Evaluating photos?

10 05 2010

It has been a while since I gave a question to you. Now it is time to give you another 🙂

Few days ago, when I was browsing photos on the web (blogs, flickr, various forums), I realized that I must have some subconcious evaluation system for photos I see. When I thought a bit more about it, and discussed it with my friend and fellow photographer, I came to a result that I subconciously divide photos which I see into 4 categories.

1/4 sec. (left photo), 1/5-1/8 sec. (midde 3-stack photo), 1/6 sec. (right photo) @ 100mm, f/10, ISO 100

  1. Photos I don’t like.
    Usually photos with a bad technical quality (unintentionally blurred, skewed, with blown whites aso.) or simply those which don’t drag and keep my attention. A topic or subject doesn’t matter.
  2. Photos I like but which don’t keep my attention for longer time.
    These photos might be technically perfect but the overall feeling from them is average and such photos are simply not interesting enough to keep my attention for longer time.
  3. Photos capturing and emanating certain atmosphere and mood.
    These photos might be of any subject or topic but usually such photos evoke specific mood or feelings in me.
  4. Exceptional photos.
    Again photos of any topic or subject but these make me think about the photo. These are not simple “look and go” photos; they drag my attention and force my brain cells to think why the author took it, why in this specific way, what the author wanted to capture and say with it. These are the photos I value the most.

I always try to create a photo of a level 3 in my list, at least, but I am not always sucessful. It is very difficult to create a photo of level 4 for me and very often it is not intentional, rather coincidental. I hope that photos presented in this post fulfils preconditions for at least level 3 but I will leave the judgement to you.

1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/10, ISO 100

And what about you? Do you have such a personal evaluation meter? What are your levels and preconditions to them?

Let me know and until then… enjoy the blossoms everywhere!

Techncal note: all photos were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens upon tripod and under natural conditions. The last photo was created with an old herbarium record on my mind.




11 responses

11 05 2010
Anita Bower


Interesting question. I appreciate your 4 categories. Can’t say I’ve thought about it much, but I resonated with your categories.

You continue to take and post excellent photos. I like the 2 triptichs very much! The image with texture is also lovely. (I’m unsure about the end of the stem, whether it ought to go to the border or not.) I’m, not a big fan of browns, but this image is nice.

11 05 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks Anita. My posting pace is quit low now but I try to take photos and process them as much as time permits. I’m glad you find time to come here and leave a comment. I always appreciate it.

11 05 2010

I would say you did a pretty good job of breaking down our different reactions to images. Now the next challenge is getting a few people who can actually agree on a specific image! 🙂

11 05 2010
Tomas Turecek

Now you hit the nail on the head, Mark. Any judging or evaluating is much more subjective than anything else. Thanks for pointing it out!

14 05 2010
Barbara Kile

Good categories, Tomas. For me, it also depends on the venue. I enjoy encouraging new photographers, so when I’m visiting a venue where there are some new photogs, I might judge an image a bit differently than an image on BPN or somewhere like that. I’ve also seen images ‘nit-picked’ to death on BPN. If we consistently critique images to see what’s wrong, then sometimes we miss the ‘big picture.’ Whenever I comment, I try to state what drew me to the image – what I love about that image. I feel that’s important for a photographer: to discover what it is about an image that evokes the response in us. It may be a negative emotion, or it may be a positive emotion. It may be color, softness, hardness/sharpness, or something else that draws our eye or evokes an emotion from the past. When we recognize these aspects of why we like an image or not, it helps explain why art is so subjective and it also helps us to define our own style! (ok, more than you probably wanted to know. lol)

14 05 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks, Barbara, for this valuable comment. After reading it I have realized that I am maybe too much nit-picking and criticizing in cases when I should rather praise and “show the way”. I think that I should change my attitude a bit. Sometimes it’s hard form me to find the border between appraisal and critique. Your comments, Barbara, are always helpful and this is no exception. Thank you for posting it here!

14 05 2010
Anita Bower

After reading other comments, I have a few more thoughts to share.

The positive feedback that Barbara describes so well is invaluable. I think we all need it to keep us going and to help us see what others like about our work. The more specific the positive feedback, the better.

If the photographer wants constructive critique, then making specific comments on what might be improved is most helpful. I participate in BPN for this very purpose–to receive constructive critiques of my images. At my stage of photographic work, the nit picking critiques are often just what I need to put my image up from good to really good. Plus, the nit picking on BPN is not mean, but given in the spirit of helping.

Thanks, Tomas, for posing some thought provoking questions.

19 05 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thanks for sharing your point of view and thoughts! These are invaluable as well.

14 05 2010
Barbara Kile

Yes, Anita gives some more good points. The positive feedback we receive can help define our genre! We should always share what we have learned. We are stewards of our gift, so be ready to give it away. Everyone in this business has learned from someone else! I’m so grateful for those who step alongside to mentor, coach, critique, and point out areas where I can improve.

In addition, there is a fine line between developing a ‘critical eye’ and giving a good image critique. The suggestions on BPN or similar sites are all valuable, and you soon learn who is there to view with a ‘jaundiced eye’ and who is there to actually give a good review of your image. And, as one of the participants says: ‘Your image – your vision.’ Be ready to defend your vision, as others see things differently.

As I travel along this road, I am learning that photography is more about the heart and less about the rule of thirds. lol!

You are a joy, Tomas and I love all my photog friends! What a blessing to get to go out and shoot with Anita! It’s a wonderful community and this topic you introduced is a good one to explore.

19 05 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thank you, Barbara, for your thoughts as well. I am a perfectionist and a nit picker from nature and sometimes I am afraid that my criticism is taken badly even though I want to help every single time.

I also realized that I see so many excellent and superb photos lately which I still try to criticize (in a good way by giving hints) that I usually don’t care to give a critique on a photo which don’t look great to me. This might be something like “professional” malformation. I appreciate those who have a power and mind to give a critique even on photos of beginners who has still a long way to go to create great photos. I can’t do this so far.

2 01 2011
2010 recapitulation « Close Nature

[…] You can read more about the photo in this orginal post. […]

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