If you haven't checked in with the original "Horizonless" post, check it out: there are now 19 reader pictures posted there.
The dust has cleared somewhat, and in toto I think I got about 350 to 400 responses to my call for work yesterday. I admit I tended to like best the pictures where people were playing with the whole idea of horizons. Although nobody beat Juan Buhler at that:
...answering the question, when is the horizon not the horizon?
There were a whole lot of nature pictures, pictures with fake horizons, pictures where the horizon is obscured by fog. There were a lot of pictures that really didn't have anything to do with the idea of horizons. And even a few pictures with horizons in them!
Does this picture by Bill Stormont have a horizon or not? It sort of does, but it sort of doesn't.
But anyway, here are a few of my thoughts about exercises like this, thoughts I thought as I was working on editing all the submissions:
1. It sort of makes me into the world's most hard-hearted club bouncer. I don't like that. What you're primarily doing is saying thanks, but (shades of The Soup Nazi), no publication for you! It's not like anybody sends in their bad pictures. Everybody sends in their good pictures. So who am I to judge? You get favor—you don't. It's all pretty arbitrary. (This is a way to say, again, thanks to everyone. I enjoyed seeing all the pictures, including the pictures I didn't post.)
2. Then there's the conflict between me and thee. That is, I have this subterranean tussle going on between what I like and what I think other people are going to like. I don't want to just please myself. Lots of people will see the post. Got to try to be fair—not to the people whose pictures I pick as much as to the people who are going to be looking at them.
3. Then there's "contest syndrome." After a while, trends emerge. Lots of people, for instance, sent in pictures taken in the woods. The first one you see you think, yeah, that's good. Then you see eighteen more, and you have a basis for comparison, and you pick a few. They're maybe not the "best," but they're representative. Then that sort of takes care of pictures taken in the woods. Then you get thirty more pictures taken in the woods. And you can't really use any of them even though some of them are perfectly fine just because you've "already got some of those." But it's not as if some of the ones in the last thirty wouldn't have worked just as well as the ones I picked.
Another aspect of contest syndrome is that after seeing a lot of same sort of thing, you need a picture with something special or different that sets it apart. So you pick something that's...well, if not turned up to eleven, maybe turned up to ten and a half.
4. With me, there's also passive-agressive anti-contest syndrome. As I see more and more standout pictures, I dig in my heels and think I ain't giving in to that. I'm going to pick something that's quiet and subtle and requires a little contemplation...that's just me.
5. I'm biased a little by names I know. I don't necessarily favor them, but I give them a little more attention.
6. Finally, timing. Early bird gets the, er...well, you know what I mean.
(You know how little kids say that.)
Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment (these posts are a lot of work, much more than it probably looks like), but I think I'll do this again. Next week, I'll put out a call for work on Sunday afternoon, and then post the pictures on Monday. That way, people will be at home, and people in other times zones will get the word.
Here are some more "horizonless" pictures from TOP readers.
Heavily stratified limestone, Gole di Breggia, southern Switzerland. Photo by Julian Barkway.
By Bill Schneider
By Jamie Pillers
By Jim Simmons
Han River, Seoul, South Korea. Photo by Alejandro Martinez.
By Paul Wicks
By Terry Letton
By Paul De Zan
By Paul Marriner
By David Rea
By Ken Royce
By Marcelo Guarini
By David Blanchard
River entering the sea in Iceland. Photo by Jeff Grant.
(Aerial photo, taken from a helicopter)
By Carsten Bockermann
Thanks again to everyone who sent in pictures.
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A book of interest today:
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Jim Simmons: "Yes, I got a lot out of viewing all the posted images, but where this exercise really benefited me was going through the past few month's folders of images with Mike's 'horizonless' filter in my mind, considering each image's relationship to that word/concept, and making all kinds of mental connections that helped me see my own work in new ways. Yeah, it was a thrill seeing one of my pictures on TOP, but nothing compared to the discoveries I made last night looking at some images I'd completely forgotten about and then working them up on Photoshop to send to Mike. Thanks for the invitation and encouragement to spend some time with my own pictures in a thoughtful evening of exploration!"
Bahi: "Very strong set—loved it!"
James Sinks: "I've really enjoyed this, and I'm looking forward to seeing more, but I have an odd request—please don't do it too often. I enjoyed seeing these photographs and the Tejas collection, but I think that a regular Mike Johnston Photo Contest (which is what it is, in spite of all your protestations) would get very boring very quickly. Especially for Mike Johnston. Keep it irregular, keep it rare, and keep it fun, otherwise you might have a hard time keeping it alive."