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LHD Winner

A forum to post any lighthouse pictures you'd like others to see. Feel free to talk about lighthouse photography. Lighthouse-related photos (such as LSS and lenses) are also welcome.

Postby Rob143 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:22 pm


LighthouseNews wrote:In most cases, if you take one lighthouse, and have 500 people photograph it, the angle will be the same, the photos will look virtually identical.


At least 450 of them no doubt will. The fact that many people take the same snapshot tells me that most of them lack the eye to do anything else. Most of those people stand in front of whatever they're taking a picture of, as opposed to photographing, and snap away. If you haven't laid on the ground to include that little flower prominently in the foreground, repositioned the blade of grass or leaf because it killed your shot, and walked every possible inch of the grounds and the street(s) full circle around the light as appropriate you'll keep getting that same old image. Get there an hour before sunrise, or stay an hour after sunset. Mike and I got some very unique shots at St Joe in Nov '07 long after most everybody would have been on the road home. Get out on the lake on an ugly day when the big waves are running. Get out in the snowstorm Barry saw at Sea Girt. Look at whatever you're shooting, lighthouse or otherwise, from every elevation not just eyeball high while standing upright. Get to know the subject and go back another time of year to get the shot that didn't exist when you were there. You can't shoot a full moon behind the light if the moon isn't full, or if it's not aligned with the light from where you want to shoot it. What time of year does the sun, or moon, rise or set at the compass bearing that works for your shot. Sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times, altitude, and azimuth can be researched online. Is there a compass in your bag? Tonight is a full moon. That is just reflected sunlight. You can do a lot with long exposures and available light tonight.

and on.........

and on.........

and on.........

We all stumble onto amazing shots by dumb luck, occasionally, but you'll lose more than you win relying on luck.

I'm in SC at the moment having shot 9 lights in Florida and 2 in Georgia over the last 2+ weeks. I'm sure when I go through all those thousands of shots I've got a few but I also got a better feel for lights I'd never seen before and the possibilities at each. All but 3 of those were new to me. I'll be better prepared next time for those that have possibilities, and I'll know which of those are just flatly uninspiring. As much as I hate to say it because it's a beautiful light I find St Augustine to be photographically uninspiring because there just isn't anything you can do with a 165' tower tightly surrounded by trees. A 15mm lens looking straight up just doesn't do it for me on that one. Hillsboro on the other hand.......


LighthouseNews wrote:I am not talking about you pros, who almost always have a unique perspective (and WAY better cameras 8) ).


A camera is a tool. A lens is a tool. A hammer is a tool. If you don't use the hammer properly you risk hitting your thumb. If you don't know how to use the camera you'll get lesser results from a $10,000 body and L lens than a photographer will get from a P&S.




Hersh wrote:Sad, isn't it Rob...


Yes, it is. Sadly it is also exactly what I have come to expect of that "photo contest".
Last edited by Rob143 on Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hersh » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:35 pm


I couldn't have said it better.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:46 pm


Another year, another LHDigest photo contest, and from my perspective more very questionable quality photos have been declared the "winners." The photo in the post that began this thread, IMO as a photographer, is another of those of dubious quality. Personally, that would have been a candidate for my round file, but that's just me. Maybe I'm not being nice, but that happens to be my opinion...

Maybe (but I doubt it) one of these years they'll manage to look beyond the 450/500 photos that Rob noted will be the same and will consider some of those from the other 50 people who SAW and more importantly photographed something different.

Rob is right, people can and do take lousy photographs with expensive cameras and lenses. Camera and lens systems are a tool and the quality of the work done with any tool depends on the skill of the person using it. In the case of photography, beyond skill one's ability to SEE unique images is another criterion.
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Postby Hersh » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:16 pm


I'll just add that regarding the earlier post saying that some photos actually got compliments on Flickr (presumably as opposed to being posted here) is unfair. Browse the photojournalism threads and count up how many photos were bashed and how many were complimented. I think of this as a very good place for anyone to show photos, and I'd be willing to bet that an audit of our history would bear me out.
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Postby LighthouseNews » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:26 pm


Hersh wrote:I'll just add that regarding the earlier post saying that some photos actually got compliments on Flickr (presumably as opposed to being posted here) is unfair.


