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Thread: you know what I really hate about these forums?

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    Default you know what I really hate about these forums?

    not this forum in particular, just camera/photography forums in general...

    besides all the pixel-peeping, techno-geekism, incessant whining, childish tantrums and threats, name calling, political fighting, sexism, etc. etc. etc.

    what I REALLY hate is the incredibly narrow forum definition of what "good" photography is...

    I've spent the last several months devouring everything I can find - books, museums, 'serious' art magazines, exhibitions, etc. --- and what an eye-opening experience it has been...

    there's a whole world out there of much different photography than what is shown or approved on the forums - photography that is not just going for 'pretty' images...photography that would be shot down and bashed in an instant on any of these forums...photography that doesn't require portraits to be glam shots and doesn't require level horizons and doesn't forbid people from being cut off at the edges and doesn't require a single point of focus in an image - in fact, it often EMBRACES those things that the forum 'rules' won't allow...

    I'm not talking about my photography - I readily admit I'm a total amateur and still searching to find my own style and subject preference...but I can't tell you how much freer I've felt since I opened my eyes to non-forum 'rules' of photography...

    I've tried to open up some dialogue on the "other" forum without success...
    would anyone here be interested in talking about other types of photography?

    imagine the responses if these folks had presented their photos on a forum (not that you have to like any of them - I just wish forums were more open to photography that doesn't fit the 'stock/pretty' mode - that we could be more adventurous, riskier, freer to explore other styles without getting total silence or technical 'advice' as the only comments):

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    doreen

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    You are ABSOLUTELY, 100% CORRECT in what you said!!!
    JULIO

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    The biggest gripe I have is that sharpness and low noise are vastly over-valued in photography forums. Robert Capa's photos of Omaha Beach on D-day were almost ruined by whoever processed them. The shots that survived ended up grainy and blurry. Yet the end result was that it made them much better than if they had turned out technically perfect.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Indeed.

    I remember Popular Photography's April Fools issue from last year redoing Dorethea Lange's Picture of the migrant family:

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...&ct=image&cd=3

    Their tongue in cheek comments where on the line of "loose the whinging kids, use some makeup and get her hair done" and cloned and cleaned to remove the wrinkles.

    Then they did Minor White's picture (can't find it now, it's the one of the graveyard and the buildings in back) Their tongue in cheek comments were:

    "Too cluttered. Crop, crop, crop!" and reduced the picture to a single window...

    John

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Please post more non-conventional photos.

    I feel constrained by the need to use a tripod to get sharp, well focused images. This requirement means that I don't post a lot of my favorite photos. What is wrong with a not-so-sharp photo with a really interesting subject?

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Quote Originally Posted by clark666 View Post
    I feel constrained by the need to use a tripod to get sharp, well focused images. This requirement means that I don't post a lot of my favorite photos. What is wrong with a not-so-sharp photo with a really interesting subject?
    There is nothing wrong with it. If the end result of the photo makes you happy, and you're not shooting for someone else, then you're golden.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Doreen, I have been thinking hard how to formulate a response to your post.
    There may be several reasons for people responding to posted photo's like they do.

    a) Most fora have memers from all over the world, many of them (like myself) are not native english speaking and find it hard to express themselves in english about emotions that a photograph may evoke. Hence it is easier to only comment on technical details.

    b)There is no universal definition of "good photography", my standards are a result of my personal taste, the culture I grew up in, the photoclub meetings that I attended in the beginning of my photography life, the books I read etc...

    c)Please be aware that in many artforms (or forms of expression) it is normal that things that we appreciate now were considered bad taste at the time they were created and vice versa. There is a shift of taste in time.

    At the time of the appreciation of most of the photo's you show in your post photography was becoming a more common form of expression, maybe the public or reviewers were more forgiving then?
    Regards,
    Henk
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    photography is my passion
    you are invited to visit my gallery at http://mordisco.smugmug.com

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    FWIW Doreen,

    I see several photographs that I don't care for at all among those you showed in the OP. I would even say that some of them are outright bad in my point of view.

    However, that does not mean that I consider the photographers who took them to be bad. Good photographers also produce crap - in my eyes.

    For me, in order for a photograph that looks ugly to stand out as something good, the subject must be something special or captured in a special way. A good photographer (in my POV) can do that over and over again while we ordinary men and women only get a few lucky shots among a majority of images that doesn't speak much for themselves.

