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Old 03-03-2004, 08:47 PM
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momshu momshu is offline
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Default constructive critique tips

Hi TE members,

I would love to read about any tips & techniques that more established members can offer about how they arrive at a constructive critiques of Trek Earth images and what they also wish to recieve for critiques of thier own images.
Much like workflows for post-processing images there must be workflows for how we reflect on our thoughts about an image before we comment.
I ask because I think this maybe valuable for newer members and silent visual learners like myself. There are some fantastic images appearing on Trekearth without any notes. Sometimes the image speak for it's self but I understand that Trekearth demands more and any ideas would be helpful to at me at this point.
Jeannie of momshu
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Old 03-04-2004, 04:34 AM
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AdrianW AdrianW is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

OK, firstly - think about what you like in the image. What are the good aspects? Do you like the vivid colours? The subtle hues? The bold textures?

How does the composition grab you? Are there any elements that really "make" the image for you? The little quirk in corner of the eye, a small rusty patch on the side of hull?

Are there any technical aspects that appeal? Use of long exposure to impart a smooth "flowing" look to water, create trails of lights, or show things in motion? Clever use of DOF to isolate the subject, or to keep everything in shot.

When you look at the picture are there any alterations you'd make if it were your image? Correct a horizon? Alter the colour balance? Maybe convert to B&W? Reduce noise? Add noise? Would you have taken it from a different angle?

IMO becoming a good critiquer is all about looking at an image and seeing why you think it's good. The why will also make you a better photographer if you apply those thoughts to the scene in front of you :-D

Above all, try and be positive and helpful. We're all human, and we have feelings!
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Old 03-04-2004, 09:47 PM
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ronners ronners is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

I have to agree with Adrian here. A critique has to be subjective to be of most value. Going through this process helps you to further understand what you do and don't like, and then take that forward to help you create photographs that appeal to your own tastes.

In short, there are no rules. The only tough part about critiquing is putting your emotional reaction into words, but that gets easier with practice.
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Old 03-05-2004, 04:01 AM
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

"IMO becoming a good critiquer is all about looking at an image and seeing why you think it's good."

Well, IMO becoming a good critiquer is all about looking at an image and seeing why you think it is good or bad.

Yes, criticising is also about explaining why a picture it's not good; from the technical flaw to the way the subject was treated.
I know you may hurt some feeling, I know that your critics might not be rate as useful or even be rate as not useful but I'm pretty sure that a negative but constructive critique will teach more a beginner photographer than a positive and even construtive critique will to an experienced photographer.
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Old 03-06-2004, 06:29 AM
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kajenn kajenn is offline
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Location: Lund, Sweden
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

I agree with Adrian, although his tips at first might seem overwhelming.

When I joined TE, I spent 1½ month just looking at photos and reading critiques. Mainly to see if this community was anything for me, but also very aware of my lac of experience in criticizing and being criticized. Then, from beginning of January this year, I started posting and also doing small insecure comments on other's photos, roughly following the "steps" suggested by Adrian, always trying to remember how I would like to have my photos judged. I've found that these two go hand in hand, and over time my way of looking at photos - mine and other's - has changed and is changing.

Today I upload one photo per day or two days, but I comment on 5 to 10 and try to do a couple of workshops (which is even more rewarding) a day. And for each day passing by, I feel more and more secure in my judgements of other's photos, as well as of mine, and I trust more in myself. Most of my uploads are "old" photos, as I need to see them in a differnt light. Only slowly am I making use of my new camera, sensing that I need to learn more from TE - and from the manual of course - before using it.

The photos I upload are sometimes those I'm pretty sure of (composing, cropping, framing, DOF, sharpness aso.), these I wouldn't change for any critique or negligence in the world. Then there are those I have experimented with (maybe nicely composed, or another cropping, framing, wrong DOF, sharpen? aso.), which are subject to critique or negligence, these I consider changing and reposting. And finally there are those, where I find the critique correct - either negative or positive - for what it's worth and take no further action.

I'm pretty sure that I've changed since joining TE and I find that I'm met with the same respect I'm offering, always realizing I have more to learn. And I think that you starting this thread, Jeannie, means that you are heading in the same direction.

