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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> balancing literal and creative interpretation
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04/27/2015 07:59:47 PM · #1
LOL! Thanks
04/27/2015 07:49:22 PM · #2
Originally posted by tanguera:

Originally posted by glad2badad:

This was a fun exercise ... hard to believe it was 10 years ago! ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Neil is still here too. :-) Would be fun to do something like this (or similar) again. Could be fun / helpful for those somewhat new to photography especially - or looking for a refresher.

Freeman Patterson Workshop Group

The book used has been updated since then (in 2011) - "Photography and the Art of Seeing"

Mentorship threads - remember those?

Come to think of it, what ever happened to ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' wavelength?


Wrong thread...???

No. You mentioned in your last post: Most of us are here to learn something, and I believe one of things is to "see".

My post contained information related to "Photography and the Art of Seeing".
Additional link to multiple "learn something" workshops here on DPChallenge.

04/27/2015 07:16:51 PM · #3
Originally posted by glad2badad:

This was a fun exercise ... hard to believe it was 10 years ago! ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Neil is still here too. :-) Would be fun to do something like this (or similar) again. Could be fun / helpful for those somewhat new to photography especially - or looking for a refresher.

Freeman Patterson Workshop Group

The book used has been updated since then (in 2011) - "Photography and the Art of Seeing"

Mentorship threads - remember those?

Come to think of it, what ever happened to ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' wavelength?


Wrong thread...???
04/27/2015 06:27:30 PM · #4
This was a fun exercise ... hard to believe it was 10 years ago! ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/12253.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Neil is still here too. :-) Would be fun to do something like this (or similar) again. Could be fun / helpful for those somewhat new to photography especially - or looking for a refresher.

Freeman Patterson Workshop Group

The book used has been updated since then (in 2011) - "Photography and the Art of Seeing"

Mentorship threads - remember those?

Come to think of it, what ever happened to ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' wavelength?
04/27/2015 06:00:19 PM · #5
Originally posted by nygold:

Originally posted by tanguera:

I'm also left wondering what I'd be influencing or "swaying them into"....


If you really want an answer, you could be trying something new and using this thread to influence the voters to score out of the box images higher so your score doesn't get dinged while you experiment.

Just for the record this is NOT what I think, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few people had this in mind.


If I succeed in expanding someone's tolerance/appreciation/sensitivity towards creativity, whether I have such an image in a challenge or not, it will have accomplished my goal.

As I said at the beginning, the image must bear a tangible, if tangential, connection to the challenge. It is not enough *for me* that it be original. It must also be "good", with "good" being each person's right to decide. Like you, I get exasperated when the puzzle is too obtuse. But where I used to put the entire responsibility on the photographer's shoulders for failing to communicate, I'm willing to bear at least a bit of the blame for my inability to see their vision. Not that we have to like everything, or that every image is good.

And finally, yes. As I try to expand my own repertoire/style/creativity/etc., I hope to still be able to connect with an audience. Don't we all? Most of us are here to learn something, and I believe one of things is to "see".
04/27/2015 05:41:14 PM · #6
Originally posted by tanguera:

I'm also left wondering what I'd be influencing or "swaying them into"....


If you really want an answer, you could be trying something new and using this thread to influence the voters to score out of the box images higher so your score doesn't get dinged while you experiment.

Just for the record this is NOT what I think, but it wouldn't surprise me if a few people had this in mind.

04/27/2015 05:37:14 PM · #7
I enjoy when people take things out of the box during challenges, I usually find it unique and creative. When I see images like these I try to reward them and try to leave a comment.
BUT when people take it too far out of the box it turns in to homework or a puzzle and I hate both.

The hard thing is commenting on an image that has gone too far?
If someone is trying something new and it's a flop, they don't need me to tell them.

