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John_Earl
08-05-2005, 06:02 PM
I stopped entering print competition ( which is something I would never recommend to anyone else ) after becoming uncomfortable with how dark prints had to be printed for competition lighting. I tried to find out why by asking a number of knowledgeable photographers and was never given an answer. I felt that anything I submitted for competition should be printed the same way that the work I delivered was. In my last year of entering the National I hung three prints. I've always gotten more satisfaction in winning my customer's praises than those of the judges anyway.

http://www.photographybyearl.net/

Dennis_Craft
08-05-2005, 07:51 PM
I stopped entering print competition ( which is something I would never recommend to anyone else ) after becoming uncomfortable with how dark prints had to be printed for competition lighting.

PEC over the years has expermented with different light levels to evlauate images for this very reason, prints have to be about 20% darker than normal. But what PEC has always found is that for the judges to see the real quality of the image the lights have to be at curent levels. At lower levels many imperfections are not seen from the viewing distants of six feet. That distance was determined by needing to have six judges view the image and score at the same time.

Many, not all, who submit prints into competition rarly use their competiton prints for display because they want them in larger sizes for promotional porposes. The prints created for competiton are only used for the competiton itself.

Intresting that you wouldn't recomend not entering print competition but competing didn't provide you with enough education to continue. I hope you reconsider. :)

John_Earl
08-05-2005, 11:56 PM
PEC over the years has expermented with different light levels to evlauate images for this very reason, prints have to be about 20% darker than normal. But what PEC has always found is that for the judges to see the real quality of the image the lights have to be at curent levels. At lower levels many imperfections are not seen from the viewing distants of six feet. That distance was determined by needing to have six judges view the image and score at the same time.

Many, not all, who submit prints into competition rarly use their competiton prints for display because they want them in larger sizes for promotional porposes. The prints created for competiton are only used for the competiton itself.

Intresting that you wouldn't recomend not entering print competition but competing didn't provide you with enough education to continue. I hope you reconsider. :)Actually, this is the first of any kind of explanation I've ever heard of. I've asked people at color labs, at Kodak and in the PPofA. It's too bad that there can not be a better way of viewing prints because the way that they are printed for competition degrades the quality of the print. It's been decades since I've entered competition. My career in photography can't go on for too many years longer. I'm 58. The digital factor is another thing I'm not enamored of. Maybe there should be separate categories. Many of my customers come to me because I don't shoot digital and they can see the difference.

Gregory_Gathright
08-06-2005, 01:00 AM
It seems that we enter prints to win merits, yet our customers do not buy these images. We settle for "green merits" from our clients. I hung a print this year in International that was so digitally corrected and unlike the original customer's print that I felt deceptive. THis was a family of 33 I met five minutes before I captured the image. All 33 were looking at the camera, relatively pleasant, color-grouped by family and outfit, etc. The fact that I pulled this off merited a score of at least 95. One judge who scored this print at another competition groused about one man's head being above his wife instead of to the side, so the best he would do is give it a 76. He berated the other judges on the panel who felt it should scored higher. I later went to this judge's website to view HIS work and was aghast at the quality and style of family portraits shown (best work?). Another print at this same competition was of a sunset in Venice featuring boats. This was a master print because of the cropping - it was underexposed with a red filter, yet garnered a 95. Why? Because it was by a "master?" Did he/she score high because it was an exotic location?

Al_Audleman
08-06-2005, 01:01 AM
BamaPro ...Interesting comment, particularly in this time ... your clients don't WANT digital? My clients pick me because I do shoot digital .. and can deliver quickly ... and retouch quickly ... and most of them have no clue as to what good photography is. I am a commercial shooter and I turn out the quality level I do because I WANT to, not because my clients demand it. And photography is still photography ... capturing an image by recording the light reflected off a subject. It matters not if you "remember" it on a piece of film or a digital chip ... good photography is still good photography. Shooting digitally allows me more chance to produce a great image ... and I love the fact that I can fix all the problems that I had to accept with film. Digital capture is like rock and roll ... here to stay. Embrace it, accept it and move on. And my comments are not based on my youth. I have been shooting for more than 40 years, I am almost 61 ... and it IS where we are today. I love it! I think you will too once you take the leap.

Al_Audleman
08-06-2005, 01:21 AM
It seems that we enter prints to win merits, yet our customers do not buy these images. We settle for "green merits" from our clients. I hung a print this year in International that was so digitally corrected and unlike the original customer's print that I felt deceptive.
Another print at this same competition was of a sunset in Venice featuring boats. This was a master print because of the cropping - it was underexposed with a red filter, yet garnered a 95. Why? Because it was by a "master?" Did he/she score high because it was an exotic location?

