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Todd_Reichman
04-16-2007, 09:01 PM
Hello all,

This year will mark my first entry into competition. I'd like to submit this image, which I love in its full-frame version. I'm not sure about cramming it into 16x20 format - I'm not a big fan of this type of positioning within the frame that I see in many Competition Images, but I see the need.

Any comments or suggestions for a first timer?

Thanks

-TRR

Don_Chick
04-16-2007, 09:56 PM
Todd,

I like the presentation as you've posted it. I think the monochrome presentation works too.

You've asked for comments and this is in the print critique area so I'll offer my comments as far as competiton is concerned....

If this image appeared on a panel I was judging on I would be inclined to score the image in the 75-77 range. Depending on print quality it might be at the high end of that range. The primary reason (for me) that I would not merit the image (score 80 or higher) is because of her hair. The hair is flying in a bunch of directions, taking away from the beautiful mask of her face. The broad lighting doesn't bother me at all (I think it works here).

I think you should enter the print and use whatever score/ribbons you get as an opportunity to promote yourself as an "award winning photographer".

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 02:06 AM
Thanks for the feedback, Don. I really appreciate an informed opinion on the types of things that would be appropriate for competition.

Honestly, I love the fact that her hair is blowing in her face, as it was a nice caught moment at the time that it was shot. I really like the expression on her face, which was her more "normal" face, after she thought the "real" photography was over.

So, even though I love it, partly because I know the model and the story, it may not be appropriate for competition. Is there a place within competition for shots like this, or is PPA looking for very (trying to find the word...) structured images?

Thanks again for the advice and any other thoughts.

TRR

Keith_A_Howe
04-17-2007, 02:46 AM
Todd - sponteneous images are just fine in competition. However as judges we are looking for professional skill even in those candid serendipitous moments. The hair blowing in her face is fine by me- adds to the story of this girl - but I agree with Don about the hair on her shoulder and neck - just too messy and unattractive. Where I disagree with Don is the broad light. I think it makes this young woman look heavy in the jaw - creating a less than flattering image. The camera angle is a little low - which increases that heaviness through the jaw. You will definately need to retouch/soften the bags under her eyes. A little PS to enhance the eyes would also be a good idea. There is a bright spot in the background - even with her forehead - which creates the impression ( true or falsely) of a lot of burning in the background. I would score this print about 75 assuming the print quality is good. Don't take this as a negative against candid type images. Just realize that PJ or candid style does not provide a reason for lack of technical excellance. Actually this image looks very much like portraits we see entered fairly often. I agree with Don - enter the print and use the results for marketing as well as a learning experience.

Keith

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 06:10 PM
Actually this image looks very much like portraits we see entered fairly often.

Keith

Haha - does this look like the good images that you see or the bad ones? Just kidding - I definetly appreciate the comments.

I've posted a couple of other favorites. I'm trying to get of sense of whether what I like will fly in competition. Again, all comments welcome.

-TRR

D._Craig_Flory
04-17-2007, 06:43 PM
Hi Todd;

These are much better. I'm posting my version of each and hope they give you some ideas.

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i93/DC47/amy20and20jesse_2Craiged.jpg

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i93/DC47/heidi20and20kenton_2Craiged.jpg

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 07:30 PM
Thanks for your reply, Craig.

Can I ask what your thought process was is placing the images? I'm trying to understand what is expected in presentation. Are you mainly relying on a rule of thirds determination?

Also, am I better off with a black background and a matching stroke, or maybe putting these on a white background? I'd prefer the white, but I tend to see the black w/keyline in most competition prints.

Thanks again - any other comments welcome.

-TRR

D._Craig_Flory
04-17-2007, 08:00 PM
Hi Todd;

Oh, definitely not a white background. You want to try to stay in key with your subject layer. If you had used a white background it would have screamed for attention away from the subject layer.

With accent lines, I go with the skinniest possible that is still visible.

With placement, I did use rule of thirds. I put my composition grid on top, cropped, and moved the subject layer till it worked. On one of the two I moved it down to a bottom quadrant for better placement.

You used the lines in Photoshop but ... you can't turn down the intensity. With my composition grid, I take it down around 20% opacity so I can barely see it but see the subkect layer much better. So I like that a lot more.

