Edit My Photo

On September 18th, I asked my fellow photographers to join me in an artistic experiment. I wanted to see how a single photo could be interpreted by different people, and to do this I presented the test-subjects audience with an unprocessed photograph and asked them to “Edit My Photo“.

I knew that each participant would produce a different photo via post-processing, but how different was unknown. I must say that I’m shocked and amazed at the diversity and creativity of these results. The photographs on this page clearly show the boundless possibilities of artistic interpretation, and it all spawned from a single image.

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Read below the images for more discussion of results AND for part 2 of this experiment — everybody’s invited.

Before going any further, I’d like to sincerely thank all of the people who participated in this project so willingly and enthusiastically. Seriously gang, this wouldn’t have happened without each and every one of you. Every photo on this page is an integral part of this project. And a huge thanks again to my Grandfather, Ron McCoy, who gave me this great idea for a project. Now… on with the discussion.

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS IMAGE?

You may be asking yourself “Why the heck did this guy pick such a cruddy photo to run the project with?” Well, the image was completely intentional on my part. I literally have hundreds of unprocessed images in the “To-Do” pile, but this one presented unique opportunities for the project.

  • Technical Flaws
    The horizon is crooked, there are dust spots, it’s not perfectly exposed, and there are probably other things wrong with it too. I was curious to see how people would either “fix” these flaws, overlook them, or incorporate them into their final image.
  • Lack of Color
    The image contains color — it’s just not as vibrant as most of us would like to start with. I wanted to see how people would deal with this, and how color affects the mood of the image.
  • Foreign Objects
    There’s a string of buoys in the water, and I was interested in how people would deal with something that seemed out of place.
  • Simple Subject
    The composition is so simple in this image that it opens itself up for a number of interpretations. The overall mood of the processed photo would be highly dependent on the participants.

So basically, I picked the image because it would present the project participants with many processing options. I also wanted to convey (with these results) that typically overlooked images may actually have some life in them — you just have to be creative and open your mind to “out of the box” options.

WHY ARE THE RESULTS SO AMAZING?

The photos above represent vastly different artistic styles, each of which is as unique as their creators. The combined effort is much greater than any one person would spend on a single photo, and the results are far more creative and diverse than any one person could achieve. Some of the participants are photographers who I’ve been following for some time now, and I can certainly see their artistic style showing through even though they didn’t take the photo.

This experiment further affirms my own beliefs that photography is 50% capture, 50% processing. You may not hold the same views (I already know I’m going to hear about this comment from the “purists”), but you can’t completely dismiss the power of post-processing. When it comes to the artistic side of photography, Photoshop and other similar software is a vital tool of expression.

The main reason I think these results are so amazing is because I gave no instructions or boundaries as to what to do with the original image, other than “process the photo until you’re satisfied”. What I got back was a huge range of technique and style. Amazing.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?

I’ve learned a lot watching this project take it’s course, and I’m sure that the participants learned a few things too. But I think there are many key things that all of us can take away from this.

  • There’s More Than One Way to Process a Photo
    In fact, there may be an infinite number of ways, you just have to seek them out and have the creative drive to try different Photoshop techniques.
  • Artistic Style Counts
    Your own style can show through with post-processing just as much as it can in taking the photo.
  • It’s Not the Software, It’s the Artist
    A ton of different software packages were used in these creations. Find something that works for you and develop your techniques.
  • Give Your Photos a Second Chance
    Just because a photo initially looks unusable, doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. A larger processing skillset will give you more options and allow you to use more of your images.
  • Art is Subjective, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
    Everybody has a different taste for art and photography. Don’t be so quick to judge the work of others as “bad” just because it’s different than you would have done it. Instead, study their work and try to understand what the artist has conveyed. Being less critical and judgmental will allow you to enjoy a much wider spectrum of art.

So study the photos presented here, explore the techniques that were used, ask yourself why you’re drawn to certain images, and see if you can find an understanding of why the artist arrived where they did. There’s a lot more to learn than I’ve listed here, but you’ll have to find it yourself.

PARTICIPATE IN PART 2 OF THIS EXPERIMENT

Watching one image transform into multiple works of art has been absolutely amazing, but I’d like to take things a step further. What is it that makes certain works of art more appealing than others? Are there any patterns or consistencies to the more “popular” photos? To give us some insight to these questions, I need everybody’s help again.

