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Thursday, 29 September 2011


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I started reading this post with the idle thought that this must be Ctein's column due to your injured hand. Nope. I salute your tenacity.

If it makes you feel better, I ordered a bunch of bicycle stuff from Amazon using your links this week.

Or, just use A, B, C, D, and F. Of course, then I would be tempted to start adding pluses and minuses.

No, if I'd meant that I would have suggested that. I'm not talking here about grading others. I'm talking about trying to decipher what kinds of things you personally like and respond to. It's not the same.


I'm glad you didn't suggest rating the resulting pictures on a numeric scale. Now THAT sucks.

Maybe it's time to try Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation program.

Time to activate the "smile shutter" feature, Mike!

I find this exercise informational.

Just a snap critique.

Good idea Mike. If I applied this same exercise to my own body of work, I would likely only end up with maybe three "love it's"

That's my problem too. I know too much about photography to like my photography all that much.


Just asked my wife to do this test. Could hear her through the door...


I shouted to her that she shouldn't be too harsh on them.
The Wife "Them?"

How about "cute" for the photos where you like the content but the photographer kinda ruined the photo? Something between "fine" and "miss", but not "informational"? (I don't think that the categories are linear, are they?)

Like this photo of baby pandas in a crib. The composition is quite okay, the moment is superb, but the photographer ruined it by burning out the highlights (and by choosing a wrong focus point, if that's what you want). Or is this just a "miss"?

Ah, sounds like your right hand got clobbered.

Try using a dslr with a vertical grip upside down horizontally.

Now you have a left handed shutter release. Not the best , but better than not taking photos.

An added benefit is that if the camera is pressed against your forehead you can use slower shutter speeds.

If you want to make it even more difficult an exercise, put on some cinematic music to accompany the slideshow. Somehow the accidental magic of random pictures coinciding with sonic cues can really throw our judgment for a loop.

Informational ;-)

I find a pleasant way to explore flickr photos, and hopefully increase the number of "love it" results is to go to the profile of a person who's photos you like/love, and then view a slideshow of that photographer's favourites from other people.

I applied it to my own photostream. Ouch, lots of "miss" and "informational", a couple "fine". It's funny, I'm pretty sure they were all "Love it" when I initially posted them.

I find this is how I look at almost all photos. With very few exceptions... I'm not quite sure what that says about me and my eye/the photographer in me, but it is what it is.

Good idea.
it helps to know what you like, what you don't like and generally get ideas to explore.

Great post Mike. You should crush your fingers more often.

Feel better soon.

I'll have to try that with pictures on flickr - I've already tried it on my own pictures with interesting (to me) results.

Where I live, we have many painted fire hydrants - that is painted to look like characters, rather than just painted red. Over time, I have taken pictures of the majority of them - but I was disappointed when I viewed my own work as a slideshow. I felt that my pictures tended to look static and uninteresting. (Alternately, I passed the number of fire hydrant pictures I could look at without getting bored!)

I'm still rethinking the results of that experiment, and how to shoot them differently. (I shot them, mostly, as portraits). I'm wondering if I got 'viewer fatigue' from my photography, or from my subject.

If all fails, I can always look at pictures of kittens!

Greg - a great site that facilitates just that is http://fffflckr.com/
I find it highly addictive. I suppose it's the same as Mike's exercise, with just one category: love it

Now open Lightroom, select a month or year. Start slideshow and repeat:~


Excellent exercise. I think this can help one develop self critiquing skills too. I now grade my own photos in lightroom or photomechanic but using different categories (I certainly have some "fails" but i try to figure out why, eg technical error, compositional, but never cliche or overdone, I would never do that (remove tongue from cheek)).
I would add another category, which I would call "waste", as in "I just wasted precious seconds of my life viewing something so abhorrent to my personal tastes, and I shall never get those seconds back". I would probably categorize 99% of Internet images in this category, but then any image that looks HDR or has a kitty automatically defaults to that category, so other people's mileage may vary.

When I characterized this exercise as informational, I wasn't just saying that in jest, or trying to be dismissive of Mike's point. Rather, as the term 'informational' is described here, I find that the exercise, while perhaps interesting and useful for others, does not suit me.

I have no tolerance for randomly perusing sites like Flickr; there's just too much cr*p for me to waste my time. I prefer to have some basis, like a recommendation from a trusted observer, to browse someone's work. And, when I do, assuming a picture passes 'the smell test,' I'm inclined to follow a more contemplative approach and let it percolate a bit. That's just me, and consistent with my general disdain for so much in the world today that's too fast and too superficial for my tastes.

