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itinerario

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  • You can't mean 'all EPZ-ers': to my chagrin those from outside Britain (quite a few these days) are not allowed to participate.
  • Suzi: The kiss of death may be a strong expression (which, however, sums up very succinctly what Im referring to), but in my opinion my question was not impolite and certainly not insulting (at least it wasnt meant to be and I didnt get the impression that Ian felt insulted). Whether it was helpful can be debated. I just wanted to inquire whether Ian was aware of the fact that his well meant intentions (and I do not doubt for a moment that his intentions are meant extremely well) not seldom have the opposite effect. What I had to say took already enough space, so I dispensed with certain elaborations that I would otherwise have included.
    Since Ian spends so much time on the site he is often the first one to react to a photo and if this reaction is mostly critical it influences the reactions that follow, or rather that do not follow. If someone checking out the picture agrees with Ian, he may be reluctant to heap it on, if he doesnt he may not be willing to take issue with Ian. I spend quite some time on the site as well, following in Ians footsteps as it were, and I must confess that I usually not feel strongly enough about a picture to take issue with anyone, so I withhold a comment that I might have otherwise given. As it turns out Ian was aware of the fact that sometimes people remove uploads for this reason. If I were him, I would not post a mostly critical comment as the first one. I would rather return to the picture afterwards and add my comment. But of course he should do exactly what he wants.

    And now I'm off to do more usefull things.
  • I think you haven't looked right, John. I thanked you yesterday for both your comments.
  • Although Im not really eager to spend much more time not the subject, there have been a few questions put to me, mostly by Digicammad, which should be answered (although I fear that some of them are largely rhetorical).

    a. DO I KEEP TRACK OF THE REACTIONS OF PEOPLE TO MY COMMENTS?
    Since I respond to (almost) all comments made on my pictures, it is not difficult to keep track of the reciprocal comments I get. A couple of months ago I also kept track for a while (out of curiosity) of all reactions to my comments and found that more than half the EPZiners that got a comment did not respond at all. The last couple of days I spent considerable time commenting on work of people that were new to me and decided to check that out again. I found that practically none of them (some with ten comments or more) had bothered to give any reaction to anyone. And my disgust boiled over.
    Furthermore, there have been a string of threads lately lamenting scarcity of comments, either in general, or with regard to the photos of the EPZiner starting the thread. Many of those turned out to be people who hardly make comments themselves, which annoys me no end.
    I happen to think these issues are not unrelated and tried to explain that by describing my own state of mind.

    b. DO I MAKE COMMENTS TO HELP?
    Absolutely not (except by giving some encouragement to beginners and a little ego boost to the more accomplished). I believe it is rather arrogant to think that (1) people need help and (2) that youre the person to help them. Most EPZiners do not need much help. Their work may not be perfect (yet), but people learn more by observation than by being lectured at. Moreover, I believe that most people do not really appreciate critique, even of the constructive kind (EPZiners who claim that this is all they are after not excepted: many times a cry for help is just a ploy to get people to look at ones photo and comment that theres nothing wrong with it Im sorry that the few people who really want help do not often get it for this very reason). Most people, I think, do not upload photos that they believe to be in need of help, but photos theyre reasonably content with (although theres always room for improvement). They want to see if theyre on the right track, which a lack of clicks will tell them just as eloquently as a heap of good advise (many advisers not agreeing with each other anyway). One just has to learn to read between the lines. Finally: I dont think many EPZiners would be happy with a site where the help-approach dominates, with good pictures getting no comments and bad pictures being deluged with constructive criticism, which will drive the makers away faster than anything else. [On a personal note: do you realise, Ian, how often your constructive criticism is the kiss of death for a photo?]
    I make comments to show my appreciation, either for someones work or for the trouble someone has taken commenting on my work.

    c. WHAT DO I WANT?
