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Friday, 28 April 2023


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I know it's a stupid question but can it be AI generated?

Mike replies: that’s a good question. I’ll have to add verbiage to the post to the effect that it must be a photograph. Which would rule out AI because AI images aren’t photographs. This response was dictated so please forgive any mistakes.

Do you care about file size?

[It should be 800 pixels wide. --Mike]

Being a bit lazy and generally not in favour of photo competitions I'll just add some links to some old work. These were done as part of my Bachelor of Photography studies, needless to say I was an art major. They worked best when printed large, A3 at a minimum right on up to A0.

The first group were done using a mirror lens (Pentax 400-600 zoom mostly) and were intended to verge on abstraction.

The second group were made using a 50mm lens with a circle of black paper stuck to the rear element to try and mimic the mirror lens bokeh with a more studio friendly focal length. In this case the intent was to see how far you could defocus the image and still have it work as a portrait.

Hopefully the galleries will work for you as the rest of the website is pretty badly broken,

The Hugh Crawford photo doesn’t show for me (iPad, various browsers)

[It didn't show for me either at times over the last couple of days. I suspect it's a problem at headquarters...sometimes TypePad has problems with illustrations. It seems to be working for me again last night and this morning (Saturday morning). Hope it works for you too. I checked the file and there's nothing amiss with the formatting. --Mike]

800 pixels is a thumbnail.
You're judging thumbnails.
Although I suppose it doesn't matter so much if they are blurred.

[It's the size of every other illustration you ever see on TOP.... --Mike]

So "old" photos are welcome, and might be in the top (TOP?) thirteen, they just won't win the top two slots?

I wonder what photo the “ Untitled Photo by Hugh Crawford “ is.
Perhaps it’s that photo of Schrödinger’s cat.
The linked photos are a fun selection that I had long forgotten about.

Is an entry (a non-winner) to a previous Baker's Dozen acceptable in the "old" portion of submissions.




How in the name of everything Photographic Holy can you write:

"I will tend not to pick pictures that happen to be blurred but that would probably have been as good or better had they been sharp."

If a picture maker creates a picture(s) in which he/she uses blur/soft focus/shallow DOF as an integral element of his/her total visual presentation-paying absolutely no attention to how the picture might look as a sharp image-how do you justify seeing beyond/thru the blur as one of the criteria for acceptance?

I know its your playground and you make the rules but it seems to be a contradiction to judging the successful application of blur in the making of a good visual presentation.

[Just trying to discourage anyone from submitting mere mistakes. I'll stay open-minded, I promise. --Mike]

I suspect that you will receive all sorts of weird image dimensions. Your lead-in picture measures 400x563, at 72 dpi. Easy mark to hit.

If printed at 360 dpi, its width would be 2.9" so bigger than a thumbnail, more like wallet size.

I don't have anything to submit, but I'm trying to encourage my wife to send in one of hers where the blur is part of the art.

"Mike replies: that’s a good question. I’ll have to add verbiage to the post to the effect that it must be a photograph. Which would rule out AI because AI images aren’t photographs."

Don't bother. ChatGPT is more than happy to do the heavy lifting:

Write a notice for posting on a weblog that makes it clear that entries for a photographic competition must be actual photographs rather than AI-generated images. Include a statement that clearly distinguishes between the two forms of imagery.

Subject: Notice - Photographic Competition: Authentic Photos Only, No AI-Generated Images Allowed

Dear Photography Enthusiasts,

We are excited to announce our upcoming photographic competition! Before you grab your camera and start snapping away, we would like to clarify an important rule for this contest: all entries must be actual, genuine photographs taken by the participants, and not AI-generated images.

To make sure there's no confusion, let's clearly distinguish between the two forms of imagery:

Actual Photographs: These are images captured by a camera or other photographic device, representing a real-life scene or subject. They can be digital or film-based, but must be the original work of the photographer, and not manipulated or altered to create new subjects or scenes that did not exist in the real world.

AI-Generated Images: These are images created by artificial intelligence algorithms, which generate realistic-looking pictures by analyzing and synthesizing patterns found in existing photographs or other input data. They are not actual photographs, as they do not represent real-life scenes or subjects, and have not been captured by a camera.

For the purpose of our photographic competition, we are solely interested in showcasing the creativity, skill, and unique vision of photographers who capture authentic moments in time. As such, we will not accept any AI-generated images or heavily manipulated photographs that deviate from their original subject or scene.

Please ensure that all submitted entries adhere to this rule. Our judges will be carefully evaluating each submission to verify its authenticity. Any entry found to be AI-generated or heavily manipulated will be disqualified.

We encourage everyone to explore their passion for photography and capture the beauty of our world. We look forward to seeing your amazing, authentic work!

Best of luck to all participants!


[Your Name]
[Competition Organizer]

>> It's the size of every other illustration you ever see on TOP.

What about the other half of them?

Blurry pics - piece of cake!
I got a gazillion of 'em!

I am unlikely to have a suitable image to submit for the Baker's Dozen but as soon as I saw the theme I thought of this image of a professional cyclist from the famous Milan-San Remo one-day race in March, taken by Simon Gill.

The article has a story about the image and the event, including some quotes from Gill about the image.


Writing rules is hard. Other people think of, and consider important, things I might not (routinely; people are a lot of trouble!). Talking about your preferences and what you value is useful in that it lets people acting in good faith get a better idea of how you will react to photos they are considering submitting.

And of course the stakes here, the monetary value of winning plus the global prestige conferred upon the winner, are not such that lawsuits are at all likely, so you don't need to be as careful as one would if say writing rules for the Olympics. (No insult to this contest intended! The prestige level is rather HIGH I think for the size of the community involved, and there IS an actual cash prize.)

I'm buried in other photo work right now, and don't expect to find time either to choose an old photo or make a new one; so I'm reasonably objective, maybe, about whether to allow old photos into the competition; at least, not influenced by my chance of participating or winning. I kind of like the idea of limiting it to new photos (though maybe with a longer timeline?), but I remember, when first reading the description and coming to that restriction (which, yes, I know has been changed), thinking "Well, I guess I won't be doing that then!". Weird reaction. I don't have time anyway, so it doesn't matter.

800 pixels is small -- but as a universal condition of contest, it just constrains somewhat what images would work best. Having a specific standard is clearly necessary for this sort of online contest. Having it be the same standard used for other photos displayed here and for earlier Baker's Dozen contests is not an unreasonable choice. If I ran your blog I would have changed to a higher standard photo size some years ago (I think I've been reading TOP since I had a 7mbit/second DSL Internet connection, I now have a gigabit connection; other users have had somewhat similar levels of bandwidth increase, and can handle larger image sizes IMHO). But then, if I ran your blog very few people would bother to read it, and I would have given up many years ago, so perhaps this is not an important consideration!

Oh, and while I'm chattering, I admire Chris Kern's thought to get Chat-GPT to write a rule forbidding use of AI-generated photos!


Doug Anderson - Red Bank, New Jersey, USA

After shots of the inside of my lens cap, my most common oops photos result from neglecting to focus the lens. I liked this one well enough to make a print.


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