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Rating subject difficulty

Pete Plus
17 18.8k 97 England
15 Feb 2012 2:15PM
Just had a report, not for the first time, that when awards are made they should take into account subject difficulty, and the person will be leaving because the awards do not consider how hard it is to take the shot.

It seems that bird photographers are ones who get hung up about this most. What is it about bird photography that differs from other aspects?

I think the thing is that perhaps those who spend five hours in cramped conditions in a hide feel their pictures are more "worthwhile" than someone who's poking a lens out of a kitchen window sitting back watching TV with a cuppa and pressing the button as the bird hits the spot. Both can get a technically perfect shot, but one may be a blue tit and the other a rare warbler (insert name of special bird) And I can totally understand the frustration. But my awards are based more on technical and creative competence: exposure (or not if it suits) , sharpness (or not if it suits), composition, etc... how hard it is to photograph the subject is not considered.

So the question is should it be?...and if so how would you apply the criteria.

Think hard. It's not just birds.

Consider those wonderful splash / droplet photos. Easy or hard? Well that depends. If you're doing it with your eye and trigger reactions it's incredibly hard and may take five hours to get one decent perfect splash. (ok you'll be nice and warm and you'll have a cuppa by your side). But a technically perfect one could be achieved almost automatically with a high speed camera and automated remote beam splitter / camera trigger. Get the right kit and it becomes a far easier job.

Like wise one of the most stunning landscapes on our site is that mountain / waterfall in Scotland. It's not a long walk from the road. Yet a shot of Striding Edge involves a fairly precarious walk / climb on a ridge, following an hour or so ascent from the valley.

I don't want this to get into an awards slamming thread...there are plenty of them around. More about subject difficulty and the rights or wrongs of hardness being considered as an aspect.

Ideally if we had a judge for every genre of photography we maybe could apply some form of rating, but not with the current process. I'm all for improving, if it's necessary.

I answered the report but thought others may feel the same so now's your chance to get it off your chest.

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cattyal Plus
13 8.5k 6 England
15 Feb 2012 2:23PM
Well as far as I'm concerned it's the end result that counts regardless of how hard or easy it was to get the image (brief answer - I'm supposed to be working!).
maroondah 15 239 1 Australia
15 Feb 2012 2:39PM
I agree with Alison its the end result that counts. If you wish to state how difficult the shot was you already have that opportunity. People can then take that into account (or not) before they vote. I find with most images I either like it or not. The actual process or degree of difficulty is not so important to me. Whether we spend hours in a hide or walking the trails its a choice we make, nobody forces us to do it.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 2:50PM
I agree that it is the end result.

I fully sympathise with the person who posted the request because it reminds of one reason I stopped going to photo club in the late 70s was all the experienced guys had their own darkroom which gave them a massive advantage in any exhibition of photos (and gave many of them a 'superiority complex'!).
ikett 7 545 England
15 Feb 2012 2:51PM
An award can only be given on the image presented, how can the viewer know the difficulty involved in capturing the image?

As a person with photography knowledge you will have an idea, how do you rate a manipulated image 5-6 hours work in PS?

My feeling is that there can be no perfect award system (one award fits all), with a 'process' that has so many specialist diciplines.

Must be in some ways a thankless task!Smile
NaturesHaven 6 283 6 England
15 Feb 2012 2:54PM
I'm not hung up about it and I'm a bird photographer............why the attack on us!!!! I love most forms of photography and I love to see what other people are interested in.

We don't all spend hours in a hide, I love to do what I do and I never have a go at other people who enjoy their landscapes, wedding, portraits.............each to their own. As to awards very few bird images are monochrome.

Do you want the wildlife/bird people to leave this site............???

I didn't join this site for "Awards" I joined to look at great photography by other people and to admire others work..........and hopefully for a few peeps to like mine in some way........

Every genre of photography has it's own and different skill levels...........Having the right kit/gear does not make you a great photographer.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
15 Feb 2012 2:59PM
Some landscape photographers purposefully put drawing pins in their socks to make the job more difficult.