Hi Mike,

No, please don't presume that's what was meant. Posting to Flickr is just an alternative for someone intimidated by the thought of posting here, where the great lighthouse photographers hang out (and that's meant as a compliment). It's totally different than here. Not better, not worse. Personally, I wouldn't want to post anything here if I was expecting it to be slammed. But I really don't (and haven't) see that happening. But some others might. And yes, it is nice to get compliments, but don't read into it that that would or wouldn't happen here. :)

Gary Martin wrote:Another year, another LHDigest photo contest, and from my perspective more very questionable quality photos have been declared the "winners." The photo in the post that began this thread, IMO as a photographer, is another of those of dubious quality. Personally, that would have been a candidate for my round file, but that's just me. Maybe I'm not being nice, but that happens to be my opinion...

That's why I asked the question in the very beginning. I was curious, and want to learn from those of you whose photos take my breath away sometimes. Or make me speechless. And an honest opinion is better than not saying anything, for how else are we to learn?
Now, with that said, besides what's already been stated, what is your reason for the opinion? Inquiring minds want to know. Really. :-s
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Postby epona » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:56 pm


For me very few paintings, works of art or photos or even buildings have a WOW factor. In the PHD that I am taking this question has been asked several times in the past few weeks. What WOW's you about Portland and why it WOW's you. In giving tours be of a building or a walking tour you want engage your group. This being said, sometimes I like just straight plain photos of a place I have never been. At other times I want to, hope to and expect to be surprised, delighted and impressed.

In my uneducated opinion some people who know the most about a given topic lose the wonder and magic of it. In other words they :-@ boar or boor me to sleep.

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Postby Hersh » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:21 pm


Sue,
I don't know if the original posts still exist and I don't feel like looking them up, so I will try to paraphrase as best I can in short order. I'm sure others will chime in to fill in the blanks.

Basically, as Gary mentioned, the contest is an easy way for LHD to increase it's library of stock images by accumulating submissions to the contest. It is stated in the rules that any images submitted becomes the property of LHD and they reserve the right to use them as they see fit at any time and for any reason and with no notification of or accreditation or compensation to the photographer. For those of us who sell our photos (not to make a living, not by a long shot) that s unacceptable for a number of reasons.

Secondly, the contest has proven itself over the years to be a very poor judge of photo quality. Many of the winners have been technically atrocious photos, poorly planned and poorly executed. Most show little creativity or apparent attempt to step outside the normal 'snapshot' mentality. In the years when I entered, I was extremely frustrated to see photos that I felt were of far lesser quality than my own win the awards. Prideful? Sure, but that doesn't mean I was wrong. I am able to step back and objectively evaluate my own work, any good photographer has to, and I came to the inescapable conclusion that quality photos were being ignored for the sake of 'snapshots'. Why this happened I couldn't say, but it got under my craw and I decided not to participate any more. I wish the best of luck to any who do decide to enter, but I will not be among them.

I hope that helps, as I said, I'm sure others will sound off on this one, we always do. :D
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Postby LighthouseNews » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:44 pm


Mike, that was a very well written piece. And while I could go back and look up old issues of previous winners, I don't really recall any that had a WOW factor to them.

I guess you described it best when you said they're looking for snapshots as opposed to photography.

I personally find their policy on usage and rights quite reprehensible. That's highly restrictive, and it's no wonder you and others find it problematic. No one in their right mind should be giving up rights to that extent.

Any others want to chime in on this? I'm finding it very enlightening.
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Postby Grover1 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:54 pm


Sue ... you may want to ask if anyone on LH.net ever placed in the contest :wink:
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Postby Gary Martin » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:03 pm


Sue,

There's nothing wrong with the subject of the photo but technically, the photographer took a snapshot.

For starters, as has already been pointed out, the photographer missed the exposure and the color saturation, as a result suffered. The sky is washed out, the contrast between the sky and clouds suffered as a result as did the detail in the clouds, which borders on non-existent. A polarizer would have helped even if the intent wasn't to polarize the sky, which judging from the angle of the sun, etc. you couldn't have done anyway.

Graphically, there are some interesting elements there in the assortment of strong diagonal lines at the bottom of the image and the shadow lines on the side of the lighthouse. This composition had the potential to be a photograph rather than the snapshot that it ended up being. IMO, when the person behind the camera set up the image though, the strong white in the stone (second block up from the bottom on the right) dominated the metering, which is where things started to go downhill. Once you're over exposed because of that, the strong graphic elements provided by the roof shadows on the wall of the lighthouse facing the photographer were severely weakened, etc. There is a high probability that the scene was matrix metered when it would have greatly benefited by being spot metered to set the exposure. The snapshot is probably 0.7 to 1.0 stops over exposed. A ND grad filter positioned with the gradient increasing going down would have helped immensely to control the exposure.

