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06/24/2003 04:10:24 PM · #1
What is technical excellence in photography?

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Blue Ribbon Winner.. is it technically excellent?

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Blue Ribbon Winner.. is it technically excellent?

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Blue Ribbon Winner.. is it technically excellent?

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Blue Ribbon Winner.. is it technically excellent?

Now lets look at some lower scoring photos……..

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Scored 2.63… is it technically excellent? Or even technically good?

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Scored 2.78… is it technically excellent?

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Scored 3.28… what’s wrong with it?

Now….

I think this illustrates a good bit about what ‘technical excellence’ really means on average… My idea of ‘technical ISSUES’ include focus, depth of field, sharpness, contrast, color saturation, etc…. If technical excellence weighs heavily, how can a photo that I believe is technically excellent score so poorly?

Well, I believe that, in these cases, the subjective side of the vote outweighed the technical side maybe? Where does meeting the challenge come into play? The portrait shot I listed above that scored so low, to me, was a technically and subjective excellent photo that just didn’t meet the challenge.

The reason I bring this up is because I have tried and I have seen various ‘voting scales’ listed on the site… I tried it myself and simply could not come up with one that would work for any image.

Different people weigh various aspects of a photo differently.

Back to ‘technical excellence’…. In your opinion, what does this mean? How do YOU define ‘technical excellence’.

06/24/2003 04:27:25 PM · #2
all the things you listed, plus, use of light, composition, quality of image (intentionally grainy or not.. does it work).

But I don't believe a photo can stand alone on technical excellence. There should be "wow" or "emotional impact".

I think some people are over harsh, and if it is a subject they don't like, they refuse to consider it, and plop a 1 on it.
I'd hate to see some of the voting done here taken to a museum of fine arts, for instance, and used there.
06/24/2003 04:31:02 PM · #3
This is a hard one to argue I think... I think it comes down to this, people want shots that fit the challenge, if the shot is good and does not fit the challenge the shots seem to get very low scores.

This shows me that people put the most weight on the topic and then on technical excelence...

Thanks for the post, it has to be discussed I think!!
PS I love the Glass challenge shot, It is awesome!!
06/24/2003 04:33:00 PM · #4
John: you forget that technical excellence rating by itself is subjective.
06/24/2003 04:33:54 PM · #5
to test this theory, why not have drew throw in a random photograph from a professional photographer for voting, to see what would happen
06/24/2003 04:34:43 PM · #6
Karen, I think a lot of that is right. From what I see, technical excellence plays a large role in a photograph mainly when the technical issues are what makes the photograph 'pop'. There are a lot of photos here that have no intrinsic emotional value but do have high technical impact that make them do very well.

On the flip side, technical issues play a roll when they are done poorly. If a photo is out of focus or improperly exposed in such a way that people don't like it, it becomes a problem.

So maybe we can draw one conclusion so far:

Technical issues, when providing the primary impact of the shot, are the most important elements of that photo.

Now, in an emotionally impactive shot, like Sonifo's recent winner, technical issues don't seem to really play a role in scoring at all. I didn't study that particular photo in a lot of detail, but it looks like she may have added some grain to it. Is adding grain considered technically good or bad? In this case, it didn't seem to matter either way... How do technical issues play a role in emotionally charged photos?

Possible conclusion:

Emotionally impactive photos seem to override the technical issues in a lot of photos. When the photo has a certain level of emotional charge, the technical issues that are present don't seem to matter as much.

Thoughts?
06/24/2003 04:36:52 PM · #7
ahh yes. this is impossible to really define, but i will type for a while and see what happens.

First, I will agree with you about that portrait shot being in the wrong challenge. I generally don't vote up or down for things meeting the challenge, unless it obviously doesn't fit the challenge at all. I give tons of leeway. If it is implied I accept it. If the challenge is cats and someone takes a picture of a statue of abraham lincoln, however, I will take off a few points. I don't just give 1's for things not meeting the challenge, as I assume the on-topic stickler voters will take care of that.

