View Full Version : SEPPA Scores

03-08-2008, 10:47 PM
Just got the information from Elizabeth on my first print score. Very interesting for sure. So, here is her quote:

"Flower Girls" -All the judges got up an looked closely at the image for a long time before scoring. Intially, 79. Then challenged by the judge who scored it 86. He loved the technique, composition and framing of the branches. He called it impressionistic, talked about how they could be anybody's girls, and he just loved the image. The judge who scored it 79, said he went under merit category because of the tonality of the grass and the bright area in the center which he found distracting. The 77 judge had issue with the softness of the girls (which remember the 86 judge liked) and some color problems. The 73 judge siad there was over-darkening in some of the branches and he didn't like the white area in the middle. The technique was not uniform enough and it was over saturated. Re-scored at 78, and stayed the same at ins and outs."


So there you have it. Missed it by that much. Judges ranging from 73 to 86.
I honestly have no idea waht to do with this image now. If they all agreed on one major aspect that kept it from going blue, it would be easy.

03-08-2008, 11:44 PM
I'm no judge Ron, but it would hang on my walls!

03-08-2008, 11:51 PM
Thanks Jack. It just happens to be for sale. As soon as I get it back I will ship it right to you with the invoice. :) No, you wouldn't want it. Why hang something that only got a 78?

Funny, I am already reworking this image based on some of the comments. I have added the kangaroo up in the tree and the little girl now is holding a pistol. That should get it over that 78 hump. Actually I really am already reworking it. Funny, one judge hit it right on the head with the comment about impressionist. I painted this whole thing in that style. Oh well, it's art and that means it's subjective. Back to work.

03-08-2008, 11:59 PM
Ron, if those two little girls were my granddaughters, I'd be sending you "green merits" faster than you could spend them on gas!!!

03-09-2008, 12:02 AM
I will add, after watching 8 hours or so of judging, that many images that received challenges (and there were alot) received scores all over the map. There were several that were as high as 97 and as low as 73 (one print that is) which really surprised me. I saw 2 different panels of judges, and overall I would say they tried very hard to come to agreement on the level of their scores. But then neither of mine were challenged so I got no input--I don't know which is worse. It seems the prints that aren't challenged are judged very quickly, as in like 10 seconds, where as there were some challenge prints that were talked about and examined for over 10 minutes!

I have to go to dinner with my kids now, but I'll write more later.

For all those others that I was looking out for, I did not see one--another amazing thing that I saw 2 of mine and one of Ron's but none of the others in all that time! I tried.


03-09-2008, 12:05 AM
Thank you for trying! I look forward to hearing more of your comments about the convention. I hope you are learning a lot and really getting a lot out of it. Our regional is next weekend. Print crew, so time for a little Advil for the back! Hopefully good things to report. Thank you again!

03-09-2008, 12:15 AM
Ron-did you only enter one print? Anyway, it is a beautiful image and I have seen scores all over the map with Painter images. You should keep in mind one judge scored it 86. And you did get feedback rather than just a number and little talk.

03-09-2008, 12:24 AM
Auralee I have four images at SEPPA. I actually do appreciate that I got feedback. I really am already reworking the image based on some of the comments. However, some of the comments are a bit vague so I am concentrating on the things I think would be important to raising the score.

03-09-2008, 04:24 AM

Peach cobbler will remove the sting. Once the sting is gone you will see that this image did amazingly well for someone's first entry.

There's a book called The Four Agreements and in it is the philosophy that we are each living our own lives (he calls them "dreams") and these dreams collide whenever we interact with others. The problems with communication occur when one person's dream does not match someone else's. And it couldn't possibly match because each person has led a different life (dream).

Thus the varying degrees of scores. So let your heart go with the highest score. Let your head take note of the lower ones, and if you rework the image keep this version because I think it's lovely.

I'm very proud that you were brave enough to compete.

Pat yourself on the back you stinker!

03-09-2008, 04:41 AM
Why hang something that only got a 78?

Hey Ron,
99.5% of everything that we sell to our clients probably wouldn't score that high. But then, 99.5% of anything that merits probably wouldn't be a client's favorite either. Learning that what we like, what the clients like and what the judges like are usually three different things is the hardest part of print competition. My first competition print scored a 74... but the client I shot it for loved it and paid my rent that month. I would've done backflips if even one judge thought it should've been an 86!

The main thing is that you entered and, like it or not, the critiques will ultimately help you become a better photographer than you already are. And some of us think you're pretty dawggone good the way it is. Don't let a silly little thing like someone's opinion bring you down. You're starting out head and shoulders above where most of us did. You whipper-snapper, you!