I want you to list your top 3 favorites from the images above. You can vote for up to 3, but no more — the results will be more interesting if you list 3, but you can also list 1 or 2. Each image is numbered from left to right, top to bottom. If you hover your mouse over an image, you should see the little text-tip pop up that shows the number and the artist’s name. Vote by leaving a comment on this page with the numbers for your selections, and feel free to tell us what made you vote for them. I know there are a lot of them, but seriously try to view all of them at their higher resolution by following their links — there are a lot of subtleties that can’t be seen in the thumbnails.

I tried to set this up with my usual poll plugin, but it didn’t like the images very well. Besides, I think voting in the comments will work out better because we can vote for more than just one. So cast your votes now — I’ll tally up the results and discuss my findings next Tuesday (10-23-07). Oh yeah, the most voted for artist will receive $50 in cash or giftcards (I’ll let the winner decide).

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UPDATE: The votes have been counted, and the winner announced. See the results from this project.

208 responses


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Obviously I like my own shot best, but I guess I shouldn’t vote for myself eh?

I really like number 17. It is a common idea to split images into three for hanging on walls this way. I have only really considered my photographs digitally so this one makes me imaging it on my wall, which I can.

I like number 24 as it very neutral and shows up the detail on the bird well.

Finally I like number 3. I feels a little like 60s home movies, or the psychic visions that that they put in films to show flashbacks of traumatic events, and I like that.

October 16, 2007 2:08 am

I – (7)
II – (17)
III – (21)

October 16, 2007 2:09 am

Hey Andrew, thanks for giving us your thoughts on your top 3 faves (and for being so noble as to refrain from voting for yourself). I’m really interested in seeing where this goes.

October 16, 2007 2:09 am

I – (17) the split is an awesome idea, done well although I may be ignoring the actual colour of the photo.
II – (20) – the rich colours of the shot
III – (7) – the sharp monochrome a completely different feel

(i ignored mine obviously…)

October 16, 2007 2:46 am

I like U. Linder’s best. Brief explanation post at my blog. Thanks for staging this project. :)

October 16, 2007 6:48 am

About me first (how’s the for ego) – I’ve got little to no experience in post-processing photos; what I’ve done has always been pretty poor. And, I typically don’t have hand for art & design.

#17 by Felix Willeke – I’ve a huge fan of the triptych painting/layouts and had never considered it for digital photography before. This has really opened my mind to some ideas with photos of mine.

#16 by Mario Wagner / #12 by Phill Price – I like the different cropping and focus of the photos. Though, for me #16 wins out – I like the sharp & grainy aspect of the photo.

#7 by Hitesh Sawlani – I think this photo (among others) do a good job of isolating the bird’s details while softening the background.

All in all, looking at the pictures as a group – I’m definately drawn to the photos where the bouys have been eliminated. Having them into the picture pulls my eye to them and away from the bird — while it helps to get my eyes to the background, I find that I focus on them than the sky & water.

Anyway – great work, everyone. It’s been very interesting to watch!

-Doug

October 16, 2007 7:32 am

I now wish I had done it so differently! Although, I have to say that my post-processing techniques are really how I do my photos and it fit in with my style. That being said, here are my picks:

#11 – I like the focus on the bird and the tones. It really gives it a different feel from the others.

#13 – The vignetting at the top takes away from that bright sky, takes the emphasis off the buoys, and places it on the bird and its reflection.

#17 – The triptych gives it a different feel and sets it apart from the rest.

Really well done to everyone. I’m in awe of all of the talent.

October 16, 2007 10:08 am

Well, I’ll certainly maintain the decorum of not voting for my own (24)!

However, in a way the ones I have voted for do kind of reinforce the principles I applied in my own edit. So I’ve generally not much liked those that have very strongly distorted (whoops, sorry, I mean adjusted!) the colours in the original shot; those that have introduced discontinuities in the tonal range; and those that have vignetted the image, or cropped it in ways that (I think) have weakened rather than strengthened the composition.

So, my votes are:

#23: Everything Stefan did has improved the image (straightened horizon, removed buoys, B&W conversion, etc.), but nothing has undermined it. The result emphasises the cold loneliness of the bird.