Keith_A_Howe
04-17-2007, 08:21 PM
Todd - Imagine a dark room - no lights except what is shining VERY brightly on the one image. Image that image has a bright white mat around it. What do you think will be the first thing you see? The white mat of course! I know white mats are kinda standard in art shows - but the circumstances for viewing are different.

Keith

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 08:29 PM
Thanks Keith, I didn't think of it that way. I really like the "Art Show" white matte look, but I can see how it would rarely work for a competition image, especially one that's darker.

I really appreciate these comments, any others welcome.

-TRR

Don_Chick
04-17-2007, 08:32 PM
Is there a place within competition for shots like this, or is PPA looking for very (trying to find the word...) structured images?
TRR

Todd,

I've been thinking about this comment and wanting to say something about it but haven't had the right words... but I'll try..

I don't believe PPA judging criteria requires or prefers "structured" images but rather good use of artistic principles. I had such a conversation with someone recently and it began to get a little heated (not on my part, I was seeking to understand their though process on this matter).... I see the 12 elements that judges are given to judge an image by as a set of criteria that any well executed "art" piece would/should satisfy. I don't see the 12 elements as something strictly "PPA"... but embracing art in it's entirety. There well may be other elements that were not included that should have been, but I think the 12 cover it pretty well. So to say an image has to be "structured" to do well in a PPA competition as opposed to a non-structured image isn't right (imho). To say that traditional images do better than contemporary may be right but then I would challange you to take a peek at the loan collection books to make that determination.

IMHO, any well done image should do well in a PPA competition. But this also allows that one panel may score an image higher/lower than another panel on any given day. Art is so subjective and you must allow for some variation... Anyway, I've rambled enough on this..

Thank you for posting and sharing your images

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 08:50 PM
True comments, Don. I probably should have used different words. Honestly, I'm still not sure that I understand what "works" in competition and what doesn't. Truly, I'm usually more interested in a caught moment that meant something to me as the shooter than I am in carefully crafting every shot. The painstakingly shot stuff that I've done doesn't excite me much, and yet I understand that competition should be built around well-crafted shots. So, essentially, I probably should have kept my fool mouth shut and posted images without the chit-chat.

Thanks for presenting a well-meaning response.

-TRR

Don_Chick
04-17-2007, 08:57 PM
Todd,

Please, keep your mouth open!! That's how we generate interesting conversation on these topics and dispell the myths.

It's easy to say nothing, I must admit that I often do that, fearing what someone may say... but I so enjoy a good discussion on the philosophy of photography and art.

I do like your wording better - "well crafted shots". That implies one's mastery of the "craft", nice.

Thanks for discussing this intesting topic. I for one will never arrive. I will always have pleanty to learn and I am willing to learn.

D._Craig_Flory
04-17-2007, 09:00 PM
Hi Todd;

Try doing both. On every portrait session and wedding ... do some with competition in mind. Still look at your other images for possible comp. prints. But those composed, and created, with competition in mind will probably do better.

I've added the Dirty Dozen, of print competition.

Todd_Reichman
04-17-2007, 09:49 PM
D. Craig - we are trying to do both now. If I'm being honest, and keeping my mouth open, as per Don's suggestion, I was fairly opposed to competition 2 years ago when we started our business.

First, we didn't feel that our style fit what we were seeing in the competition gallery at Imaging USA. That was probably very naive. Yes, we like to shoot in a loose style, and make the experience a memorable one. That typically means that we try to keep fumbling with equipment to a minimum, and we sometimes sacrifice technical perfection for emotional satisfaction. In our younger days (hearty laugh) we felt righteous in that decision, now we realize that it was just a lack of understanding and ability.

We've come around to the idea of competition, mostly because we see the marketing value of placing images in competition, and because we will hopefully grow as photographers. The interesting thing is, to compete you really have to alter your goals from shooting for yourself and your clients to shooting for your peers - a line that's not necessaily easy for some of us to cross.

I've been told that some people schedule special shoots just for competition. which is something I can't fathom doing. We're way too busy and if I'm going to advertise to my clients that I'd won something, I'd want to win with actual client work. Having said that, we're prepared for it to take a very long time for anything that we submit to cut the mustard.

