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Cassandra_Sullivan
04-20-2011, 07:46 PM
Is 100 "Perfect"?

When judges award an image a score of 100, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean it's a perfect image?

I'm writing an article for my state affiliate newsletter (because one of our members scored 100 on a print) and it was both to feature the photographer, and to educate on what getting a 100 score really means. A lot of people say they got a 'perfect 100'.
If you respond please let me know if I have permission to quote you. Thanks!

Keith_A_Howe
04-20-2011, 08:00 PM
Cassandra

What a great question. I have been an approved juror for about 20 years. It is something I struggled with for a long time. To me a 100 always meant perfection and I had a hard time with that. I thought there could never be a perfect image, that there would always be room for improvement. Before digital that was maybe the case and certainly in film days we seldom if ever saw a 100 score. Traditional artwork just didn't allow us to perfect an image the way PS does. I still don't know if an image could ever be called perfect, but I can certainly score an image 100.

Anyway, I have come to understand a 100 score as an image that addresses every single one of the 12 elements to the ultimate. There is nothing the maker could do or change that would make the image any stronger. I squirm in my seat when it spins on the turntable and I remember it vividly long after. It evokes a strong response in me both on the analytcal side and as a gut emotion. Photography is only experienced with one sense - sight - but a 100 print appeals to all of your senses. You can hear what it sounds like in the environnment the image portrays, you know what it smells like, you can actually feel the chill or the heat or the wind or whatever on your skin. You can almost taste it. A 100 print transports the viewer so completely to the scene that every sense is stimulated. That's what 100 means to me.

I don't know if I said anything quotable but you certainly can if you want.

Keith

Rick_Massarini
04-20-2011, 10:38 PM
Keith explained it well, and he hit the nail on the head.
In the Judges class, they always teach that a 100 score doesn't mean that it is a "perfect" image, it means that the image has been placed by the jurors at the top of the Exceptional Category. It's as impossible to define a "perfect" image as it is to define perfection itself.

By the definition, I would not call a 100 scoring print a "perfect" image, since it does not necessarily mean that the image is absolutely perfection, it's just that particular jury decided to give the image the highest score they could. For example, I know of one print that scored a 100 at a PPA regional judging but was NOT selected for the Loan Collection at the IPC. If it was perfect it would have surely gone Loan - but it didn't.

Jeff_Dachowski
04-20-2011, 11:09 PM
Cassandra,
To add...

A 100 score is only one refernce point in time with an endless grouping of variables. A 100 scoring print in one panel, might be an 80 in another. In fact at Northeast we saw several prints that had scored 100 not even make it into the superior category, and one that barely got into the merit category. A different panel, a different day, etc can drastically affect scores. We are human and really offer only where we are at as judges right that moment.

Keep in mind as keith has told me in another coversation that a 100 as it relates to IPC is merely a merit. No more than an 80 in the eyes of the competition. So when you score an 80 at a district, your print is judged alongside any number of 100's to get into the loan collection and your chances of going loan are determined by your quality of entry, and the makeup of that particular panel. It is not uncommon that a 100 entry does not go loan either. Many times a 100 has been challenged a couple of times, and as a good images sits in front of the panel, it can grow on them, and affect them in a way that their score could be brought up to 100. At IPC on the loan panel, it is a fast paced panel. If the impact is not knock your socks off, it might not make it. In other words an image that is 100 but has subtle features can easily be overlooked on a loan panel.


I have never seen a 100 come in front of me when judging, but feel at ease to punch the score when the image dictates.

Don Chick always says to strive for 100. If you fall short, you end up at 90. If you shoot for an 80 and you fall short, you end up at 77.

Jeff

JohnHeckler
04-21-2011, 01:17 AM
As much as the process attempts to judge an image based on a set of sound principles, criteria tested over time, and "rules of thumb" to be a successful (ie 12 elements of a merit image), there is and always will be subjectivity that feeds off one's unique human emotions at that time, in that moment, and interpreted with one's own individuality as well as the group dynamic created by the panel of judges.

That aspect of print competition has, at times, frustrated, confused, and bewilder me. However, at the same time, that unpredictability and inconsistency creates excitement, anticipation, anxiety, and with the right amount of luck, euphoria. Its addicting, frustrating, and rewarding all at the same time.

As much as everyone of us will be taken by surprise now and again on any given image, I think over time, given enough experience with the process, there is indeed a level of consistency and predictability to the process. It will never be something that can be understood to the level of precision, consistency, and predictability of a mathematical formula (although I imagine some might argue otherwise). It is art after all :)

I guess this is more a statement about the entire process itself than about what a score of 100 means, but it creates an opportunity in which a given panel of judges, in a given instance of time, will experience a work of art that collectively moves them to reward the maker with top honors :)

Cassandra_Sullivan
04-21-2011, 03:49 AM
Thank you for all your thoughtful and interesting responses!

This from Jeff affected me in somewhat of a personal way though:

Keep in mind as keith has told me in another coversation that a 100 as it relates to IPC is merely a merit. No more than an 80 in the eyes of the competition.

