 that were wittled down by a couple of judges for an audience to choose a winner.
Could someone please help me understand why, we were asked to include at least one wide angkle and one macro, I think they lack differing technique perhaps?
I'd ask the club but they do not offer much in the way of communication

Attached Images

  • manta_s.jpg
  • sweetlips_s.jpg
  • whaleshark_s.jpg

Edited by Scubysnaps, 23 September 2010 - 06:06 AM.

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#2 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:28 AM

This could be painful...

... but you did ask:

(1) there is no obvious connection between the images, except that they are marine animals

(2) the second image has no geometric or thematic relationship to the "frame" it occupies

(3) the third image is difficult to understand if you haven't met a whale shark (at first glance, I thought that it was a manta!)

(4) compared to terrestrial images none of them are terribly sharp

(5) compared to terrestrial images none of them look interestingly lit

(6) the judges and the audience never, ever think the way that you do...


I had similar luck with a portfolio in a competition for 4 fish, two macro and two wide-angle, using images from Mexico (perhaps it was my dire pun):

EMUP_4_fish_final.jpg

Tim

:D

Edited by tdpriest, 23 September 2010 - 06:30 AM.


#3 Scubysnaps

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:44 AM

for one, there did not have to be a link but I decided to give them a link which was that they were all taken at Maldives last August, I'll try and understand the rest Tim, thanks

What does comment no. 2 mean Tim?



Image 1 oriental sweetlips
Image 2 Whaleshark
Image 3 Manta Ray

I think I dont see a faulty image thats why I put it up again in the 2nd post...they are sharp Tim, if I had the facility to put larger pics up I would but I need to sort out a better watermark first

Edited by Scubysnaps, 23 September 2010 - 06:51 AM.

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#4 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 11:36 AM

...for one, there did not have to be a link but I decided to give them a link...

What does comment no. 2 mean Tim?

Image 1 oriental sweetlips
Image 2 Whaleshark
Image 3 Manta Ray

I think I dont see a faulty image thats why I put it up again in the 2nd post...they are sharp Tim


I told you that it wouldn't be nice...
... and you don't have to agree with anything that I've posted, although you did ask.

Comment no. 2 is actually about the sweetlips, as the manta is first in the post. It isn't on a diagonal, it isn't sitting at an intersection of thirds and it isn't at the "golden mean"; the fish is near or on the boundary of the image at, essentially, random places that impair the aesthetic impact of the image.

It's the difference between this:

Gozo_2010_54_790_Reqqa_Point_.jpg

and this:

Gozo_2010_54_790_Reqqa_Point_mod.jpg


Many judges expect that a portfolio will have some link between the images that is obvious from looking at them, even if it isn't explicit in the competition's rules. Sometimes the link is in the shape of the projected portfolio, a flow from image to image. Trevor Rees' BSoUP portfolios are often brilliantly constructed in this way. It could be colour, it could be aspects of the same animal, lighting etc, but it does need to be obvious. My "EMUP for fish" was an attempt at this, where the arrangement of the individual images and the shape within each image are meant to give a visual rhythm to the portfolio.

The manta looks much sharper than the other two images as they appear on my monitor; I agree that that the other images do look sharp when enlarged, but it's the initial appearance that matters when the judges are pruning the field. On my monitor the colour of the whale shark's body is a little odd, a little purple, whereas the manta is beautifully white. The yellow of the sweetlips doesn't sit that well with the blues of the other images. Similarly, the light manta does not sit easily with the dark whale shark and sweetlips. A competition portfolio isn't just a collection of your best images...

If you have struggled to make great images, it is amazingly unpleasant to have them dissected and rejected - one reason why I'm not a BSoUP member as competitions seem to be paramount in the BSoUP world.

Tim

:D

#5 DDT uk

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:50 PM

Woody

My 2p worth.

The idea behind the excellence competition was to show a range of shots. To my mind the manta and the whale shark aren't that different styles of shot to really demonstrate the range. The sweetlips is IMHO a really nice shot and a very good start. It is the other two that let the sequence down. The whaleshark looks soft and appears to lack definition. Both this and the manta give the impression that it would have been good to be there and there is probably a strong emotion attachment, but as images neither is really the different or stand out from the crowd.

Daniel

#6 Panda

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 03:03 PM

For me they are all cropped too tight. Each image has something chopped off by the border.
And the lighting is not quite right, especially on the fish, shadows blending in to the black background.

Fantastic critters and action but not quite framed and lit/exposed to best advantage.