#13: Martin has altered the colours, but in a way that remains totally believable. His darkening of the sky adds a sense of threat. Finally he has markedly improved the tones and definition of the bird itself.

#14: Kevin’s is I guess a bit similar to mine, especially in the cropping. The vertical crop, making the bird look into the picture space, improves the composition, I think, which was why I did something nearly the same.

This has been a great exercise, and I’ll be fascinated to hear what others think!

October 16, 2007 11:39 am

Wow, these are some amazing results. Too bad I didn’t have time to work more on my version of editing your photo. I hope you can organize more similar projects in future.

My favourites are:
#1 – Andrew you did an Amazing job there!
#21 – Ulrich, you managed to achieve what I was trying to get with my touch ups.
#26 – Brandon, I really like the old look of your photo

Obviously, I also like Brian’s version, but I guess you can’t give a prize to yourself :-)
Kudos to everyone – great work, dugg!

October 16, 2007 11:48 am

My favorites:
12
17
23

They’re all neat though, and by tomorrow I may have an entirely different set of favorites. :)

October 16, 2007 12:50 pm

I – 1 (closest what i would have done with it)

II – 3 (love the DoF change by blurring the background – way to emphasize the subject)

III – 17 (If i were going to hang it behind my sofa (at a beach house) this is the best treatment)

October 16, 2007 2:29 pm

I – (17)
II – (22)
III – (1)

October 16, 2007 2:31 pm

7

October 16, 2007 2:37 pm

Lots of good stuff but here are my favorites-

6
3
11

October 16, 2007 2:40 pm

I 6
II 17
III 15

A great project, btw!

October 16, 2007 2:47 pm

6, 13, 17

October 16, 2007 2:49 pm

#3 is my favorite by far.
#17 is also great, but I’m not sure where a line should be drawn… what if I cut it into 9 pieces? Or 109 pieces? What if I rearranged the pieces? What if I cut them into a circle? Is it still merely a photo or something more?

October 16, 2007 2:50 pm

3
6
15

you should write an article on how to do that :)

October 16, 2007 2:51 pm

I – 21
II – 28
III – 12

October 16, 2007 2:53 pm

i like #3 because i think it’s close to what i would have done. i have some surf pictures with very similar colors, so it looks right to me. and i like #17 because it’s not something i would have even considered, but it adds a level of art and composition to the image.

October 16, 2007 3:02 pm

3, 7, 17

It was really hard to choose which three I liked best. So many good techniques were used. Everyone did such a great job.

October 16, 2007 3:05 pm

No favorite, but a comment: I used to work as an editorial art director for a major metropolitan newspaper (through the 90s), and the photo staff would have had an aneurism over this. They wanted photos to run as cropped in the camera, without any adjustments but repro. They just about shit when we started doing cutouts. Something about reality, truthfulness and journalism. They thought people still trusted photos to be “real,” and that that was important. I guess we don’t have to pretend any more.

October 16, 2007 3:07 pm

1. 17
2. 3
3. 18

October 16, 2007 3:07 pm

At yet all the results still suck.

Digital photography have ruined art as we see it. Take something crap, and bend it like Beckham, and you have something Arty??

Crap is crap – end of story.

October 16, 2007 3:08 pm

Sorry you feel that way. It’s too bad you couldn’t enjoy it like everybody else.

October 16, 2007 3:09 pm

I – 13
II – 3
III – 7

October 16, 2007 3:11 pm

17, 22, 28

October 16, 2007 3:11 pm

The Hitesh editing is my favorite.

October 16, 2007 3:16 pm

13 I like the atmosphere
3 i like the colors
7 I like the composition

it can’t be done in one picture…..

October 16, 2007 3:18 pm

This is a fantastic idea! I would love to try this with some photomanipulators.

October 16, 2007 3:19 pm

#1 is my favorite, I love the coloring and detail.
#11 comes in second for the atmosphere, I can feel the cold water just looking at this picture. I also love the recovered detail.
#3 comes in third for the composition and atmosphere & simulation of narrow DOF.

Nice work everybody!

October 16, 2007 3:21 pm

#23: I like the fact that the ocean seems bigger here. That we can look further.

#13: Because of the gloomyness.

#03: The seagull is the most important here, and nothing distracts from it.

October 16, 2007 3:21 pm

1. 17
2. 3
3. 1

I would hang 17 on my living room wall. Very nice.

