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Thursday, 17 November 2011


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I'd consider buying a print of Stern's photo. I love it. (The cat is also very good.)

I had to edit about 900 photos down to about 600 last weekend, and that was bad enough. (More derby photos, and since the primary audience for those is the players, the big set kept everything that was good of anyone. The small set was under 100, the ones that might actually be of interest to somebody not in the photo.)

Trying to edit 600 apples, oranges, plums, persimmons, dates, and rutabagas down to a dozen or less is going to be an adventure for you! ("Comparing apples to oranges" gone insane.)

In regards to Stern's pooled pooch, Mike writes, "That dog is either really happy or really unhappy, and I can't tell which." I love it: to me, that mystery is what makes this photograph really enjoyable. Also, it's nice to see a cat photograph interesting in its own right, unencumbered by LOLspeak.

Kudos to both Paul Stern and Chan H.

Actually, little secret--the kind of editing I'm doing is a *lot* easier than the kind of editing you're doing.

The reason is that all the pictures I'm seeing are very different, and have been pre-screened by the people who sent them. They sort themselves according to category, skill level, appropriateness to the purpose, etc., pretty quickly (at least if you've been doing this as long as I have--this is far from my first "contest" judging). The hardest kind of editing is working through a big take of the same subject, with lots of similar shots. The details are often important, and it can take quite a while to get clear in your mind and sort the best from all the almost-best, and the ones you really need from the ones you just think you need. The ones that appeal immediately aren't always the strongest shots.

I've been through yesterday's 600 shots five or six times now and I'm essentially done with my edit. I've got my choices and I know which are the strongest ones I'm leaving out. Now I just need to let some time pass and then revisit my choices as well as all the "almosts" to make sure my instincts were correct. I might make an adjustment or two before deciding. In some cases I've asked to see bigger JPEGs from people or asked for a few details about the picture to get clearer about the shots I'm interested in but for whatever reason don't have a solid feel for. But that's all essentially mop-up operations; the basic work is already done.

It also helps that I've run a number of these sales already, and my sense of what I'm looking for is fairly well developed.


Mike -

This "contest" is a great idea and quite fun. I am looking forward to seeing the final choices. I expect we will see some great work from some great unknown photographers who visit TOP.

About the controversy surrounding the method of sending photos: I always attach files when I send them. Yesterday, instead, I inserted my file directly into my email as instructed. Today, I noticed that my email program automatically converted my 800 pixel wide image into a thumbnail. So, I think it is unlikely that you were ever able to view my image at its full 800 pixel best.

I knew that the odds of your selecting my photo (even though it was black and white and artsy) were slim indeed, but the situation with the email did ruin a tiny bit of the fun for me. I at least wanted you to see my photo. Ok, I'm all better now.

Keep up the excellent work.


The only problem I had, was that in emailing the photo and not posting it, where does one put the caption?

Would definitely like to see your top 10 favourites - always curious to know what fellow TOP readers actually take pics of!

On the same lines, have you ever done a post with your top 10 favourite photos, or top 10 most important photos too, from the wider world?

I am so pleased to see and hear that the competition is so strong! This will be a terrific print sale, I think.

Note to self, Mike likes pictures of pets.....

Just joking. My father told me to not bother to enter photo contests (yes I know this is not a contest) because unless you knew what turned the jurors on (cute puppies and kittens as an example)you could have the best photo ever made, submit it, and not even be considered because it was of, say a moon over some desolate town.

Funny thing was, my father did enter a contest which was judged by AA himself. My father won and why did he win? Because he knew enough to submit a photo that he knew Ansel would like.

I look forward to seeing the 15 chosen in the first go around. It would be nice if a sister site could be setup to show the 600 that were entered. From this we could learn something I think.