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#7 Scubysnaps

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 10:50 PM

I'm not after nice Tim :D I'm too honest for my own good too a lot of the times, nice to have other people the same :)
I'm just returniong my replies here to your points of view..I'm not arguing! Thiought I'd say that as it soiunds like it..even to me!

The purplish colour of the whale shark is how it came out after white balancing, comment taken on tho, I'll see what I can do, I had it balanced to a brown at one point, but will take another look.
I see what you mean about them having to work together even tho they said they dont have to be, being from one dive trip doesnt really mean much as its not obvious in the photos.
The rule of thirds or 2 thirds?, well they are as shot, only one is fractionallyu cropped and that is the whaleshark to eliminate some other unwanted action, I wouldnt want to back off from a subject just tio get it positioned differently would I? Then I would have more water column between me and the subject, the internals of the whalshark atre very sharp, a subject that big cant be all sharp, especially when you have only split seconds to take the shot, that was the only shot I got with its mouth open

Panda, can you elbaorate on your 2nd line comment? I have burned some of the sweetlips background for it to work better

I'll try and find time to get the originals up too, if it helps..someone recently told me my photoshop work ruins my originals, rather offensive critisicm I thought, with no proper substance to support his statement, he probably reads here, feel free to chip in Pete :lol:
Cheers
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#8 tdpriest

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 05:05 AM

Daniel seems to understand the competition frame of mind better than I do, so his advice is good. I'm resigned to thinking that it can all be a bit random...

Tim

:D

#9 Scubysnaps

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 05:58 AM

Thanks Tim,
I think thats similar to what I wasa thinking what it lacked, differing technique?
So what , for example, would type of image would have worked with each image to give a good range of shots?

Manta
B
C

WHakleshark
D
E


Sweetlips
F
G


I'm trying to understand this!!?? Something else other than the fish I think helps?

This was the final 6, they all seem to include a model also, which I lack, here they are http://www.bsoup.org/Gallery/170.php
Cheers
Paul

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#10 Gudge

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:47 PM

This was the final 6, they all seem to include a model also, which I lack...............

I don't think that's the problem. If you look at the 2009 results only one shot in the top six featured a model (and that was in the 5th placed set).

I don't think that not having a theme or connection between the shots is the problem either as the rules specifically point out that this is not required:

As the name suggests we are looking for a variety of excellent images to include at least one wide-angle image and one macro/close-up. The images do not need to "work" together and do not need to be related. Images can be from around the world, or from a single location but must show a range of photographic techniques.

I certainly wasn't trying to have a connection between any of the shots in my winning entry in the 2009 competition or my entry in the 2010 competition (which came 7th).

I think the problem with your set of three images is that they don't show a wide enough range of your photographic ability (as Daniel pointed out with regard to the Whaleshark and Manta shot) and that the shots have problems with composition, being framed/cropped too tightly, lighting and lack of definition/sharpness as previously pointed out by others.

Edited by Gudge, 24 September 2010 - 03:29 PM.

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#11 Scubysnaps

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 01:43 AM

Thanks Gudge. I even said myself they are lacking differing technique so I guess it's that really.
I just can't see where the lack of definition is? The whaleshark is sharp apart from his lower jaw which was moving (as I tried not to fall in!) I see the point of them framed too tightly, maybe not the shots for this comp then. If I got any further back you wouldn't have hardly seen the whaleshark for all the plankton. Take a look at the other shots on my website and you will see what I mean. One there with a whaleshark and manta would have been good but viz way too bad. One also I wanted to use instead of this manta was 2, one looking up. One looking down. But too much plankton again.
Cheers
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#12 tdpriest

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 05:04 AM

Perhaps the judges just wanted "different": the 3 images are individually pretty good, but we've all seen similar ones (after all, most of us are struggling to get technically good images and the opportunity to do something different usually comes later, when we have worked out how to get that initial image)?

I've found some images that try to be different with your three subjects, but they have sacrificed some (or more!) technical quality:

2010_Baja_California_046_328_San_Benedicto_The_Boiler_manta.jpg

2009_Indonesia_1317_Raja_Ampat_Gold_spotted_sweetlips.jpg

2010_Baja_California_117_832_La_Paz_whale_shark.jpg


Tim

:D

Edited by tdpriest, 25 September 2010 - 05:18 AM.


#13 cor

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 03:52 AM

The last thing you want to do is analyze the results in a contest. It's totally subjective. Better luck next time.
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#14 loftus

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 04:29 AM

It may be helpful to look at the images that were chosen, and then try to analyze what the judges may have been looking for and what they liked. Try and work out how the images were different from yours and how they may have been technically and artistically better than yours. That may not help you from a subjective perspective, but it may help you set goals for your photography in the future.
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#15 Scubysnaps

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 06:03 AM

Yeah cheers Cor. Not sure there will be a next time for quite some time. Don't think competitions are my thing!
Cheers
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#16 diver dave1

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:05 AM

Perhaps not so much a competition comment as a comment in general. The 3 photo's are not compelling. I see the photos and the internal response is: nice photo, which is the same with most all of my photo's.

