a request for readers

Discussion in 'Conversations Forum' started by studio.momo, Aug 25, 2007.

  1. studio.momo

    studio.momo Member

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    Dear all,

    I'm an occasional poster, and a floral photographer.
    I've been asked to submit a portfolio of recent work for a competition, and though I could narrow down candidates from over 2,000 good shots to 132 (including several taken at UBCBG), I was hoping to solicit some feedback on those so I could narrow them down even further.

    If you're interested, please visit:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/brian.watson/Competition?authkey=xPr6Vieb7yw

    If any of the photos strike you as particularly good, or particularly bad, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of that photo's page.

    Thanks in advance for any and all help!
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Guess it is a personal opinion, but I prefer pics which show the whole flower plus the foliage; I'd not vote for the ones which just show part of a flower without much context.

    Also better to use scientific names for the captions.
     
  3. studio.momo

    studio.momo Member

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    Thanks, Michael F.
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Are you allowed to make minor Photoshop edits for the competition? For example, the bunny tail image could be just a bit stronger (it's great as it is, though) if the spider web on the lower right was cloned out (the two threads, plus the little ball of white at the top). What's your timeline for comments? I'd spend more time on it now, but I'm just about to head out of town for the rest of the weekend.
     
  5. studio.momo

    studio.momo Member

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    Thank you, Daniel. Yes, edits are allowed, and yes, you have time. Through the end of next week.
     
  6. Have just had a quick look at your photos - they are absolutely gorgeous - there are not many I could see any justifucation for cutting out but I guess if you had to choose I would lose:
    dragon fly viii and poppy 2, but apart from that very hard to say.
     
  7. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Please accept this as positive critique from a retired commercial photographer.

    I have judged over a dozen large photo contests for a variety of organizations, one national. I've also taught for Nikon and published several hundred national magazine articles, many on photography with two in one of the major photographic magazines. Your work tends to lack a truly strong subject that makes the viewer want to more closely examine the work. I've tried to figure out why and I think there may be a couple of reasons.

    One, you're not using the established rules of composition very well. Now every rule is intended to be broken, but I'm not convinced you've learned how to "break" it just yet. There is an underwater photographer who produces incredible underwater images in the same fashion you are using and does it so well, were he to enter a contest, he'd win every time. Personally, I think you're on the right track by not showing all the subject. Many judges will appreciate your artistic approach. It is often the winning image. But somehow you just don't' put THE portion of the subject in the right part of the frame to draw the viewer's eye and allow the viewer to explore.

    I'd also suggest, since you can use photo retouching programs, increase the contrast on your material a bit. But be careful, you can easily go over the edge! And perhaps, consider re-cropping to shift the major area of interest to one of the major areas most photography teachers, and judges, prefer to see it located. Also, consider having a secondary point of interest. The viewer's eye is drawn to the primary point and then naturally led to the secondary point.

    There are lots of good books on the market which attempt to explain the concept of composition, but during my courses for Nikon that was always the most difficult to teach. Either a student had an "eye" for composition or they didn't. I'm not saying you don't! I'm just saying you many need to hone your skills a bit in order to capture a winning photograph.

    And I'd certainly agree with Michael's comment. Find out what you are photographing and use the correct identification. A photo judge will appreciate your efforts.

    I truly wish you well with your competition, but regret I personally didn't see any on your site I'd automatically want to consider as a top prize winner. Chances are, you're going to have some tough competition. You realize that, or you wouldn't have asked to be "judged" here. Look at your work with a very critical eye and select only the very best. Photographers who are just beginning to enter the world of published photography often don't "judge" themselves hard enough. They love a lot of photos and just send them all. But editors, by the very nature of their work, must judge for you. Learn to file the ones you love and only show the "cream of the crop". And make sure the image is "tack" sharp. I did see quite a few of your images that were "soft".

    Crop it as best possible, and then delete any potential defects. Daniel's suggestion is a very good one to consider as well.

    Work on your composition skills and who knows, you may end up with a prize and the cover of a garden magazine. I sometimes communicate with one of the country's best photo teachers. He also used to be John F. Kennedy's personal photographer. I'm sending him this link and asking him to give you his comments. as well.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2007
  8. Luv2Grdn

    Luv2Grdn Active Member

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    I hope I don't sound to harsh.
    Walking iris iii, wasp, unknown, winterwseet, toad lily iii, stewartia, stargazer i, poppy i,
    magnolia ii, lotus iii, leaf irisvi, hibiscus ii, frnaklinia i, dragonfly viiii, dandelion ii, columbine, anemone, blue poppu, gladiolus iii.
    Some where a little blurred, little to dark or I thought the whole flower should have been in the picture.
    BUT...they are very nice photo's! I'm no expert. Just what I thought.
    Good luck. :>)
     
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I took the liberty of copying one of your photos simply in order to attempt to illustrate what I was trying to explain. Now, please don't do what I just did! Just use it as a suggestion.

    When I started to do this re-crop I discovered your original image is not tack sharp. That is one rule you'll need to follow each and every time! Any judge will be highly critical of a photo that is not truly sharp. I ran it through PhotoShop, increased the contrast, adjusted the color a bit and did some "auto" sharpening. But you can never focus a shot that is not already sharp. You'll also noticed I put the focal point in one of the lower "intersecting" points of interest. That point now leads your eye to the upper right intersecting point of interest and off the page.

    I wish you luck. And I'll destroy my copy of your work right away. The post just above this one is dead on accurate as well. This is a Hibiscus. Name your photos as they truly are. Guaranteed, any judge will appreciate your taking the time.

    I just sent Wayne your link. Should he post suggestions, listen carefully. He is one of the best photo instructors in the country!
     

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  10. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    I like partials as well as full shots. I'll leave a note when I get time to look more. For now, favorites included the flytrap and iris 1.
     
  11. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I liked stargaze ii, passionflower iii, bromeliad and arisaema. But I particularly liked, for a different reason, the simplicity and archietecture (If that's a word lol) of magnolia ii

    Well done

    Ed
     
  12. studio.momo

    studio.momo Member

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    Thank you! After some feedback, I went back to look at compositional issues. I also found out that the request for a portfolio meant only ten images, so I did some brutal culling of my own...
     
  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    tulip ii, plumeria i, dandelion, pasqueflower, bunnytail, arisaema, globeflower
     
  14. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Just a note on my comments regarding the photo educator and former JFK photographer. He sent several comments and suggestions which were forwarded privately to the original poster.
     
  15. Padraigan

    Padraigan Active Member

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    Good job, they are lovely. Closeups allow one to look deeper into the flowers detail. I enjoyed viewing your photos.
     

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