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Friday, 18 November 2011


The comments have proved the old adage; "There's no accounting for taste." Please keep 'em coming. It's been a good read.

111 by far, and 118 after that.

oh my god! What problems you have, Mr Johnston.

These images would make one awesome and fantastic show... and how could you buy just one?

My favorites:

101, Barber shop, slice O' life.
105, the best, like to see this one really big, say,5x7 feet.
107, sink, pure simplicity.
112, Train, powerful. The sky looks a little 'shopped.

WOW! Really. Good. Work. All of them. I'm also enjoying the fact that the selection is somehow 'so TOP' --yes, even the (by now) famous/infamous 'Carpark Wall and Floor', which I'm growing to like more and more each time I go back to it--. Congratulations, and best of luck to everyone involved.

#120. I would hang this on my wall in the 2x3' or 3x4' size. What attracted me was the composition and tonal qualities.

All the others are interesting but don't appeal to me (or my wall).


In the end, I always come down to two things--composition and tonal range. Most of the images here are strong on one, but not the other of these criteria. For example, 105 has excellent tonal/color range which would challenge most printers. But compositionally, it lacks impact. I feel like I've seen it before, even if it is a good example of this type of image.

The image that best exemplifies both composition and tonal range is 112. Every detail is distinct, and the composition really conveys power. It will print beautifully, particularly on a matte surface like Hahnemuhle Photo Rag.

I also like 102, but I worry that the tonal range is so compressed that it wouldn't be possible to put the detail we see on screen down on paper. You could use a pearl or glossy surface, but then the pastel color palette would be compromised. Printing on a matte surface might leave the image looking smeared.

Some of the other images are very interesting, but might not generate much interest because the subject isn't very "hangable," at least not in a home. For me, #101 is that kind of image.

Good luck narrowing these. I'm glad I'm not making the final decision.

Wow, all great pictures, and I can appreciate the skill necessary to take a lot of these. There are some very difficult shots here. And yet, when I think about what I would want to buy, there a very limited number that really rise above the others. These are, first and foremost, numbers 104 and 105. Specifically, 104 and 105 as a combo. They just scream to me as a wonderful juxtaposition.

104 is gritty, yet curvy. A colorful subject, yet reduced to lovely B&W tonality. Whether it is an analog or digital capture, it captures the B&W aesthetic wonderfully (as do 106 and 112, but they don't work as well in the combination I am proposing).

105 is smooth, glittering, sparkling, delightful color. It's the kind of picture that screams digital (whether or not it actually is) in a way that makes you feel it's energetic exuberance. If you were in the field and saw this on the LCD of your camera, you'd be smiling for the rest of the day, just waiting to get home and see it on your big screen...

I really think they would make an outstanding combo.

The other two standouts are 115 and 118.

People are objecting to the composition in 115 because it feels too perfect, but you know what? It kind of is perfect. I love the play between boundaries and also the wonderful clouds, that you don't notice until a beat later.

118: there are a lot of pictures out there that strive for this aesthetic, and very few come anywhere close. This picture nails it. Why? Because it isn't about sex, or trying to fake some chance encounter. Instead, it self-consciously (see choice of color palette) and effectively evokes emotions - a strong sense of nostalgia and longing, with enough reality (the faint color of her veins) to trick you into thinking this might be one of your own (false) memories...

Runner-ups: 102, 109, 111 and 119. 102 is in some ways the best of the bunch, but I don't see it winning.

Please, please, PLEASE offer 104 and 105 as a combo!


Congratulations to all those chosen. Fine images all.


Thank you for putting this on. This comment section is the best (most productive?
) discussion/critique of photography I've ever found on the web.


My personal likes
#s 105,112,119

Sorry. None of these do anything for me.

Here is my minimalist reply; 101, 107, 108, 111, 112, 114, 117. Yeah 7 isn't too minimal but these are the ones that I keep coming back too though all have their appeal.

This past year I've worked as a paid 2D art judge for two major art festivals in my local metro area. Judging is tough when work is good like your final choices demonstrate. So I know what it's like having to work through hundreds if not thousands of images in a limited period of time. In the end my choices revolve around my visceral response to an artist's/photographer's work; I didn't have time to scratch very deep or to live with the images.

My print preference would be to have the image no larger than 7 inches as the largest dimension printed on an 8x10 or 8.5x11 in. sheet of paper. I'm into smaller prints these days, particularly for my personal collection. I can mount and mat the prints and then rotate them in and out of frames in my home.

I still think the dog one below is best!

101, 107 & 112 are my favorites, in any order.

The question is what I could and perhaps would live with on my wall.

# 118 but only if changed to black and white with a strong positive slide of the yellow channel. I think doing that might change at least a few who are enthusiastic yet troubled by the cut-off feet. The further enhancement that would seriously help the smoothness of the abstract flow would be to pshop out the nipples.

On the other "hand," I think the absence of one hand and both feet with the sole presence of the left hand nicely placed to
1) continue the flow
2) but also break it up naturally at a central point in the image
3) and finally to remind us this is a person
is not merely fine but is what is the center of the pix. The presence of the nipples, especially so close to the hand, distracts from this for a number of reasons.

