View Full Version : 12 Elements

09-15-2008, 08:20 PM
For anyone who hasn't read the other thread Mark gave me permission to use his print as an example here. I am going to explain my interpetation on how Mark's image reflects the 12 elements

This is the print Mark entered at PPANE - I believe he said it scored a 77

1) Impact - it's a common subject, nothing about this image or this presentation evokes any particular emotional or intellectual response from me so I would rank it as average in impact.

2) Creativity - again it is a common treatment of a common subject, so I would rank it as average in creativity. The bras and panties print was unique and much more creative.
3) Style - hate to over use the term but once again this is a common style. There is nothing about this image that expresses a particular style. It is something that could be the work of a thousand different photographers. At best the style is generic. So I would rank it below average in style.

4) Composition - defined as the way the maker chooses to arrange the objects in the image. I also think of it as where your eye travels and where it chooses to land. The rule of thirds is a good place to start and so is Bakker saddle but not the only choices. Here is Mark's print with grids

His composition places the vase of tulips on a third line - side to side but not top to bottom. It's acceptable, however there is no "flow" or no "travel" through the image - it's just there. That can work for certain images but it does not enhance or add to this image. Perhaps if the tulips were araanged so that one or two created leading lines - as was the case with his orchid image shown here . . .
See how the line of the flowers leads you into the print. Anyway I would rank the composition of the tulips as average. The composition doesn't hurt this image but it doesn't help it either.

5) Presentation - Here I am in the below average catergory. The border is distracting and does not relate to the subject matter. Like I say over and over - if it doesn't enhance the image leave it out.

6) Center of interest - It seems obvious what the center of interest was here - the vase of tulips, but when I look at the image, my eye jumps back and forth between the two brightest things, the vase and the white tulips. I really can't tell which I am supposed to look at. The title tells me the pitcher is the important thing - so then I would say the white tulips are distracting.

7) Lighting - I find this lighting confusing. I am not confused as to how it was accomplished but rather it's a confusing end result. The main light is camera right yet the highlight on the left side of the pitcher is stronger than the right. The shadow from the main light is projected back and to the left, yet there is also a shadow projected forward and to the right. The kicker light is flattening out all the drama that was created by the main.

8) Subject matter - I addressed this in impact - common subject - so it neither helped nor hurt this image - again I rank it average. To refer back to the orchid print - it was common subject also but the interesting color of the orchids themsleves made it more unique. Subject matter also refers to appropiate choice of subject used to convey the idea of the image. For example if the idea is elegance and grace - don't use an unattractive female.

9) Color balance - impossible to accurately evaluate color balance from looking at my moniter - too many variables. But it appears fine. Color balance also refers to the colors selected to tell the story. I usually think of red as portraying heat, fire, sensuality, energy etc. Whether those emotional characteristics of red fit this image is something each judge would have to decide for themselves. Also does the color help pull you into the center of interest.

10) Technical excellance - as I mentioned there are issues with the lighting. It is hard to judge this based on a low res file on a moniter - I would have been looking for sharpness in all the flowers - or if a shallower depth of field was chosen and some flowers were out of focus, was it used appropiately to guide the viewers eye where you wanted it. It appears to be exposed properly. I do think the table top could have benefited from some burning. Especially as it contrasts with the vignette on the background.

11) technique - well the scrolly texture overlay was not a good choice IMO. It makes some of the leaves and some of the white tulips look dirty or as if they are damaged. As a judge I would have asked myself does this effect enhance the image? If not then it was a mistake to add it. The maker deliberatly choose that effect. Some things are beyond a makers control and if so I take that into consideration when it effects the overall print. But if the maker can control it, then they need to have done so in a way that helps the print. The vignette on the background creates a keyhole effect. Some of the other issues that effect technique were covered in other elements.

12) storytelling - Story telling is defined as the ability of the print to evoke the viewers imagination. This is a pitcher of flowers setting on a table, I get nothing more or less than that. I have to work too hard to get anymore out of it than that. This is an example where a title could maybe have helped a little - like "Great Grandma's Pitcher" but Molly's Pitcher doesn't say anything other than someone named Molly owns this pitcher. To once again refer to Mark's bra and panties print from earlier this year, it too was a still ife of inanimate objects. But that print told a story which made it much stronger. Maybe Mark will post that image for you guys to see and compare.

Mark, I know it sounds like I am tearing this print apart. I choose this one as it most clearly illustrated things about the 12 elements and I felt it would as such be the best learning example.


09-15-2008, 08:31 PM
Thank you Mark for letting Keith use this image. It is a beautiful image and one I'm surprised to see received a 77, so this was perfect for me to read WHY it would've scored that because I'd have expected something like that to do better.

Thank you, Keith, as always for the time and dedication that you put into helping us all become the best photographers we can be. Reading and seeing this is very helpful I am certain to MANY who will read it. :D

09-15-2008, 08:35 PM
I would have expected the second one to do much better...