I would volunteer to host this if you like

Yeah, I'm one of the guilty who submitted twice - tried pasting the pixels in the body of the e-mail as you'd requested. I "bcc'ed" myself at home and work so I could see if it worked. Alas, my work e-mail showed a box with a red X where I thought I'd pasted the image, so I resent my photo to you as an attachment. When I got home late last night and read my personal e-mail using the Macintosh Mail client, the photo I'd pasted in the mail body was there. So we're both learning. Glad to hear of the positive response, and looking forward to seeing your pick of the pics.

That's actually fewer entries than I thought you would have - I had four figures floating around as a guess.

May I also be the first to say 'Man, I would totally buy that one' about the dog picture, even though I wouldn't, although only because of money. It's great, and the cat one is also good fun.

Congratulations on actually doing this, it's going to be a great competition. You deserve plaudits for doing something cool.

Was Paul's shot taken at Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder?

Hah! It took some courage to submit a cat photo to a contest run by our host; good thing it was a really excellent photo. Anyone submit a photo of flowers you liked, Mike?


I'm worried about my entry now - because I put the image in the body of the email it completely wiped the name. I hope it will still be valid.


The only part of the instructions I had trouble with was the requirement that the image had to be in the body of the email, no attachments allowed.

I tried copy and paste to get my photo into the body in both Thunderbird and Gmail. In both cases no paste was allowed so I had to attach it despite the prohibition on attachments. I hope that doesn't disqualify my photo.

I have since found a way to drag and drop photos into the body of a Gmail message. It requires going to Google Labs and getting the "Insert Image" add-in. Once you do that you can drag and drop an image in the body of the email but copy and paste still doesn't work.

"I might do a separate post of personal favorites, from among the shots not chosen for the print sale."

Please do. I'm sure there were many submissions that qualify as "really great pictures that I wouldn't necessarily want to put up on my wall, but would very much like to see."

I believe that's an official class of Ort.

You could post one or two per day as a "header" for that day's post.

I forgot to worry that my email didnt go through!!! Thanks:)

@ Mike: "That dog is either really happy or really unhappy, and I can't tell which."

But the cat doesn't look too impressed. Maybe it's just the surly look all black cats seem to have! : )

The link underneath named 'Chan H' doesn't work and just goes to a blank page, though I managed to cut and paste "bella-imago.blogspot.com" in the address bar and got to the photographer's site in the end.

as an entrant, it might be useful in the future if there was some way to acknowledge reciept of the sent image. As it is now, we have no way of knowing if you got the image or not--witness the comment about several people resending images. Something to think about, thanks.

now the cat pic may not be worth 4million, but it's a helluva lot closer than that piece of crap that got it :)

"Anyone submit a photo of flowers you liked, Mike?"

You know, I was pretty determined to pick at least one flower picture for the first cut. There is one closeup of plants, though, but it's a Renger-Patzschean photo of three buds of some sort. Does that count? Maybe I'll have to go back and look for a flower picture again....


If that cat is going to be the judge.. poor me!

I'm looking forward to seeing the selects. Out of curiosity, was there any subject matter that predominated, or that was conspicuously absent—portraits, family, pets, landscape?

Scenics predominated, as you might expect. There's an inherent problem with scenics, which is that, although they tend to have the broadest (or a lowest-common-denominator) appeal, they're also the kind of thing that almost every photographer has already taken him- or herself. So they're an easy sell in that they appeal, but a hard sell in that, well, who needs another one unless it's really extraordinary?


Mike I hope that you'll share your editing process with us readers when you present the edit. I for one am quite interested to hear it. Curious how you were able to do it so quickly...

Mike, I'd love to hear your thoughts on "generic shots" as it applies to landscape photography genre. I have always personally struggled with creating unique landscape images. for you, what is a landscape photograph that is "made with an awareness of all the others that already exist"?

Some email systems and carriers automatically reduce the size and resolution of inserted images. Hotmail certainly does this. This reduction and resampling is the best reason for attaching the file instead of inserting it. In contests held by my photo club, we learned to insist on attached, not inserted, images.

Attached vs inserted may not matter very much for TOP screening purposes but is a detail to be aware of.