Also, points were deducted for entries that didn’t correct the crooked horizon. Though, I did like the way 22 exaggerated this.

Good idea Brian.

-Al

October 16, 2007 3:22 pm

#1 – it was an unconventional edit, and added colour without losing realism
#17 – probably very subjective, but i felt that the frames were a good addition to the picture
#22 – tilting + recolouring brought out the bird

October 16, 2007 3:24 pm

1 13
2 17
3 27

I like some drama but with a naturalistic feel to color for a nature photo like this. A lot of great and interesting results here. I’m a little surprised (but not disappointed) that no one went real crazy with cropping or effects, I guess designers would have edited the image a lot differently than photographers…

October 16, 2007 3:26 pm

1. #7
2. #3
3. #26

October 16, 2007 3:33 pm

great photo style list
i love
3rd and 10th ones… :D

October 16, 2007 3:40 pm

My favorites are 7, 13 and 22.

7 – perfect crop!!! beautiful B&W, nice contrast and detail on the bird and its reflection. makes you look in the direction bird’s looking. simply stunning.

13 – i love its misty/rainy/kinda-depressing atmosphere; great color palette

22 – quite radical shot, but done with taste (especially cropping); beautiful colors; great bird placement;

October 16, 2007 3:47 pm

3 – focus on gull, subtle but interesting color
16- focus on gull, stark contrast, nostalgic color tone
1- striking color combination

October 16, 2007 3:48 pm

1. 17 – interesting arrangement, nice color, calming mood

2. 13 – possibly the best processing job, removed bouys, increased focus on bird, great contrast, & dark stormy skies.

3. 27 – The high contrast & blueish black of the picture gave it a great feel, but I would have corrected the horizon.

October 16, 2007 3:59 pm

first of all, it’s amazing how post-processing a photo can create a certain feel or tone for a photo. when i look at some of them, it’s as though i’m looking a deserted beach in the winter. yet, when i view others, it’s as if i’m looking at a tropical beach. so with that being said, here are my favorites (in no particular order):

#3 – this one did a great job of really isolating and emphasizing what they wanted the subject of the photo to be.

#4 – i definitely like and appreciate the natural feel to this editing.

#11 – i’m a sucker for symmetrical photo dimensions. not to mention a sucker for those shades of teal as well.

October 16, 2007 4:01 pm

1st: 3
2nd: 21
3rd: 17

October 16, 2007 4:06 pm

1. #17
2. #20
3. #21

I would totally hang #17 on my wall. Even though it didn’t make my top 3 (after much deliberating) I think that #7 might be the best on strictly technical merit. Great jobs all around.

October 16, 2007 4:09 pm

17, followed by 3 and 24 in no particular order.
Before I even saw the results, I thought of a triptych and bang! there it was. I guess I like the bird-in-the-corner look, and I wanted some subtle color; I just couldn’t decide how focused I wanted it.

October 16, 2007 4:12 pm

First of all I will have to say that, too many of you are focusing on the idea that post processing can turn a crappy image into something good. This is not true.

The foundation for every powerful and thought provoking image is the content… If you do not have that, then it’s just eye candy. Nothing more. And in that sense, it does not have any artistic merit to it besides technical ability.

Judging from some of the post work on these photos, it’s obvious that you just don’t “get it”.

Some of the work done is obviously no different than what would have happened in a darkroom; however, others are obviously overzealous photoshop addicts being thrown onto display here.

Dont take this the wrong way. Having skills in photoshop is great, but there comes a line that you must draw between “Man, with enough photoshop I can make any photo look good!”. You can make it visually appealing… but I challenge you to make it actually have a deeper meaning beyond “oh… that looks visually interesting…”

Again I go back to content. The image itself has to have a foundation to work upon to really and truly have any meaning to it in any way. Obviously the image above is not thought provoking. It does not deal with ideas of humanity and emotion. It is simply a photograph of a bird on a beach. If thats what you like to photograph, then great… but dont expect people to honestly believe that there is anything more to the photograph; nor should you believe that you will make a piece of art from an image like this just because of it’s post processing.

Now, taking it the other direction. If you were to actually come up with an idea how this image (and others of a series) relate to something much “larger” in the sense of our relationship with the world, ourselves, or others then you can bet that there actually might find poeple who take true interest in the photo.