I wish I was up to this part of photography I'm still at the stage of trying to get the image I have in my head on my screen.
04/27/2015 05:33:25 PM · #8
I'm also left wondering what I'd be influencing or "swaying them into"....
04/27/2015 05:33:09 PM · #9
Okay, okay ... fine. I took a chill pill on the way home. Be as liberal-minded as y'all like. :-)
04/27/2015 05:12:15 PM · #10
Originally posted by glad2badad:

Originally posted by tanguera:

... That when going through the gallery, voters don't automatically skip or penalize an image that is not the EXACT description. ... Ultimately, it's about developing our ability to see beyond the obvious. ...


Given your position in this community as a SC member, you (could) have a higher level of influence on people. It seems to me like you're trying to sway peoples opinions a bit stronger than someone in your position perhaps should.


Whoa.... I hope people don't think this way. I really like it when members of the SC are active in this community. I think it's really important. I wish heard more from other members. Let's not scare them away.
04/27/2015 03:44:25 PM · #11
She's just Jenny (or in this case, Johanna) from the block.

Message edited by author 2015-04-27 15:44:58.
04/27/2015 03:26:55 PM · #12
I can see why you might think that. It's certainly not my intention.

ETA - I know it sounds silly but I still don't think of myself as being any different from any other DPCer :)

Message edited by author 2015-04-27 15:27:32.
04/27/2015 03:18:02 PM · #13
Originally posted by tanguera:

... That when going through the gallery, voters don't automatically skip or penalize an image that is not the EXACT description. ... Ultimately, it's about developing our ability to see beyond the obvious. ...

Art is subjective. People should be able to make up their own minds about what they see as fitting the challenge or not. I've voted plenty of "artsy" (defined as I see "artsy") photos much higher than where they ended up.

Given your position in this community as a SC member, you (could) have a higher level of influence on people. It seems to me like you're trying to sway peoples opinions a bit stronger than someone in your position perhaps should.

My apologies if I've offended ... have not specifically intended to, just reacting to what I've read. I do appreciate your time and efforts to the site in general.
04/27/2015 01:50:58 PM · #14
My "agenda"??????

I'm plotting to expand the minds of the unsuspecting.... MWAHAHAHAHA

I'm mostly hoping to have a dialogue regarding shooting for and voting/commenting on highly literal challenges. That when going through the gallery, voters don't automatically skip or penalize an image that is not the EXACT description. In very rare instances, DNMC images have actually won their challenge, but that is not what this thread is about. Ultimately, it's about developing our ability to see beyond the obvious. Both for our own shooting and viewing pleasure.
04/27/2015 01:39:42 PM · #15
Originally posted by tanguera:

Originally posted by glad2badad:

Originally posted by tanguera:

Yes Wendy, I do understand your point, and agree that doing is the fastest way of learning. I would support any challenge that encourages us to flex our brain muscles. Which, actually, we can do with any challenge, if we so chose...

But the point of this thread is to address the "literalness" that often accompanies certain types of challenge themes, and is more about concept than processing.

As I said, English is confounding and exciting because so many of its words have multiple meanings. And in many cases, the same word can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.

I'm simply suggesting that when voters look at a challenge with what seems to be a very literal topic, they not automatically dismiss as DNMC without considering an alternate definition. Fish, for example, is a noun, a verb, and can be used as an adjective.

Literal interpretation has it's place, and I think that people that enter a challenge take a risk when they push the boundaries of majority expectations for the challenge theme. I don't think that telling people they should be more tolerant is a valid solution to "acceptance" of out of the box challenge entries.

Your example of the Fish challenge (verb, etc...) pretty much goes against the challenge defining details that state:
"Details: They swim in water. We like to eat them. Sometimes they eat us. You know! FISH!"

That's pretty literal. Swim outside the waters at your own risk. :)


Absolutely. Experimentation, regardless of the forum, requires risk. But just how literal do we take it? If I submitted a spectacular image of a whale, is that DNMC? Because as we all know, a whale is not a "fish" :)

So, what exactly is your agenda?