There's also a lack of attention to detail in terms of how the image was cropped whether in the viewfinder or after the fact in photo editing software. You have a handrail or whatever it is going off to the left into nowhere that leads one's eye out of the image. The image would have been stronger had the left side been cropped about on the vertical line defined by the bottom block of stone.

The aperture star on the pane of glass in the lantern room could have been controlled by the polarizer or, if the intent was to put it there, the photographer might have considered stepping back to allow it to become more pronounced.

Stopping down the lens further would have helped the sharpness of the image.

I don't know if that's enough detail or not, Sue, but those are the points that immediately come to mind looking at that image. Did the image belong on a magazine cover? Not IMO, but since their sole criterion is the "best" daylight photograph in the contest as the determinant of what ends up on the April cover, the result was inevitable.
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Postby Grover1 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:26 pm


... and Im thinking the person taking the picture probably downloaded the memory card, picked #52 from the slide show, hit "auto exposure" and "auto color" in his Windows picture program, and thought it may well have been the best picture he ever took .... so proud, in fact, he sent it in to the magazine, probably the only magazine, that speaks to his hobby, his passion, never thinking for a moment he might actually win the category.
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Postby Rob143 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:41 pm


LighthouseNews wrote:Posting to Flickr is just an alternative for someone intimidated by the thought of posting here



Honestly there is no reason for anybody to be intimidated by the thought of posting here. From my perspective the comments offered by others have been more along the lines of trying to help another person become better than bashing the person/photo. If somebody would like to post their pics just for the sake of showing them to others without wanting comments/critique simply say so in the original post. This seems to work on dedicated photo forums where I could more readily see intimidation coming into play.
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Postby Rob143 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:49 pm


Grover1 wrote:... and Im thinking the person taking the picture probably downloaded the memory card, picked #52 from the slide show, hit "auto exposure" and "auto color" in his Windows picture program, and thought it may well have been the best picture he ever took .... so proud, in fact, he sent it in to the magazine, probably the only magazine, that speaks to his hobby, his passion, never thinking for a moment he might actually win the category.


Quite possibly exactly what he did. I don't fault him for submitting it. I do however question whoever judged it to be the best. It is however possible that past practice has brought us to a place where nobody submits anything of worth and there is no best to choose. It is no secret that their past selections, coupled with their ridiculous rules as already mentioned by Hersh, has resulted in most members of this site not bothering to submit anything. I have never sold anything I've shot, to date anyway, and I refuse to grant them the rights they claim when you submit a photo. I grant you the guy that shot that has an LHD cover and I don't. I can live with that fact.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:17 pm


I do sell photography, Rob, but I still wouldn't trade the rights to my work for any cover. I've had about 20 or so magazine covers over the years and still have the rights to those images and a superb working relationship with the editor of Great Laker for whom I write a regular Marine Photography spread. I also still own the rights to all of the images in the 20 or so Marine Photography articles that I've written. I recently sold an image of Cape Hatteras to a publisher for use in a photo composite for a book cover. They were quite reasonable to work with and I retained all of the rights to the image they're using.

As for Barry's comment on hitting the auto exposure and auto color buttons for #52, no doubt that's exactly what happened. That's also the difference between a photographer and someone who takes snapshots.
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Postby LeadingLight » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:02 am


As may be obvious to many people here I am not a LHD-fan. I see it sometimes and every time it confirms that it is wise not to subscribe. The level of technical and historical information is very low, and so is the quality of photography. The December covers are in my eyes ridiculous (but that might be because Europeans do not understand American beauty :wink: )
On the other hand I must admit that from a publishers point of view, it is a well produced magazine. It supports the "Ooo, aaaa, how cute, it's a lighthouse" feeling and there's a much bigger market for that, than for serious information, as I experienced with Leading Lights. In that way, the LHD photo contest fits very well in the entire LHD program. Ordinary shots are ordinary because most people like them that way. Ordinary is nothing else than the way most people like it. Choosing ordinary photos gives all LHD-subscribers the feeling that it could have been their photo on the cover, and encourages them to paticipate again next year. Having a pro photo win every year would dramatically decrease the participation.
The fact that you hand over all publication rights by participating to the contest is a not very polite way of taking advantage of the subscribers wish to see their photo in the magazine. But as long as no participant objects, who am I to blame LHD for that.
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