Sorry, I’m just trying to give a more indepth reasoning as to why the poster Billy feels the way he does. As obviously he has understanding of photography and art in general.

October 16, 2007 4:13 pm

The photos I liked the most either took the color down farther, amplified the quirks, or somehow roughened and naturalized the original image.

I see how it all starts with the shot–there’s only so much after processing will buy you.

My blog link above shows a photo I took yesterday of a similar subject. You have to look closely to see the bird.

October 16, 2007 4:14 pm

Oh, I forgot. I will vote for #s 8,11,14(&17, which three on its own).

Cool project, great writing.

October 16, 2007 4:18 pm

I – 11
II – 22
III – 17

October 16, 2007 4:25 pm

1) #3
2) #16
3) #11

October 16, 2007 4:29 pm

1. #3
2. #22
3. #1

October 16, 2007 4:31 pm

1 – #27
2 – #16
3 – #3

October 16, 2007 4:34 pm

i – 12
ii – 3
iii – 27

October 16, 2007 4:44 pm

#3, #7, #14

#3 is my favorite..by far the best..interesting project!

October 16, 2007 4:48 pm

Brian –
Care for somewhat more daring interpretations? Grant Dixon has been hosting a Photoshop Challenge site for some time now that allows for unlimited use of the ‘starting point’ image. I’m sure the crew there would take this image in some different directions. Grant’s site is at:
http://www.cavesofice.org/~grant/Challenge/index.html

October 16, 2007 4:52 pm

11, 3 and 6

October 16, 2007 5:03 pm

@Jonathan Moore: “First of all I will have to say that, too many of you are focusing on the idea that post processing can turn a crappy image into something good. This is not true.”

Actually, I’m not sure that anyone is labouring under that misapprehension. The challenge Brian set up was simply to wonder how a group of photographers might try and improve an image by post-processing. None of us is pretending to be an alchemist, turning base metal into gold!

Whilst it is patently ridiculous to suppose the post-processing can make a poor image great, it’s equally silly to rush to the other extreme and say that all post-processing is pointless. This challenge is simply a technical exercise: we are not deluding ourselves that we are creating art.

You say you are explaining Billy’s “obvious … understanding of photography and art in general”. All you are actually doing is giving credence to Billy’s pretentiousness. And excusing his utter lack of manners in the process.

October 16, 2007 5:07 pm

J. Moore said above, “Obviously the image above is not thought provoking. It does not deal with ideas of humanity and emotion.”

Aside from the fact that I think it is arbitrary to artificially limit good photography to “humanity and emotion,” still there is humanity in every photo. I’m not a photographer myself, but my father is. People see far more about who my father is less by looking at a photograph of him, and more by looking at the photos he takes. We look at them, we interpret the reason he took a particular photo, and we realize the photos are a mirror reflecting him.

When we enjoy a photo taken by a someone, it is often because that photo also reflects us as well. We see things we like, so the reflection of the photographer turns out to look similar to our own reflection. Sometimes we see things we don’t like, or had never thought of, so the photo is thought provoking in the opposite way. The reflection of the photographer that we see doesn’t look like us at all.

Yet you say, “Obviously the image above is not thought provoking. It does not deal with ideas of humanity and emotion.” Unless someone thought of that for you, then the image was thought provoking for you. And if being thought provoking is something that might make a good photo, then by your words this is a good photo. You just don’t like it.

You like “humanity and emotion.” You like the mirror of photography to reflect back a photographer that looks like you… one who likes to take pictures portraying these favorites of yours. And some of us like to look at photos that reflect photographers (or in this case photo manipulators, and any person who develops his photos is one) that look like us.
And I really like some of the takes on the photo above :)

October 16, 2007 5:08 pm

1 – #3
2 – #27
3 – #13

October 16, 2007 5:10 pm

Jonathan, I agree, and at the same time disagree.

You can’t make a photograph without merit into one with merit purely through processing, that much is true, but similarly a photograph, or indeed any art, will not necessarily be found to have merit by all.

I had an image of this, which I aimed for, which was to do with humanity and emotion (mine) but that is a definition of art which I don’t necessarily share.

The fact that others may see only an image of a bird means only that they are not me. It doesn’t affect the merit of the photograph.

Having said that if I had shot it I would have discarded it. Perhaps that would have been my error, perhaps not, but for the practice and the fun it was a worthy shot.