Do you want people entering challenges to be more literal and take risks?
Do you want people voting on entries to push the DNMC boundaries farther out?
Would you like to make every challenge a Free Study?

Or (I hope) you are just encouraging people to feel free to experiment, and accept the freedom and risks that come with it?
04/27/2015 12:38:19 PM · #16
Originally posted by glad2badad:

Originally posted by tanguera:

Yes Wendy, I do understand your point, and agree that doing is the fastest way of learning. I would support any challenge that encourages us to flex our brain muscles. Which, actually, we can do with any challenge, if we so chose...

But the point of this thread is to address the "literalness" that often accompanies certain types of challenge themes, and is more about concept than processing.

As I said, English is confounding and exciting because so many of its words have multiple meanings. And in many cases, the same word can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.

I'm simply suggesting that when voters look at a challenge with what seems to be a very literal topic, they not automatically dismiss as DNMC without considering an alternate definition. Fish, for example, is a noun, a verb, and can be used as an adjective.

Literal interpretation has it's place, and I think that people that enter a challenge take a risk when they push the boundaries of majority expectations for the challenge theme. I don't think that telling people they should be more tolerant is a valid solution to "acceptance" of out of the box challenge entries.

Your example of the Fish challenge (verb, etc...) pretty much goes against the challenge defining details that state:
"Details: They swim in water. We like to eat them. Sometimes they eat us. You know! FISH!"

That's pretty literal. Swim outside the waters at your own risk. :)


Absolutely. Experimentation, regardless of the forum, requires risk. But just how literal do we take it? If I submitted a spectacular image of a whale, is that DNMC? Because as we all know, a whale is not a "fish" :)
04/27/2015 12:23:45 PM · #17
Originally posted by tanguera:

Yes Wendy, I do understand your point, and agree that doing is the fastest way of learning. I would support any challenge that encourages us to flex our brain muscles. Which, actually, we can do with any challenge, if we so chose...

But the point of this thread is to address the "literalness" that often accompanies certain types of challenge themes, and is more about concept than processing.

As I said, English is confounding and exciting because so many of its words have multiple meanings. And in many cases, the same word can be a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.

I'm simply suggesting that when voters look at a challenge with what seems to be a very literal topic, they not automatically dismiss as DNMC without considering an alternate definition. Fish, for example, is a noun, a verb, and can be used as an adjective.

Literal interpretation has it's place, and I think that people that enter a challenge take a risk when they push the boundaries of majority expectations for the challenge theme. I don't think that telling people they should be more tolerant is a valid solution to "acceptance" of out of the box challenge entries.

Your example of the Fish challenge (verb, etc...) pretty much goes against the challenge defining details that state:
"Details: They swim in water. We like to eat them. Sometimes they eat us. You know! FISH!"

That's pretty literal. Swim outside the waters at your own risk. :)
04/27/2015 11:16:45 AM · #18
Yes, the bell curve is part of the human condition, and we must make peace with it, no matter where we fall on it. But the purpose of this discussion is that we likewise not be slaves to it. There ARE an infinite amount of things to learn about photography, not the least of which is to learn how to "see".

I don't think we can "like" everything, but we can learn how to appreciate it. As an exercise, when voting on a "literal" challenge, say "spoon", stop at an image that is not an actual spoon, and spend a few seconds trying to figure out how/why the photographer thought it fit the challenge.

