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Nakedwithoutcamera

This is kind of weird question

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But here goes. I sometimes enter my uw shots in my camera club's competitions. This is a general camera club and we have outside judges from different clubs. I honestly don't think that in our network of clubs, there is anyone else who takes uw photos and lots of times the judges assume I'm taking the photos in an aquarium. Last night, the judge made a comment about the photo of a frog fish that I entered and how he has thrown away many photos of them. Now, he is not a diver so I know he was referring to aquarium shots. I was also thinking about the DD nudi thread and the difference between taking the shots like David did and shooting in a tank. A couple of my fellow members said that I should title my photos to make sure the judges know they were taken when I was diving. My question is, how could I do that so that the titles aren't intrusive? Some judges take the titles very seriously. One person suggested "Curacao Frog Fish" or something like that, but the judge could just think that was the name of the fish. The member who suggested that always puts "Infra red" in his title if he shot with that kind of filter because sometimes judges just don't get what he was trying to do.

 

So how would you title "Portrait of a Frog Fish" so that the judge knew it was taken while diving? "Underwater Portrait of a Frog Fish" maybe?

 

Any and all suggestions are most appreciated.

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Ummmm maybe the name of the sea and dive site where the image was taken

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I have a small aquarium and the fish in there are always breeding. I keep freshwater fish and I find their reproductive strategies curious - being so different from marine fish because of the lack of the pelagic larval stage. My congo tetras lay stringing eggs in the plants, my catfish (Corydoras) stick their eggs in ones and twos on the walls of the tank and my cichlids (Kribensis) lay and guard their eggs and young in a cave. Anyway the point of this tale is that try as I might I can never get any decent shots of any of this. Personally I find taking pictures in the sea much easier than in an aquarium!

 

To Naked, I would think that if you named the overseas destination of the shot they would understand it is an UW image rather than an aquarium one. But the point I was trying to make above is that in such competitions surely it is the image that counts not the efforts you went to take it.

 

Alex

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[quote try as I might I can never get any decent shots of any of this.

 

thats probably because your full dive kit is scaring them. take it off and try.

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I have gone down the same route and entered shots with titles such "Turtle at Abu Dahab" and "Fish beneath Comino" and the judges have still started talking about aquaruim shot. In the last round of our print competition I enter 2 very different underwater shots, a turtle portrait and a close cropped ray [my avatar in fact], and my other half entered a shot of a pair of butterfly fish and another of a close up redeye. You are allowed 3 shots each so we also put in topside shots. The judge is actually quoted as say "not more fish pictures"! There was something like 15 landscape entries. Even putting in a diver in the background does not seem sufficent to show it is not an aquarium shot.

 

I think that the thing to remember that a fish portrait may not be special to most people. There are unlikely to appreciate how difficult the shot was to take. The same is true for many wildlife shots. Normally, upside at least, this is why they say that the animal must be doing one of the 3 F's (feeding, fighting, and....). I think that for shots to work in mainstream clubs they must be strong compositions from an topsiders perspective. Macro is far more difficult in that respect.

 

Daniel

Edited by DDT uk

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No matter how or where the shot is taken I would hope that the photo is being judged on the same merits that any photo would- lighting, composition, and the ability to connect to the viewer on an emotional level. Keep in mind that your audience as an UW photog is a bit more limited than a landscape, or portrait or for that matter any above water photographer-this will always make the emotional connection component harder to accomplish in an open compitition. Take it for what it is worth- not every judge is going to relate to what you are doing and thus you will probably not win many open competitions. Hopefully, if your work is really good, the large number of UW competitions will recognise that and you will win a few. Its a great feeling when it happens and I imagine that if you win some open competitions it should be an even better high based on a higher degree of difficulty. As for the title, I wouldnt worry too much about it. If the competition has a photo description or includes equipment used, you can get your message that the photo was taken using UW equipment and techniques there.

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One would hope that the photos are judged on their merits alone, but in reality everyone brings their own expectations and preconceptions. How about titling your image "I was at 60ft, almost out of gas, when this amazing Frogfish came walking by"?! If that is too long for your tastes, you can always use something like "Froggy at 60ft!"

