Selection: Why is it so hard? And, why do I want to share the ones I didn't select?

April 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I've taken thousands of photos in the past year and about a week ago I was sorting through to select a few for the annual local Camera Club photo contest.  It's a very difficult thing for me to do.  I started to review photos that I have favored in the past.  I looked at my galleries in Zenfolio, especially my Photo-A-Day gallery from the past year.  I created new photo albums, each with a different category according to contest rules....Animals, Nature, Architecture, People, etc...and populated them with ones that I thought had some merit.


Then the hard part....I had to preen down the possibilities into a set of 15, with no more than 3 per category.


So, what I am going to share with you are a few examples of the ones that I didn't select.  Ironically, I am going to write about what I liked the photo first, followed by why I finally decided not to select this particular entry.


My first non-selection is called Timeless.

Vicksta TimelessVicksta Timeless

What I liked...I really liked the composition of this photo.  The solitary watch, with showing its inner workings as well as a little of the chain fob.  The B&W added to the drama of the image.  I shot this during my daughter's friends wedding and the groom was showing off the present that he and all of his groomsmen received.  Fortunately, the light was great and he had his black tux in the background to help frame the watch.  So, there is a little bit of the memory of the situation that entered into the selection process.


Why I didn't select it...The category was people and I was feeling like I was selecting too many in this category that represented just parts of the person rather than the whole person.  Instead of this photo, I submitted a photo of a boy hula hooping and enjoying every minute of it.  It just seemed like a better fit with the category.


I still very much like this image and it is one of my personal favorites from last year's Photo-A-Day.


My next non-select is a photo that I called Synchronicity. Earlier this spring I was using my ultra zoom P&S and wanted to see what it could do.


PAD March 27 Extreme Close-Up of Two DucksPAD March 27 Extreme Close-Up of Two DucksName: Synchronicity

What I liked about this photo:

I love the placement of the two ducks, the water coming off of the female, the juxtaposition of color.  Plus, I wasn't sure what I captured when I took this shot because I was experimenting with using the viewfinder rather than live-view since the light was so intense.  The viewfinder was a bit different from my Canon dslr so I just wasn't sure.  That was revealed to me when I processed the image later that day.


Why I didn't submit this:

I have to be honest, there is a fair amount of cropping here and when I looked at this image on the big screen it just didn't suggest a quality image for a contest.


Love the image; dislike the quality.


My next image is entitled, Rooster in Kauai.  I consider this for one of the bird photos.



What I liked about it:

I loved the diagonal composition and the lovely color against a plain dirt background.  Plus, it was in focus.....often I found the pecking caused a bit of a blur at the beak area.  And it was a fun image to take...imagine me trailing a chicken around to try to avoid background clutter and a crisp image.


What I didn't select it:

Because it was a chicken rather than some cool bird.  Not the best reason, but it was in my mind when I was considering the possible choices.


My next non-selection is entitled, Shaken.  I took this while on a short walk before I was presented a late afternoon-early evening workshop in another city.  Walking often clears my head, plus gives me an opportunity to take a couple of shots.


PAD Oct 30 Leaves against a church wallPAD Oct 30 Leaves against a church wallName: Shaken on a Fall Day

What I liked about it:

I was initially attracted to the brick wall and the colorful leaves that were in front of it.  It was an extremely windy day so I decided to exaggerate the motion with a long shutter speed and some camera motion.  I also thought the cross was a cool element, added some interest to the color.


Why I didn't select it:

To me it was a cool image, but many others would not like the "shaking" aspect of the shot.  I think I actually took a more traditional shot as well, but I personally didn't like it as much.  So, I put myself in the judges shoes and said, No, to this one.


My next now selection is entitled, Self Reflection:  Your Inner Self Showing

What I liked about it:

This is an image that I manipulated using my iPad and PS Touch while traveling home from Italy last year.  It was a fun thing to do on the plane.  I wanted to combine some solarization with original image and play around with some blending options for the various layers that PS Touch has.  I was intrigued by the x-ray type quality of the image and what it suggested about your self, especially when you are talking with another person.


Images and Insights sharing break outImages and Insights sharing break outThis particular image was a blend of a B&W and color using the darken filter in .filterstorm. Color and B&W were previously modified in Snapseed

Why I didn't select it:

It was one that I personally liked, but didn't think it it would have universal appeal.  Even thought the category was manipulated, meaning that you could try all sorts of ways to highly modify the image, I didn't think others would appreciate it in a judged photo contest.


So, that's my story about 5 of my image that I didn't select.  If I reflect on the ultimate why, it had to do with what I thought had more universal appeal for the contest's categories.  When in a contest, it seems like that is an important selection criteria.  Although I still like many of the above images, especially "Timeless", "Self Reflection", and "Synchronicity" and will probably show them a lot in non-contest like settings.  To me, the provide interesting aspects of self-expression.


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