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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> What makes a winning DPC image for you?
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01/01/2003 01:43:52 PM · #1
I have found such a diverse assortment of winning photographs on this site that I am curious to gain knowledge of what makes up a winning picture? Is it prejudiced by one parameter versus another? Is it - Resolution? Colour? Composition? Lighting? Subject? Uniqueness? Image Complexity (hectic versus minimal)?

It would be very interesting to hear from the membership at large, so I can become skilled at what it takes to triumph. I am sure that we will entertain a multiplicity of answers, but I wonder if there is a common thread in the achievement of the winners? What do you think?
01/01/2003 05:21:19 PM · #2
off my cuff, morgan, here are some of the attributes that seem to be characteristic of well-scoring pics --

bold - this can include rich colors or striking grayscale

simple - rarely does a busy or cluttered shot do well

sharply focused,

deep DOF to go with previous,

good amount of contrast

light - both thematically and tonally (dark concepts and shadowy shots seem penalized)

-- this may or may not apply to all cases but it's just off the cuff. Mileage may vary! :)

01/01/2003 05:28:53 PM · #3
boobs?




lol
01/01/2003 05:50:25 PM · #4
Interestingness

Clarity

Idea Originality (where applicable)
01/01/2003 06:30:58 PM · #5
I don't think there's really a formula. You just know it when you see it.
01/01/2003 07:33:12 PM · #6
I agree with mag 9999 if your aim is for residence among the lofty top 20 scoring images. Simple,loud,clinical,impeccable lighting and focus. You can certainly gain a lot of technical and visual experience by trodding down the golden path. Such as perfecting your home mini studio props, lights and background combos. To make a very powerful visual statement with minimal elements. Perhaps akin to a haiku. On the other hand this could bias or taint your personal vision in the long run. That is just my personal opinion. Everyone grows along the classic learning curve. But if you keep aiming towards graphic studio shots that may be against your personal outlook.For instance if you really feel good about shooting from the hip emotive candids. Scores, be they low or high have the real danger of overinfluencing your special unique vision on life. This is just me, but when I immerse myself in images I rather to behold a goodly portion of a photographer's personal work. Give me 100-200 images that represent your life outlook and experience. I prefer to view all of a photographer's profile because I can learn and perhaps feel more in touch with your expression. Give me all of your 3's,4's and 5's along with the so called cream. Twenty years ago when I was starting out buds and I hung out and poured over literally thousands of each others images. We did weekly photo trips. And had some pretty heart to heart discussions about the getting our souls and guts on Kodachrome. We also did the Photo club circuit too. In a very short time we firmly decided to follow our own instincts for better or worse instead of persuing ribbons and watching our photography slowly pseudo clone into some calendar shot. I am here for a mutual friendly exchange of the human experience. As expressed with original intentions from participants. Not a common commercial denominator appeal. But I am just one whiny mouse squeak among the pack of lions. I wish you best of luck upon your long term endeavors.
01/01/2003 08:00:43 PM · #7
<----- agrees with Bullwinkle
01/01/2003 08:41:01 PM · #8
Thank you Bullwinkle for your thoughtful reply. When one's photos consistently score 5 and lower, it's hard to remember that the styles most often seen here do not mesh with my own. (I haven't had a chance yet to submit a photo from my vein of specialty.)

Even though my scores here are often disappointing, it is fun to attempt to take photos that the general population here will enjoy. I have cursed more than once about hating to photograph still lifes, but that doesn't stop me from trying.
01/01/2003 09:03:51 PM · #9
yeah, but i think his question was 'what elements seem to get a high score,' wasn't it? :)

I'd like to take the opportunity here to point out that here's nothing wrong with, or stopping anyone from, taking pics for the contest (not even going to go into the question of 'why enter a contest if you dont want your work assessed and ranked in a comparative fashion' :) ))) , as well as ALSO separately taking pictures of anything else that floats one's boat :). These are not mutually incompatible activities, the pursuing of multiple styles of photography.

You just have to remember that there is "Photographic Life outside of DPC." I might work on my photo for here and apply completely different criteria than i might when photographing 'out on the street'. . . But one website, even one this great, isnt the be-all and end-all (don't flame me for saying that, lol) of the artform.

But hey, if you're going to enter, why not try to 'crack the code'. It's a challenge, so I take a practical approach. The worst that can happen is I might learn something O didn't know before about photography, maybe make a few new friends, and see some interesting pictures :).

