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View Full Version : Input on this print for 2010 Nationals



Christine_Walsh-Newton
03-17-2010, 04:38 PM
This print originally scored an 85 at the PP of Ohio Fall Conference 2009. I was given feedback from the judges on improvements I could make to bring it into the 90's.

I made those changes and submitted it to the Mid-East States, where it scored a 79.

Several masters advised me to forward the print to Nationals as-is. They felt it would merit there.

Just looking for input on whether or not I should follow that advice. One master said perhaps I should retouch the eyes to accent the blood vessels as the completely white eyes looked strange to him. The eyes were not retouched at all - that's just how they were. Another master felt the retouch and reprint wasn't necessary, that it would merit as-is.

Keith_A_Howe
03-17-2010, 04:48 PM
Christine I need to see this bigger. There is a sticky somewhere that tells how to post images larger. Or you can email it to me privately. I have some thoughts but I am not willing to say anything until I see the image larger.

Keith

Christine_Walsh-Newton
03-17-2010, 05:30 PM
Here is a larger version. The title is Bluecifer.

http://www.cwnphotography.com/Bluecifer.jpg

Ron_Jackson
03-17-2010, 08:31 PM
Keith please post your comments here in the open so we can all learn from it. Thanks.

Keith_A_Howe
03-18-2010, 04:16 AM
Christine,
You say this image scored a 79 so it just missed. Looking at the image here - obviously not seeing the real print - it's probably a very accurate score because what I see here looks like a near miss.

First off look at the image as objectively as you can and mentally remove the makeup and costume. What we are left with is a very run of the mill portrait of a young man, nothing about it makes it stand out. So to the judges this image is relying on costume and makeup to create impact. Yes subject matter is one of the 12 elements but even though this is an impactful subject, the rest of the image does not support the story of this young man as "Blucifer". Notice how he is leaning back from the camera. His arms are crossed protectively in front of his body and actually look a little awkward - like he does not normally cross his arms. Then his expression is tenative and almost a little wary. So ask yourself, does that pose and expression convey the idea of the devil to you? When I think of a devil, I imagine an agressive evil persona. I would like to see him leaning toward the lens with his hands up and "claws' spread, like he is ready to attack. I would like to see a fierce expression, maybe almost like evil glee with his lips curled back and his teeth bared. Imagine a dog ready to attack.

Next I would like to talk about the lighting. There is nothing wrong with the lighting here, but again it does not perpetuate the story of this subject. When I see soft light it gives the impression of soft subject. Crisp light with a more definite shadow edge conveys more strength or edginess. So the soft light on him, combined with his pose of leaning away from the viewer makes him seem weaker.

The next element I would like to address is techincal excellance. Around the top of his head there is a strange purple glow. If I were on the panel it would make me ask if it was reflection off the background in which case the subject is too close to it. Or is it from an extraction or was the background changed? So then I would look elsewhere to see if there were any tell tale signs, and I find a couple of questionable spots around his far elbow and near arm. It really doesn't matter if you did do an extraction or change the background. There appears to be selection lines and that's enough to raise doubt, even if it wasn't done. You don't want to leave anything for the judges to question.

Next artwork - is your intent that the judges see this as an image of a devil or as an image of a boy in a devil costume? If it's supposed to be an image of a devil ( which is the right choice) then the tell tale straps of his fake wings need to be removed. Again perpetuate the idea that this is a real devil. Next the eyes - The person you asked who said the eyes look too white? Was that an approved juror? The reason I ask is because when you put such dark makeup on a person the whites of the eyes are going to look whiter by contrast. Very dark skinned people often look like they have very white eyes. Most jurors are aware of that fact. So it doesn't bother me. Don't know what paper you printed this on but I would say DO NOT print on metallic because the whites will lose detail and look even whiter.

Lastly presentation, if the actual print is as light as this file, then it washed out under judging lights. Not only do you need to compensate for the bright judging lights but also think again about your subject. The devil lives in hell - where the light comes from fire and brimstone. Perpetuate that idea that you started with the red background and make the image more dark and scary. Evil is almost always portrayed by darkness and this is a fairly brightly lit image. Next I understand why you choose a white stroke - to pick up on the white of his eyes. I think it was the wrong choice here. Especially when those eyes do not have a strong fierce expression. You don't want to be drawing the attention to the eyes. I would use a blue stroke.