Seems I said the same thing once. :) You're right ... our cleints determine our success by awarding us "green merits." But the journey to the Master of Photography degree is well worth the effort. While you may not agree with the judges evaluations (spelled scores!), being able to compete successfully means that we have learned certain "rules" and have worked within those parameters. You WILL be a better photographer because of it, whether you earn the Master's or not. And as far as the judges, well, you're right. Not all of them really should be judging other's work based on what they produce for clients. The competition committee (PEC) really does try to weed these out over time based on comments like yours. And as far as "masters" scoring higher because they are masters ... well they are usually held to a higher standard. But images are primarily scored on IMPACT and if an image has that, it will score well. But it is still okay to complain about the judges! :)

Now about the fact that your image was highly edited ... fixing all the problems. Ain't it great that we can DO that now rather than having to settle for less than perfect images. As hard as we try, we still find problems with images ... and with 33 people in one image, it is a miracle if you can get a great image in one frame. Digital capture allows us to do it at home later even if we didn't get it when we shot it. That's kewl!

Mary_Mannix
08-06-2005, 03:19 PM
the journey to the Master of Photography degree is well worth the effort. While you may not agree with the judges evaluations (spelled scores!), being able to compete successfully means that we have learned certain "rules" and have worked within those parameters. You WILL be a better photographer because of it, whether you earn the Master's or not.

Great reply Al,

It is not the destination (though it is nice when we receive the merits) It truly is while on the journey that we learn so much. Entering competition forces us to take long hard critical looks at out work. Dissect the good from the bad. Check our composition, our lighting and our technical skills. What a great opportunity to learn.

Judging is subjective. A blend of 6 different personalities, 6 different visions. This scenario is not unlike our business. Each client is different. We please some of our clients but possibly not all. Does that make the client wrong? Not in my opinion, it only speaks to the fact that everyone has different desires, different tastes. I guess what I am trying to say is that you may never please all of the judges all of the time but this too is a lesson you can apply to your business. You probably won't please all of your clients all of the time. Would you throw in the towel because of a few?

Michelle_Madsen_Childers
08-06-2005, 04:50 PM
[QUOTE=Gregory Gathright]It seems that we enter prints to win merits, yet our customers do not buy these images.

I frequently compete with client images. In my first PPA print case, three out of four images were client prints. All of these prints hung, and two of the three went loan. All three are the images the clients chose to hang in their homes. The market is saturated with photographers. Our cleints come to our studio because we can produce award winning artistic images. Competition has only enhanced my range as a photographer. With each image that I produce for competition, I learn something new that I can apply to client work.

Michael_Gan
08-06-2005, 07:53 PM
In pursuing my Masters, all 13 of my images are all client images, five in loan. I got a lot of flack for doing things "the hard way" - especially during the film days;) The PEC taught me a valuable lesson:

If you can put as much effort in your finished product for you clients, the same way you put your efforts in your print comp images, your Green Merits will be so much bigger than you currently think is possible!

If you think your green merits are great, consider how much greater potential you have in sales if you "do that extra step". The biggest complements your clients can give you about your work is when they plunk down 2,3, or more thousands of dollars for your work. All other compliments like, "the images you did for me are great! Can I order them later?" are empty promises.

John_Earl
08-07-2005, 12:42 PM
BamaPro ...Interesting comment, particularly in this time ... your clients don't WANT digital? My clients pick me because I do shoot digital .. and can deliver quickly ... and retouch quickly ... and most of them have no clue as to what good photography is. I am a commercial shooter and I turn out the quality level I do because I WANT to, not because my clients demand it. And photography is still photography ... capturing an image by recording the light reflected off a subject. It matters not if you "remember" it on a piece of film or a digital chip ... good photography is still good photography. Shooting digitally allows me more chance to produce a great image ... and I love the fact that I can fix all the problems that I had to accept with film. Digital capture is like rock and roll ... here to stay. Embrace it, accept it and move on. And my comments are not based on my youth. I have been shooting for more than 40 years, I am almost 61 ... and it IS where we are today. I love it! I think you will too once you take the leap.Most of my customers can't tell the difference between digital and traditional imaging. It amazes me that some are so discerning! And they're right! Color film based imaging is a little crisper and the colors are generally better. There is no comparison between BW film imaging and what substitutes for it digitally! ( I sometimes use a sheet film camera with a 70 year-old 8 inch Voigtlander lens. ) Yet, all of the images on my website had some digital work on them. It was more convenient to use images that I had digital files on already rather than scan negatives or prints. The end results of using a digital file are sometimes disappointing. One customer was upset because the 24X30 portrait of her child in front of red tulips didn't have the brilliance of the non-digital proof. ( The wind caused a few strains of hair to be out of place, so digital work was required. ) Everything depends on the particular camera used, how the image is manipulated, etc.; I know. But I noticed that on digital prints the colors aren't usually as true. I recognize that non-digital photography is soon to go the way of the Dodo bird, but there will be a diminuition of the photographic image as a consequence. But who would, on the other hand, want to forgo the head swaps, body swaps, eye openings, etc. that digital manipulation makes possible? It's really just a matter of "the good, the bad and the ugly." On another tack, I've always felt that a true competition would be like those that chefs engage in. It might not be practical; but what if the photographic skill of photographers was based on a contest requiring the same equipment and subject matter? So much of competition is based on the uniqueness of the subject matter that posing and lighting skills often take a backseat. This sort of "level playing field" approach would certainly be demonstrative of basic photographic skills. It might be only a part of general competition. I'm not suggesting that the factors that go into creating a competition masterpiece aren't praiseworthy. http://www.photographybyearl.net/