03-09-2008, 04:50 AM
Thanks Dan. I am mostly kidding around here about my sad 78. I had said a week or so ago that the scores didn't matter because I had already won by going through the process. I had learned so much in this endeavour and I am grateful for the lessons. Art is subjective and I do find it amusing that two judges had it scored so vastly different. Just shows how we all think so differently. And, I still have a chance of going 4 for 4 but of course that would be the wrong direction having 4 out of four score under 80. :)

Iman, having you as a close personal friend is a blessing. Now if I could just get you to prepare your work for Nationals! I did have the peach cobbler and yes it soothed this awful pain. :)

03-09-2008, 05:36 AM
Ummm....peach cobbler is the most delightful pain killer... I'd love the image for my little girl's nursery...It's beautiful.

03-09-2008, 06:35 AM
Unfortunately, I think peach cobbler and its cronies have caused much of my pain. :eek:

About your artwork, however, I loved your work and it certainly seems OBVIOUS to me that it was made to be impressionistic (hence the soft faces on the children, etc). I have some art prints in my home that have only suggestions of faces and I stare at them a lot and I'll always see something new in the work. To me, that's a great part of what art is about.

I'm sorry the 86 judge couldn't have brought the others around, but it also gave you a fuller experience for your first print competition by having all the variety in their comments. I see the grass is over-saturated, but I like the feel it gives. That's my opinion, although I'm hardly qualified to judge. The more I look at it, the more I enjoy the swirling effect of the layers of tree branches and how it draws you into the bright area with the girls. It "works" for me, and it also is another nudge reminding me that I need to start some Painter classes and get a taste of what is so magical about your work and Iman's and the rest of the Painter folks.

Enjoy the peach cobbler. Go sneak other bite just for me! :)

03-09-2008, 09:14 AM
Hi Ron,

Sorry about the score though I think it's great that you've started to play. Good vibes and happy thoughts for the others!

Ok, here's my take and I do think that I have a pretty good handle on print comp in general.

1. An image really goes up there for about 20 seconds. Now there's a lot of things that can be missed during those 20 seconds but not light and dark areas. That's the one thing that's almost guaranteed that will be noticed. So what do you do? Make sure that the lightest or darkest (depending on what key) area is where you want the judges eyes to go. In this image, the viewers eye goes straight to the lightest area which is that white opening and second is the grass which I think looks much more noticeable on paper.

2. Generally, most judges look for sharpness over softness. Now if you're playing the softness angle then things better be as uniform as it can be. Having parts of the image that are sharp (or appear sharp on a print which is 6 feet away) which is not the subject/s does not help.

3. I think more judges now are being a little more critical on art conversions in general just because there's the lingering idea of what's under all that artwork? The judges will now go in for a closer look and start looking at all the details.

4. Every once in a while a judge does score very differently than the others and this is why there's more than one. So when you play, it's almost best to go for a broader appeal. Also, the judges comments are normally all over the place just because the next judge in the line would like to add (or say something different) on to what the other guys said. It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't agree on the other points (though they should say if they do or don't) they're just adding to the discussion.

5. The most important element here is the impact. Honestly, it's hard to get a feel of what's going on with the girls and this I think is the main thing that held it back.


On a personal note, I don't buy this green merits vs gold merits way of thinking. Of course people are gonna love their images cause it's them and it's really hard to put a score on emotional attachment. Oh wait that's actually impact, but only to them. Also, some photographers are just much better with their sales and marketing than their photographic skills.

As a whole (on an international scale) I would imagine that the average total gross receipts of people who consistently merit are probably better than ones who don't. I wonder if we could ask PPA to do a cross reference between people who merited last year and didn't against the last benchmark survey. In addition, I would bet that the top 3 winners at WPPI's wedding album category last year surely makes more money than the bottom 3. In general, I think that more gold's do equal more green's just because of the improvement process or the talent that's already within.

Finally, something that I've thought about is that since Lifetouch is a Billion dollar enterprise, now why would they they even want to do print competition and if they did, would they do well? Another is that Leibowitz would probably do real good in comp if she would only play.

03-09-2008, 12:17 PM
Ron, all I can say is I can't wait to see the image after you rework it, I'm sure it will be shining brighter than it is now! Great comments people, learning tons reading the threads.

03-09-2008, 04:14 PM
Thanks everyone for the condolences, I mean your kind words. Ha!