2 of my 3 merit images so far have been scored right at 80 - the third was 79 at Regional but received a merit at IPC. I'm really happy to have the merits, but deep down I wanted a higher score. So this made me feel somewhat better - but like Don Chick advises, I'm definitely shooting for a 100. :)

Rick_Massarini
04-21-2011, 07:07 AM
Remember, at the IPC, there are no numerical scores used.
There are only four "scores" you can get on your image...
Not Accepted
General Exhibit
General Exhibit & Showcase Album (generally referred to as "Book")
Loan Collection

Jane_Lydick_Staid
04-21-2011, 05:29 PM
I was on the panel when the print that Cassandra is referring to was judged. I chickened out and gave it an 88. Then when I thought about it, I couldnt find anything negative to say about it. So we gave it a 100. It happened twice in Maine too, I never saw a 100 until this year.

TracyeGibson
04-27-2011, 04:06 PM
Well all I know is that if you leave barely 1/16 of an inch of mount board showing....it knocks a print from 100 to a 99. ;)

Keith_A_Howe
04-28-2011, 12:11 AM
Well all I know is that if you leave barely 1/16 of an inch of mount board showing....it knocks a print from 100 to a 99. ;)

Presentation is one of the 12 elements and leaving the mount board showing is something the photographer could have EASILY fixed. So ask yourself " do I want a print in my international exhibit, representing the very very best of what a professional can possibly achieve, where the mount board is showing?". A 99 is still an incredible score.

Keith

TracyeGibson
04-29-2011, 01:07 AM
Thanks Keith! I know, I know, but seriously?....the mount is black and I blackened the edges. It was SO small I didn't even notice. And when I got it back and looked for it (I had to miss the judging) I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and because I couldn't BELIEVE I missed something like that....I STILL had to SEARCH for it and could NOT believe it. Makes me wonder how it would have done if I had entered digital. Another thing that bothers me is that now if an image is entered digitally there is no "12th" element of 'presentation', so should it really be judged for those of us that go the extra mile (and expense) to still print? (Actually, don't even bother to answer that because I know it is one of the things that the 'powers that be' go back and forth about.) I am a digital freak but I really think they need to scrap the digital entries and go back to prints.....and I only started three years ago.

Oh! And, it wouldn't have been an easy or a quick fix without redoing everything (I print, mount and laminate myself).

TracyeGibson
04-29-2011, 01:10 AM
I must say that I am VERY happy with the 99 though. ;)

...AND apparently the mount wasn't enough to bother the panel of judges except for ONE judge who just wouldn't budge. It was called back 3 times.

Keith_A_Howe
04-29-2011, 01:26 AM
Tracey I've had to shave off a 16th of an inch lots of times. I take it to the local custom framer and they trim it with their mat cutter.

Keith

TracyeGibson
04-29-2011, 02:13 AM
Thanks! I will keep that in mind!
It is a booger when I try to trim it with my baby mat cutter. ;) Of course 'now' I print my images a little larger and trim THEM instead of the board. Harder to blacken the edges but so much easier otherwise. I am also testing diff. boards. What do you use?

Cassandra_Sullivan
04-29-2011, 03:32 AM
Another thing that bothers me is that now if an image is entered digitally there is no "12th" element of 'presentation', so should it really be judged for those of us that go the extra mile (and expense) to still print?

I thought presentation also had to do with the background color, stroke, where you placed the image, etc. All of that can still be there in digital.

Personally, I always felt that the one thing that wasn't totally in my control was the printing. I can send a trusted lab a file, but I can't be 100% sure it's going to come back perfectly printed, mounted, etc. Especially when I have to send a file that needs to be printed darker than I normally would send.

If I send a digital file to competition (and I did all digital this year), I am 100% sure that I was in total control of every part of it.

Tracy did you post your 99 somewhere yet? I'd love to see it!

Keith_A_Howe
04-29-2011, 03:54 AM
Thanks! I will keep that in mind!
It is a booger when I try to trim it with my baby mat cutter. ;) Of course 'now' I print my images a little larger and trim THEM instead of the board. Harder to blacken the edges but so much easier otherwise. I am also testing diff. boards. What do you use?

The other thing I have done is use a rotary fabric cutter and a metal ruler. Someone else holds the metal ruler in place and you run the rotary cutter two or three passes until it cuts through. You can trim slivers that way.

For prints I have the lab do, I have it mounted on simtra. For stuff I print myself ( watercolor paper) I use Pres-on instamount board. I mount one board to another to get it thick enough so it won't bow and then mount the print to the top board. Use the high-tac board. The low tac board will eventually bubble off the mount board. Could be 6 months down the road but by the time you do districts, IPC and then it goes to IUSA you are looking at 6-9 months or more.

TracyeGibson
04-29-2011, 05:23 AM
Cassandra, I don't have the image poasted anywhere because I am sending it off to Nationals this weekend and crossing my fingers for a loan! ;) I don't want to have any potential judges see it.
Isn't it funny how you feel more in control digitally and I feel more in control with a print? I guess that is because I do print them myself and with digital, although I always calibrate (and when I print I get what I see) I have no clue if the temp, calibration, brightness, etc of my monitor will be the same as the judges. WIth the prints I can set lights up exactly to PPA specifications and check it out.

Keith, I use the rotary on the prints but but my mount board is TOO thick. I use the 5x 'competition grade' pressure mount from Pacific Mount. I have been having probs with the release paper not releasing and pulling the top of the board apart and I noticed it warping, even as thick as it was, at Nationals. I am trying Pacific Mount's foam core (scary! Foam so easy to damage!) and so far it has been releasing quite well. I am sure it will still probably warp with temp changes. It is MUCH easier to cut though. ;) I like to use it for my odd sized prints. I've thought about trying thinner boards and mounting them with other brace strips (kind of like you mounting board to each other) but haven't played with it yet. Thanks for all of the great info!