October 16, 2007 5:15 pm

best : 1, 6, 16

October 16, 2007 5:19 pm

#1: 17
#2: 3
#3: 12

October 16, 2007 5:24 pm

1. 4
2. 9
3. 28

October 16, 2007 5:25 pm

1
3
17

October 16, 2007 5:37 pm

1. 17
2. 13
3. 1

Reasons:
Number 17 is good (my favorite) because it did a few things- it corrected the things that you said were “wrong” with the photo in the first place; the horizon, the floats, the color, the exposure. It also presented the final image in the most imaginative way of all the submissions, and in a way that plays to the “rule of thirds” aesthetic.

Number 13 is good because it also fixes the “wrong” things, and also brings out a different tonal range than the other submissions, without going black and white.

Number 1 is good because I thought it was the best out of the “full color” images, one that borders on HDR which pushes it towards almost a painterly image. Not normally my cuppa, but still good.

October 16, 2007 5:43 pm

7
13
6

October 16, 2007 5:46 pm

1. 17 Nicely breaks up the long horizon, so does bird
2. 6 Vivid layers of colour, portrait size fits well
3. 19 Single streak of colour makes this photo

The rest are pretty bland and unimaginative.

October 16, 2007 5:55 pm

1: No. 1 (Andrew Rickmann) – Absolutely beautiful. Such warmth in the colours and still the picture reminds me of a cold autumn morning at the sea. I would definitely put this on my wall if it was big enough for it.
2: No. 16 (Mario Wagner) – I love the pixel-effect and the colour gives a totally different feel than no. 1.
3: No. 3 (Susheel Chandradhas) – The only picture I chose with a horizon. In the other pictures it strained the eyes with such a fuzzy horizon, but in this one I like the fuzzy effect, probably because there’s less of it and because it is the entire picture (except sea gull) that is fuzzy giving it less contrast.

October 16, 2007 6:22 pm

Ok, so Perhaps my wording with “Obviously this photo is not interesting” are harsh words.

The point that I am trying to make is that if you are looking to be a photographer whose images stand above the rest your photos have got to have something more to it than simply visually appealing.

Yes, I do not find the photo that interesting. Yes, that is just my opinion; however, the reason I do not find it as interesting as others is because I can go to google images or flickr images and find five hundred photos of practically the same thing, composed in almost the same way. While It is true that I can find vast differences in the way it is processed,
it’s still the same thing. There is an old proverb/quote that says something along the lines of, “you can call a duck a cat as many times as you want, it still doesnt make it a cat. ” That’s how I look at it.

@Steve… “Whilst it is patently ridiculous to suppose the post-processing can make a poor image great, it’s equally silly to rush to the other extreme and say that all post-processing is pointless. This challenge is simply a technical exercise: we are not deluding ourselves that we are creating art.”

I never claimed that there was anything wrong with post-processing. Any artist who wouldnt do any post processing to their photos are simply limiting themselves. All I am saying is that there comes a point when you are simply trying to make something good out out of something that really can never be. (Not necessarily in this case… I am speaking just in general)

Half of the photographs I see by “photographers” are for a lack of better words, “posted to hell”. This ultimately takes away from the image and idea… unless there is nothing more to the photo than the visual aspect, and in that case, the post work is all that is going to give it anything of interest at all…

Ultimately it is up to the artist to aim for something more to his or her artwork beyond simply the visual appeal of it. Otherwise it’s creating something for “the hell of it”.

My point is that as artists and photographers your goal should be more than just “capturing pretty images”. Give it something more. Make it thought provoking or an examination of something deeper.

October 16, 2007 6:29 pm

24 – 16 – 11

Mainly becuase I am going through a phase of using aspect ratios as an important parameter in communicating the image. Interstingly, I probably would have cut out the seagull completely and try do draw out an abstract from the bouys and waves.

October 16, 2007 6:38 pm

1. 21
2. 12
3. 1

October 16, 2007 6:52 pm

1. 12
2. 3
3. 11

October 16, 2007 6:54 pm

Jonathan, Casey, Andrew, and Steve:

That’s quite a discussion you’ve started. Just keep it civil, and remember that the whole world can see your comments. I think it’s a good exercise to discuss topics such as this, but keep in mind that you’re talking about the efforts of other human beings.