In my other post I mentioned "technical excellence", but I meant it in more of a subjective matter. I would say that this just has to do with initial reaction. Does it look professional? I'm not looking for a certain focus, DOF, contrast, etc. I'm looking for what I would expect to see, in general, in real life professional settings. This can mean on the walls of an photography gallery, on billboards, magazine pages, etc. It doesn't mean snapshots. I know there are some snapshotish photos in galleries but they usually get there through some cunning marketing or interesting image and philosophy of the photographer.

Sadly, I think equipment quality has a large roll in what I, and other voters, deem technically excellent. It has a lot to do with the clarity of the image and whether or not it looks "clean."

In short, I would say that technical excellence is important to receiving a good score, but it doesn't guarantee one. There needs to be something more to your photo, be it an interesting subject, lighting, mood, perspective, lines, etc.

In regards to this, I was wondering what factors affect a photograph and by how much. Is it 1/3 equipment, 1/3 photographer, and 1/3 subject?
06/24/2003 04:37:48 PM · #8
Technical excellence is hard one to pin down, mainly because it is very dependant on the level of experience of the person who is rating it.

I know personally that what I used to think of as being 'technically perfect' shots, in that I couldn't see anything wrong with them, now look pretty shabby indeed.

That's pictures that a year ago I shot, edited and printed to the best of my ability and was exceedingly happily with the technical quality, now look horrible.

I've learned more about what is considered technically good and bad. If you don't know the difference, then they might still look great, you have to gain experience to learn enough what is the difference.

It takes a while to learn how much you don't know.
06/24/2003 04:43:35 PM · #9
I would think that the interpretation of technical issues such as DOF, focus, exposure control, etc are very similar to many of the particpants on this site. What I think varies greatly is the subjective aspect of the application or the technique applied by different photographers/viewers of these technical issues. People will subjectively apply what they think/believe/were taught the metics of the application of a technical aspect to the circumstance of a shot and then determine if it was appropriate. Technical appitude in and of itself is inadequate, IMHO. For example, most people (not all naturally) would agree that a narrow DOF in a portrait where the nose is in focus while the rest of the face is slightly blurred is inappropriate while an expanded DOF that blurred a background to focus attention on the subject of the portrait is appropriate. Flipping this around though we find the other extreme, if a challenge is "EYES" then what failed for a portrait becomes appropriate for the different context. Basically, we get back to the subjective aspect again which I find to be fairly broad and interesting as I learn more and more about how I see things versus how others see them.
06/24/2003 04:47:37 PM · #10
Originally posted by JasonPR:

Sadly, I think equipment quality has a large roll in what I, and other voters, deem technically excellent. It has a lot to do with the clarity of the image and whether or not it looks "clean."



I would have agreed totally with this, but my highest scoring photos were taken with my low end camera. lol I haven't figured this out quite yet as to why.

As for being technically excellent. It's all a matter of opinion. Someone could have applied the technique properly, but it doesn't work with the subject matter. (which is also opinion) But for me, a photo of a construction worker knee deep in dirt and weilding a very large saw or hammer wouldn't really work with soft focus and soft lighting (such as seen in many photos of babies) I would then say that it's done well, just doesn't work for that shot. This is just an example. Who knows, I could see it and it worked just fine, but for the sake of argument, it's just an example.
I'd let them know though what didn't work and why I thought that way.
I think I couldn't have a description of why I score what I do. I just do. I think it's all about how all the things tie in together.
~Heather~
06/24/2003 04:52:50 PM · #11
As opposed to someone who claims to be totally independent and totally without prejudice? I think anyone who claims that he/she is, IS ignorant.

Everyone has biases one way or the other, or his/her own preferences. That will be reflected in voting. What one considers as technically poor might not be to another person.

How many times have we see the comment: "This doesn't do anything for me?" That, in itself, might be technically based, might not be, but it's certainly SUBJECTIVELY based. The same goes for "WOW" or emotionally impacted photos, they're all subjective.

Thus, a subjective rating system is what we have @ DPC, despite the fact it has a number from 1 to 10, it is still subjectively based.


Originally posted by KarenB:

all the things you listed, plus, use of light, composition, quality of image (intentionally grainy or not.. does it work).

But I don't believe a photo can stand alone on technical excellence. There should be "wow" or "emotional impact".