My favourites are 101 and 111.

I rather like 102 as well.


I have a rule when it comes to my own photos :

-I cull as many photos as I can - i'm my own harshest critique on my own work but then again I want to show my best in the end.
-Then I walk away for a few days - I do something else unrelated to photography.
-Then I whittle away at the fat again and again until I feel the saw is just about to cut into my emotions - that's when I stop and I know i've got the best photos.

Based on my own methodology, the only photo of this first group really worthy of a commercial print sale is 112 but with an important reservation : Only very large print would be appropriate in order to present a big sense of scale so the megapixels must be there to maintain print quality even at a base 300 dpi.

The reason why it has to be a big print in my opinion is that the viewers can have a visceral feeling that must jump back or get scalded by the steam coming from that huge long horizontal cloud of steam coming from that iron horse.

That and the fact that the tonal spread on the photo is superb - a worthy challenge for a master printer. What say you sir Ctein ?

Keep'em coming Mike - this is fun.

101 If Norman Rockwell had been black, he would have painted this. It's a terrific picture bursting with life.

102 is TO-O-O-O minimal.

105 Mosiac feel is wonderful; maybe too busy for my own wall.

107 is my personal winner; colors, texture, and symmetry make an image I can look at for years

110 is what a B&W should be; the textures and tones are compelling

112 is technically compelling (and it's a locomotive) but not sure I'd look at it for years

120 works for me, despite the slightly awkward stance of the figure. If 107 and 110 sold out, this is the one I'd buy.

These are all superior photographs!

I'd say all these are fine images in a book. Part of a select collection or on the wall maybe no. That said, my picks are:

111 - the cloud forms, distant hills, forground bushes are seen well, what spoils it is the tar smear (just tar lines would have been good).

118 - beautiful tones and colour, not a unique viewpoint though and I wish her feet were included with space around the whole form.

112 really does transcend its genre; I'd buy it.

I feel as if 102 is part of a complex joke than everyone but myself is in on. Maybe that is the point.

My first impression was that this is a joke. After a day to think about it, my second impression is that it's an astonishingly good one.

The only one I would consider having on my wall is 102 (the car park) because it's so absurdly minimalistic. The others are all great photographs, just not the kind I would hang on my wall...

Now I can see them, I, unlike just about everyone else, am not terribly impessed. They're all rather too conventional for my tastes. Not something I'd want to have hanging on my wall.

111 poses questions which may still be relevant in the future, so it will endure as an art print.

120 classic chinese landscape style. Will still be a powerful image in the future.

There's not a bad image amongst them, but not many really excite enough for a print. 102 is a standout for me, with 109, 101 and 105 having something.

It will be fascinating to see what sort if photos the TOP audience respond to. Perhaps in due course if this proves to be successful, you will develop an understanding of what prints will 'fly' and be able to select accordingly.

I would rule out immediately 106, 107, 109 and 110. To me, of very little appeal.

All other make great prints, to me.

I'd buy myself:


i forgot, i would also buy 102, but definitely NOT as a small print.

Mike, pardon me for the 3rd comemnt in a row:

I especially loved yesterday's BW black cat- Abolutely wonderful small print, that would make.

Very good mix of pictures. The choices really speak to your experience. I'm a sucker for the texture in the guitar and the large format, color negative look of the telephone pole landscape (love to see the series by this photographer).

One question - would any of these pictures have been included in your periodic "Random Excellence" posts? Maybe that's a source for a future print offering.

I keep coming back to 111. It has such a wonderful mood. It also has the kind of composition which really attracts me - simple looking at first and after spending some time with it, a more complex composition appears with the black lines on the road working with the black parts of the pole. I would buy this print!


All impressive, some more than others, I think I will only venture a top four, as suggesting any more might make me go overboard.
in no particular order: 101, 112, 114, 120. If I had to include any more it would be an additional five, so I'll stick to just these four :-)

>Now I can see them, I, unlike just about everyone else, am not terribly impessed.

You're not unlike everyone else, Alice.

I want to vote for the pics I like the best, but feel the obligation to TOP is to vote for those I think will be good candidates for sale.
The marketplace is unfair!

I immediately chose 112 when I first looked at these photos. As much as I liked 112 when I first saw it, I have become apathetic toward it in the last 24 hours. I keep going back to many of these photos over and over again - but not back to 112. It just doesn't interest me anymore. Maybe it is too obvious - nothing to think about - maybe just too much smoke around an inanimate object. If I had made a snap purchase, I would be really regretting it right now.

It is still a great shot, but many of the others now seem more interesting.

Number 102 would be my pick.

I'd also give a shout out to 111 just because expansion cracks on highways are so under appreciated as compositional elements!

A friend on Facebook asked me why I like 102. Here's what I said.