    Very simple, Ian: I want more basic decency. I believe it is basic decency to thank people who have complimented your work or have given helpful advise (saying in your profile that you appreciate comments is not enough). I believe it is basic decency to answer all questions put to you to the best of your ability. I believe it is basic decency not to upload photos if you dont have the time to respond to comments. And finally, I believe it is basic decency to give some response to people who have repeatedly commented on your work (showing a special liking for it), by which I do not mean insincere praise. I do not believe it is decent to cut and paste hundreds of comments in order to rake in clicks (yet, out of politeness, I will usually respond even to these kind of comments). And I certainly do not believe it is decent to actively avoid commenting on the work of people who have commented on your pictures, because you do not want them to take you for a click fisher, or worse, use Im not a click fisher as an excuse not to comment at all (the ideal way out for lazy people).
    I find it amazing (and yes, even disillusioning) that so many people who participated in this thread are willing to put up with a site where the majority of the contributors do not bother with basic decency, particularly some members who have always behaved exemplarily themselves [Ian, K, you may be saints, I am not.] I fear I belong to a dying breed in insisting on the value of politeness, striving for it myself and expecting it from others. And Im probably very nave to expect people to behave on the internet as they would in real life. [I bet most EPZiners would be pretty annoyed if they met a photographer in the flesh, complimented him on his work and only got a blank stare in return.] It is telling that one of the first reactions to my suggestion of anonymous commenting was that then there would be a lot more abuse.
    I know that some EPZiners resent people whose work they deem to be not very good, but who get a lot of c&cs anyway. In tribal society (and in my view EPZ is a kind of tribal society), people get to be a Big Man by hard work, cultivating ties and giving presents, not by standing in the middle of the square and letting themselves be admired because theyre sooooooo beautiful. On a site where decency rules, people who give many positive comments will get many positive comments in return. So what? C&cs are a popularity game anyway: if its not about the popularity of a person, it is about the popularity of a subject or a treatment. Considering the complaints about the lack of attention for certain kinds of photography, many EPZiners think thats not very fair either.
  • I was disillusioned before and Im even more disillusioned by this discussion: the disregard for my main point (which Im glad to say has been recognized by Pete); the accusations of being a click fisher (which I expected of course, it is the standard response in threads like this); the fact that this thread, like so many others, has drifted off into aimless banter. Ive made a serious suggestion and I think it deserves a serious answer. It is remarkable that I, the supposed click fisher, is quite ready to try anonymous commenting (if only out of scientific curiosity), while people who claim to comment only on photos that appeal to them or because they want to help, are unwilling to do so.
  • Conrad: if people include their username in a comment, it will expose them as a click fisher for sure.
  • Conrad: In my opinion there is a big difference between not being able to reciprocate and not being willing to do so. But I repeat: my biggest grievance is often getting no response of any kind.
    One of the reasons I'm all for anonymous commenting is that I suspect that the number of comments will drop dramatically, because contrary to what is so piously said by many in this thread giving without the possibility of receiving something back is not what most people are about.
  • Thanks for your input Pete, but I think your analogies are not entirely correct. When you comment on the work of fellow EPZiners you dont walk into a pub and say hallo to 30 people as a group (many of whom might believe your greeting is not meant for them), you say hallo to a number of people individually, which makes it a bit ruder not to say anything back. Furthermore: when writing in the EPZ guestbook you leave your name and address, which you usually do not do in a gallery.
    So, if you really want to get rid of the clicks and cliques frustrations, there is only one thing to do (and I'm all for it): make all comments anonymous: then everyone will know that merit alone decides the number of c&cs. The odd thing is: clicks used to be anonymous, but recently you have made it possible for E2 members to view who clicked their images.
  • Ashley: I'd say that what is stated there is wishfull thinking, nothing more.