But always remember, you're not able to love everybody and everybody cannot love you. Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2004, 10:31 PM
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Luko Luko is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

Critics about technique are good but they should be used in a correct purpose.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned and that IMHO is one of the most crucial part s to constructive criticism is try to UNDERSTAND WHY the photographer shot the image and WHAT he tried to convey through his shot.

For instance commenting a motion shot saying that blur should be avoided with a faster speed would be completely inaccurate for that specific example. Of course this never happened but I wrote it in the purpose of pointing out the importance of the meaning of the shot. (This is also why the photographer should always write something about his shots).

Then I guess that the technical parts should be commented (framing, sharpness, density, contrast, etc.) but I also like to imagine another shot (angle, lens, timing, BW instead of color, other main subject...) that would improve or enhance the feeling that the photographer wants to bring out from his shot (second reason why the image should be commented).

My own commenting technique (and I must also admit my shooting technique) relies on comparison to classic shots I have in mind, coming from photo books or photo exhibs. You'll find that in my comments I sometimes link the image to a famous shot I have in mind.
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Old 03-12-2004, 03:47 PM
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digi-mom digi-mom is offline
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Posts: 487
Default Re: constructive critique tips

I had not read this thread until now, and I must say I find everyone's comments here most useful!

I have learned in TE much from reading other comments, and expecially critiques, regarding what has been done well, what compositional techniques work, what blur or sharpness is appreciated and often commented on, and other helpful hints in post processing or setting up the camera settings. So much of this is like that photography class that I never took in school, and I appreciate so much the "negative" criticisms on why a photo isn't particularly appealing, and the "I would have..." comments from those who take pictures that are so appealing. I know that photos, as all art, are mostly subjective, but as we live in a community world and learn from one another, I would like to be able to give back art as is most acceptable to the community. The best way to learn that, is to observe, read, listen, and remember.

And I love that line about not being able to love everyone and everyone not loving you, Kaj. It's so important to remember, not just in art, but in everything. :o) Thanks so much Kaj, the other commenters in this forum, Adam, and all the TE'ers who are really into this whole concept of sharing and learning about the world and photography.
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Old 03-13-2004, 04:58 PM
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holly holly is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

As a newbie I have found this to be the most useful site because of the critiques – both of my submissions and others. I am learning as I go, and you are my teachers. If everything is “nice” then I can’t learn. But to critique well is also an art! By adding the extra ideas, tips of points of view, you can open a whole new path for someone. So, please go the extra step of explaining how you would enhance, optimize or enlighten the submissions.
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Old 03-13-2004, 05:20 PM
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Keitht Keitht is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

Critiques are by their very nature subjective. I don't like the use of the terms 'good' and 'bad' with respect to critiques but would rather use the terms 'like' and 'don't like'.
There have been plenty of images that I don't particularly like, but which have been technically good and would be commented on as such. Likewise there have been images that I have generally 'liked' but have areas which either don't work for me or I might have interpreted differently.
My own feeling is that I always attempt to provide more positive than negative feedback on an image. That is not to say don't give negative comments, but to provide balance. Entirely negative feedback particularly to new and often inexperienced members can be very discouraging. If I think a picture really has no merit (I can only think of one example that I have seen so far) I simply say nothing.
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Old 03-15-2004, 04:17 AM
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momshu momshu is offline
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Default Re: constructive critique tips

Thank you for responding TE members.

I have found this very useful and appreciate the thoughts and exchange. I could hope it continues as time allows.;-)

My workflow with your reflections have been to review your post to this thread then to go to your intro page where I then go to your critiques. Valuable lessons in direct applications and found myself exploring Trekearth in new ways such as reviewing workshops. Now there's a book on TE. Wonderful contributions.

Presently I have stopped taking pictures due to shaking hands (occupational hazards as shellfish farmer & gardener) and taking the opportunity to study the wealth of info here on TE as respite from the outdoors in the evenings. Once the earth has warmed up I hope to apply some of my learning.

Jeannie of momshu
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