    OK, that is my uneducated oppinion in this subject matter.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Many years ago, too many really, I belonged to a camera club, was very involved and it was my life. The art of photography was similar to the rules of art...1/3s...s curves and the like. Suddenly I realized after many years that if you make your own rules, take photos the way you want that you please yourself that shoud be your ultimate goal. If others enjoy what you take well then, that is a plus. So, that is my answer to the original post. Don't take it serious just because some idiot that thinks he/she is an expert criticizes your work based on what he/she thinks.

    Just the thoughts of an old man!

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    i think what lacking for forums and the photos that are post is context, the photo presented are classic photo for why and where they were taken. Not for being technically good photos. Forums look for technically good photo because we dont understand the context they were taken.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Your post comes at a critical time for me, Doreen. The guest at my photo club meeting on Monday showed his current project: B&W photos of gold country taken with a Holga camera with its cheap plastic lens that flares terribly, especially when pointed into the light.

    Most of his shots were backlit to bring out the flare. Most are strongly tilted. Several of his photos appealed to me for the artistic balance of dark vs. light shapes, but most just looked like bad photos taken with a $20 camera. What constitutes art for one person may mean nothing to another.

    I can take well-composed, sharp photos, but I've been struggling with the fact that my photos within any particular category are all starting to look the same to me. How to produce art rather than just documenting another pretty flower or hairy bug or spotlighted singer?

    Maybe my problem is no more than having taken 44,000 photos with my E-1 in two and a half years - I might just be burned out. I need a change. Searching for the artist in me (hello-o-o, anybody in there?) could be what I need to revive my passion for photography.

    How do we put the difference between photographic art and just-another-good-photo into words? It's more than just composition and technical perfection. In fact, the Holga photographer builds his art on technical imperfection. I think I need to do what you did, Doreen, and spend some quality time looking at art, and not just photographic art.

    What do you all think takes a photo from a good (or bad) picture to art?

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Gordon View Post
    Many years ago, too many really, I belonged to a camera club, was very involved and it was my life. The art of photography was similar to the rules of art...1/3s...s curves and the like. Suddenly I realized after many years that if you make your own rules, take photos the way you want that you please yourself that shoud be your ultimate goal. If others enjoy what you take well then, that is a plus. So, that is my answer to the original post. Don't take it serious just because some idiot that thinks he/she is an expert criticizes your work based on what he/she thinks.

    Just the thoughts of an old man!
    I couldn't agree more, I shoot for me and not for others most of the time. Now when I am shooting people I try and shoot it to make the people happy but most of the time I shoot the way I see it and the way I want to see it.
    I have a lot of images that most people think are bad, not sharp or the rule of 1/3s was not followed, but I still really like them and have them on my wall.
    Now this is the same for some images that people say are just wonderful and outstanding images, but I don't like them.

    I really don't care if it fits the rule of 1/3s or what ever, I see something I like and that's it, I like it. To me that is one of the nice things in life, I can like what I want and don't have to like everything everyone else likes.
    Feel free to make any comments on my images you like. If a friend can't tell a friend is images are bad, then who can.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    That's why I never enter competitions and rarely wish to critique photos. Sometimes that just destroys the whole concept because it ends up being a pixel peeping exercise, where one doesn't appreciate the wood/forest, but only stares at the individual trees.

    Cheers

    Ray

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    This is a very interesting thread.

    Yesterday I critiqued a photo, on another forum, of a young girl, that was intended to be used in a school year book. I suggested the photographer crop the photo tighter. Would this make the image any better; I don't know. A number of other posters following me agreed that a crop would make it a better photo, but they may just have been following my lead.

    I really hesitate to critique very much as I am no expert in either photography or art. I only know what I like.

    I agree that we tend to get too picky when critiquing photos.

    Lawrence

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Hi Doreen,

    Not sure it is worth the energy or even important trying to figure out why people are they way they are, and why they shoot what they shoot. Seems to me that you are going through a heavy exploration curve into the past. Always good to do, as I spent much time doing it myself over 20 years ago.

    I still do it and just saw an amazing retrospective of Harry Callahan at the Art Institute of Chicago. Always been a fav of mine.

    I would guess most people that are into photography don't consider themselves artists. They enjoy the technical aspect or they like documenting the life they are leading and experiencing.