Like Don, I often keep my mouth shut and lurk on the forums, assuming that my input wouldn't matter to most. Thanks for the invitation to speak my mind - maybe some other lurker is having the same feelings that I did.

Thanks to all, and feel free to keep the comments coming.

TRR

Keith_A_Howe
04-17-2007, 10:24 PM
Yes, we like to shoot in a loose style, and make the experience a memorable one. That typically means that we try to keep fumbling with equipment to a minimum, and we sometimes sacrifice technical perfection for emotional satisfaction. In our younger days (hearty laugh) we felt righteous in that decision, now we realize that it was just a lack of understanding and ability.

Todd - as a beginner you probably had to choose between fumbling with the camera or "going with the flow". As you have gained experience - I bet you have found camera handling is so second nature and posing and lighting are so instinctive that you can concentrate on the emotion and not on the technique. That "doing it right without thinking" just comes from practise. I applaud you for saying you were naive - because I think many young photographers mistakenly believe that they have to sacrifice spontenaity to get technical excellance and that's just not so. As you are finding out!


The interesting thing is, to compete you really have to alter your goals from shooting for yourself and your clients to shooting for your peers - a line that's not necessaily easy for some of us to cross. I wouldn't agree with you here. Two of my competition images (both sealed) from this year are from client sessions - no thought of competition or photographing differently or seperate images or poses for print comp. Just after seeing them - decided to enter them. The other two seals were from vacation snapshots. One was Alcatraz that I posted on another thread - I knew when I pushed the button it was potentially a merit image. But I didn't go to that spot at that time for the purpose of creating comp. images. The other - I just was desperately looking for a fourth print to fill my case. So you don't have to create with competition in mind.


I've been told that some people schedule special shoots just for competition. which is something I can't fathom doing.

TRR

Not usually my choice either - but think about it this way. A photographer wants to improve his work. So he/she finds a model, location etc and practises on that subject, perfecting technical skills and refining artistry in an effort to create a merit image. Did they learn anything? probably. Did that knowledge make their next session better? probably. And they did their practising on a non paying client rather then someone who may had other ideas in mind. So actually in the end their clients benefit.
I have created images where I saw a location - or knew of a subject I wanted to work with. Sometimes I thought it had potential for competition - and sometimes it was just cause it was a creative challenge I wanted to try and afterwards I thought I had a merit image. If you can see the value in practising your craft then I am sure you can see why some makers may feel that setting up sessions strictly to create for competition is good idea.

Regardless of how or why the image was created - if the maker learns from the competition experience it was a valuable experience.

Keith

Todd_Reichman
04-18-2007, 12:25 AM
Thanks to all for the lively discussion and insight. Here are a few more studio/client favorites. Comments welcome by all.

-TRR

D._Craig_Flory
04-18-2007, 01:02 PM
Hi Todd;

With time, you will continue to improve your skills and knowledge of the Dirty Dozen guides to competition.

On the girl on the steps ... you didn't have her positioned on one of the quadrants. It was ok left to right but pretty much in the middle top to bottom. She is wearing hi-key clothes at a low-key location. ( I love the spot ... use it again with darker clothing) On my example I moved her, cropped, straightened, and deepened. I hope this helps you.

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i93/DC47/rosecrans_1Craiged.jpg

D._Craig_Flory
04-18-2007, 01:05 PM
Hi Todd;

Ok, on the other image, I raised them up and flipped the image. I rotated the image and would have given it a title like "She Knocked Him Off His Feet". I also used an adjustment layer to deepen slightly.

http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i93/DC47/hebert_1Craiged.jpg

Jeff_Dachowski
04-19-2007, 12:22 AM
Todd,
I am going to disagree with my colleague Craig, and suggest that camera tilts usually look the best when they make the man look taller. You got a great start to your images. I can tell you from personal experience that comp helps you to refine in your head at the moment of capture. Jeff

Todd_Reichman
04-19-2007, 02:08 AM
Just wanted to chime in and thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. Its given me alot to think about and go on. I'll definetly be submitting to competition this year, and in my next few weddings, I'll be shooting with competition in mind.

Any other comments still welcome.

-TRR