Now here is why comp works. I have taken some of the comments I felt were most important and put them into reworking this print. I have gone deep into this print with very tedious rework. You will have a hard time seeing all the differences here on the low resolution files but you should get a sense of the difference. I am not exactly done yet but I am getting there. I need to take a break and have some breakfast. Comp works because it makes you see and it makes you dig deeper and more exacting.



03-09-2008, 05:13 PM
Marc B,
What an excellent post. Great comments about print competition.


03-09-2008, 05:54 PM
I'm sorry, honey!!! I would've loved to have seen you get that 80 (as I know you would've as well). Next time for sure!

So how did your other 3 do? :)

03-09-2008, 06:02 PM
Look at you Marc! Talking like a Master already :D

Speaking of Annie, her exhibit is at the Legion of Honor in SF right now.

03-09-2008, 08:23 PM

Hi Ron,

How do you feel about how close that very noticeable branch is to that child's head.

03-09-2008, 08:24 PM
Wow... I can see the difference even on the low resolution. It's amazing how much tweaking can do. I saw it in my own between state and SEPPA... now if they would just post the scores so I can see if it mattered. Ugh.

Congrats Ron- one judge at 86 and conversation is awesome. It's feedback that makes a better, not scores so I am incredibly jealous. :-)

03-09-2008, 08:42 PM
Ron, please don't be discouraged!!! It's a wonderful image. The judge who scored 86 and didn't fight hard enough for it. You're doing the right thing, reworking and re entering. That's how we grow!!

03-09-2008, 08:44 PM

Try this one.


03-09-2008, 08:46 PM
There we go!

03-09-2008, 09:16 PM
Thanks Marc but what's the score now?

03-10-2008, 02:05 AM

I really enjoyed your image before the rework, but now it really knocks my socks off!!!!!!! I think by your original image not getting a merit you are going to gain so much more out of the experience. Along with the rest of us. Thanks for letting us take the ride with you.

03-10-2008, 02:11 AM
Truely awsome image Ron!

03-10-2008, 02:11 AM
Thanks Chris. You want to see original? Well here is the real original of this file so now you know where it really began. Four years ago. I have been messing with this image for four years trying to make something special out of it.


03-10-2008, 02:55 AM
Just an idea--I love the painter version, but after seeing the EI images today, what about trying some sort of EI approach to this one? What do you all think?

03-10-2008, 03:06 AM
Actually Elizabeth, I was told before I submitted my four prints that I should consider submitting to EI and not print. More than one person told me not to be disappointed if I submitted these to print comp and didn't merit. When I asked why, I was told that the print judges were not too kind when it came to painted images. I didn't want to have them reprinted to meet the EI size so I decided to stick with the print comp. I have no idea how this would have done in EI and it might have met a similar fate. However, the one judge who had it scored at an 86 did "get it" that it was impressionist in style. I am still working the image. Since it didn't merit, I have to decide if I want to submit to Nationals as a print comp or reprint to EI size and submit to that catagory. We'll see. I have time to lick my wounds and decide.

03-10-2008, 02:25 PM
Actually Elizabeth, I was told before I submitted my four prints that I should consider submitting to EI and not print. More than one person told me not to be disappointed if I submitted these to print comp and didn't merit. When I asked why, I was told that the print judges were not too kind when it came to painted images. I didn't want to have them reprinted to meet the EI size so I decided to stick with the print comp. I have no idea how this would have done in EI and it might have met a similar fate. However, the one judge who had it scored at an 86 did "get it" that it was impressionist in style. I am still working the image. Since it didn't merit, I have to decide if I want to submit to Nationals as a print comp or reprint to EI size and submit to that catagory. We'll see. I have time to lick my wounds and decide.

Hi Ron;

My biggest problem with E.I. is filling a case. You can't split a case ... it has to be all regular or all E.I. . (at least here in Pa. ... I will now check the rules for sending my case in May) And I don't want to pay to send two cases.

03-10-2008, 02:29 PM
D. Craig you could at SEPPA but not at Nationals if I understand correctly.

03-10-2008, 02:37 PM

(Not that I've been checking the site all night or anything.)

03-10-2008, 03:08 PM

I can't remember but I think you didn't have a guide print did you. In photography judging they have no idea what you started with and how far you have brought your work in painter. The forum does know. It makes a difference. That is why they created EI (for paintings and wild new ideas) They originally had tear sheets to compare to. Now it is all displayed together. I felt you would do better in EI for that reason. I feel you should enter that same image (reworked as you have) in EI at Nationals. They understand what you have done. It is a great image and you have your heart wrapped up in it. I do understand that concept.