    For a lot of people, sharing photos on a forum is a very revealing and stressful experience. Every one wants and desires praise and acceptance from their peers. People also are reluctant to and or don't have any real idea of how to constructively critique or even appreciate artwork that flies in the face of convention or current trends. I go to a restaurant here in Chicago that has gotten "found" by many people. They have a few Arbus photos and a couple Mapplethorps among other lessser known works. I find it really interesting what I overhear people saying about them. At times I feel like engaging them but always stop short. To me it just does not matter what they think, and the idea that I could or should educate them is a little presumptuous and pretentious.

    I post photos on DPR all the time, and get very little response.(as you know much of what I produce flies in the face of rules and accepted constraints) I respond only to images that I find evocotive in some way. Generally people won't engage me too much as I offer real opinions on how the image works for me and what I might have done differently. Usually a bit of a thank you. People are very protective and proud of what they produce and rarely want to hear more than "great shot" I too respond that way when I love it and have no opinion on improvement or change.

    Anyway..........your a fine photographer. Keep in mind you can find forums that are way more open to challenging artwork. The people are no different there. Post a killer sunset and you will get nothing, post a blurry pic in B&W and you will get plenty of comments. People are people no matter where you go.

    OK, time to quit studying all those other people for a while and just work on being the artist you want to be.

    Thanks for the thread.

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Variety is the spice of life - or something like that My point is: no matter what you do, there will always be people who have something negative to say about it. That's just humane nature. The main thing is how you react. Do you take offence? Or let it go?

    To us, photography is something we love and enjoy doing. So does it really matter what others think? Yes, sometimes there are rules to be followed, but mostly it's just about you and the camera and what you see. Don't let other peoples opinions ruin that.


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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Thanks for all the responses - I'll reply in one message to keep my boring thoughts a little shorter...

    TomServoCA - funny story, but it is absolutely what happens in these forums...

    Henk - I agree that styles change over time, but don't think I agree about the 'forgiving' remark - the photos I posted are still considered good today by lots of people, sometimes precisely because they evoke the era in which they were captured...

    Jebir - I'm curious about which photos you consider to be "outright bad".... of course we all have different tastes (I don't even like all the photos I posted), but I wonder WHY you think they are bad.... could it be because they aren't 'pretty'? I think we get so conditioned by the forum 'rules' that we automatically think a photo is bad if it isn't pretty - without stopping to think what the photo is about.... what is its 'job'.... maybe it isn't its 'job' to be pretty....

    Shane - you may have hit the nail on the head...

    Tony - I'll answer your post in a separate message...(so I lied about one message)

    everyone else - thank you for your views and thoughts... many of you told me not to be sensitive to the critique here - thanks, but that isn't really what I am talking about.... first, I'm all over the map as to my own photography, so I don't really post photos I care much about and I don't pay much attention to any critique, unless I've asked a specific question... forum critiques rarely move beyond 'crop this', 'clone that', etc... to me, critique should be: does the photo - taken as a whole, not as the bits and pieces of technical stuff that is too variable amongst all our monitors anyway - does it work? does it tell a story or evoke an emotion? is it interesting or even, is it pretty?

    but that doesn't happen on forums, so we all just post our pretty photos and tell others where we would have cropped or cloned...

    I'm not trying to be critical - I do it too and will continue to do it.... but I was curious whether other people found it boring and unsatisfying after awhile....and I am a little surprised at the lack of interest in studying or discussing old and modern masters of photography... or photographic philosophy.... or even photographic style....or even the use of compositional devices to create the mood/focus you want.... it just seems the ONLY things people are interested in are equipment and equipment technique...
    doreen

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    Default Tony - a long message

    Tony,

    I wanted to answer your comment separately because it reminds me of how I was feeling a few months ago...

    particularly as you mention "documenting' bugs, flowers, etc. - that is exactly what I felt like I was doing - documenting all the parks and trees within 100 miles of where I live...

    I enjoyed doing that - I still do... and there is still the fun (and frustrating) challenge of conquering the high contrast light and the problems from the foothills (no golden hours at either end of day - just light on/light off...