But, that's not to say that I don't have my own exercises to continually educate my eye. For instance, I love to go to museum shows (paintings or photographs) and after surveying the exhibit (usually more than once), I choose one (or two or three) works that I could hypothetically take home to put on my wall and not sell. This requires careful thought as to why, and it's interesting how, over time, my tastes and success criteria have evolved.

First blinks can matter, but I tend to focus on longer term interest, and to do so in person looking at real prints, not a computer screen.

so,,, how much would you charge to apply this service to a flickr stream? I'm thinking you might get quite a few takers on this. Not a true review ( but then Flickr is not a portfolio) but comments from someone who many of us would appreciate
hearing. The pictures on my Flickr stream are not nearly as thought out as the ones I post to my photoblog. So even a review of a photoblog might be a worthwhile venture.

My dad once said "This new injury of yours is nature telling you again to not overlook the obvious. The discomfort is only to reenforce that idea by making the experience seem less trivial."

Hope it's better soon -- Rich

Hi Mike,
I echo Nick in “Featured comments” with doing it to your own old pictures; sometimes one you rejected because it didn't fit the mood when taken, perfectly fits the memory at a later date.
Ditto Greg Roberts.
I click through “Most recent uploads”, that gives you 20 thumbnails and it's interesting what grabs your attention (back button doesn't work here!). Click on the name rather than thumbnail to see if the sets/photostream are worth lingering.
Best wishes phil.

"I echo Nick in 'Featured comments' with doing it to your own old pictures; sometimes one you rejected because it didn't fit the mood when taken, perfectly fits the memory at a later date."

That's cool if that's what you want to do, but it wasn't what I was suggesting....


A binary sort is much easier on the brain than a six-way decision. Decision fatigue is real, and was recently a topic in the news.

Simply do a yes or no as the pictures come up.

Then repeat twice on the pictures that are a yes.

This works very well for me in my image organizer.

I messed up somehow. I viewed this fellow's (Tatsuo Suzuki) stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/tatsu001/ got stuck on "Love it," "fine, no---very fine," no, I love it." Even more befuddling is that the guy lives in Tokyo and doesn't have a single geisha or Shibuya crossing photo. What am I doing wrong.

Not so lucky in other places, because it is a difficult, quickly tiring exercise. Quite useful, though.

RE: my previous comment on stream, yes there is a Shibuya crossing photo, but it ain't the standard "Oh, look, lots of people cross the street at Shibuya crossing." That would have gotten a "sucks" from me.

As I browse around Flickr if a photograph really grabs my attention I don't over think it, I just click on "Favorite" and move on. It doesn't happen that often. After a few months I realized that my "Favorite" list was itself a snap shot of my tastes. I suppose it also offers a small morsel of encouragement to photographers who don't get many comments (like me).

Hey Mike, have you thought of trying 'Dragon Dictate' or something similar instead of typing?

I did try voice recognition software a few years ago. I forget now which one it was I tried, but the experiment was an abject failure. I couldn't get it anywhere close to working properly. I'd tell you what it was but I've dumped the program from my hard drive.

I guess that experience makes me less likely to try it again.


Hi Mike, I agree with that voice recognition software dumping. Though I'm more of an oral culture guy, to speak aloud and alone in the midst of night was too creepy for me....

On the Flickr part, there is something special about that sheer quantity of images collected, quite fascinating! Once a photographer friend asked me what our society did with all of those artifacts of our image culture ? Maybe Flickr's the answer :-)

From what I've seen on Flickr, here's a more appropriate rating scale:
- Doesn't suck
- Sucks
- Fer hevvin's sake, FOCUS!
- Interesting colors (for another planet)
- Excellent photo of your wife's genitals
- Why did you even consider posting this crap?

reading about voice-recognition software suddenly made me think of "garbage-recognition" software to grade and sort pictures. Now, that would be a very scary thought!

Interesting URL for this post. It starts with five-categories.

But the Title is Six Categories. What category did you add and why?

Most people don't realize it, for the eminently sensible reason that they don't read the same post multiple times, but I frequently revise and add to posts after they're posted.


Sorry Mike, I go off at a tangent sometimes...
Interesting experiment.
I found that composition and emotion were the main factors after a while, subject wasn't so important. A lot of photos would be improved with vertical format and a lot by a few paces to give a slightly different POV. A title influences me as well.

When I found this I forgot all the others I'd seen. Day and night pic of Minnesota State Fair.
Interestingly that's ticked so many boxes I don't want to look at any more pictures this evening.

Best wishes phil
p.s. Inky Fool's book looks interesting for a wordsmith.

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