03-10-2008, 03:29 PM
Sandra since I entered that one in print comp I did not have a guide. Like I said, I will have to decide over the next few weeks what to do with these as far as Nationals. The scores may be so low it's not worth messing with. :)

03-10-2008, 04:13 PM
The scores may be so low it's not worth messing with.
Do shut up. I mean that in the nicest possible way. Nobody who has seen your work is going to buy the low score thing, so cut it out. The fact that your 78 had one judge scoring it an 86 means people are seeing something worthwhile in there (understatement.) Bring it to the next level and you'll be duking it out with Cheri and Sandra in the score department.

03-10-2008, 04:20 PM
I was being a bit facetious Mark. I have no trouble with my scores actually. I have already cleaned up that one print. For a first time out, I have to be pleased that the one print seemed to have so much controversy. You know me, I love to stir things up and get a bit of controversy going even when I am a 1000 miles away. Ha!

03-10-2008, 05:03 PM
Have you heard what the other images you submitted did?

03-10-2008, 06:35 PM

(Not that I've been checking the site all night or anything.)

I am with you. I am in class in Atlanta with Marathon Press and I had to have the password so I could check and its STILL not up.... I am dying.

03-10-2008, 06:52 PM
I just back back from a meeting and had an email from a friend at SEPPA. So, I am sad to say, I didn't get one merit. I suck. My scores were 78, 78, 77 and a 76. Oh well. The sad part is you have no idea what held each one back. I might consider in the future entering only comps where I can be there for the judging or like National where you can pay extra for the judges critique. Part of the learning process should be understanding why you got the score you did no matter if it's 85 or 75. So, sadly I didn't do very well. I played the game but no cigars or ribbons for me. I sure wish I knew why. Bummer.

03-10-2008, 06:55 PM
I just back back from a meeting and had an email from a friend at SEPPA. So, I am sad to say, I didn't get one merit. I suck. My scores were 78, 78, 77 and a 76. Oh well. The sad part is you have no idea what held each one back. I might consider in the future entering only comps where I can be there for the judging or like National where you can pay extra for the judges critique. Part of the learning process should be understanding why you got the score you did no matter if it's 85 or 75. So, sadly I didn't do very well. I played the game but no cigars or ribbons for me. I sure wish I knew why. Bummer.

If your friend could get us the names of those judges (except for the 86 one), we could send out the ourppa.com enforcers to rough them up a bit.

03-10-2008, 07:02 PM
Marc I don't mind the scores as much as I don't like the part of not knowing why a print gets the score it gets. I know this sounds a bit sour but right now I am kind of done with this. I learned from the one print because Elizabeth happened to be there, but the others?

03-10-2008, 07:03 PM
Those are all red ribbons, Ron, so noteworthy if not merit-worthy. Those 78s are on the cusp, and since you worked them, it is likely there exists a rendering that would make them merits. You merely need to find it.

I would solicit help from the resident painter experts to see if they see things in your renderings that they think could be changed to improve the scores. (Sandra, Cheri, Iman among others.)

03-10-2008, 07:12 PM
So, sadly I didn't do very well. I played the game but no cigars or ribbons for me. I sure wish I knew why. Bummer.

Does it really matter? You know it's great. We know it's beautiful, but most importantly, you produce images that sell for a lot of money. Isn't THAT the most important thing.

I've never entered contests. I'm not sure if I would want to. Knowing my clients love the images I make for them (and they're not particularly artistic), is all the reward ($$) I need. Well, maybe the "Wow, I love it" comment or the hug from mom (OK, especially the hug from mom). That's all I really need.

I have more to say but I type slow and I have to work. :rolleyes:

03-10-2008, 07:16 PM
I have just gotten word that the scores will not be posted until Wednesday night or Thursday morning. So save your refresh finger. Bummer!