To all the voters:

Wow! I can’t believe how many votes there are! It’s going to take me forever to tally the results. Though, I can see a few patterns forming…

And to the project participants:

Again, great work! If you’re reading through the comments on this page or on the Digg page, just remember to take any negative comments lightly. I don’t know why, but some people feel the need to stamp out the efforts of others. There are far more positive comments out there, so that should tell you something about your work.

October 16, 2007 7:47 pm

Jonathan, I think you are missing a big point of this experiment in order to assert your feelings about true art. The purpose of this really doesn’t seem to make a picture that is technically imperfect and better it with technology (I actually like for the artistic point of view of the picture and not the technical beauty of the picture itself; a bird looking lonely across a beach is a pretty interesting metaphor for many peoples live. And for how many people is the horizon a scary prospect that isn’t all in line and perfect, but a crooked horizon of if’s and then’s) it’s about creativity.

It’s about taking something with technical flaws and using your insight to make the best image in your mind that you can of it, and beyond that, to interpret it in YOUR way. I hope you don’t view life in its entirety the way you so subjectively view “ART”. This is a discussion that I have had with many hardcore artists who think their perspective on a piece of their art (and others works) is the only one that matters; art shouldn’t be solely about people understanding the art the way you see it as the artist. You should view it in your own way and appreciate it for the reasons it touches you, because no artists vision is going to translate into the same interpretation for all it’s viewers, and it shouldn’t.

Art is about evoking emotion and feeling and thoughts in people, not about interpreting it in a strict one person interpretation only view. Which this experiment truly highlights.

That being said, I think this was a great experiment, and I will refer this thread to soooo many people who appreciate art in all kinds of ways.

My fave’s:

11 – although not a big fan of dramatic color changes, I love the detail given to the bird more than the ocean in this one. And the fact that the bird and the view so close to the bird is so clear, but the far off view is blurred surely does resonate in my life, so wth, that’s how I will feel it right now.

12 – The only one that focused on the bird; I like this because the bird was not a sideglance imo in this picture. It’s importance seems to resonate in this one. And it just rocks. : )

Original photo – since when has art been technically perfect? I mean, do you remember cubism? Have you seen surrealist art? These are not perfect in their “horizon” lines, but they are still art if you introspectively examine them. And, I think it’s awesome that the challenged was based on an “imperfect” picture. Aren’t we all? ; )

October 16, 2007 8:11 pm

1st — 16, nice use of duotone-like processing
2nd — 6, good color/saturation editing
3rd — 12, good re-composition to grab primary element of image

October 16, 2007 8:21 pm

Brittney, you just made my day. This is one of the best comments I’ve seen on this blog. I think you “got” the point of the project more than I even did. I hope to see you around here again.

October 16, 2007 8:15 pm

Oh, I’ll be around! Keep doing what you are doing Brian, it’s exceptional and appreciated by (obviously) many, many people. : )

And to all of you artists who submitted pictures, PROPS!!! I truly had to look through the group of them multiple times to narrow it down.

October 16, 2007 8:33 pm

16 – I like that the gradient between the high contrast of the foreground and the blur of the background is unified by noise.

October 16, 2007 8:35 pm

By exceptional, besides your own work, I mean encouraging so many people to think outside the box and do the unconventional and to not be afraid to try something different. I see you screen these (or someone, lol), so this isn’t really meant to be put up on the blog, just wanted you to know how cool it is and we need more people like you out there. : )

October 16, 2007 8:37 pm

1. 7
2. 23
3. 1

October 16, 2007 8:46 pm

1st: 22
2nd: 3
3rd: 11

Well done everyone – there are some great shots there!

October 16, 2007 9:05 pm

its nice to see so much black and white, what creativity

October 16, 2007 9:09 pm

1 – Concentrates the visuals of being alone at the beach at sunset (or sunrise I suppose)
22 – The two colours in the waves and the colour of the sand are beautiful.
17 – Don’t really like the colours, but I have to admit the ‘dirtiness’ combined with the three parts evoke a sense of nostalgia and even loneliness.

October 16, 2007 9:12 pm

Thanks so much Brittney! I hope I’ve made the same connection with a few others too. I’m a big fan of creativity, inspiration, and open-mindedness. I’m seeing photography (in general) take many different directions at present time, and this is the direction I’m choosing to go with it.