  • I do not think my work is underappreciated (well, maybe a little). That must really seem strange to people who get much less clicks than I do. I have been raised to be polite and I think it is rude not to acknowledge someone who has made the effort to comment on one of your pictures. This is the reason I almost invariably reciprocate comments (which does not mean I heap insincere praise on the first photo I encounter however, I have seldom seen a portfolio that did not contain some photos with merit or possibilities). Im not a click fisher: I dont care what the reaction is: a thank you, click and comment, or critique. If I say the vast majority, I mean that more than 3/4 of the EPZiners I comment on for the first time do neither. Im really surprised that people on this site condone behaviour that they wouldnt do in normal life. I mean, would you continue to greet a neighbour who doesnt say a word back -let alone send him a Christmas card?
  • If anybody is wondering why the number of comments is falling off, or why there are so many cliques on this site, I think I have an answer. Over the past year I have commented on thousands of photos and Ive become increasingly disillusioned. Even though lately I have pre-selected the people whose work I commented on (they had to have a reasonable photo-to-comment ratio themselves, be new, or I believed the photo was really underappreciated) the vast majority of people never bothered to react in any way, which I think is impolite to say the very least. There are photographers on the site whose pictures I like very much and with whom I share interests (e.g. travel photography, photojournalism), but whose work I no longer comment on because they never reciprocated. I refuse to believe that they couldnt find anything in my portfolio worth commenting (even critically) on. Im really sick and tired of people who only use the site and never give anything back (or even worse, whine that they get so few comments). Maybe my praise wasnt glowing enough, maybe people have been put off by all the complaining there has been about cliques (some EPZiners go to amazing lengths to avoid being thought of as a click fisher), maybe other frequent commentators have fared better (they must have, or they would probably have given up themselves although I have noticed that the detailed comments some of them used to make have deteriorated to routine praise). Im really tempted not to bother anymore and from now on only comment on the work of my friends and the work of people who have commented on mine. I have a feeling other formerly very active EPZiners already do, or have left the site altogether for this reason.

    PS: Please dont rehash the old argument that if your photo is good enough, you will get scores of comments, there are plenty of EPZiners who know that is not true.
  • Im afraid that many (maybe even most) EPZiners, have little idea of the skills that go into taking a good candid portrait or scene from life with available light (such as catching the right moment when you may have just one chance). Unfortunately, our esteemed editor does not help much in this respect. As a personal gripe: it will be beyond me for ever how he can give EC after EC to bland pictures of flowers which take little more than basic technical competence while ignoring the pearls of photojournalism.
  • I agree that photos of people on the whole are not very popular at EPZ. It is all the more gratifying then that a large percentage of my recent people shots have made the RC gallery (few instant hits though). Of my two series of travel portraits (Siamese Portraits and Kenyan Kids) all photos have become RCs. However, it is probably no coincidence that they were presented somewhat more artistically (square format, B&W with a hint of colour) than the usual straight portrait.
  • Entered.
  • Ive been contemplating the E-300 too, so Ive read a lot of reviews. There are a few issues that worry me. (1) The noise at higher ISO-levels (since I like to photograph church interiors). (2) Exposure problems, particularly with highlights close to the centre of the image. (3) It takes five (!) hours to charge the battery and spare batteries are very expensive. Interestingly, while pro reviews invariably rate the E-300 below Nikon and Canon (even the 300D), user reviews (at least in Holland) do exactly the opposite. I had almost decided to buy the Olympus (because of the anti-dust function) when the Canon 350D came out and now there are also new cameras with a lot of exiting features announced by Nikon (D50 and D70s), so I think Ill wait a couple of months before making a choice.
  • I have a similar dilemma myself: the 300D with a Sigma 18-125 lens and the 350D with the kit lens are sold for about the same price in some internet shops. I wonder what would be the best buy for a travel photographer like me.
  • I lost a lens cap in a cemetery in Istria (never retrieved) and another in a canal in a Bavarian village (fortunately not very deep, so I went after it). A worse misfortune was dropping my Minolta 8000i from shoulder height (which in my case is not that high) on a cobble stone pavement. It landed on the lens, which got dented a bit. At first I was afraid there was a crack in the lens, but after cleaning the surface it was gone, so probably only a sliver of the coating came loose. Another time my rucksack slit from a door handle in a roadside toilet (where I had hung it to keep it dry) and the same camera (in its bag in the rucksack) landed on the lens again. A much softer landing one would think, but this time the auto focus got stuck. To my relief it unstuck itself after a while. Being a bit nearsighted and no fan of wearing glasses, manual focussing is not my thing.
