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Thread: Competition imagery - your input versus third party

  1. #1

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    Graham Heron

    Competition imagery - your input versus third party

    Hi,
    Local camera club competitions are all the experience I have (and very limited at that), so from that PoV...

    Last year I noticed that several landscapes (specifically) were very similar and formulaic. Two in particular (Grand Tetons or Yellowstone I believe) were almost identical in composition (processing was different one BW, one not, skies not prominent) but were by different people. They scored highly and were included in the Best of Year competition.
    Basically, it seems as if the photographer drove up the carpark, got out and took the same shot as thousands of others. Presumably someone else in decades gone past have decided that that location was a good spot and made it very accesible to people. No probs there. HOWEVER, given the viewpoint has been selected by others, the originality of the shot, in a worldwide sense, is very limited.
    Now, if the location chosen is relatively novel for the camera club (but not worldwide), should that score highly in orginality?

    I took a shot in New Zealand where the path (marked by a low fence) did 90 degree turn at one point by the Champagne Pool. Spectacular location and beautiful shots.
    (lots of images here, so many generic composition).
    http://www.google.ca/search?q=champa...0&bih=757&sei= 016vTtf-HcPh0QGvt4jOAQ

    Personally I feel that if I entered my own shot from there in a Toronto comp, it's an unfair advantage as most people haven't been able to get to the same location.
    Here if you enter a shot if Niagara Falls, it would score poorly, but if it was entered in the UK, or NZ, it is likely to score considerably better (assuming technically good and basically decent composition).

    Your thoughts

    Graham
    I find I am struggling with the idea of competition

  2. #2
    herbert's Avatar
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    Alex

    Re: Competition imagery - your input versus third party

    Hi Graham,

    I agree that some photos are good due to the location. It is as if the scene has been handed to you on a plate and you cannot make it look bad. However you can make it look better with good processing. In this instance it would be more of a competition to put up the same photo for each contestant to post-process. We have competitions like that here on this forum.

    Alternatively you would want to see the results of a dozen photos taken from the same location on the same day. Then judge which person has got the best angle.

    Unfortunately side-by-side shooting and post-processing is not possible for most competitions. In this case you would hope that the judge has enough experience to be able to know what is hard to do, what is good and also what are common mistakes and errors. They can then judge impartially.

    Unfortunately photography elicits an emotional response. The most striking photos may not be the most difficult to produce but they still are scored better than others.

    What I take from competitions is a bit of pleasure in putting my work together as best I can. I then like to assess the judges comments or results to gain an insight into what sort of image is well received by most people. It can give an insight into what images have commercial merit. Perhaps a sunset with a small child in black and white and a long-exposure waterfall in the background with an eagle soaring overhead.

    Remember that your photography is for you. Don't worry what a judge thinks.

    Alex

  3. #3

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Competition imagery - your input versus third party

    Hi Graham,

    My personal experience with competitions like this is that they are very fickle; I've had shots entered that didn't get even so much as an honourable mention that in turn probably out-sold all of the winners put together - so personally, I just don't bother with real-world comps anymore (I just take the money and run, from the sales instead!).

    So the short answer is "who the heck knows" - it probably depends more on what kind of mood the judges are in.

  4. #4

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    Graham Heron

    Re: Competition imagery - your input versus third party

    I respect an image more if more PERSONAL effort/creativity has gone into it.
    IF the photographer has gone to a special location to specifically create a novel image, then huge respect.
    IF the photographer has gone to a special location, stood in the 3rd party designated place, took the pic and with relatively little PP (e.g. BW, perhaps a little dodging/burning), then I have little respect for the image.
    IF the image was taken as a result of the photographer keeping their eyes open, carrying a camera on the offchance something of photographic worth reveals itself, huge respect.

    Personally I value the individuals creativity to a large extent. Turning up with the masses just doesn't show creativity.

    The landscape shots I referred to in the original post were VERY similar to many I have seen online (Flickr, google earth), indicating that it is highly unlikely that any significant skill went into PP.

    Local club comp rules indicate that the image should be the photographers alone. A recent one was critiqued for being of a sculpture, and being too much of another artists work. To me turning up at a carpark designated by some 3rd party who decided that it was a good location for that lookout is pretty much the same.
    Personally I feel that it devalues the merit of a photographers skill.
    Or is a competition merely to comment upon the vision and creativeness of a 3rd party that the photographer has simply recorded to the same extent compared to that of a photographer that has PERSONALLY strived to create an image.

    Graham
    Still struggling with competition values -or lack of them

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Richard

    Re: Competition imagery - your input versus third party

    There are some shots which are just about prerequisites for an area...

    There is a shot of the Grand Teton Mountains that is repeated over and over again with some minor variations. It has a decrepid wooden barn near the foreground with the mountains rising majestically in the background. I have a hunch that, since there appear to have been so many shots from approximately the same spot, there must be a parking area near by. The barn is called "The Moulton Barn". Here is a collection of shots of the barn in question collected quickly from a Google search using the search parameters: "Grand Tetons Photography".

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...umber=3&camID=

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...mber=14&camID=

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...mber=18&camID=

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...mber=27&camID=

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...mber=32&camID=

    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/d...mber=33&camID=

    http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Teton-Barn-Photos.htm

    http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Morm...Barn-Photo.htm

    I think that this is probably the most photographed barn in America. However, I plan to try my hand at it when I visit the Grand Tetons National Park next September. Although it may seem trite to people familiar with the area, I have a hunch that a large print of this scene would be readily accepted by folks who are not cognizent that this is an often repeated subject...

    There are some iconic images that, IMO, we must try to capture on visiting an area. Imagine a collection of London images without one of the Tower Bridge or a group of Bejing images without several of the Forbidden City or Great Wall!

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