I think some people are over harsh, and if it is a subject they don't like, they refuse to consider it, and plop a 1 on it.
I'd hate to see some of the voting done here taken to a museum of fine arts, for instance, and used there.

06/24/2003 04:55:50 PM · #12
Originally posted by hbunch7187:

Originally posted by JasonPR:

Sadly, I think equipment quality has a large roll in what I, and other voters, deem technically excellent. It has a lot to do with the clarity of the image and whether or not it looks "clean."



I would have agreed totally with this, but my highest scoring photos were taken with my low end camera. lol I haven't figured this out quite yet as to why.~Heather~


funny! I would say that it's because those photos are much more creative and have initial "wow" effect. Which shows that voting isn't all based on technical excellence. I bet that if you took them again with your better camera you would get better scores though.
06/24/2003 09:00:49 PM · #13
Originally posted by paganini:



Everyone has biases one way or the other, or his/her own preferences. That will be reflected in voting. What one considers as technically poor might not be to another person.

How many times have we see the comment: "This doesn't do anything for me?" That, in itself, might be technically based, might not be, but it's certainly SUBJECTIVELY based. The same goes for "WOW" or emotionally impacted photos, they're all subjective.

Thus, a subjective rating system is what we have @ DPC, despite the fact it has a number from 1 to 10, it is still subjectively based.



I hear what you are saying, however, there are photos that the "masses" appreciate as having an emotional impact, and this is what makes it great. At work, I do portraits - mostly of children. If I can get that personality to come out, that moment with the wicked glint of the eye, or the soft tilt of the head, then I have created "wow" for the family. This kind of emotional impact is useful to the family.
In other photography, there is emotion that can be felt by or that many viewers can relate to.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

How do technical issues play a role in emotionally charged photos?


Technical issues used as a tool to emphasise the emotion .. I think.. Is what works. Maybe the perfect DOF to bring attention to eyes, the center of a flower, etc. Maybe grain to bring that old world feeling into play. Of course, the use of light - is it arbitrary, or is it directed at the subject in the best way not just to illuminate, but to accent, create mood or drama, or bring attention? These are some examples.

Message edited by author 2003-06-24 21:02:05.
06/24/2003 09:14:15 PM · #14
I gave the "Glass" example a 10 during the voting. Hey, lets be honest here, people vote the way they see fit and I believed the portrait "Young Girl" deserved a 10. It was definately more appealing to me than many of the images of broken and mangled glass I looked at that week.

Bob

Message edited by author 2003-06-24 21:16:32.
06/25/2003 10:51:07 AM · #15
You have just quoted it: "The masses". In other words, it's not so much about technical excellence as it is about the "wow" factor, which is SUBJECTIVE. Thus, DPC rating is really about subjective critiques, not objective critiques.



Originally posted by KarenB:

Originally posted by paganini:



Everyone has biases one way or the other, or his/her own preferences. That will be reflected in voting. What one considers as technically poor might not be to another person.

How many times have we see the comment: "This doesn't do anything for me?" That, in itself, might be technically based, might not be, but it's certainly SUBJECTIVELY based. The same goes for "WOW" or emotionally impacted photos, they're all subjective.

Thus, a subjective rating system is what we have @ DPC, despite the fact it has a number from 1 to 10, it is still subjectively based.



I hear what you are saying, however, there are photos that the "masses" appreciate as having an emotional impact, and this is what makes it great. At work, I do portraits - mostly of children. If I can get that personality to come out, that moment with the wicked glint of the eye, or the soft tilt of the head, then I have created "wow" for the family. This kind of emotional impact is useful to the family.
In other photography, there is emotion that can be felt by or that many viewers can relate to.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

How do technical issues play a role in emotionally charged photos?


Technical issues used as a tool to emphasise the emotion .. I think.. Is what works. Maybe the perfect DOF to bring attention to eyes, the center of a flower, etc. Maybe grain to bring that old world feeling into play. Of course, the use of light - is it arbitrary, or is it directed at the subject in the best way not just to illuminate, but to accent, create mood or drama, or bring attention? These are some examples.

06/25/2003 10:53:13 AM · #16
I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.
06/25/2003 10:55:55 AM · #17
I think most people do that. It's really really hard to be objective.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.