03-10-2008, 07:30 PM
I know what will cheer you up. A nice tall glass of lemonade. You may not realize it but all four of your prints just won big. They will all be on display at the convention which means they were accepted into the show. To take your mind off the numbers you can start working on your press release. First I would target where you want to publish it. Personally I prefer the smaller circulars that everyone gets for free over the big newspapers. The big papers will bury your story in the business section and probably won't include the photos. The smaller ones will sometimes give you the front page if they're having a slow news week. Be sure to include a photo of yourself so people can recognize you on the street and mention the names of all your clients in the article so their families round up lots of copies for friends. My girlfriend has an article from her local paper in her keepsakes, it's dated 1983 she's kept it all these years because it has her senior portrait in it. The photographer who took it now lives in Baltimore and works for a different company than the press release is for but by golly she will never forget what an honor it was to have her picture on display in Indianapolis, she's a rock star. If you look closely at the photo you can see a hand written number on a gold corner....78....wonder what that means? Who cares! She's a ROCK STAR! :cool:

03-10-2008, 07:54 PM
If I remember correctly you said that you already won by the learning what will be gained from competition. I understand fully the need to feel slighted in a way becuase judges didn't see my brilliance.

On another note, and one that is going to sting a bit, but you are focusing on the one judge who the image really resounded with, not the five others who felt the attempt was just short of issuing a merit.

At nationals we have the benefit to order a critique of an entered image so we can hear what someone outside of our circle has to say about it. Now that judge may not have actually judged the image, but each judge has their own opinion. Did you know that if you order the critique, and your images did not merit, that the critiquer has the right to re rove the print into another panel because he or she thinks it should merit?

This one judge who gave it a good score was touched on another level by your imagery. That is a bit of an accomplishment on it's own.

Give up on comp if you want, but before you decide, give it two weeks.


03-10-2008, 08:31 PM
Hi Ron,
If I remember correctly, 78 is in the upper "above average" category. Even if you went to the print judging, you would have to sit there all day for two days or so until yours came up. And then as others have mentioned, they might only get a score and a few words of 10 sec or less unless they are challenged. But it is a great learning experience to find out what judges look for.
Just because it didn't merit at SEPPA, does not necessarily mean it won't at nationals--many of us here have had instances when something merited at nationals that didn't make it at regionals so it's a whole new ball game.
One year I had an image score 94 at Western States and got a seal, but my mom died and I just didn't get around to sending it that year. Sent it the next year (seal is only good for the current year) and it did NOT merit at nationals.

Now for the critique that PPA offers, it's good--I've had it done twice--but I didn't learn anything I didn't already know or hear somewhere else--just maybe affirmation that previous comments were valid.

In my opinion, print competition is as subjective as art itself.

This year I entered three portraits (none merited) and one Illustrative, so I'm struggling with what to do next also. Since I'm steering my business to the Painter and fine art work I've been doing, I think I'll replace the losers with fine art type stuff.

03-10-2008, 09:16 PM
Thanks guys and girls. I am not giving up on comp but I probably will give up on comps with no feedback. I want to know the whys. Like I said, even if I got an 85, I would want to know what the weak points of the image were. Afterall, didn't I hear that this comp thing was a learning process. So yes I did learn a lot from the challenge that Elizabeth witnessed and it has helped. I learned a lot from going through the process of preparing the files for competition. There is no question. I just want more I suppose and thus my reason for considering not to enter a competition that I can't attend or request a judges critique from. And no I actually don't feel slighted at all by not gaining a single merit. I am glad I did what I did. Of course I am proud of my work and will never give up. Now, on to preparing files for Nationals in July.

03-10-2008, 09:47 PM
I am always amazed when an image scores so drastically different across the 5-6 judges. At MES, they had two rooms going on at once so, when the print chair felt like it, he could send a given image that was maybe a little controversial over to the other room. I saw a 79, that was argued for 15-20 minutes in one room, sent over to the other room and receive a 91. The maker gets the higher of the two scores which is nice :-)

I said I was amazed by this, but really when thinking about it more, it is also to be expected. Although there is definitely a certain "standard" that must be achieved in the 12 elements of a merit image, there is plenty of room for subjectivity. That is why there are 5 judges (6 if you include the alternate when a challenge occurs).

In the end, I really like the system even if it leaves me at times completely confused on a particular image.

My only wish, is that the images that score 76-78 and turn without any comments or discussions (and leave the inexperienced folks without any clue as to why it "just fell short" of a merit) could be discussed as well ... but they would never get through all the prints if they did that.

I made a point to note a given image that scored a 77 or 78 in which I could not figure out why it didn't merit so I could later tracked down one of the judges or masters (during the master mob) and walked them over to the image in the gallery and asked them why it fell short of a merit. Sometimes there were still differing of opinions, but they usually could at least point out some questionable areas of the image which I felt extremely helpful.

