Strange times at the moment for obvious reasons. I have spent this month trying to finalise images for my entries to the Landscape Photographer of the Year (LPOTY) competition which closes for entries on May 10th. I have entered this competition on the last three occasions (they didn't hold one in 2019)
It set me wondering, how do you know if the images you take and make are any good?
That in itself poses the question 'What do I mean by any good'
Who decides if an image I have made is a good one. Many photographers say take images that you like & this often applies to entering images into competitions.
Maybe you should enter the ones that you like. But will they do any good?
Are they competition winning material? And is that important anyway?
The above image of Wasdale at Dawn I took in April 2015. I really liked it at the time. Its an HDR image produced from 3 images bracketed for exposure.
I entered it in the Northern counties photographic federation annual competition and it won best landscape. This was the first time an image of mine had won what I considered a prestigious competition.
Looking back at it now I think I would process it differently but that is just because I have learn't more about processing and probably I am a bit more subtle these days. I had a copy of this on my wall for a time.
It passed the 'Would I have it on my wall test' for a while at least.
I took the above image in Iceland 2017, its a famous location that has been photographed thousands of times. I thought this was a good image when I made it and still believe it is (I have this on my wall at the top of the stairs to this day).
I entered this in an interclub photographic competition and whilst it wasn't critcised by the judge (a very experienced and qualified chap) it didn't score very highly. I later entered it in the Northern counties competition (different judges) It won Best colour landscape. My point being judges are human and if an image is technically good, sharp where it needs to be etc, then a lot of it comes down to personal preference by the judge or indeed the viewer.
So how do you decide when looking at your own images which are the 'best ones'
Someone said ( I have no idea who) My favourite images are usually some of my latest until my next new favourite comes along
So how do you pick images to enter into competitions, these may be local club comps, National comps or even international competitions. A friend of mine (who is not in a camera club) takes into account feedback (personal and online from social media) from people who he considers to be excellent & often professional photographers.
This could be a good strategy if you happen to know such people.
The above landscape taken by me last June was selected to be a double page 'viewpoint' spread in the magazine Outdoor Photography. I really like it and I have it on my list of possibles for entry to LPOTY.
The problem arises when you have looked at an image that many times you can no longer decide when one of your own images is better than some others. I will often put 2 or 3 images up side by side, I feel this helps me decide which has more impact/appeal/holds my attention.
Another famous view that has been shot thousands of times. 'The Buttermere tree' I took this image in 2016, it is a combination of two images at different shutter speed blended together in Photoshop.
I knew as soon as I processed this image that it was one of my favourites. It went on to win a couple of club competitions and formed part of my submission for my Licentiate panel (a distinction within the Royal Photographic Society)
There was never any doubt in my mind I would enter it in LPOTY and in fact it was commended in that competition in 2017. Some choices are easy.
So I'll finish with the above image. Borrowdale Mill on Combe Gill, Lake District. I really enjoy this image. I remember standing in the water in my wellies taking it in Autumn last year. I posted it social media, it got one or two nice comments and a few likes. I have entered this one in LPOTY mainly because I think it is a good example of my work that makes me smile when I look at it. Will it get shortlisted?, who knows its up to the judges on the day and their preferences. Even if it doesn't it will not detract from my enjoyment of the image
So take images for your pleasure, process them to the best of your ability and enjoy them by looking at them or printing them and hanging them on the wall. If someone else thinks they are good enough to give a thumbs up like to, print in a magazine, award a commendation, prize or maybe even buy a copy. Well thats a bonus.
But don't forget they are your images and hopefully getting out there and taking them gives you pleasure & enjoyment.
Until next time.