First of all, in addition to enjoying photography I also like paintings - especially abstract paintings. Have a look at someone like Mark Rothko for example. Now, of course, many people don't enjoy abstract paintings either! But for me, my appreciation of this photograph is rooted in an appreciation of abstract art - that is art that is about form and colour without necessarily representing anything concrete (no pun intended).

So, when I look at this photograph I see it in part as a pure abstract. There are two large colour fields with various markings. In this reading, the image becomes completely flat - rather than a representation of a three dimensional space. The colours are pleasing, gentle pastels.

Now, another interesting way I can look at this photograph is that the bottom is almost like a reflection of the wall - as if the floor was light green water reflecting the markings on the white wall. This is because the biggest black marks on the two surfaces are almost like mirror images of each other.

Then, in a final reading, I see this as a literal representation of a rather mundane scene in a parking garage. But one that rewards contemplation. That is, each of those 'markings' was caused by some vehicle driving through this space - so the markings leave me with a sense of the passage of time.

So, in the end, I love it because it can simultaneously exist as an attractive abstract and a literal scene. I also like that the sense of space is ambiguous - you can just as easily see this as a flat 2 dimensional object or a 3 dimensional one.

The closest among these to being wall-quality is the fountain (107) but it needs the colors softened so as to not raise the thought of "Photoshop" in the mind of the viewer

best wishes

Every time I look at 112, the steam engine, it looks like a photoshop paste job. Heck of a shot if it was real.

105 or 119 if I was going to have it on my wall for a while.

The barbershop photo is interesting. At first appearance a snapshot, it allows for protracted viewing. It's the only one that has held up over the last few days. There is a lot of interplay condensed into the frame, but the viewer has to reach across to the middle ground to figure out what is going on. At first glance it seemed a near miss, but that may be precisely the art of making the viewer do some work to resolve the scene. I hope the print is large enough to see the interplay. I would like to see more from this artist.

The bicycle crossing the tracks also is worth meditating on. It feels like momentum has been lost momentarily as both wheels jam on the rails. Nice tension in what at first seems to be a static scene.

When a photo is identified as a "Gursky" by everyone or clearly snaps into a genre (b&w jazz singer, the age of steam, graphic of the Stat of Lib, tasteful/arty girlfriend snap, A.A. country) you've lost me.

I notice that nearly all of these pictures are, compositionally, quite resolved. They are centered and often calm. They don't challenge the frame or the surface--they give up their meaning at a glance. That's not what I would look for in a picture that I would live with every day.

So if #102 wins is the price going to be 4.3 million?

Seriously I like most of these. I'd say my favorite is 119, followed by 105.

Wow, wow, wow, those are good. Cograts to you for attracting such a group of readers.

I missed your poll, but let me voice that I find 105, 109, 113 and 118 particularly extraordinary, and 119 very nice.

112, definitely, love the power in the photo, the texture in the steam, would love to see this one as an 11x14
111 has a strange draw for me, I don't know what it is but I love the sparseness of the photo.

I especially like 103, 106, 112, 114, 120.

If I had money and had to choose just one print right now? 120. Love the "vertical energy" in this composition, love how the hiker is framed in the trees and how much of a sense of human smallness is conveyed.

I find it interesting that out of those, all but one are black and white and the color one I liked is almost monochromatic.

102 & 113 are a bit too minimalist for my particular taste. 111 wouldn't find its way onto my wall either. This isn't saying they're bad, just that I can't see them living on my wall in print form. If it's any consolation the multi-million $ Gursky wouldn't be there either.

101: More important than the obvious stories is that this photo depicts a safe-haven. That's worth more and more these days.

102: Minimal, brazenly unapologetic. Brilliantly composed with the scuff mark symmetry. Pure aesthetic bliss.

109: Unique scene and the still water gives it a strong surrealist tinge. The more I look at this one the more I appreciate it.

119: Excellent composition, great scene. Raw photography at it's finest. No bells, no whistles, no need.

I'd have a hard time whittling these down any further, they are all fine photographs. Good luck!

Guess I have unusual tastes based on the votes but there was only one that grabbed me, 109, the fish pond, wonderful depth and richness of color and tone, would need a talented printer and some good lighting I think too to be appreciated properly but even based on the jpeg I think it would be a knockout!

102 and 112 for me.

The simplicity of 102, the drama of 112.

Woman Reclining would be AWESOME if her feet were not cut off, as if they were unimportant. *JUST me*, but I never understand why extremities are cropped when just a 1/2 inch more easel on the right side would complete an otherwise excellent photograph. I do love the overall tones of that photo, color, contrast, etc.

101 - A frame from "Coming to America".
102 - Sugimoto cityscape series?
103 - Either part of a Virgin Atlantic ad campaign or the intended target ducked leaving the full "rabbit" exposed.
104 - So tonally manipulated that it looks man-made (highly polished woodcarving?).
109 - I think this was already done in "Finding Nemo" (the school of fish scene where they make all sorts of shapes).
110 - A guitar made from driftwood.
116 - An upskirt shot.
117 - The "unlit" foreground logs are brighter than the last rays of sunlight in the background.
118 - Poster image for anorexia nervosa.

Number 120.

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