    But after awhile it starts to feel meaningless - how many thousands of photos of trees do I really need? so I was indeed questioning whether I had burned out on photography....

    luckily for me, I was invited into a very small group of experienced and educated photographers who wanted a chance to explore things in more depth and in a very different manner than the forums do.... (I have no idea why they invited me - these are not my peers!)

    and it has completely revitalized my interest in photography.... we take turns giving 'assignments' which involve a write-up with references about a particular topic - which could be something photographic or something else altogether, like something in the news or a subject of interest to the person making the assignment...... then we post our results and provide in depth comments on all the photographs (we each provide a set for the assignemnt)..... the comments NEVER involve technical merits or cropping or cloning advice - but we talk about whether the photographs work in the context of the assignment, how the viewer perceives the photographs, what 'stories' or emotions are evoked, etc.

    I can't tell you how much fun this has been... I'm learning so much about how to 'see' and 'think' ..... even doing the research for the assignments has been fun and educational...

    just to give you an example - for my first assignment, I took a long look into Henri Cartier-Bresson's portraits - something I didn't even know he did before I did this research.... I was blown away by his portraits - his ability to provide an incredible amount of information about the person within the frame of one photograph - you instantly knew what the person's essential personality traits were, how and where they lived, what was on their mind as the picture was taken, whether HCB liked them or disliked them, etc.... and the portraits often have a huge sense of humor --- or a huge sense of derision....

    I've never done portraits before - never even had any interest, especially sense I hate the 'glam shot' look that is preached on the forums.... and 'portraits' to me always meant the studio thing, like high school yearbook photos... so it was truly eye opening to see HCB's portraits - with his 50mm lens, lots of 'stuff' and 'clutter' in the photos - and how meaningful the 'stuff' and 'clutter' are to the total picture that he conveys......I was really intrigued by what he accomplished in just one photo - so my assignment was to provide a set of photos that did what HCB did - provide enough information within one frame to convey the essential personality characteristics of the person being photographed.

    it was extremely challenging assignment - but very fun and I came away learning all kinds of new things and having even more respect for HCB's portraits... and it was also very eye opening to see how the other people in the group interpreted the assignment - what they brought to the table...

    so I heartily endorse the idea of a group like this - I would invite you into the group I'm in, but I think the others want to keep it very small (there is a huge amount of trust built up in order to provide earnest and thoughtful comments).... if you want more info - please send me PM....
    doreen

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    I consider 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, & 17, unless they're of famous people, snapshots. The others I think have more artistic merit, for lack of a better description, but I'm undecided about 6. I still agree with what you wrote, though.
    JULIO

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    The following is purely my opinion but I had to post it because I'm angry.

    Doreen - I find your way of thinking a bit insulting. You seem to imply that those who post "pretty" pictures instead of "meaningful ones" somehow don't deserve to be called photographers. "You haven't studied the work of masters? Yuck! Back away!" Even the title you picked for this thread is nasty.

    C'mon - you ask for more openmindedness and yet look down on those who just enjoy photography without the need to "go deep".

    Please don't get me wrong: there's absolutely nothing bad with wanting to learn more, to see, to study - it's actually really great and I'm happy for you. But please stop looking down on those who might have a different opinion on things.

    And as for the pictures you posted: some are really amazing, some just empty snapshots. Just my opinion.


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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Interesting discussion, Doreen.
    Reminds me in a way of some things I read a while ago on this very forum.
    Some people have learned to produce technically perfect photo's in perfect balance color and composition. And they may get good critiques.
    Other people seem to have a special view and are able to take photo's with a simple point and shoot camera that make you speechless.
    There are things most people can learn and there are people who are born with a special talent.
    Some real pro's prefer to limit themselves to a good body and only one prime lens.
    And then there is the question "who can define ART".
    If you would show Andy Warhol's polaroids on a forum you would get a totaly different reaction than on an art auction . . .
    Luc

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Pille, I didn't mean to imply in my post that *I* look down on "pretty" pictures--I meant that I agree with Doreen that there can be MORE to it than that, but those shots are sometimes looked down upon because of technical inadequacies.
    JULIO

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Julio - I absolutely agree with you on that point. There are many pictures that aren't technically good, but capture something that makes them wonderful

    Okay, I know my English is poor, but I'll try to explain my position a bit more.

    What made me angry was something the OP seemed to imply: that you have to get "deep" or you are just a "techno-geek". That is a gross generalization. Different people like different things, but that does not make anyone who disagrees with you automatically bad.

