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-   -   Are we getting the most out of TE? (https://www.trekearth.com/forums/showthread.php?t=551411)

rushfan2112 12-24-2007 01:32 PM

Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I believe I'm a typical member here at TE. The stats I'm about to bore you with are used simply for illustrative purposes....

Since joining TE on 4 Feb 2006, I've posted 182 photos which have, collectively, been viewed 9799 times (about 54 times per photo).

Not that I'm particularly bothered about points (though it is nice to get them) those 9799 viewings have brought 2257 points; an average of 12.4 points per photo. My highest points scoring photos (2 of them) have 36 points each. Only 2 of my photos have failed to trouble the scorer...!

I've written 1755 critiques - almost 10 for every photo I've posted and, although I will admit to a degree of critiquing of my "favourites", I do say what I genuinely think about the photos I critique and I offer, wherever I can, my suggestions on how they might be improved.

Workshops are not my strongpoint - I'm just not that good with Photoshop manipulation. However, I've even done 25 workshops to almost force myself to improve.

I contribute as best I can. My evenings and weekends contain quite a few hours for posting and criquing as well as processing what I've taken. I really enjoy being part of this site and the contact with the 'like souls' I've met as I've gone along.

Believe me when I say that I'm definitely not trying to be ungrateful or negative as many of the members here have been incredibly helpful and generous with their advice and tips on all manner of issues.

However, having taken a long, hard look back at my photos - from the earliest to the most current - I'm not convinced I've either developed a 'style' or improved much beyond becoming a bit more familiar with Photoshop and Nikon Capture NX.

Given TE's success in growing a global community, is it starting to be a victim of that success? Does anyone else feel that we're starting to stretched a bit too thin? Is this the cause of a few high profile departures recently?

Maybe it would be useful to have two categories of photos entered into the galleries - those who want to be critiqued and those who don't? Or even separate galleries so the two are more easily distinguishable? Maybe there should be a greater emphasis on local / seasonal "themes" as the method by which we contribute - rather than random images?

Personally, I am strongly in favour of critiquing (though I accept I'm not a particular expert) as I am very keen to improve and develop (no pun intended) as a photographer.

Please understand that this is NOT a thinly veiled attempt to get more critiques or points for myself - just an honest enquiry about where we see this site going and how we might get the most out of it in future.

TE is very good as it stands, however, I'm just wondering if there's anything we can do to improve it - and ourselves into the bargain.

Here's hoping we all have a great end to 2007 and a happy and prosperous 2008.

abanibi 12-24-2007 03:44 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Paul! Though I'm not an old member of TE myself, I'd like to share my thoughts with you.
First, (and please don't get offended because that's not my intention) I think that learning and improvement have to be sought and provoked. Watching other people's photos and reading/writing critiques may certainly be a good part of it (and they do help me improve); but if that's not enough, maybe an additional effort/help is needed (books, courses and seminars, clubs, etc.). Maybe if we expect too much from TE it will end up disappointing us, so I tend not to regard it as a photography school, but as a place to share and interact and a source of knowledge (though not the only one). In that sense, I do think I take the most out of TE; but I'll tell you what I think in two years :-)
As for styles, I think you do have a style. Most of us do. The problem is that many of those styles aren't unique, they aren't singular, recognisable voices: they're similar to many others. Some TE members are into marvellous landscapes, others into photography street, others into "denounce" photographs; some choose to oversaturate their pictures, others take B&W; some make art out of small daily things, others look for the magical light of sunsets and sunrises. In your intro, you say you have chosen to add portraits and street photo to your landscapes and architecture; besides, you add that you try make photos look as close as possible to how they looked when you pressed the shutter. I think those two things partly define your style, even if you don't realise it. My style is (more or less) decent tourist photographs; nothing impressive, nothing artistic. Some people don't develop a distinguishable style in their whole lives; others have it naturally. That's the essence of art, after all...
I don't think that the recent departures of some members can be used to explain the current status of TE; they're too recent to judge, don't you think?
What I don't get is your idea of two galleries. I'm not conscious of members who wouldn't like their photos critiqued, so maybe you can explain...
I don't know if all these thoughts mean something to you, but let me know what you think.
Happy New Year to everyone! May 2008 bring us peace, health and love (some more money wouldn't be a bad idea though...)