So the image got a 79 at Mid-East? Well if you believe the gossip Mid-East was a judging that set a fairly high standard of excellance. If it got a 79 there and you send it on to national as is, you probably have a 50-50 shot at it tipping over into a merit. All it will take is one judge who likes the image and will argue in favor of it successfully. It will definately need a different title to explain his passive pose and expression. Once again I went to Holly. Her suggestion is "Unwilling Minion" Personally I would suggest reprinting deeper after artworking out the straps and changing the stroke but it just depends how much more time and money you want to invest in this image.

Keith

Christine_Walsh-Newton
03-18-2010, 11:21 AM
Thank you Keith - that was very in depth - I appreciate the time you took.

The comments I relayed came from various folks with Masters, not judges. I was mostly surprised that given the fact it scored an 85 at state, that it didn't do better at regional - but I see your points.

This was printed deeper by the lab - and yes - I did print it on metallic.

I originally had it with a blue stroke at state but was advised to try a white stroke to draw attention to his eyes. This makes me laugh - there is a HUGE difference in advice from affiliated judges and Masters.

Thanks again for your input - I actually have some other shots from the session that relay the "devil" concept better - so perhaps I'll try one of those.

This was my first year in competition - what a learning experience! At least I had 2 other prints merit - so this 79 wasn't as disheartening as it might have been otherwise.

Keith_A_Howe
03-18-2010, 03:04 PM
Thank you Keith - that was very in depth - I appreciate the time you took.

The comments I relayed came from various folks with Masters, not judges. I was mostly surprised that given the fact it scored an 85 at state, that it didn't do better at regional - but I see your points..

Doesn't surprise me at all. I had an album score 96 at state and go on to regional and get an 85. State or local level comps are hardly ever judged by all approved jurors. And they DO NOT have to follow national rules. I have judged at some states where the panel is told by the print chairman "we do not want to discourage anyone". Inexperienced judges seem to be a little more apt to push high numbers when there is something about the print that has instant impact. Your print has some impact because of the color contrast of blue against red and the unique subject. Inexperienced judges sometimes don't consider all the elements before they punch a score. That's ok. We need someplace for beginning judges to learn and practise. If every single competition ONLY used approved judges we would never get any new judges.


This was printed deeper by the lab - and yes - I did print it on metallic..
I just had a suspicion and that's why I brought it up. Normally I like bright colors on metallic so I can see why you might have thought metallic or someone might have suggested you try it but not with these really white eyes.

I originally had it with a blue stroke at state but was advised to try a white stroke to draw attention to his eyes. This makes me laugh - there is a HUGE difference in advice from affiliated judges and Masters..
Why does it make you laugh? Wouldn't you expect an approved juror to know more then someone who is not? The step between from being a Master and getting approved juror status is harder to achieve then it is to get to the Master's. It's a huge learning curve. Not to say that Masters can't give you good accurate advise - after all they obviously know how to create merit images. But there is a reason why PEC requires approved jurors for affiliate competitions.


Thanks again for your input - I actually have some other shots from the session that relay the "devil" concept better - so perhaps I'll try one of those.. If you want to post some options or send them to me privately I would be glad to tell you what I think.


This was my first year in competition - what a learning experience! At least I had 2 other prints merit - so this 79 wasn't as disheartening as it might have been otherwise.

WHAT! A 79 should never be disheartening . . . well unless you are Joe Campenella! And two seals your first time out? You should be estatic! A 79 means deserving of review Out of all the images entered, which are what the entrants think is their VERY BEST work, it was deserving of review. That's pretty dang good. By the way I had a print score 79 at regional last year. It did merit at national. And you say "what a learning experience" That is the whole point.

Keith

Christine_Walsh-Newton
03-18-2010, 03:38 PM
I meant no disrespect by my "makes me laugh" comment - it was just one of those "shaking my head moments" because I was advised to change the stroke from blue to white and you advised to change it back. I should have left it alone. Kind of a "go figure" reaction. (and my hyphen was inappropriately placed - I was trying to comment on the first part of that sentence - not the latter).