    And saying all photo forums are narrowminded - has she really been to all of them? Yet again - she's making a gross generalization. She complains about whining in the forums. And what does she herself do? Yes - whine.

    Sorry, I just don't see how an approach like that could make things better.


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    Default Pille

    I'm not sure why you are so angry at me - I don't think I said any of the things that you are accusing me of saying...

    but I'm sorry if I seem to be looking down on people - that isn't my intention at all...

    I use the word 'pretty' because I don't know how else to describe a photo that is valued because it is pretty as opposed to a picture that is valued for some other reason - I don't mean to look down on pretty pictures - I'm also trying to get pretty pictures...

    I was just trying to voice some frustration over the feeling that ONLY pretty pictures are valued on the forums, not that pretty pictures should not be valued... I don't think I said anything negative about pretty pictures or those who take pretty pictures - if I did, then I'm sorry as that was not my intent.

    I was hoping that others might want to discuss different types of photography - both pros and cons... I don't think we should have to agree on everything - can't we have discussions where people are free to voice disagreeing opinions without that being construed as being insulting?

    I'm sorry for trying to raise a topic for discussion.... and I'm sorry for being excited about different types of photography... I'll go quietly back into my cave now.
    doreen

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    Default Re: you know what I really hate about these forums?

    Doreen,

    Quote Originally Posted by dmpbyrdwatcher View Post
    Jebir - I'm curious about which photos you consider to be "outright bad".... of course we all have different tastes (I don't even like all the photos I posted), but I wonder WHY you think they are bad.... could it be because they aren't 'pretty'? I think we get so conditioned by the forum 'rules' that we automatically think a photo is bad if it isn't pretty - without stopping to think what the photo is about.... what is its 'job'.... maybe it isn't its 'job' to be pretty....
    I knew that you should ask which ones I didn't like.

    However, before I answer that, please let me repeat that I may consider an ugly looking photograph as 'good' if the subject is interesting, if it is captured in a special way, or if it is presented in the right context. All images you presented to us are taken out of context so, unless I happen to recognize the subject, they speak very little to me and I am then left to judge the photographs based on if it shows something unique and/or the technical merit. (Of course I do recognize quite a few of the subjects...)

    Having said that;

    I think the picture of the dog is a bad image as it is presented here. It means absolutely nothing to me. By the look in the eye of the dog, I can understand that it might have meant something to the photographer... but for me... it means just nothing without a context.

    Also, the shot of the guy on a bike is totally meaningless to me. I could ask any kid on the block to borrow my camera and they would come back with equally meaningless pictures - to me.

    Another shot that I don't care for at all is the last one. OK, the photographer captured the ball in air but so what? The guy with the closed eyes is drinking something... OK - I do wonder what. However, I have seen so many party pictures in my days that I can't see that this is something special unless the guy closing his eyes is the king of Portugal or something like that.

    I don't care if the images are pretty or not but I do think that a technically good image has a larger chance to convey a message on its own merits simply because people will look at it longer (vs. intuitively turning away their heads).

    Anyway, who am I to say what is bad or good? I'm mostly a nature photographer - a genre considered to be lowest in the ranks of art (if it even can be considered art at all) by the critics.

    Finally, I do agree with you that the un-written 'rules' of fora like this one and even of critique-specific sites like PhotoSIG indeed are stereotype. However, in the same manner that you gets upset by those 'rules', I'm now and then upset by the opposite snobbism which sometimes seem to embrace photographs just because they break the rules - no matter if the outcome has any meaning.

    I posted a series of images at PhotoSIG that upset a lot of members there to such a degree that they even created new accounts just to flame them with bad ratings without giving away their usual user name. Even one of the founders of PSIG wrote to me and asked me to retract the images - or he would do it because he considered them deliberately staged to be repugnant... FWIW, I posted the same pictures at ArtSIG and they were praised with the highest ratings across the board... Go figure!

    Since that 'incident', I don't care for exposing my controversial pictures for critique at the web but save them to situations where I can discuss with real people, where reactions can be seen by their expressions and heard by their tone in their voice when commenting. The Internet is IMO not a good forum for that kind of critiques.

    Cheers, Jens
    Motto: Wildlife won't come to me unless I go to it.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    My Wildlife Photos: jensbirch.smugmug.com

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