03-10-2008, 09:48 PM
Another thought. Because we don't get feedback no matter the score, what if it got marked down because the stroke was bothering the judges or the print itself was not glossy enough or they just didn't like the mat color but everything about the image was good? Like Sandra said on the phone this morning, she got an 85 on a print but she would love to know what kept it from scoring higher. She didn't mean that in a nose in the air way, she just meant it like what I am saying, what kept it from scoring higher period? We don't have any answers. So, if you submit and want to learn from that submission, it's just best that you are there to ask the questions after the judging. I am getting my case back and only have information on one of four.

Now, the good news is my case went four for four. Ha! Just not the four for four we all hope for though.

Back to work. I no longer have to keep hitting the refresh button on the SEPPA site. I was told the firewall was preventing them from uploading scores from Raleigh. Bummer for those who are still waiting. Thanks everyone for your kind words of support. I am moving forward.

03-10-2008, 09:55 PM
Ha! I am 4 for 4 as well Ron ... meaning ... I gotta find 4 more to send to Nationals as well. Should we start our own club? ;-P LOL

03-10-2008, 10:01 PM
Yeah John! Let's get ours ready and show them at Nationals what we are really capable of doing. I have talked with several vetrans of comp today and had some interesting comments. A couple of them said "I told you not to enter those in open print comp but send them to EI" and two said they had prints that didn't merit last year at SEPPA but did at Nationals and went loan. Just like you said about two judging panels where one panel scored below 80 and the other panel scored at 91. Where in the world does that make sense? Of course it's subjective but good grief Charlie Brown! You would think based on the 12 elements there would be a bit more agreement.

03-10-2008, 11:46 PM
Ron, You knew going in that there was a good chance that your images would be scored and there would be no challenge or no comment. You also knew that even if there was comments or challenges, you wouldn't be there to hear it. And of course you knew you wouldn't be there to ask any judges about your prints after the scoring was over. All of that you knew before hand and were apparently ok with. So I don't understand why now after the fact you are saying you won't enter again unless you have the option to get a critique. What changed for you after the fact? Plus if you remember, I told you at IUSA about where I thought each image would score and why. I was pretty accurate I if I am remembering our conversation correctly. In fact I told you if you added a subject to the trees painter image that I would score it (depending on the final print) a 78 to maybe an 80. So I think you got everything you said you wanted from this experience.

As far as entering the painter ones as EI, I am also able to judge EI and I think you made the right choice to enter them in open.

Something else, a wrong stroke color or mat color or a less than high gloss on a print will not be enough by itself to keep a print out of the merit catergory if "everything else is good".

I am sorry that you feel let down by your first competition, but I really feel like you knew going in what you could expect to get out of it and now you are dissapointed that you didn't get more than what you expected.


03-11-2008, 12:00 AM
I I saw a 79, that was argued for 15-20 minutes in one room, sent over to the other room and receive a 91.

John, I can believe this happened. It will probably happen again sometime. But what nobody is commenting on is that it is a fluke. It's not a comman occurance. Because it is "newsworthy" it gets talked about. But nobody is chiming in here with the hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of times a print gets roved and gets a same or very close score on another panel. The rarity is what gets talked about. I have had people tell me they would never live in Nebaraska because of tornados. They hear about the rare occassions that a tornado destroys a home and think "OH NO everyone in NE is at risk for a tornado." when actually tornado damage is rare. It's the same way with prints. Everyone hears about that one instance that a print gets widely divergent scores from different panels and then they think, "well maybe my print would have got a better score with a different panel". But the reality is 9999 times out of 10,000 the scores would have been very very close.


03-11-2008, 12:15 AM
I want to add, Your prints went before a panel of photogs who have merited prints at least 25 times, went to a week long judging class, and had other affiliate jurors rate and critique thier prior performances at least on three seperate occasions. This is not a group of wishy washy folks. They might be new to the affiliate system, but not necessarily new to judging.

I want to also point out that I bet if you polled them individually, the two panels of judges drive at least 8 different makes of automobiles. You know what I mean? Different strokes, for different folks.

The first time I competed, I had an image go loan, and one go in the showcase book. I was amazed then, and even more so now as I have seen the bar getting raised year after year. I am grateful I had a good first experience, because the second time was a dismal failure( or so I thought)- 6 entrys, 1-80. I took a lot of good info from them, and moved along to the nationals. Guess what? They scored the same!!

On to my regionals, where I stood with Don Chick, and watched three of my prints go through the in and outs, and some that had scored an 81 the day before, were now 79'S AGH!!!!!!

We understand your frustration, but you could have gotten feedback from ten more affiliates before entering, and you would have gotten ten different opinions, and it likely would not have changed the score. You got through your first comp. Lift your head, lick your wounds, move alond young Skywalker!