Edited by drsteve

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Steve, I love your titles. Thanks everyone for your input. You gave me a lot to think about. Sometimes photos that move me emotionally, and not necessarily mine, the judges hate. Last night there were quite a few entries of coyotes and foxes taken at a game farm. A lot of action shots too. And the judge made a comment like... "Not another game farm photo." LOL So you can never win it seems. Each judge has their prejudices. Some like obvious manipulations, others don't. You just never know. Actually, I think his criticism of the frog fish was right. I had it cropped too closely. But it surprised me that he said he's taken lots of photos like that. But all is not lost. I did win an Award (second highest) for this photo. And it's funny because his comment was "It looks like it was cropped a lot" and it was. I was following that other thread about how much to crop, and someone posted that you can tell when photos are cropped a lot. And I was thinking to myself "How can you tell? I can't." And I thought it was just someone being a smarty pants. And sure enough, this judge knew it was cropped. I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I'll be able to tell things like that. I am just not that technically proficient.

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I would think an "aquarium" shot would be harder to get since you're behind glass. In any case, its an even weirder question for me because I volunteer dive at the aquarium, so I could take "aquarium" shots while scuba diving. :huh:

 

"Hog Fish at 7 feet while diving the aquarium"

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A couple of years ago, a huge brush fire threatened our area. I was out on the fire lines, and could tell that an aerial tanker was going to attack the fire about a 1/4 mile in front of us.

 

Sure enough, one did. However I couldn't get a shot because of the short 12' tall trees and brush around us! I swore a blue streak and started looking for a way to get the shot anyway.

 

I found a slightly taller tree, and climbed it. This was high enough that I could have a line of sight of the next drop. However, the tree was quite slender and swayed alarmingly. Plus, I was wearing full brushfire gear including a fire shelter, and this unbalanced me quite a bit, so I was forced to devote one hand to keeping me upright and attached to the tree.

 

Sure enough another air tanker roared in and made their drop, and I shot away, trying hard to keep the image framed as the tree swayed. BTW, have you ever tried to shoot with a 300mm f2.8 one-handed? Heh. Feeling pretty proud of all this, I went back and processed the images.

 

As the Photo Editor looked over my stuff, he glanced at me and gave me the look. "WTF", he said, "James, I thought you were better than this". I looked over his shoulder, and saw my shot anew: an airplane with red stuff coming out of the bottom, against a grey sky. No terrain in the background that places it, no implied motion, no homes that were threatened, no story.

 

But, I spluttered, you have no idea what I went through to get this! Tough, Larry said. "I don't care if you literally walked through Hell to get the image, an average image is still average."

 

Buried, on page 6.

 

*************************

 

At an auto-vs.-pedestrian accident, I shot some images of a highway patrolman comforting the child as he layed on the street. As I turned away, I heard a wail behind me, and just turned and shot on instinct.

 

The shot showed the mother, who had just ran up to see her son laying there. Her hands were at her head, a look of pure grief on her face, as the patrolman held the son's head and reached out to the mother. In the background, the pickup with the front end damaged.

 

Except it wasn't tack. Pretty motion blurred, actually. "Sorry about that, boss", I said. He replied, "What are you talking about? The information in the image is there, and it's a powerful story. Run it."

 

And it did, page 1 and huge.

 

 

 

 

All the best, James

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The member who suggested that always puts "Infra red" in his title if he shot with that kind of filter because sometimes judges just don't get what he was trying to do.

 

Who's picking the judges. :huh:

 

Interesting. Every time I see a wild animal shot, I don't automatically think, "Not another zoo shot!".

 

I would think an "aquarium" shot would be harder to get since you're behind glass.

 

No. It's harder because all those other visitors are getting in the way when you set up your tripod. :P

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I have a few professional photographer friends in the city ... commercial, fashion, fine art, wedding ... the whole gamut.

 

They almost all share the same opinion: "Underwater photographs all look the same" ... I argue with them all the time and forward them stuff from members here and elsewhere, but they don't respond to the same images I do as an avid diver and underwater entusiast.

 

In my experience, "normal" people seem to respond best to two kinds of underwater photgraphs ...

 

>>> Really interesting wide-angle stuff (like Alex Mustard's "Stingray Over Rippled Sandy Bottom in the Caymans", for example ... sorry, don't know the real title ... if it has one ...)

 

>>> Super-macro stuff that is unrecognizable as underwater subject matter (unless you know what stuff looks like underwater) ... like the recent Pattern POW entries.

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In the plant breeding/growing world, a photograph of a species growing/found where it occurs naturally is often tagged as "in habitat"

 

So, perhaps you could try something similar. "Curacao Frogfish (In Habitat)"

 

Then the judges will wonder what that weird fish was doing in a furniture store :huh:

Edited by Craig Ruaux

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how about this title?

 

"Yes, this was taken in the ocean on scuba 1"

 

"yes this was taken in the ocean on scuba 2"

 

or

 

if the judge is really annoying about it.. hit him with a bucket of salt water when your image pops up!