09-15-2008, 09:05 PM
I would have expected the second one to do much better...

If by the second one you mean the orchids - yes it did do better. It merited last July at national judging.


09-16-2008, 01:27 AM
This is very helpful Keith - and thank you Mark for going under the knife. I 've never seen all the elements explained in one print before - especially on something that I really liked but didn't score well.

09-16-2008, 02:01 AM
Keith, thank you - this really is helpful. Every time I hear it all explained again, more of it sticks in my mind. And Mark, thanks for allowing him to use your image!

Mark, I have seen your bra and panties, :eek::eek: but others may not have. I think you should share.:D

09-16-2008, 01:45 PM
Thanks for doing this Keith. It has been very helpful. Mark...thanks for being the brave soul to let it be your image.

09-16-2008, 02:26 PM
Somebody have a high scoring print that we can do the same thing with? Jeff?? Don??


09-16-2008, 02:43 PM
You are welcome to do this to my any of my comp images I have posted.

09-16-2008, 04:13 PM
Keith, just for my own information as an aspiring judge.

Mark's placement of the image in the Golden mean does indeed lead to some compositional flow. However, I'm seeing this a lot, the image itself is dead center in the original frame. Is it only by placement in the 16x20 area that is saving this image? Are the affiliate judges seeing this as well? I would have scored it around 76 because of this, and lately, I've been seeing a lot of this going on.

My take is that if you have to rely on the image placement on the field area, there's something wrong.

09-16-2008, 04:27 PM
My take is that if you have to rely on the image placement on the field area, there's something wrong.

I'm glad you brought this up Michael because its something that still perplexes me about comp. Say you "properly" place the point of interest in your frame. Say you are using a 2x3 camera. That image properly placed in a 2x3 image doesn't necessarily now fit in a 16x20 canvas and now you have to move things around and make that 16x20 look weird to get your 2x3 ratio image to fit "properly" in that frame. For comp should you compose "properly" in your frame and then figure out a way to make it fit or should you shoot knowing that the final product for comp is not your viewfinder but the inset 16x20? Does that make sense?

So why shouldn't we just put the 2x3 ratio image inset centered into the 16x20 frame? I've never seen a mertied image like this (Im sure there are plenty, just none that I've seen in my short time).

- trr

09-16-2008, 04:39 PM
Hey, Todd... here is a merited image that was not changed to "fit" the 16x20 size - it was composed this way.


09-16-2008, 04:44 PM
Ok, thanks Heather. This image is a little more square 4/5 though - could you just inset a 2x3 ratio image the same way? Would you "lose points" for something like that?

- trr

09-16-2008, 04:50 PM
Todd - here's the same image with a different presentation. It merited with this presentation prior to Nationals. I made the change based on some feedback, and it the previous version posted merited at Nationals. (the feedback, btw, was to give more room above the subject so that if she "stood up" she wouldn't hit her head on the ceiling... so to speak)


09-16-2008, 04:57 PM
None of the 12 elements are enough to "merit" a print on thier own. None of the 12 elements are enough to stop a print from meriting if everything else is deserving of a merit ( unless it's blatantly terrible). If everything about this image had been deserving of a merit then the somewhat stagnant composition would not have held it back. There was nothing bad about Mark's image, just nothing really strong that raised it to merit level IMO. Loan collection images pretty much demonstrate command of all 12 elements. Merit images can maybe be not strong in an area or two but more then compensated by other great things in the image. All elements are considered but the entry is judged as a whole. To be specific about your question, if the image itself is not compositionally great should that hold it back? The answer to that is no. However poor composition will effect the other elements such as impact and center of interest. So in the end it may effect the score.

16x20 is the size non Master's can enter. You can place any size and proportion image within that space, wherever you want. Seeing you have the option to place it anywhere you want within that space, why wouldn't you choose to situate it to your best advantage? If dead center works best for the image, then dead center is where you should put it. I am curious why you feel that a 2x3 ratio should be what the image area is just because that's what your camera produces. Why not be open to squares or slim lines or any other option?

To everyone,
The maker should do what is best for the image - to present it in it's best possible way, regardless of what is considered the "rules". (You do however have to follow the competition rules or risk being DQ'd)


09-16-2008, 05:56 PM
Loan collection images pretty much demonstrate command of all 12 elements. Merit images can maybe be not strong in an area or two but more then compensated by other great things in the image. So true. If you look at the images in the general collection at IUSA and then look at the loan images, there is a difference you can see between the two. Even looking at the differences in the showcase book comparing to the loan book.

09-17-2008, 04:00 AM
Would you "lose points" for something like that?

- trr

Sorry I just saw this sentence or I would have answered this before. That's not how it works. You don't lose points or get points subtracted for anything. When evaluating an image, first we pick which catergory it belongs in, then whether it is high, middle or low in that catergory and then score accordingly. Here is thethe jury chair's handbook, listing the catergories on page 7.