stiginthedump 12-24-2007 04:14 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I think Trekearth is becoming a victim of its own success. I find it too vast these days and can't seem to keep up (also a bunch of my favourites have left in recent months which doesn't help as well!). I think the best thing that you could do is just reguarly critique a select group of people rather than try to go here, there, and everywhere. Saying that, I haven't critiqued anything for a while, but will get back into things after the festive period!

Bruno40 12-24-2007 04:14 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I am less than a year old member here, but I can tell you that my interest for photography and skills changes from <a href="http://www.trekearth.com/trip.php?tid=2362">before TE</a> and <a href="http://www.trekearth.com/trip.php?tid=2708">after TE</a>.
I don’t know how was before, but I like TE as it is.
Of course I do agree that sometimes you see really mediocre photos getting a lot of attention due to the popularity of the photographer rather than the photo itself. And sometimes some critiques are really appalling, but I stopped worrying about how many points other get, but rather how can I improve my photography and PP skills.
I am happy if some of my photos get good reviews from some members that I know are very honest and technical in their critiques. I follow other members from who each post is a new lesson for me.
I suggest, keep posting and keep shooting, and when you do, apply what have you learn here.
I agree in most of what Ines has written before.
Merry Christmas
Jorge

rushfan2112 12-24-2007 04:40 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Ines,

Thank you for your response and I'm definitely not offended!

I don't expect TE to be a photography school. However, there seems to be an increasing number of posts where there's no note attached whatsoever or, where there is a note, it doesn't include any technical info on how the shot was achieved. Some even seem to disable EXIF data.

My bookshelves are full of portfolios by various photographers (of various genres) and also of instructional manuals on various photographic and digital imaging techniques. I also regularly visit galleries, museums and exhibitions in London, where I work. I am quite passionate about the learning side of things.

I actually expect nothing from TE or its members as the site is completely free and no-one is required to do anything other than abide by the TOS. Indeed, if you read the intro to my little corner of TE, I say I am constantly amazed by the variety and quality of what appears on TE.

However, the lack of notes on photos combined with the number of members who don't critique (or provide a big green smiley with a comment like "Wow - great shot") suggests, at least to me, that there are a number of members who aren't overly bothered about giving or receiving critiques.

My suggestion could amount to a gallery exclusively for critiquing (with or without points). For those who wish to simply post photos of where they live or have been on holiday, they can do so and the photos could be assimilated into the overall gallery for the part of the world to which they relate.

You may well be right about my 'style'. I am quite a 'literal' person and I assume that if the site wants people to learn about the world through photography, that exactly what it will get from me - but not my 'spin' on the world in which I live (although it's almost impossible to disconnect the two entirely). Perhaps I need to loosen up a bit....and not take the TOS quite as seriously as I have done, so far?

It's a shame about the guys who left. Mind you, I know how much time it takes to get even half decent results. Good luck to them. Change is in the nature of sites like this.

I'll second your wishes for 2008. Good health, good luck and prosperity to everyone.

rushfan2112 12-24-2007 04:44 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Cheers, Will - you are almost certainly right. I think I just take things a bit too seriously / literally. I think next year will see me post less, critique a bit more and concentrate a bit more on TrekLens as I feel that there are fewer constraints on style over there....!
Very best wishes, Paul.

rushfan2112 12-24-2007 04:48 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Jorge.

Maybe anonymity is part of it. In the big scheme of things, I genuinely don't give a toss about the points - I just want to get better as a photographer.

As I've just said to Will (stiginthedump) I will probably shoot more, post less and critique less - but concentrate on quality and - perhaps - post more on TrekLens as there are fewer stylistic constraints. We'll see.

