View Full Version : after my year off

09-09-2009, 08:35 PM
I have started to rethink my competition entries as my skills change (hopefully GROWTH, not DECLINE) and I see new things.

I'd love any feedback for competition or not on this image. I'm not happy with the way the backdrop pattern stops abruptly near the bottom but can change that if it's deemed possible merit material otherwise.


09-10-2009, 12:17 AM
Just my opinion...as presented it has a lot of elements to look at...thus a lot of elements to distract you from what should be the main point of interest which is this little girls face.

The background, the blue area on the horse, and the dress are pulling my eye away from her face. In my opinion nothing should be brighter or overpower her face.

In this case several elements overpower her and my eye keeps jumping around in the image.

You might be able to fix all that in Photoshop or re-shoot and try to tweek the image.

09-10-2009, 12:44 AM
I'm with Joe on this one. The mixed keys of the dark background and the white dress makes it difficult to get my eye off her dress and the horse and into her face. Maybe with a lighter background the light colors of the horse and the dress would meld a bit and allow the eye to stay on her face a bit longer.

09-10-2009, 01:51 PM
On this, my eyes go to the bright areas of the horse's neck & shoulder, etc., areas far brighter than dress and face. I do see nice detail on girl's face and dress, but the highlights of horse and brass pole dominate.
However, I am not a "judge" but have watched many judgings!

09-10-2009, 02:04 PM
You guys are great. I see it now, not when it was on my screen and I loved it. I believe it to be a very saleable image but it's definitely not competition material without a ton of work.

I think I was very influenced with the difficulty of the session over actual technical aspects..this girl would either NOT look at me, frown or give me the cheesy smile.
We had a nice dress on her, she insisted on using the underskirt of a wedding dress.

This place rocks.

09-10-2009, 03:27 PM
I think the hardest thing to do when you approach your own work is learning to be objective. When we become emotionally attached to a session because it's one of our own children or it was an extremely difficult one as in your case we tend to look beyond some of the obvious things.

Dennis Craft gave me some great advice years ago. If you want the judges to understand something particular about a print then put a sticky note on the front of the print for the judges to see. Of course you know you can't do that. If you know Dennis you know his sense of humor and sarcasm.

Bottom line...get people to look at your work before all the expense of a competition print. My wife is great at helping me with this and can be much more objective than me.

You probably have heard this before but another trick if you're worried about where you're eye is going to go in the print. Turn the print upside down and look at it. What is the first thing your eye focuses on?

If it's not the focus point of the print then you have some problems. Like in this case. If your turned this print upside down your eye will go to the point of greatest contrast or brightness which is not going to be the little girls face.

However...this is a real saleable print. So, go collect those green merits and be happy that you got something this nice out of a very difficult session.

09-10-2009, 07:27 PM
Joe, I LOVE the note idea! Problem is, mine would be covered with the notes, couldn't see the image!!!

I have several merits under my belt but have not entered portraits...it's a new venture for me. I think I want to work on this idea, possibly with a different little girl...one more cooperative! :)

09-11-2009, 12:19 AM
Good for you that you are making the jump to entering portraits. I have entered essentially all client work in the last couple of competitions, and not done well. I've been the King of the 78s. LOL. Hopefully this weekend (PPANE) will be an improvement over the last couple of comps. I applaud you for this. It's a different level of difficulty, IMO.

09-11-2009, 04:42 AM
Thank you Mark, that means a lot. My first goal was to get my masters but I found I wanted to learn. It taught tons, honest. My photography skills really jumped and the type of photography that I had done at that time--journalism, travel, scenic--benefitted immensely.

I now am immersed in portrait photography and wish to learn the most I can so again, I'm looking at competition to teach me. :) Scary times but what's life if it's too safe?

09-11-2009, 03:19 PM
When I first joined my state association I was working as an in house commercial photographer. Pretty spooky place. Involved in all kinds of electronic warfare. Their claim to fame was that they designed and sold the watergate bugging devices.

Anyway...I sat on the sidelines and watched print competition for a year before I entered trying to understand the process. At that time all I wanted was to become a better portrait photographer. Got my Master's on the basis of my portraits. Since then I have discovered my new love for wildlife and nature photography.

I guess the rest is kind of old news. The point is that for me I used competition to always push myself to discover new interests and to refine my portrait techniques.

09-11-2009, 03:33 PM
I do beleive those that don't know what competition offers them either haven't entered or are not understanding the critiques being given. It's not about style or trends, it's about lighting and honestly, basics-one of the things that some wish to skip.

09-11-2009, 04:24 PM
How true...I don't think a lot of people have the patience for the learning curve. Instead of learning the key elements of lighting and posing they want instant success and to be able to fix everything with Photoshop.

Photoshop is a great tool but should be used to enhance and not merely as a fix it all for basic mistakes.

09-11-2009, 05:52 PM
With entering client work, the local + state competitions have become more important for me. I managed to do well last year on all client work (at nationals). At local and state though, I was pushing my comfort level by entering client work submissions as well. It definitely takes some time to get in the swing of using client images for print competition. But it certainly makes you improve the quality of your client work.

09-11-2009, 07:25 PM
or are not understanding the critiques being given. .

I am finding this to be true more and more. Makers are misinterpeting the comments/critiques. Just last night I spent about an hour on the phone with a photographer who was frustrated about the comments her prints had recieved during challenges. For example she had a little boy sitting on a red wood box in the middle of a all green outdoor background. The judges said the red box didn't work. It kinda upset her because she comes from an art background and knew that red and green were complimentary colors. So she thought the judges didn't know what they were talking about. Once I pointed out to her that yes - red was compliemtary to green but by making the red what the boy was sitting on the box became the center of attention. If she had the boy sitting on a green box in a green environment and wearing a red shirt, that contrast of colors would have worked in her favor and drawn attention to the boy instead of the box. the nexct comment was the garden background was too busy. Her thought was it was supposed to be about the boy being in a garden - so if she cropped out all the background, you lost the idea of where he was. I told her it wasn't about getting rid of the background - by busy what they meant was too contrasty. There was too much difference from the lighter green areas to the darker green areas. So it looked busy and once again pulled attention away from the boy.

Her interpetations of the comments she received were entirely reasonable - but compeltely wrong. I don't know how to change this problem without making print compoetitions last weeks instead of days so the comments can be more explicit and that's not a reasonable idea - too expensive. So I encouraged her like I do everyone, to find a judge once the competition is over and pull them aside and ask why certain prints scored where they did.