 

:huh:

 

ok, back to my cave now :P

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Who's picking the judges. :huh:

 

Interesting. Every time I see a wild animal shot, I don't automatically think, "Not another zoo shot!".

 

Now you're showing why you not a local judge. Unless there is a big landscape behind the first thing that many of them do is try to find a bit of concrete wall or the like. One member was commended for making a tiger look as if it was actually in its natural habitat and for not leaving any the tell tale features in the shot. No-one wanted to point out that this was because it was shot on a tiger safari in India.

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Who's picking the judges. :huh:

ROFLMAO!! That's what members say after almost every competition.

 

Now you're showing why you not a local judge. Unless there is a big landscape behind the first thing that many of them do is try to find a bit of concrete wall or the like. One member was commended for making a tiger look as if it was actually in its natural habitat and for not leaving any the tell tale features in the shot. No-one wanted to point out that this was because it was shot on a tiger safari in India.

 

LOL. I hear comments like that all of the time from the judges. A lot of them make a lot of assumptions about how photos were taken. They often comment on skies in photos. If they are too blue, it was PS-ed in. If it's gray, it should have been fixed in PS. You can't win. LOL

 

Fdog, interesting stories. I went to a program last night given my the local chapter of the Audubon Society. The presenter showed some photos he took in the rainforest of Belize. He said that some of the birds were about 30 feet up in the trees, yet it looked as if he was shooting down at them. He got this shot of the some kind of eagle with a crown of feathers (sorry, I forget the name). I asked him if he climbed trees to get the shots. What he did was, he had a 600 mm lens, a large format hi res camera, and he climbed a hill 1/8 of a mile away from that eagle. He said the photo was cropped to 20% of the original. I couldn't tell at all, and he says that he now has even higher res cameras than when he shot that 2 years ago.

 

I think Jeremy is right though. The average person just doesn't like fish. The judges will give a mundane bird shot a higher score than a super shot of a fish, whether in the aquarium on at 50 fathoms. ;-) There was an international contest that another club runs and they showed the winners. Someone from England (I think) submitted some super uw shots. They only garnered HM. Bird shots always win.

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In fairness to these judges, if one is not entering in a natural history type competition, the judges are likely to be totally out of their realm. As a result, unless they can somehow anthropmorphize the subject, they need to see either some dramatic action or sense of emotion in order to respond. The picture would have to tell a story that they can somehow relate to.

Edited by loftus

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I don't agree with you entirely Loftus. The good judges know their stuff. They can give very good critiques on composition, lighting, cropping, etc. (and I've learned a great deal from the competitions). They can judge a good photo by all the "rules." And some of the judges allow for breaks in the rules. But when they say this about a photo of a rundown dock on a lake on a foggy morning "Too bad there wasn't a boat there" and knock down your score because it didn't fit in with their idea of what the photo should have been, then they are idiots.

 

I entered a photo of a turtle surfacing in a nature competition. All it was was the turtle in one third of the frame and the rest open blue ocean. At first the judge said "I was going to score this low because there is too much negative space, but then I realized that the ocean really is huge" and he gave me a 9, the highest score. He seemed to realize that I took it underwater and he got the "feel" of it. That photo was entered in a tri-club competition with 3 judges, and the total score was one of the lowest of the competition. LOL So, you just never know. I've entered photos that didn't place in a second competition and sometimes the original score was confirmed, but other times I scored much higher. Judges are human and they have different preferences. But if you're a bird or portrait photographer, you usually score high because judges seem to relate to those subjects the best.

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Any and all suggestions are most appreciated.

 

Here's my take on the whole thing. I hear your frustration and I basically think you're wasting your time at that photography club. I'll share with you an experience I had recently. I was going to join a photo club similar to the one you're now in. My friend, who's basically a landscape photographer, warned me that the club would be a bunch of old guys getting together and judging photos and that a lot of the judging wouldn't make sense and wouldn't help me to learn and grow as a photographer. He suggested that I join some other photo groups that don't concentrate on judging images. He was completely 100% right. I went to the photo club and could see after a few meetings that I was wasting my time. Needless to say, I haven't been back. If I'd become a member of the club, I'd probably have plenty of stories like yours :lol:

 

The club you're in doesn't appreciate or understand your uw images or the tremendous effort it takes to get the images. Now if you are learning, I guess it makes sense to stay in the club, but I'd probably ignore 99% of the judges comments and ratings.

 

That's my two cents.