Dan_Leary
10-18-2005, 04:32 PM
Hi All,

John, I must say that I appreciate your discriminating tastes. When we as professionals settle... game over. Noone is going to spend the time and money to make a better product when the world is happy with the subpar. However, I do think that maybe you should check out some other labs for your digital printing. The lab that I use, (The Image Place-Weirton, WV) prints exclusively digital. Now I have shot film and digital both, and I have used many other labs, and noone has compared to The Image Place for print quality. I do enjoy my digital camera, but my favorite prints are the ones I've shot on film and have had them scan to print. The colors are unbelievable... so much so that I've found myself going back to shooting film and having everything printed this way, at least for portraits. I've had other labs attempt to do the same thing, and everything looks muddy... no "pop". I don't know what they are doing differently, but I can't tell you how much better I feel that images printed digitally from film look from this lab. Better than a straight digital file, better than a negative printed optically... plus I have an automatic back up; the film plus the scanned files. I'm not saying to use this lab, but maybe look around. You might be surprised.

Thanks for your time,

Dan

Steve_Richer
11-21-2005, 12:21 AM
Here's a logical progression in the competition discussion...I'm hoping someone who enters prints frequently may have come to this point and done the legwork. The question is:

Is there anyone out there who has developed a profile that they use while they work on their competition prints? One that yields fairly consistent and predictable results when the print is under the lights?

I'm just opening a studio of my own and I'm afraid that discretionary spending on competition images would have to be kept to a minimum. The connundrum is, of course, what looks good on my monitor and in my normal work for clients isn't dark/dense enough for competition lighting. I don't want to spend $25 for a comp print from WHCC, only to find that it's too light to stand up to the lights...or too dark, etc. and have to guess and reprint.

Is this even possible? It's an interesting idea, no?

John_Earl
12-06-2005, 07:38 PM
Hi All,

I do enjoy my digital camera, but my favorite prints are the ones I've shot on film and have had them scan to print. The colors are unbelievable... so much so that I've found myself going back to shooting film and having everything printed this way, at least for portraits. I've had other labs attempt to do the same thing, and everything looks muddy... no "pop". I don't know what they are doing differently, but I can't tell you how much better I feel that images printed digitally from film look from this lab. Better than a straight digital file, better than a negative printed optically... plus I have an automatic back up; the film plus the scanned files. I'm not saying to use this lab, but maybe look around. You might be surprised.

I use Millers Professional Imaging and am happy with what they are doing for me. The prints that require digital art and have been printed from digital files ( I always have them create a CD ) are quite acceptable.

On the other hand, I just got the second printing back of some photographs for greeting cards that were done by the card company's lab. I'd called and asked why the prints that they'd initially sent was so far off from the proof. I asked if they were scanning instead of printing optically from my negative. The answer was that they would scan unless I had specifically requested otherwise. The second set was better in terms of the color but the lips and eyes looked black so I guess they scanned again. I'll have to deliver them anyway.

D._Craig_Flory
12-07-2005, 02:07 PM
Hi Steve;

What I do is order an 8"X10" @$1.99, using ftp to the lab. It's proportional to 16"X20", and I can see how it looks. I don't own Photogenic Mini-Spots so I turn on my Photogenic Powerlights with the modeling lights up at 100% intensity. I then meter like at competitons to try for ISO 100 with F16 at one second on every corner & the center of my print. At that price I can afford to try a number of times till I have what I want. I don't send the final 16"X20" file till I sure it is what I want. Even then, at $15.99 for a 16" X 20" I can even send a 2nd time if not quite perfect. I LOVE ftp pricing.( the gatorfoam mount costs more than the print ... I spray high-gloss in my spray booth)

If you don't already, I'd suggest that you find a Master, or more than one, you can 1st e-mail the images to. When you are close, you could mail 8"X10"s for final suggestions. I even try potential titles on others. Hope this helps.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified

Linda_Gregory
01-08-2006, 04:04 AM
The lab I worked at for 5 years did many convention prints and the 'formula' was to make it look good and then darken and add cyan. The lights are bright and hot so if you leave it looking right, under the lights it'll be too light and red.

As stated before, I would suggest you send one digital image to a different lab and see what they do. If you've never tried anyone else, you don't know how bad or good they could be.