After the dust has settled, I think it would be interesting to see all 600 or so.

"There is one closeup of plants, though, but it's a Renger-Patzschean photo of three buds of some sort. Does that count?"

Mike, if you look closely enough, you'll begin to see flowers even where there's none. :)

Don't attachments automatically appear in the body of the email? I've had complaints that my attachments can't be easily extracted from the text, which is apparently unusual. Seems there are a variety of default settings, depending on your program and OS.


I forgot to say thanks for letting me know why mine didn't qualify. I doubt you did this for all 600.

Although it would be like you having another job, I too would like to see all of the entries.
It would be interesting to see the representative work of some of the most engaging photo enthusiasts around-the participants of TOP.

That doggie is a sentient being. I love that photo!

I especially appreciate the comments by Mike (not Mike J.) In going through a fair number of images, I echo Mike's "I've also gotten to the point where some older work inspires me to explore ideas and techniques anew."
In some cases, I'm watching myself see, compose, and expose twenty years ago and thinking - well, O.K. kid, you were really working. In some cases, although I can never shoot the same inspiration twice, I am eager to go get some more!
Thanks, Mike J., for the exercise. What Fun!

I was holding the flower picture for probably the third round :-).

I copied and pasted my jpeg image directly into the e-mail, but the Apple Mail program seemed to convert it to a TIFF and also stripped off the name, as far as I could tell. I suppose that might result in an automatic disqualification. Too bad. I hope that we can get the submission process worked out for the next round. Still, I had fun combing through some of my favorite photos and preparing them for the contest.


None from me. Intentionally though ;-)

So I must confess: After all the time I've spent on the internet, and FTP/emailing hundreds of thousands of images, I'd never actually dragged & dropped an image into the email body. Every image I've ever emailed has been an attachment. So after reading comments today, imagine my chagrin after I dragged and dropped the image I attached. It leaves me wondering if the image I sent was considered, or put into the stupid folder.

If I had to guess, I'd say the dog is unhappy that there are people in his pool.

In response to you question I searched my emails for your name, and sadly your image was not considered--not because the inline attachment didn't work--it came through fine--but because you changed the subject line. The subject line was what directed the emails into the proper folder on this end, which is why I cautioned people not to change it.

But there's always the next round. Sorry the wires crossed this time.



It would be interesting to know how many entries were disqualified because of technically incorrect submissions, such as wrong file format, improper file name etc. Some of us are left wondering whether our images fell into that hole through errors on our part or through the idiosyncrasies of our mail programs.


"It would be interesting to know how many entries were disqualified because of technically incorrect submissions, such as wrong file format, improper file name etc."

Essentially none; the exception was if I couldn't see the image at all (about 5 or 6? No more than that), or if the sender changed the subject line of the submission email, which I cautioned people not to do. The subject line was what directed the submission to the proper email inbox on this end. I think there were three or four of those. In some cases I couldn't see the image so I asked the sender to try again, and most of them did.

The point isn't to be strict, it's just to minimize the gruntwork on this end. In the old days with mailed prints, a contest could take up dozens of man hours, which I don't have to spare now. I think the biggest problem with the submissions here is that a number of them (a couple of dozen maybe) came in as thumbnails, obviously automatically resized by various email clients. If I was interested in one of those from what I could see, I emailed the sender asking for a larger version, but obviously it does leave some of the pictures that came in that way at a disadvantage.


I am kind of a cat person; my cat has his own web page (hisevilhighness.com, and no, i am not frivolous enough to have actually paid money for that address, but if you google it the page link still appears), even, but the cat photo qbove does nothing for me.

I think the dog photo, however, is a more interesting and appealing photo than any of the formal selections in the post above this one (though i like several of those very much).

I'm not big on pet photos, but the one of the dog is just a terrific, terrific picture. As good as any of Elliott Erwitt's, in my opinion. It has such a... secret agent look about it :).

Certainly my favourite of all the selections from this round, even if it's not going to be a sale candidate.

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