  • I have just seen the Canon EOS 350D kit offered in a Dutch internet store (not the cheapest) for 900, which is only 100 more than the price they charge for a regular 300D (they have a bulk version for 700 and a black version for 850). It is available from 14 march on. In the previews the predicted price range was between 1050 and 1200. So this seems very cheap (only 50 higher than the Olympus E-300, another 8 MP camera Im considering). On the one hand it certainly is a pleasant surprise, on the other hand the slight price difference with the outdated(?) 300D makes me a bit suspicious. Could it be that the 350D is considered by Canon itself a lower end camera than the 300D? Im waiting for a proper review.
  • I could as well be in the thread about things that have annoyed me today, because I really get annoyed by people that complain about the lack of comments on their work, but hardly ever comment themselves. I simply fail to understand how anyone can expect others to take the time and make the effort to comment on their pictures, when they themselves cant be bothered. Ive looked at your portfolio Mik and there is very little that would grab my interest while trawling through the gallery. A bit to my surprise it turned out I was one of the two people that clicked your 'crab' photo, because I thought it has some merit, but out of principle I dont comment on the work of someone with as bad a track record as you. I have the idea that others do exactly the same, because the overall number of comments certainly has not gone down, on the contrary. So if you want EPZiners to take an interest in your work, youd better take an interest in theirs as well.
  • In a photo magazine I recently read the lament of a photographer that with digital photography a lot of worthwhile pictures would be lost before they ever got a chance (often deleted while still in the camera). He pointed out that some of the best liked pictures of famous photographers had been put aside as failures at first and only later were appreciated. I would not like to rob the world of a potential masterpiece, so I hardly ever delete a photo in the camera (unless Im really pressed for space) and brand all my pictures on a CD (what do they cost nowadays anyway) before throwing them from my hard disk.
  • I love to travel, so I think Itinerario is an appropriate username. Also, it is the name of the magazine (on colonial history) that published my first article.
  • Thanks for the click Martin, but that was not the one I meant. I had posted B&W Kids 3 and 4 before in a coloured version and they got just one comment each (it was before the 'hearts era'). In B&W they've done better.
  • Even though the most popular picture in my gallery is a snapshot of a child, I believe that pictures of children in general do not sell well. Ive uploaded a couple of Mexican portraits that I like very much myself, but they got practically no response. Ditto with some pictures of Asian children, until I made them a bit more artistic by desaturising them.
  • In my opinion a shop is not a public place. I may not like it, but I can understand why people refuse to be photographed in their shop or have their shop photographed. Whether they have a good reason or not, it is their prerogative. It is different however, when people start making problems when they accidentally are included in a picture made on the public road. I once photographed the main street of a little town in Kenya, that looked as if it had been transplanted from the Wild West, when a fellow who was standing at least a hundred meters away started cursing me because I had photographed him without his permission (and without paying of course). Normally that does not bother me, but in rural Kenya practically all young men walk around carrying a spear, a machete or at the very least a stick with a heavy bolt at the end, so it is better avoid an argument.
  • I'm Dutch and I'd really like to join in, but the beginning of May I'm off to the Provence.
  • I'm sorry to hear about your dog's tumor. I hope the surgery goes well and that he will be with you for a long time yet.
  • I don't have a subsciption to the magazine, but I almost daily visit the website and I often download the 'photo of the day' as a wallpaper, so I always have a good example of NG-photography in front of me.
  • What a coincidence. This problem has been on my mind for a while and I had just finished writing this piece to start a new thread, but I might as well put it here.

    Freeloaders, cliques and the benefits of reciprocity.
    A long time ago I learned in my sociology course on group theory that (1) reciprocity is the glue that keeps a group together and (2) that in any group there are freeloaders: people who profit from the group but who do not contribute to it. EPZ is no exception.