 

Ellen

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I basically think you're wasting your time at that photography club.

I agree with Ellen.

 

Post them here and we'll appreciate them even if those stodgy fools don't.

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I agree with Ellen.

 

Post them here and we'll appreciate them even if those stodgy fools don't.

 

I think that this may be a bit harsh. There is still a lot that can be learnt from topside shots and the comments that they get. For that reason I do think that joining in is still worth while.

 

Interesting we have 2 well known UK photographers on the Surrey circuit that give talks on underwater photography and the realm [Len Deeley and Linda Pitkin]. These are always well attended and the photographs applauded. The idea just doesn't seem to transfer those judging.

 

One particular woman scored a well composed, perfectly exposed, sharp picture of an anenome fish with a 6 [the lowest score given]. The very next shot she described as having significant problems will its composition, lack of focus and colour cast. 6 1/2. I did nearly walk out there and then, never to return.

 

 

Daniel

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The member who suggested that always puts "Infra red" in his title if he shot with that kind of filter because sometimes judges just don't get what he was trying to do.

 

Actually I forgot to include this in the quote. This is why I included the "who's picking the judges" comment. I understand why people don't get underwater shots, but a judge who looks at an infrared shot who thinks, "why are those tree leaves white?" might not be the best judge.

Edited by scorpio_fish

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I think that this may be a bit harsh. There is still a lot that can be learnt from topside shots and the comments that they get. For that reason I do think that joining in is still worth while.

 

Notice that I did say "if you are learning, I guess it makes sense to stay in the club"

 

I tried to soften the blow :lol:

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Agree w Jeremy and Ellen! Listening to other peoples ("judges" and other) advise and opinions, is certaily very useful for learning, nit just about improving you skills but also in learning how others "see" images. However, I would argue that it is also imprtant to be "choosy" in selecting your "mentors" and whose advice you will follow.

 

We had a photoclub some years back lead by a selfprocalimed expert photographer. As this "photographer" was very well respected in the community, I was excited to have been invited to be part of the group. Well, I lasted a few meetings but soon realized that it wasn't for me. I think I stopped going when I as told that needing to understand the very basics of aperture, speed and medium sensitivity was no longer necessary in the digital age, and in fact having basic technical understanding would be "artisitically crippling". The killer came when I was told and that the way to fix a blow our sky is to use the "paint bucket" in Photoshop (yes, paintbucket, not curves or levels or any sort of adjustment to the exposure).... Nevertheless, there is always a lesson to be learned and the lesson I learned from that experience was very valuable. For me it was "pick your mentors based on the images you see, not based on the hye that surround the "expert"..."

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One particular woman scored a well composed, perfectly exposed, sharp picture of an anenome fish with a 6 [the lowest score given]. The very next shot she described as having significant problems will its composition, lack of focus and colour cast. 6 1/2. I did nearly walk out there and then, never to return.

Daniel

LOL. Oh my. That happens in our club all of the time on many different types of photographs. It drives people bonkers and gives us a lot to talk about after the "judge" has left. LOL

 

Well, I have to admit that I really like my camera club and I will never quit until I move to Florida (whenever that will happen). I have learned a lot this past year and made some new friends. The best piece of advice I got was from one of the members who is in Salon class. I had submitted a photo of a spider that I took in Australia and I thought it was just AWESOME (if I do say so myself). The colors were crisp and clear and the composition was "perfect" (to me, anyway). It comes up to be judged and I score a 5 (lower than the customary 6 for a non-placing photo). A 5 is a real insult. Turns out the judge thought the whites in my photo were blown out. I hadn't even noticed!! I pulled it up in a histogram and sure enough, yes, they were. But a 5!! I emailed the photo to the Salon class member the next day because I was so upset. Was this really only worth a 5?? I ask her. I told her I couldn't even sleep well the night before because I was so upset. Her advice:

RULE # ! Don't ever lose sleep over a judge scoring your photo. She was surprised that the judge scored it a 5, but that's the way some judges are.

So now, I just have fun. My goal is to try to make my titles more reflective of what the photo is actually portraying. It may help someone who is not a diver understand our sport and art a little bit better. If I were to enter the same photo in an uw competition, I would feel freer to be more "creative" with a title.

 

Anyway, scores for the end of the year are in and I tied with another member for highest score in Beginner Class and for next year, get bumped up to Advanced Class. Believe it or not, judges go much easier on Advanced than they do on Beginners. I don't know why that is, but better photos (in my opinion) in Beginner Class scored lower than similar types of photos in Advanced.

Edited by Nakedwithoutcamera

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