06/25/2003 10:59:50 AM · #18
Originally posted by paganini:

I think most people do that. It's really really hard to be objective.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.


I don't really see a need to even try to be objective in most cases. After all, photography, or any other 'art' should create emotion moreso than technical inspiration.
06/25/2003 11:04:59 AM · #19
Surely trying to give an objective response is the best way to develop your own skills as a photographer? How many people here can really take an honest subjective look at their own photos? That's why it's so important to be objective. I believe it's possible to be objective about qualities such as creativity, originality, humour, inspiration, etc.
Surely every artist needs an analytical eye (or ear!) as well as an intuitive one?!
06/25/2003 11:05:55 AM · #20
Paganini, i'm with you on that one. To me, an image must hit me in the gut or in my heart or make me laugh. Don't care one iota for images that are technically perfect but that leave me cold.

Ratings of pictures ARE subjective. You canNOT look at art, or attempts thereof, OBJECTIVELY. If you do that, you are not communicating with the artist, not with the message she/he is trying to put in his art. Forget about the subject matter of the pic, it's the soul of one human being trying to seek the one of another and ask 'Do you feel this too'?

Pictures are NOT about flowers or mountains or animals or things. Unfortunately, most people at dpc think that's what it is about. Really, pictures are about the photographER.

Remember Rockwell, you cannot QUANTIFY art.

06/25/2003 11:09:49 AM · #21
The two must go together... for the casual observer of art, it is understandable that art should be a visceral, soul-transcending experience... for the creator, he/she should analytically understand what they are doing as well as have a feel for the deeper emotions that are being channelled. Otherwise they are only half an artist.
06/25/2003 11:14:10 AM · #22
The post made here this past week that i liked the most and have thought about a lot was by Gordon when he mentioned that professional photographers take up to 36,000 pictures on an assignment. What all that film is about is like 'sketching' in order to come to the ESSENCE of things.

06/25/2003 11:16:31 AM · #23
There is a flipside to this too -- if the artist shows something that the viewer doesn't understand, is it the viewers fault or the artist fault?

(I am pretty sure there are still people out there who thinks Picasso' art is crap, and 100 years ago people thought Van Gogh was crap but today most people would agree his art is good (probably because people understood what he was doing).
And there are people today who think Dali is a saddistic moron as well... i.e. it's all subjective)

So partly, the score reflects how viewers sees THEMSELVES :) and frankly, if Van Gogh would've though about popular art of his time and create them that way instead of his vision, well, we wouldn't have Van Gogh, the artist.


Originally posted by Journey:

Paganini, i'm with you on that one. To me, an image must hit me in the gut or in my heart or make me laugh. Don't care one iota for images that are technically perfect but that leave me cold.

Ratings of pictures ARE subjective. You canNOT look at art, or attempts thereof, OBJECTIVELY. If you do that, you are not communicating with the artist, not with the message she/he is trying to put in his art. Forget about the subject matter of the pic, it's the soul of one human being trying to seek the one of another and ask 'Do you feel this too'?

Pictures are NOT about flowers or mountains or animals or things. Unfortunately, most people at dpc think that's what it is about. Really, pictures are about the photographER.

Remember Rockwell, you cannot QUANTIFY art.

06/25/2003 11:20:04 AM · #24
For me, there isn't really a lot of technical stuff I pay close attention to, unless of course something is done poorly. Then you can't help but notice it.

Personally I don't consider composition, angle, framing and/or perspective as technical issues. These things I think are extensions of the photographers eye as to what makes a good picture, which is more of an artistic thing. The technical side is the part that is trying to make the viewers see what the photographer is seeing effectively.

That's my take on the situation - Bob

But what do I know?
06/25/2003 11:25:56 AM · #25
Wow, these things are so hard to talk about, it's all in the semantics...
Can I interpret what you've said (inspzil) as meaning that technique and artistry are inseperable, in which case I agree? When I talk about art, I draw on years of being a classical (and rock and jazz) musician. However, from looking at your pictures, I'm willing to accept whatever beliefs you have about photography, because it obviously works for you!

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 11:26:20.
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