Best O Luck ...

Message edited by author 2003-01-01 21:04:49.
01/01/2003 09:12:05 PM · #10
A related question: is the taste here changing?

Of the 47 challenge winners in the archives, 24 are of studio or set-up shots, while the other 23 can be classified as "found" images.

However, in the last 20 challenges, 65% of winners have been "studio" shots, increasing to 70% over the last 10 challenges.

As a "street photographer", I don't find this evolution intimidating (there are plenty of other sites where I do quite well) but rather a challenge -- which is as it should be!
01/01/2003 09:21:36 PM · #11
What makes a winning photo....

1 - excellent overall image quality
2 - strong tie to the challenge theme
3 - emotive impact (wow factor)
4 - not offensive

There is no real recipe for a winner, but in most cases, these elements need to be present. I would not go as far as to say that deep DOF is important when DOF is used correctly. You can't satisfy everyone with depth of field no matter which way you go in most cases. Some people don't understand how shallow depth of field improves a photo. It just creates a ding point for someone who is looking for one.

I believe that subjectivity plays a larger role than objectivity in the challenges. If you don't have a strong subject, it doesn't matter how technically perfect your photo is...

01/01/2003 09:37:49 PM · #12
Jmsetzler, I agree with you except on the wow factor. Personally, I hate the wow factor. I think it bumps up scoring of images that would otherwise have scored worse because of technical or other such flaws.
01/01/2003 09:56:16 PM · #13
Everything Bullwinkle said--plus boobs. (real or implied)
01/01/2003 10:03:11 PM · #14
Bullwinkle, thanks for putting it all back into perspective!
01/01/2003 10:20:49 PM · #15
Originally posted by hardwaybets:

Jmsetzler, I agree with you except on the wow factor. Personally, I hate the wow factor. I think it bumps up scoring of images that would otherwise have scored worse because of technical or other such flaws.


That's why I went on to say that subjectivity plays a great role in the vote...
01/02/2003 07:55:17 AM · #16
Great points everyone. Some are very similar to my own thoughts on the subject.

I have received very consistent critique observations on my own submissions. Depths of field (DOF) and exposure comments are by far the most common, maybe 80% or so. Another regular commentary relates to complaints about my excessive cropping of the subject within the image. But, that’s just me.

I wholeheartedly agree with John's (jmsetzler) comment that many members do not recognize the value of shallow DOF, whereas I do. John – WOW Factor – I understand and agree with your point, but I adamantly refuse to quote Tom Peters anymore, since he was caught cheating on his book writing a year or two ago

The exposure point is rather humorous to me as there is no real way to ensure that “what you see, is what I presented” for you to see. Here at home, I go the trouble of ICC profiles and colour calibration while making good use of histograms when shooting, and then I receive abundant remarks about over AND under exposure of the same submitted image. Huh?

But, when you think about it technically, everyone else sees all of the images differently due to their individual set-ups. So, I wonder how can anyone really judge at all – at least for exposure or colourimetry? In a real-life, physical art gallery, everyone views the same print, under the same lighting conditions, framed, and scaled the same, for all to adjudicate with their own eyes. Here at DPC, this is not the case, nor can it ever be. There are simply too many variables at play.

Rod (Bullwinkle), what can I saw, you are raising the timeless “art versus commerce” question / argument. That subject warrants it’s own thread. But, to your point, I think what I am trying to say is that my own style of image does not play well here. So, I thought that I would pursue the approach that does work seem to work at DPC. This is learning to me. I am attempting to add a second style to my personal repertoire. Along the lines of Kollin’s (Magnetic9999) remark.

Comments? What do you think now?
01/02/2003 08:12:41 AM · #17
Morgan,

I also have a calibrated setup and use my histograms religiously, and I will say this about that:

Even though everyone perceives differently due to their local variables, I rarely ever get comments about my pic being too dark or too light. I find if I stay away from the extreme ends of the light or dark scale, I never get those kinds of comments. So that may be heartening to you, if you have received erroneous commentary about your exposure.

Re the shallow/deep DOF thing: the question was 'what does well on DPC?', not 'what is accepted in the overall World of Photography?' :). And the fact of the matter is that shallow DOF is often criticized as if it were a flaw by our fellow voters. So, when I enter a shot here, I try to make my DOF as deep as possible.