Yes, this can be laborious, maybe even feel like a waste of time, but it also affects our thought process and may help our own creativity.
04/27/2015 09:44:44 AM · #19
Originally posted by jgirl57:


At the same time, its nice to know when someone tells me, set your camera to this mode and this setting, do this to the PP In Photoshop or light room, At least I know the terms and how to do achieve it.


that varies so much with each photograph and comes with experience. What matters more is that YOU understand how to set the camera to get it the look you want.

you can shoot portraits at any aperture, you can shoot landscapes with a 10mm or a 300mm. it all depends on how those settings and focal lengths will affect the image and what you hope to accomplish. that process takes time and experience and experimentation, sometimes you can luck into a great shot, but to be consistently good you have to be able to reproduce results and you also cant be afraid to fail miserably at trying out something new.

processing is a whole animal in itself and grossly under appreciated by many people here. you can learn a technique but its usually only applies to a particular image, you will rarely edit an image the same way with the same settings, its about learning techniques that work for you and that you will know and understand how to modify in order to reproduce consistent result ion you images.

some people rely heavily on composition, some rely on lighting, some rely on posing subjects, some on post processing, some on nature. Some people overvalue and undervalue some aspect of that. some people say some photography isn't photography, some say a certain photography is better than others in order to demean them, thats ignorant. i could argue that nature photography is cheating since all you had to do was shoot something that happened naturally, but that would be downplaying the fact that the person my have had to spend an enormous amount of time to get to the location, brave the elements, wait for the right lighting and then capture the picture, thats a long dedicated process that isn't always apparent.

the one thing that i think gets grossly overlooked and is unappreciated by many people here, is that the folks who consistently turn out good work, put in a lot of effort and you really should never discredit anyone's style if they do that. it may be different than yours and you may not like it or what they are trying to say, but its still a viable style and inherent to them.

on a final note I think Brennan hit the head of the nail.

However given the arc of voters from folk who are trying to get a razor sharp colorblast into 800 pixels, to the poets who love an impenetrable emotional blur, the middle ground will always be a nicely framed literalism. I'm not sure it can change, and I don't know that it should.

there is a reason we have a bell vote shape curve to almost every single challenge, there will always be the "tails" the want more or less and they yell from time to time, but they also need to understand that they are extremists, their view isn't widely accepted, they have to understand that, you wont be able to change the culture of what people like.

I know dpc hates portraits, but folks like Paul have found a way to transcend blase portraiture, its seeing success like that that keeps me here, I try out new stuff to see how it works, usually it fails miserably but sometimes it works and exciting when it does.
04/27/2015 08:53:55 AM · #20
I shoot for myself always have, always will.

If a few like my stuff, then wow, what a honor that is and it makes my day totally :-) There is a lot I have to explore in photography yet and DPC opened up a whole can of worms when I joined in.

I am still totally amazed by the talent here with each challenge, and within each challenge there will always be one or a few photo that will open my eyes to what I can possibly create and do. Wow, you can do that?! Cool! Boy, why didn't I think of how to do that with some of my images. It is one of my favorite things about this site, to see what can be created and is produced no matter what style is used.

I am one who would love to have a firm step by step instruction and process flow for PP. Having structure and a firm process to every image would make things much easier LOL! My favorite thing in PP is using my ALT, then putting it in crop mode to see that histogram for each section of the image.

I want a full low down for this process. I want it to be this number for shadow, this percent for contrast, this filter for that, and up it this much, or down it that much, highlights need to be this number, clarity or sharpness needs to be that number. It is frustrating to know what to do with a photo to know to make it look good. I have also learned you can not take a crappy photo and make it look good no matter what you do to it.

So, getting it right in the camera is current battle. I am now starting to read my metering and histograms which help out tremendously. Again, another can of worms just on its own. This hobby fascinates me because I can spend forever trying to learn the mathematical aspect of just the shutter speed, ISO and Aperture, (I found a fun free app called beecam lightmeter which is been fun as well as a remote app called Camera Remote.
I can spend a lot of time learning composition, I can spend a lot of time learning exposure and the like. Then there is the processing itself which is wow, just overwhelming to me still. At least I am out of the habit of doing heavy vignetting..
At the same time, its nice to know when someone tells me, set your camera to this mode and this setting, do this to the PP In Photoshop or light room, At least I know the terms, what they mean and how to do achieve it.