Best wishes for the festive season.

Paul.

Keitht 12-24-2007 07:08 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I agree with the vast majority of what has been said in this thread. I do however disagree strongly with the suggestion of 2 galleries - 1 for those who don't want their images critiqued. To me critiquing is at the very heart of the site and I believe there are many sites around that can and do cater for those who simply want to show off their work.
What has intrigued me most over the 4 or so years I have been a member is that it is impossible to pre-judge how an image will be received. Some that I have posted and thought merely 'OK' have been very well received, whilst others that I felt were technically and artistically better have received little feedback. The only thing that proves is that opinions differ - and long may that continue.

SamB 12-24-2007 07:55 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
i haven't been particularly active for a while, but still drop in from time to time...

One of the things that Will said was "I think the best thing that you could do is just reguarly critique a select group of people rather than try to go here, there, and everywhere."

That's the exact critiquing behavior that gets thread after thread after thread about point-grabbing started... but i really have to agree with him. i think that you will find that the majority of the times that people focus on a select group of photographers to critique, the reason is not a desire to get a lot of points, but instead because the critiquer honestly finds that photographer's style interesting.

Before i kind of slipped into the dregs of inactivity, i spent several months doing that--just finding a few photographers that i really enjoyed, and critiquing everything that they put up... and i think that as a result, my photography really improved. i can still look at pictures that i take now and see elements of this person's style or that person's style that i was very clearly thinking of when i took the picture.

i don't feel like any of this is news to you in particular... you seem to have a pretty good grasp of this... but i feel like it's worth saying.

A merry Christmas and successful 2008 to all!

Keitht 12-24-2007 11:14 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I try to avoid critiquing the same old people time after time. I work purely on the image - if it appeals to me I'll critique it and if it doesn't I won't. If the photo happens to have been posted by somebody who has critiqued my work, or is by somebody I have critiqued before then so be it.
There is only one group of people I avoid and they are the few who have posted many images and received many critiques but have failed to respond in kind by giving critiques. I'm not saying they should critique my work, but they should be giving back to the community by critiquing others.

Bruno40 12-25-2007 02:03 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Keith
I agree with you 100%. I avoid those who just post photos.
Merry Christmas
Jorge

stiginthedump 12-25-2007 02:31 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I think its also important not to just take photos that fit the trekearth 'guidelines'. For example, I'll often shoot photographs of friends, or get people to pose for shots, architecture shots, macro stuff etc etc. I guess I could post it on treklens, but it just keeps me on my toes and gives me some ideas on what to look for when i'm out 'on the street'.

Davids 12-25-2007 05:07 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Paul,
I think the best way is not to take it all too serious. If you want to learn . . . you should also look at other sites . . . or even better get some good books.
If you want to share/communicate, write critiques or go out to the pub.
What I'm trying to say is that if you enjoy yourself and look beyond the TE horizons, you'll be able to give back more to the TE community in the end . . . (or maybe not if you choose to play tennis instead :)
Numbers are just numbers . . . . they trick and treat people.
Hope my english is understandable,
have a nice new year, to all of you :)

rushfan2112 12-25-2007 09:48 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Jorge. I know what you mean. However, some of the guys who just post photos could be people who are just waiting to be invited to the party. I was a bit like that when I first joined. I occasionally spend an hour in the 'uncritiqued' gallery trying to help (best as I can) some of the shots that just get passed by. Some respond. Others don't. If they don't, then at least they were given the chance. All the best for Christmas. Off to see what Santa brought! Paul.

rushfan2112 12-25-2007 09:55 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Will.

I think you might have hit the nail on the head here. Every time I pick up the camera, I'm thinking 'would this be suitable for TE' and 'how would this look on TE'.

Don't get me wrong but stuff TE from now on. I'm going to take the shots I like to take and if some (or all) of them are suitable for TE then great. I love the TE site very much but it's sort of taken over a bit.