Compare that to Alex M's entry at the end of this thread.
Alex photo
When I see the them, my internal response is "WOW! Now THAT is compelling."

Now comparing ourselves to Alex M may be a bit rough going but each time my family friends tell me how wonderful my photo's are, I come back here to review the difference between "nice photo" and "compelling photo"

The 3 TDPriest offerings in this thread also have a nice compelling factor to them.
When I see contest winners, they nearly always are quite compelling.

How to define compelling? Well for one thing, the work has moved from the 'technically accurate' (most of us here) to 'artistically exciting' (where most of us wish we were)
Defining what is compelling is perhaps much of the chase. We certainly know it when we see it.

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#17 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:45 AM

I might as well add some comments - as I did the prejudging - which is where Paul's entry fell down. We got 27 portfolios which had to be reduced to 12 for projection - so the images could be seen and seen for long enough to be evaluated without taking the whole evening.

For me there were 8 stand out portfolios. Then it was pretty even between 9 and 20. Of which we could only accept 4. In the end we accepted 6 and showed 14 portfolios on the night. The audience then voted for these - I didn't vote because I was busy running the show!

You should also note that a lot of very talented photographers entered this month - which cannot always be said of BSoUP comps, so people who normally come near the top like Alex T, Pedro and Tony Baskeyfield were at the lower end of the top dozen.

Anyway, Paul's was in this 9-20 group, all of which were of a similar good standard but none were likely winners. With such close competition at this level, one of the reasons for Paul's not making the grade was that the images did not show the "range of photographic ability" that Gudge points out. That is the only real guidance given in the rules - so anything that didn't do that was easy to exclude in favour of similar standard shots that did.
Keith Lyall's portfolio was close to being dropped for this reason, but got it because of its high impact of the shots (even if two were similar) and actually finished 6th.

Regarding the three individual shots.
The sweetlips is a decent fish portrait, but quite ordinary. It lacks a strong eye contact (real eye contact leaps of the page and grabs you) and thus connection with the viewer. It is poorly lit, lost in the background and the fins are messy. It lacks balance too. It is not taken at the peak of the action as Martin Edge would say. You see this image and think that there was the possibility for a much more compelling image from this subject.

The manta and whale shark are fine. But neither image has any depth - something in the background (sunrays, silhouetted reef, a diver, another manta) to lead the eye through the frame. They are classic examples of choosing pictures of your best diving experience (when a big animal comes close), rather than you best images (which may be a boring subject photographed beautifully, or an exciting subject photographed in a compelling was). So they are a bit one dimensional, neither has a background or any elegance/balance in their composition.

But the main reason for them not making the final is that the collection was on the edge of the top 12 and in the end, it was the lack of a range of photographic abilities that held them back. If you had dropped the whale shark and put in a different type of wide angle or a stunning macro shot - the set may well have made the top 12 for projection.

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#18 Steve Williams

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for putting yourself out there guys. This kind of thinking and commentary can make all of us better.

Cheers,
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#19 Scubysnaps

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:31 PM

Thanks so much Alex for that very constructive reply :D Thanks to Dave also for pointing that out, as Steve says this all helps a great deal ^_^
Cheers
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#20 Keith Lyall

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 07:15 AM

Paul,
I have been entering BSoUP competitions for a few years and until this year have had no success. As stated earlier often one audience will vote for an image in a competition whereas the same image in another competition gains no notice, its sometimes down to luck and obviously other images displayed on the evening. In the past I tended to go for images that I liked or I knew had been difficult to take, and often these were cluttered or dull.

Often by reviewing the style of previous competition winners and runners up I can see the style that do well. I have this year gone for simpler images with high impact rather than previous complicated images. As a consequence I have had a placing (in top 6) in 4 of the last 5 competitions, although 1st place still eluding me ^_^

What I also now do is get a set of possible images and then get Jo to review them to provide an external view point i.e. what immediately jumps out to her.

Attached are the 3 images I submitted which on the evening came 6th overall, the ones Alex referred to. I agree with Alex, images 1 and 2 were a close run thing in terms of similar technique and I did take a punt there .. sometimes it does pay off.

k_lyall_001.jpg k_lyall_002.jpg k_lyall_003.jpg g]

All I can say is keep plugging away

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