01/02/2003 08:15:46 AM · #18
one would think. so why didnt THIS SHOT win, I wonder?????


Originally posted by psychephylax:

boobs?




lol

01/02/2003 08:52:00 AM · #19
Strange, guys actually saying they don't like boobs and nipples!?
Did their wives/girlfriend/fiancee look over their shoulder? Or do they turn the lights off when........

I think it is a good representation of the corrup^H^H^H^corporate world. :-)



Message edited by author 2003-01-02 08:53:35.
01/02/2003 09:06:37 AM · #20
Originally posted by magnetic9999:

Morgan,

I also have a calibrated setup and use my histograms religiously, and I will say this about that:

Even though everyone perceives differently due to their local variables, I rarely ever get comments about my pic being too dark or too light. I find if I stay away from the extreme ends of the light or dark scale, I never get those kinds of comments. So that may be heartening to you, if you have received erroneous commentary about your exposure.

Re the shallow/deep DOF thing: the question was 'what does well on DPC?', not 'what is accepted in the overall World of Photography?' :). And the fact of the matter is that shallow DOF is often criticized as if it were a flaw by our fellow voters. So, when I enter a shot here, I try to make my DOF as deep as possible.


Kollin, I am very keen on contrasting concepts. So, avoiding the limits of exposure is not really a good strategy for me, unless I want to win DPC, of course. So, I see your point.

As suggested, I looked at your Dividends submission. The image is very good. But, I loved the comments best. What a laugh. They are a brilliant example of contrast. You received the whole gambit of responses, including the DOF one that I get all the time. Thanks for contributing it. Michael
01/02/2003 09:41:37 AM · #21
oh i didnt mean to imply that you shouldnt have visual contrast. no, not at all; good contrast is key for a pic to do well on here.

what i meant is having a pic that is predominantly very dark or predominantly very light -- then you run the risk of running into probs with people that have extreme monitor settings (who are more common than one would think).
01/02/2003 10:07:49 AM · #22
I get the feeling that alot of sucessful pictures here are predominantly blue. There are some red ones, pinks and greens are a big no-no.

Another sucessful theme here is what I used to think of as 'photography by numbers' and someone here suggested was akin to 3D ray-traced images, where each technical aspect is spot on, but the actual subject is just an excuse for showing off the technique.

I havent cracked the successful formula yet (perhaps I should stop submitting bug shots) but some good ways of dropping down the rankings are to submit abstracts, non-North American cultural stuff, non-plain backgrounds, and of course pets.

01/02/2003 01:31:53 PM · #23
For me it has to "move" me, and be technically sound. Of course some technical imperfections may add to the value of the photo. It's subjective, of course.
01/02/2003 04:01:45 PM · #24
Originally posted by UberFish:

I get the feeling that alot of sucessful pictures here are predominantly blue. There are some red ones, pinks and greens are a big no-no.

Another sucessful theme here is what I used to think of as 'photography by numbers' and someone here suggested was akin to 3D ray-traced images, where each technical aspect is spot on, but the actual subject is just an excuse for showing off the technique.

I havent cracked the successful formula yet (perhaps I should stop submitting bug shots) but some good ways of dropping down the rankings are to submit abstracts, non-North American cultural stuff, non-plain backgrounds, and of course pets.


Neil, I agree with your points. The site is very heavily weighted towards the USA, where I suspect most of the members originate. So, as I create my secret winning formula for the 1st place prize at DPC, I have already decided that it would be most important to play to the common denominator.

By the way, I am an absolute "RED" nut, and I wish that I were a member of DPC when the Red Challenge was on. To me, there is only one colour - RED. Every other colour just wishes that they were red. Black and white are also very good with red, but then they are not really colours (sum of all, and absences of all) are they? It is unlikely that they will run another Red challenge, but maybe we can ask for a RED and White Challenge, or a RED and Black Challenge, or maybe even a RED, White and Black Challenge? Wouldn't that be great! ;-) Michael
01/02/2003 04:14:09 PM · #25
Originally posted by Morgan:

...Black and white are also very good with red, but then they are not really colours (sum of all, and absences of all) are they? ;-) Michael


The last time I was at the Graphic Arts Institute in San Francisco, they had a picture frame filled with about 75 1-inch square paper swatches, torn from sheets which had each been printed with "black" ink...needless to say each piece was a different "color."
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