I had no clue that state judging was not required to use affiliated jurors and of course, I would expect that jurors would be far more competent than folks with masters. I realize they go through additional training, education, etc.

Forgive my ignorance - I just started competing on a state level in November - so my knowledge base and experience is almost nil.

I probably should have approached one of the judges directly and asked for input after the judging was over, but we were encouraged to ask Masters in the print display area for input, so that's what I did. I was uncomfortable with the thought of "bugging" a judge after two full days of judging.

Yes - I was and am ecstatic about the 2 seals :). The devil guy was what I considered to be my best print (given the state score) so I had all my hopes for a seal pinned on him. Had I not sealed, otherwise - it would have been a little disheartening (for me).

Thanks, again for your input. I will go through my other images from the session and send you a few options later.

Keith_A_Howe
03-18-2010, 03:56 PM
No worries. The other thing to consider is when you get an opinion from a master or judge, it is one opinion. A panel is made up of 5 or 6 opinions. I look forward to seeing more from you. Good Luck
Keith

samgardnermcr
03-18-2010, 04:20 PM
Christine,
Thanks for spending so much time and energy with these critiques! I appreciate Keith's comments and second them very much. I am so glad he pointed out the importance of new judges gaining experience by serving at local and state levels! It is so critical that all professionals who enter images into our variety of critiques/judgings/competitions realize as Keith indicated - all you can get is an opinion or a panel's combined opinion. And Yet this is very exciting. In our industry we can get very critical feedback from panelists with a variety of training several times a year at a relatively low cost-especially compared to other careers!
Nearly all the great photographers I know continue to enter images and listen to the critiques so their work stays fresh, up to date with styles, and more.
On this image, I would suggest a blue stroke line as well, however, perhaps to de-emphasize it a bit, you could lower the opacity of the stroke line instead of making it smaller.
Sam Gardner M.Photog.Cr. CPP Int. Juror
June 13-16, 2010 Judging International Comp, Atlanta GA

Christine_Walsh-Newton
03-18-2010, 04:39 PM
I have a question for you. Keith and Sam...I see in your signatures that you are both judging at the International Competition...is it okay that you saw this image? Or will you have to excuse yourself from judging if it comes up before your panel/group?

samgardnermcr
03-18-2010, 05:01 PM
It is ok, we will have to excuse ourselves if it happens to come up in our room. However there are many jurors in several rooms. Unlikely it will be in our room and if it is, we will simply zero ourselves out. It happens a few times a day at a big judging.

The system is well designed for that sort of thing. This column on the forum seems to help so many people anyway, that it is well worth Keith and I recusing ourselves on a handful of prints. Thousands of images go by at Nationals and it is not unusual for a juror to zero out on one.
Thanks for thinking of that concern, but please keep seeking feedback and encourage others to use this forum as well.
Sam Gardner M.Photog.Cr.CPP Int. Juror
June 13-16, 2010 Judging International Comp, Atlanta GA

Keith_A_Howe
03-19-2010, 04:41 AM
Yes if an image comes up before us where we know the maker, we will excuse ourselves. It is expected that there will be instances when a juror knows a maker, that is why there are alternates on a panel. As Sam has pointed out. For clearification when Sam talked out zeroing out (for those that don't know) when a judge thinks they know a maker they make a zero with their hand and hold it in front of themselves so that the Jury Chair can see it and have the alternate step in and score the image.
Keep posting images for CC.
Keith

Rick_Massarini
03-19-2010, 05:53 AM
hey guys - and there's no reason to post this note on the forum - it's just to you Keith and Sam. I just thought about the comment from Christine about seeing in your signature about you'll be judging at the national on a certain date, etc... Is that really a good thing to put in your signature line? That lets people know that you won't be home on those dates and your studio and home will be empty - kind of like the "please rob me dot com" that they've been talking about. Just think about it guys, I know that I don't let people know I'm gone when I'm not here - but then again, I live in New Orleans where we have the highest crime rate in the country, so my perspective might be different. I suspect that if I let the general community in New Orleans know that I'm out of town for a week, that someone might be breaking into my studio while I was out of town.....

Again guys, don't post this on the open forum - it's just a note to you two - maybe I'm just paranoid with the crime rate down here after Katrina...

C ya'll in Atlanta !!!