    Lets be clear about one thing first: in my opinion putting ones photos in the gallery is not contributing to the site, it is mere exhibitionism. Contributing to the site means giving feedback (comments and clicks) on photos, posting in the forums etc. In this sense many EPZiners are freeloaders. In fact, if all EPZiners would behave like the majority does, the site would be dead. When I first joined EPZ (barely a year ago) things were very different: no hearts were displayed and about half of the pictures posted in the gallery got no comment at all. It is a lot better now: almost every photo gets at least a few clicks and/or comments. But the large majority of comments is made by a very small minority of EPZiners, people like Magda Indigo and Eric Faragher, who have made comments by the thousands. Most members who put photos in the gallery only sporadically comment. They like to get comments though. Ive noticed that many of the EPZiners who most emphatically solicit response make very few comments themselves, not even to thank the people who did comment on their pictures (or they seem to think that writing in their profile that comments are appreciated is thanks enough).
    For a while I used to believe that in order to get comments, you have to make comments (as has been told to many newcomers and is argued here again), but I no longer do that. While my own reciprocity rate has been above 90%, the rate of return on my comments has been less than 10%, hardly worth the effort. (Maybe others have fared better in this respect.) I do not like to **** on the big heap (sorry, graphic Dutch expression), so I mostly comment on pictures that end up with 5 to 10 comments.
    The number of comments a picture gets does not seem to influence the likelihood of reciprocity however. In my experience it made no difference if I commented on pictures that turned out to be very popular, or pictures that had only gotten one or two comments (in fact, in most cases where I had been the only one commenting I got no reaction at all!) so time is obviously not a deciding factor. It also didnt matter if I commented on pictures of people who seemed to have similar interests (travel photography for example), or people whose work was totally different (macro photography). [Of course it is entirely possible that many people that had received a comment did look at my portfolio and found nothing they liked or would even bother to criticise -I hope thats not the case.] Lately I usually look up the portfolio of the maker before commenting on a photo and if the photo-to-comment-ratio is unfavourable I do not bother. If you find a member who has uploaded 75 photos and made 10 comments you know youre likely to get no reaction at all.
    Weve all heard the excuses for not commenting (more):
    - Im soooooo busy, I have no time to make comments. [People who say that are not too busy to pick out photos, improve them, upload them and look at the comments they get.]
    - Im ... new at the site;...uncertain about my own photos;... striving to say something more original than nice pic (I used that excuse myself once). [If you like a photo it is most of the time not difficult to say why you like it, few people are expecting in depth critique and most are pleased to get a remark as lame as nice pic.]
    - Im not English, so Im afraid I will not be able to express myself properly. [Use a spelling checker. Anyway, few people care about errors in grammar or spelling when youre complimenting them!]
    - I click a lot. [Excellent, but nobody knows you do, so you can be taken for a freeloader.]
    There are some EPZiners who make a fair number of comments, but who pride themselves on the fact that they do not reciprocate. This usually comes up in a discussion about cliques. They obviously do not want to give the impression they belong to a clique. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with cliques as long as they are not exclusive (which as far as I know has never been the case on EPZ). It is only natural that people who have met in the flesh follow each others work with more interest, or that if you stumble upon a member who does reciprocate you visit that persons portfolio more often.
    Having so many freeloaders is not good for the site, so I would suggest (are you still with me Pete?) to make it impossible for EPZiners to upload another picture till they have made at least five comments since their last upload, or better still: till they have made five comments for every picture in their gallery. Thatll teach them!
  • I second that!
  • I studied anthropology and one of the first things a student learns is that reciprocity is what keeps a community together. I can honestly say that if people comment on a photo of mine I practically always give thanks and/or look at their portfolio and comment on one of their pictures. I too get annoyed when I have commented on a photo and my input is neither acknowledged nor reciprocated. If that happens more than once with the same person I will not comment on one of his/her pictures again, however much I like them (though I confess I sometimes still click).