03-11-2008, 12:43 AM
My only wish, is that the images that score 76-78 and turn without any comments or discussions (and leave the inexperienced folks without any clue as to why it "just fell short" of a merit) could be discussed as well ... but they would never get through all the prints if they did that.

I saw this and wanted to point out something that is a bit of an elephant in the room.

The distance between 79 and 80 is much further away than a 74 to a 79. One of the reasons I have noticed that images that score in the74-78 range are not discussed is that the images as they stand cannot be brought into the merit range, and discussing these images may not give the maker any useful advice. When a print is challenged, it is either for a higher score, or a lower score. Usually someone is for the print, and the other jurors, who scored it low are not trying to bring out the attributes, they are trying to justify their low score. This can be helpful to the maker since they are discussing issues with the image, but many times it is only negative comments. I believe that a well rounded critique of an image should include positive and negative comments. This is not the way a comp works though.

If you are looking for a critique, cool, get one, if you are looking for a score, cool get one, but neither replaces each other.


03-11-2008, 12:58 AM
Keith and Jeff, you obviously think I feel cheated and am upset by the scoring. I thought I had made it clear that I am not at all upset by that. The scores are fine. Obviously I didn't do a very good job of conveying that in my previous posts. No Keith, I didn't know you didn't get feed back right up to a couple of hours before sending the case. If you remember, I posted the question about where to check off to get the judges critique. I had heard so many times, "Be sure to get the judges critique, it will be helpful". I discoverd that the judges critique was only available at National. I went through the process to learn and I did learn. You need to understand, this is my first time. You also know I can be very outspoken. Talking with others in this same situation, the point is simple, for us to understand WHY is the reason we need to have feed back. Correct? I got good scores. They didn't laugh and toss my case out. I have no complaints about the scores. But I would like to know what would have made the images stronger. That is the crux of my frustration about the process. Nothing more. I told you that some I spoke with today who got 85s are of course happy with their scores but feel the same way. There have been comments here about "be careful with your choice of mat color or the stroke size and color because they can affect scores" and we have also heard, "If the print is not glossy enough or dark enough, it can affect scores". How do we know what kept our prints from going from 85 to 95 or 78 to 82? We don't unless we were actually there to ask the questions. So why is it so bad for me to say, I would rather not compete unless I can be at the judging or request a judges critique. Don't misunderstand my message. Sorry if I wasn't clear about that before. And I don't need to lick my wounds because I don't have any wounds to lick. I said I am already preparing files for nationals and I also plan to attend since it's in Daytona. I am not saying no to competition, just not competition unless I can be there. I am doing this to learn and become better. It's part of the education process. I hope I have made this message a bit clearer than the previous. I am proud of my case and I am proud that I got four red ribbons. I don't feel the least bit sorry about it.

03-11-2008, 01:11 AM
Good for you. You know that I am a fan of the process since it has helped me so much. I respect your first entry into this new world, and I am glad you took the step. Maybe something I have not been able to convey though is that you can compete only at comps you can attend, but they might not ever speak of any of your images. So what would the net gain be? If you didn't enter comps that come along because you cannot attend, you would have missed an appourtunity to get feedback albeit in score form.

I agree that attending one you will have a better chance at hearing your stuff discussed, but the reality is there is no gurantee. So that being said, I encourage you to enter your state level, and your regional level, and the national level. Your scores are in effect feedback. An average of what 6 judges thought your print scored.

If I read you wrong, then my apologies.


03-11-2008, 02:04 AM
Jeff I am more than eager to continue this process. I have been urged for so long to take this path and for me, once taken I will stay on it. Someone asked me the other day, what degree was I going for. It caught me off guard. I will not say I will never go for a degree, but it is not the reason I am entering competition. One thing I have heard and read over and over and over again, is the learning process through competition. So that is my main motivator right now. Who knows what lies down this road but I crave learning and becoming better at this. I can't stress enough about how much I crave it. I don't like my critiques sugar coated. I want to know what's wrong so I can understand it and work on it.

I do appreciate all that you have done for me to help keep me enouraged and motivated through this process. I've actually enjoyed it very much. And actually, I am even more excited about Nationals now.

03-11-2008, 04:14 AM
Keith and Jeff, I hear what you are saying and you guys are absolutely right. I was particularly surprised by how many times the judges were a ways off from each other at MES ... seemed like more than in the past base on my limited 3 yrs experience with this, but I do not have stats to back up my gut feel. Any which way, I really do enjoy the process and feel like I am learning a TON from the experience. Especially when the judges argue/discuss their points of view.