Message edited by author 2015-04-27 09:11:49.
04/27/2015 02:40:11 AM · #21
Originally posted by BrennanOB:

However given the arc of voters from folk who are trying to get a razor sharp colorblast into 800 pixels ...

Hey, we're up to 1200 now ... ;-)
04/27/2015 02:35:54 AM · #22
Interesting topic.

The reason I started participating in the site long ago was the aforementioned simulated client. The idea of making an image that pleased a random group of strangers with the goal of pleasing enough of them to be awarded a virtual ribbon was fun. In time I gleamed enough technical knowledge from the generous and knowledgeable folks who hang around here that I got a ribbon, and in doing so I was producing images that pleased me. You need to learn all the tools, in order to be sure that the tools you employ are the ones that best suit you, not simply the few that are easiest to grasp.

At a certain point I became perverse. My ongoing goal is to win the brown ribbon with a picture that I really like. I shoot pictures of white things for a color challenge, try to shoot concurrent challenges with the same subject, ect. Because winning does not matter. There is no spoon.

That said I do love the leagues, where you really do have that simulated client for a few weeks, and you and your team are in the hotbox of sweating out pleasing images.

However given the arc of voters from folk who are trying to get a razor sharp colorblast into 800 pixels, to the poets who love an impenetrable emotional blur, the middle ground will always be a nicely framed literalism. I'm not sure it can change, and I don't know that it should.
04/26/2015 11:19:45 PM · #23
Much of how we approach challenges depends on why we take pictures. A professional photographer generally shoots for a client. Pleasing the client trumps originality and creativity. DPC can either be used to simulate a client or as a creative outlet, where you’re free to experiment. If score is important then you’re honing your craft to please a perspective client. The amateur photographer, who has no ambitions of making this a career, is more likely to take pictures for himself. This results in more creative interpretations of challenges. We are pushing ourselves rather than trying to please others. This is just a personal observation and obviously there are exceptions.

DPC is a great and valuable resource for many types of photography. That being said, if used the wrong way it can also limit your potential. So use it and use it wisely. We all have our own reasons for participating.
04/26/2015 08:21:30 PM · #24
Originally posted by posthumous:

Many times I've tried to make the point that sharp focus is not a good "technical" unless sharp focus is needed for the shot, and the same goes for all the other "technicals," but I am unable to get this point across. Every shot has exposure, dof, pov and lighting. if they are correct for the shot, then the technicals are good. In other words, if a photo is good, then the technicals are good, because those technicals created that photo.


Absolutely!!!! I recently helped another member through that realization. There is a general desire to have a "workflow" that works for everything. It doesn't exist. Unless we're processing a headshot session, or some other repetitive image assignment, there is no single processing that works for every image. Each image requires it's own approach. I'm currently battling with such an image, which in my mind should have gone a certain way, but it's fighting me tooth and nail for something different.
04/26/2015 07:57:46 PM · #25
Originally posted by tanguera:

I think the word "technicals" might be interesting to explore a bit. From the comments, it appears that many feel it's artificial lighting, or processing, or something beyond the pushing of the shutter. I suppose these are also part of technicals, although I was thinking more along the lines of exposure, dof, pov, lighting (either natural or studio), etc.

But as the thread title says, for me it has to be a balance between a concept well executed/captured and well-thought out "technicals".
Many times I've tried to make the point that sharp focus is not a good "technical" unless sharp focus is needed for the shot, and the same goes for all the other "technicals," but I am unable to get this point across. Every shot has exposure, dof, pov and lighting. if they are correct for the shot, then the technicals are good. In other words, if a photo is good, then the technicals are good, because those technicals created that photo.

And btw, over time I've come to agree with Wendy's point of view. I was always suspicious of "Art" challenges because I treat every challenge as an Art challenge, but I came to realize these challenges aren't for me. They're for people who want to dip their toes into the dark side. Some of them will find the water warm... welcome!!
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