I know there are bird photographers who live on moss for a week and hide in a ditch but a good photo is a good photo regardless of conditions or self inflicted pain.
cats_123 Plus
14 4.8k 28 Northern Ireland
15 Feb 2012 3:10PM
So...because I can afford long haul holidays and get to places that others can't my shots should be rated difficult (especially in these hard times)...What about the bankers I say!!! WinkGrinGrin

On that basis I should be seeing lots of awards for my crap shots that please me and no one else (well perhaps half a dozen or so).

I like taking bird shots but clearly the equipment goes a long way (if you're lucky enough to own a 400 or 500mm lens you're half way there).

There are lots of wonderful shots on here taken with all sorts of cameras by all sorts of people with all sorts of experience...and long may it continue Smile. The only way you could `reward' difficulty would be to break the gallery into lots and lots of categories and that would take away the pleasure of being able to randomly view others work.

We already have a good number of `specialist' groups with weekly and monthly challenges for the serious and not so serious.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
15 Feb 2012 3:13PM

Quote:but a good photo is a good photo regardless of conditions or self inflicted pain

Absolutely agree 100% ......Grin

Quote:So the question is should it be?...

Absolutely NOT, As Keith has put it, But add to that where do you stop marking things up based on any criteria that suits, Quite honestly there is far to much attention paid to the rewards factor, Rather than just getting on and making images to please ones self, Be that technically or creatively.

To pander to every whim risks opening the floodgates, I'm sorry to hear that someone is so imature as to leave this site, Just because they do not get what they think they deserve, Thats life we don't laways get what we want, But is does not stop us trying......Wink
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
15 Feb 2012 3:24PM

Quote: (if you're lucky enough to own a 400 or 500mm lens you're half way there).

If you own an 800 or 1000mm lens you're all the way there
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
15 Feb 2012 3:31PM
I think there is a small subgroup of wildlife photographers who are more masochist wildlife photographers. As in if the shot didn't take 5 months of crawling through dirt and water, near starving yourself hiding in a cold hide, fingers nearly bitten off by frostbite - then its not worth it.
And god forbid if you should suggest cropping a photo or some sort of trickery like that.

My view, for wildlife, is is don't really mind how the shot was taken, so long as the subject was not put in undue danger/stress and further that the photographer is honest with their presentation. If its a shot of a caged bird its a caged bird shot - I don't mind if you show the bars or not (compositionally it works either way if you take the right shot) just as long as you are honest with what it is you present.

Wildlife also has the slight problem that its a subject matter often lumped in with zoo and captive photography on most sites so the two different groups can sometimes come to blows - but its my general experience that its a very small minority who do and I honestly would not worry one bit about such people.
alansnap 14 577 26 United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 3:45PM
Pete's not attacking anybody, just reporting what he finds. A beautiful photograph is a beautiful photograph. What the photographer does to get it is immaterial.

All pastimes are a matter of choice. I choose to go walking in the mountains, and if I get lovely shots while dangling off a ridge that's my choice. I am choosing to spend extra time and money at the end of an Indian holiday in April to try to get shots of the tigers at Ranthambhore, but I don't expect a reward because I choose to try to capture a rare and recessive animal for posterity.

Forget it Pete - any "Degree of difficulty" score is subjective and likely to lead to uproar. When I (rarely) judge club competitions I always look only at imagination, technical competence and presentation. So long as the image presented is the photographers work and they have met the rules, then those three aspects are all that matters.

SlowSong Plus
9 7.4k 30 England
15 Feb 2012 3:49PM
I was having just this conversation with someone at my club last night where the comp winners are usually either landscapes, flowers or abstracts such as coloured water ripples. We generally agreed that it's the final image that counts but some subjects are easier to photograph than others. We all know this but if no-one likes the picture you've sweated buckets over there's not much you can do about it. And what might be considered difficult by one person might come as second nature to another so it's not really a valid argument to say that struggle is a sign of excellence in itself.

On non-comp nights we have a much better time where everyone can bring along pictures and talk about all the reasoning and strife behind each one. Much more illuminating and we all learn something. There's a lady in our group that takes ordinary pictures of ducks, butterflies and animals using a compact camera on auto. Her images are amazing and although she's a lovely person we all curse her behind her back. Grin
robthecamman 6 1.7k United Kingdom
15 Feb 2012 4:01PM
just do wat you enjoy
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
15 Feb 2012 4:17PM
Are dead birds easier to photograph than live birds ?

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