It is when they are somewhat unanimous on a print, and it scores 76-78 and turns without comment is when I wish I knew what they all apparently saw and agreed that it wasn't merit material. Sometimes I think I know, but usually I have no clue :-) And your right, the thing to do is to get a critique and that is why I made mental notes on some and then hit up judges and masters "after the fact" and got their opinions on some of those prints ... which was extremely valuable to me ... so I encourage others to do that when possible. It is probably the single best learning experience I took away this year at MES ...

That and running into folks like Dan Leary and being able to ask him personally how he created some of his masterpieces this year :-) Thanks Dan!

03-11-2008, 06:47 AM
... I am already preparing files for nationals and I also plan to attend since it's in Daytona....

Hey Ron, I'm glad to hear that you're planning to come to the National judging in Daytona this year - one question - are you coming to observe or to work ? I was just wondering if we had just gained another volunteer print handler ?

Also - if you're planning on volunteering to help with the print handling, make sure that you contact Jim Dingwell well in advance of the judging. Jim needs to know who is coming to help so he can plan on who and how many workers we'll have there.

03-11-2008, 06:57 AM
Hey, all you first-timers who have just received a seal at SEPPA ......
That seal is NOT a merit ! It will ONLY become a merit if that exact same print is sent to the VERY NEXT PPA JUDGING (Deadline is June 6, 2008). If that same print (or sealed CD) is not sent to this year's judging, that seal will become invalid and the print will not receive it's merit. If you forget to send it this year, and you submit that same print to the 2009 judging, it will not get an automatic merit - since the seal is now invalid, it will be sent to a "for-merit" panel to be re-judged for merit. If that panel declares it not to be a merit, the print will be returned to you and not exhibited. If that panel accepts it as a merit, it will be judged for Loan and exhibited at the national convention. PLEASE - do not forget to send it to this year's International Judging !!!!!!!!!

03-11-2008, 02:30 PM
Hey Rick. I can't commit yet to volunteer. My thinking on being there is that I have a friend near Daytona to stay with so I don't have to make reservations way in advance. I will keep that in mind and if I see that I can commit then I will contact Jim. Thanks for the reminder.

03-11-2008, 07:09 PM
Just so there are no misconceptions about national judging, there are many panels going at the same time. There is no way to know which room or when your print will come up. While highly unlikely, it is possible that you could have prints come up in two rooms at the same time. Also, you cannot speak to a judge about your prints or any prints at anytime during the week until the judging is completed. At that time it would be difficult to corner a judge, as they are all heading home. Plus it's not like you could go pull your prints out of the stacks of 10,000 prints to get a critique.

It's still a great learning experience but it's not a place to necessarily count on getting feedback on your specific prints.


03-11-2008, 07:20 PM

Interesting to hear that. Daytona is a bit far for me anyway but going to the locals is much easier to get individual critiques. At HOA, I was able to ask many reputable photographers and a few judges (you, specifically) to give me feed back on the images there because after the judging, they're displayed for all the convention attendees to see. Makes sense that they're not at nationals.

Thanks again for the insights.

03-11-2008, 08:13 PM
Well then I guess that answers that question. Maybe then I will just opt to order the judges critique. Thanks for the information.

03-11-2008, 08:37 PM
Keith is right. The National judging is a lot of work going on at one time. We are usually running four to six judging panels at the same time. One or two on CD albums, two to four judging unsealed entries for merit plus a loan panel or two or sometimes three (the mix of panels varies as the week goes on). The chance of actually being in the room when your print comes up is dicey - with three panels running for merit, the odds are 3:1 that you'll be in the wrong room and not see it scored. I've been there for many, many years, and in all that many times, I don't think that I've heard a handful of my images go before the panel. But - you can learn a lot by listening to the discussions about other prints. If you have been to regional judgings, you've heard the pros and cons in the discussions about challenged images. Just FYI, these discussions are not being done for the benefit of the audience, the same discussions go on at the national judging, with no one except the judges and the print crew in the room (no audience). The discussions are to try to convince the other members of the jury to see what they see in the image. Jurors who feel strongly about an image will fight for it to merit or go loan. While working at the national as a print handler is a lot of work, it is also an invaluable education.

If you want feedback on your individual images, the best thing to do is to order a critique. We normally run three critique rooms with jurors giving video critiques the whole week of the judging (that's a lot of critiques! - and not all of the makers request critiques either!).