I've just read an advert in a camera mag about building your own website and I think I might have a go. There's the IT challenge (THE main challenge for me) and the opportunity to post galleries of what I shoot for my own amusement - not just to fulfil TE's objectives.

Perhaps I'll post more of my stuff on my TL and TN sites - which have been very neglected of late. Maybe I just needed to kick myself up the tushy a bit...!

Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year. Paul.

rushfan2112 12-25-2007 10:00 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi David. Wise words, mate. I do look at other sites and I've got a mini library for instructional and inspirational purposes. I don;t really drink much, so the pub's not a big draw for me but what I'm about to do is concentrate more on what I want to shoot without worrying whether it is appropriate for TE. Tennis? Not with my (lack of) physique! Several years playing prop forward fr a rugby team and weight lifting left me with dodgy knees - so swimming and golf are my exercise and walking (with a backpack full of Nikon). Your English is perfect compared to my Latvian...! Kind regards and have a wonderful Christmas. Paul.

Bruno40 12-26-2007 12:37 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Paul,
I was referring more to those who have post 10, or 20, or even 50 photos, but few critiques... sometimes zero critique.
Some of them have already recieved 1000 points, but have given 10 or less critiques.
Those are extreme cases, which I avoid.
Merry Christmas to you too!
Santa brought me a daugther .... my first!!
The best X'mas so far!!
cheers
Jorge

Davids 12-26-2007 06:11 AM

congratulations papa
 
Jorge,
congratulations with your daughter!
I was lucky two years ago with X-mas :)
Hope all is well with all of you, enjoy this special time!
sleep well if you get the time :)))))
regards,
David

Bruno40 12-26-2007 06:21 AM

Re: congratulations papa
 
THANKS David!
Santa brought me the present last October, but I am still enjoying like the first time I hold her in the hospital. Everyday more beautiful and with some new "agu" words in her vocabulary. Still very demanding in feeding and sleeping time, but mother and I are getting more sleep than a month ago.
Thru my intro you may reach her photo.
I appreciate your words. Thanks a lot
Where are you from?. Congrats also for your two girls.
cheers and Feliz Navidad
Jorge

abanibi 12-26-2007 11:59 AM

enhorabuena!
 
Enhorabuena, Jorge!! :-D
Ya veo que la niña tiene un par de meses pero aún tienes la misma alegría que si acabara de llegar. Sin duda, el mejor regalo!
Un beso para los tres!
Inés

rushfan2112 12-26-2007 12:07 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Jorge. Point taken about the guys who post but don't critique.

Anyway, a BIG "congraulations!" from me in celebration of your new arrival. I haven't got any kids myself but I know the joy they bring to the friends and family I have. You must be thrilled. friend of my wife and I have a beautiful daughter called hope (I have a couple of photos of her on TrekLens). She's just turned 1 year old and she is now walking and starting to make proper words. I said, "just wait 'til she starts bringing boys home". He went very quiet!!

Take care. Very best wishes, Paul.

abanibi 12-26-2007 12:10 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi again Paul! Well, there are some great contributions in the thread, with which I agree mostly, and I think Will is absolutely right as you point out. As for creating a website, it's easy if you know how, but very time-consuming if you're starting (I know by experience...). So, another suggestion is to use the simpler tools of the internet: photoblogs, flickr and the like. That allows you to upload without messing around with html, javascript, bandwidth, etc., so that you concentrate your efforts on photography.
Good luck in whatever you do! And don't get too anxious with styles: it will come when it has to.
Take care,
Inés

rgarrigus 12-27-2007 09:30 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Paul,

Loved reading this thread (and incidentally I am also a big Rush fan - Geddy Lee was my hero growing up. I played in a cover band for a few years and we used to open with 2112 and La Villa Strangiato and then work our way into Limelight)

Bottom line for me: Improving TE is a matter of contributing as much as I am able but not necessarily expecting others to reciprocate - sort of an unconditional love :) I participate in a few other sites that use separate sections for critiquing and themes as you have suggested but to be honest I haven't observed that they are any better than TE. In fact, TE has proven to be the best of them for me overall for critiques although...

