This months challenge was very interesting. I decided to use several shots from my recent trip to Smith-Gilbert Gardens. I had been wanting to try out a print shop a friend had recommended and I also wanted to have some shots done on metallic paper. I sent the shots off and when they came back I was both elated and disappointed. I was elated at the quality of one of the metallic prints and one image I had done on Luster paper. I was disappointed because two of the metallic prints were horrible and one I had done on luster paper was about a stop darker than what I had seen on my monitor.
I mounted the shots I was entering and they looked great to me. I went to the competition and waited for the judge to get to mine. There were a lot of nice images in each category of the competition and the judge was giving a lot of good comments on each image. When he came to mine and started commenting on them I was totally disappointed. Needless to say, I didn’t win or place in any category. The judge kept talking about not having to show an object completely to know what it was. He also talked about being creative in what part of a subject you focused on and using creative cropping on an image. If you want to see the winners – click here.
I thought about the competition results for a while and decided to take an honest look at my shots and see what was missing or could have been done different. I was reminded of a verse in the bible:
31Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. 32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Proverbs 15:31-32 (NIV)
Too often we fail to allow good criticism of our work to lead us to being better at our craft. I went back to the shots and attempted to take a fresh approach to them. I simply took each shot and with some simple cropping and rotation found three alternate shots from each image.
The judge’s comment on my Digital Presentation image was that it was too centered and static. The lighter areas in the background were a little distracting to him as well. Here is the image and three crops which present it differently.
On the Printed Color image he said it was very technically correct – sharp, well printed, great color, and good composition. He said it reminded him of a botany textbook picture by a famous plant artist. Here are three crops from that image.(By the way , I will be hanging the original on the wall in my home – the print was beautiful)
In the Printed Monochrome category I entered a metallic print of a yellow rose. It met the criteria of being tones and shades of one color so it was accepted for entry. Mine was the only non black and white shot entered except for one sepia toned image. The judge said I had good composition, he liked the water drop in the bottom left, and it was printed nicely. Here are some crops from it. ( I hung the original of this one in my living room – the metallic has a beautiful glow to it)
I can see from the judge’s view I had some nicely printed flower shots but they were not as creative as other entries. He even said that he would be forgiving of some technical issues if the image showed a lot of creativity on the part of the photographer.
I hope this was helpful to some of you who are afraid to have your work judged by others. If you can get good and constructive criticism of your work it will help you learn to produce better images. Thomas Edison failed many times before he got the light bulb to work but we would be in the dark if he quit after the first failure.
Until next time —