I agree whole-heartedly with David in that we can't put too much expectation on TE itself. I came to TE with the usual newcomer excitement and slowly started to feel let down - only because I expected too much at the onset. I've tried to give the best critiques I can although I feel quite lacking in qualifications. That is why you'll see a lot of "validity wording" such as 'in my opinion' or 'to my eye' in my critique attempts. Over the past several months I have found a fairly small group of people on TE upon whom I feel I can count for thought-out, honest critiques but so far the vibrant artistic and academic discussion I seek seems mostly to have eluded me. Personally, I think that a good deal of the critiquing on TE has become simply rote praise among virtual colleagues and overall not quite what I am seeking. Even the most accomplished landscape photographers can and do discuss improvements that might have been considered for each other's images. I'm not afraid to engage in this type critiquing but I often find myself in the minority if not completely alone. It is far worse on other sites though. Now, to be fair, not everyone is looking for that level of discussion and the only place I have truly found it is in photography courses I have taken.

The statistics that actually mean something to me on TE have to do with the number of critiques I have given and the number of people who have ticked them as being "useful". To that end I have been a bit disappointed (~38% useful). Also of interest is the number of views of an image as compared to the number of critiques. I believe that a majority of the viewers who choose not to critique a viewed image are doing so because the larger photo ends up not interesting them. However, I see very few instances of people actually trying to explain in words what shortcomings in the image might be making them feel that way. Over the past 2-3 months I actually marked anyone's feedback as useful simply for their having taken the time to offer a critique of my images. I'm not a prolific workshop poster as I am not yet good enough with PP but I've had a go here and there when there was something I thought I could add. I also try to go to the 'orphan images' section occasionally to see if I can offer advice. Honestly, I find that spending too much time critiquing on TE does not meet cost/benefit for me and, if the stats are to be believed, by others either. I still owe it to the members but I'll probably never be one to max out my points allocations for a single day.

For me the best way to pursue my intent to improve in photography (and I think I am improving) has been to focus on shooting more and augment that with various forms of education. One bit is learning from the images I enjoy on sites like TE and ePhotozine. However, I also subscribe to online courses at BetterPhoto.com and read anything and everything I can get my hands on. I'm looking at going on a workshop or two this year as well to take things to the next level. I may even consider some more formal training in the coming year or two but we'll see.

I agree fully with the sentiment about trying to improve TE but I'm not sure there is anything more that can be achieved from a single online site. That said I'm always interested in the ideas of those more clever than myself.

Looking forward to seeing more images from all of you over the coming year.

Happiest of New Years to you all!

Bob G.

rushfan2112 12-27-2007 03:31 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Bob,

I never played "professionally" but did play drums in a band after leaving school. We did a few gigs here and there - great fun. My "hero" is Neil Peart - not just because he's the best rock drummer ever (IMO) but because he's handled his misfortunes with a degree of dignity you don't generally see in celebrity circles. I've seen them 11/12 times and will continue to do so until they stop touring.

I see TE as greater than the sum of its parts. However, my concern is that there's a lot of meaningless critiquing going on. My suggestions (and that's all they are) are aimed at possibly reducing the amount of critiques but increasing their quality.

Bottom line, for me, is that the site is pretty damned good as it is and I suppose I'm just frustrated that I don't believe my latest shots are that much better than my first ones. As I mentioned earlier, at the point I joined, I'd been taking photos (occasionally official weddings and portraits for family and friends) for 30 years - so maybe I've just reached my level.....?

I recently joined RangeFinderForum - as I'm not overly familiar with the M6 yet and they have forums / galleries where people specifically request critiques. The main galleries are there for viewing and the level of comments / critiques is pretty low from what I can see. I wondered if a similar approach would work on TE. After all, there's no prizes for points.

Take care and Roll the Bones..........

Prisley 12-27-2007 04:41 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Bob,

I agree with most of the points you make here.
To me TE has always been and still is a place that bring great interest because of its "mission" => being
1/ learning about the WORLD through photography
2/ learning about photography through constructive notes or critiques.
As long as these points are observed by members, TE will deserve its success.

But in my point of view, TE lacks som control to make sure that members respect at leat one of those points.

I am quite fed up with posts that do not bring anything to the community. The number of those is dramatically increasing.
I don't post all the pic that I take and when I take photos I don't think of how it would be TE.

I trully think TE deserves a minimum of quality check on members side. For my part, I post when I feel my pic is "good enough" to be posted here(obviously not perfect but not crappy, meaning no clear subject, nor composition effort, etc. => when I see pics like this on TE I won't bother writing a critique for sure!) and that I have something to tell through it. A story. For sure some pic tell it all but they are rare.

Propositions (just ideas):
- I would make mandatory the note part for each post.
- I would impede posting critique with less than 10 words.
- I would erase of TE pics that don't fit TE rules (I remember a time, not so far, where controls were more strict and numerous).

Btw, I don't mind about points, I mind about critiques and comments => a slightly different approach shared by many of us ;0)

Best wishes to all for 2008!

Pris.

BitemeJack 12-27-2007 05:37 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Will

Please let me know the names of the favourites that have left recently.

thanks

bitemejack

rgarrigus 12-27-2007 07:31 PM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Pris,

"- I would make mandatory the note part for each post.
- I would impede posting critique with less than 10 words.
- I would erase of TE pics that don't fit TE rules (I remember a time, not so far, where controls were more strict and numerous)"

I agree. These ought to be fairly easily put into place with the possible exception of the great amount of TOS interpretation that takes place. I'm still not sure if this alone will help me learn more on TE - which is pretty much what my selfish motivation is.

In the continued spirit of brainstorming (although mine is usually more like a drizzle) it might be nice to have the capability to have a "TE lightbox" option of sorts. What I mean by this is possibly along the lines of what Paul was thinking. Say we have a separate space to post a certain number of images outside the normal TE daily gallery. Then we could invite a few other TE members to post images based on a theme or some such creative, time-bound "assignment". Obviously given the constraints these assigned images aren't usually expected to be stunners so they are only temporarily held in the lightbox area for group critique/comment. If someone really nails it they can always post their lightbox image to the main gallery for open critique or else they age off from the lightbox after a given period. This approach can be a great learning experience and might help get the creative juices flowing. This is how online courses work at some of the sites I use and it really is fun and quite a good learning tool.

Just a thought and quite probably something the administrators would never consider.

I love the smell of points in the morning - smells like, victory.

Cheers!

Bob G.

rushfan2112 12-28-2007 05:33 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
I agree with most of what you say, Pris.

One of my frustrations are photos with no 'note' - especially where the 'story' being told isn't obvious and/or the shot is on the margins of what would normally be accepted on TE / maybe should have been posted to TL. It's not a univeral truism, though. There are some photos where the image really does do the talking and I accept that there are language issues - some of which can' be easily resolved.

I certainly don't post all my photos on TE but I got so hooked into the site that I've found myself shooting for TE - which is a bit worrying. For the future, I've decided to shoot what I want / what I like and, if it fits TE - then fine. If not, fine!

Best wishes to one and all for a happy and prosperous 2008 onwards...

Paul.

rushfan2112 12-28-2007 05:45 AM

Re: Are we getting the most out of TE?
 
Hi Bob.

Like your "braindrizzle".

Admins would obviously have to look after everyone's interests but, as you say, a critiquing gallery (or "Lightbox") might be a good way to avoid the necessity to have to award points and still critique - or be used as a "holding area" before being filtered into the main TE gallery.

Having said that, I wouldn't like to promote anything that restricts personal expression or acts in any way as censorship of the thought / creative process.

I'm pretty happy with the way the sire runs right now but it would be interesting to see the admins 'police' the site a little more rigorously - especially when it comes to notes and critiques.

Best wishes, Paul.


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