As for screening the comments… I just moderate the first one to keep the spammers out. Once you’re in, you’re in.

October 16, 2007 8:40 pm

1st – #23 Surf still there but softened to emphasize the gull and his solitude on the beach. Horizon was straightened, something I always look for.
2nd – #12 Simplicity
3rd – #6 I’m a sucker for these colors and a vertical format.

October 16, 2007 9:58 pm

Congratulations Brian on running such a fascinating and successful project. We photographers who entered owe you a debt of gratitude, not just for posting and promoting our photos, nor even for bringing us together for a wonderfully social group project, but perhaps most importantly raising the issuse of the artistic merit of digital photo processing so effectively.

Like almost everyone else I’m impressed by the diversity of creative vision, and I had a hard time narrowing down to my three favourites. I’m glad you didn’t limit us to one! Here they are in submission order:

3 – Striking use of colour and crop. Together with the creative artificial deapth of field effect, this photo creates a strong emotional connection with me.

11 – This was a very tough call for me, between this an a couple of other entries. I was torn between the aqua tone being a gimmick or a real contribution to the image. Leaving the colour aside, the crop and contrast were technically brilliant. In the end, this interpretation’s unique charm won me over.

14 – I love the exposure on this one. It draws the viewer’s attention squarely to the bird as the subject. I also absolutely love the pale blue tones throughout the image, which give it a dream-like feel. My only issue with the photo is the buoy right at the edge of the crop. This is a jarring distraction and really hurts the composition. I would have either cropped to keep it out of shot, further into the shot, or cloned it out all together.

Congratulations also Brian, on surviving the Digg :) I look forward with excitement to your next project!

October 16, 2007 10:18 pm

Here’s my vote:

22 – I really like the perspective. He was the only one to “think” about tilting the picture so this is my number 1

12 – At first I was a bit disappointed to see that noone had taken the seagull and its reflection alone. But I guess this one is close enough to what I have in mind so I’ll rank this one #2.

1 – I like the warm colors because it is in contrast with the loneliness of the seagull. I could have taken 15 but it’s too monochromatic to my taste.

Thanks for this article. It’s fun! I really enjoyed the experiment, the conclusions, and am looking forward to reading the conclusion of this one next week!!

October 16, 2007 11:01 pm

Thanks for the insights Neil. And as for the Digg traffic… no problem at all with my new Host. Funny you bring up future projects too — I’m actually in the process of brewing one up with another photography blogger. Kind of a joint idea/effort thing. Maybe we’ll launch it in a few weeks or so.

October 16, 2007 11:00 pm

(in order)

#22 – I really love the unique angle and really gorgeous colors in this one.
#27 – I like the contrast, and the not-quite-monochrome aspect to it.
#13 – I love the dark sky and cool colors on this one. It makes the world look bigger and the bird look smaller.

October 16, 2007 11:13 pm

1. 16
2. 21
3. 1

October 16, 2007 11:15 pm

#3
#7
#11

October 16, 2007 11:44 pm

6,16,17

October 17, 2007 12:35 am

3 – I’m a sucker for shallow dof
7 – crisp b&w, nice crop on the bird, cutting out extraneous fluff. simple.
17 – the triad is intriguing

October 17, 2007 12:42 am

#16
#15
#21

October 17, 2007 2:43 am

1. 14
2. 26
3. 3

October 17, 2007 3:18 am

1.#1 so worm
2.#11 so cold
3.#22 so different

October 17, 2007 4:02 am

Just wanted to say I really like what you’ve done here, I found the page via Digg, thanks for sharing

My favourite is 17

October 17, 2007 4:03 am

11
6
16

October 17, 2007 4:25 am

#11 for sure the best composition and colors. The bird has the perfect natural colors

#7 good colors but it has no life in it

#22 nice angle

October 17, 2007 4:49 am

What a discussion… and I totally agree with the comments of Brittney. There is nothing to add.
By reading the comments and their justification and by looking at the diverse results of the contest it seems more and more clear that I can’t vote for any of the pictures, sorry. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like certain treatments of the subject but I would vote for my personal view on the subject. That wouldn’t be fair…
I had a lot of fun by processing the picture and by looking at the results. Thanks Brian!

October 17, 2007 6:59 am

1. 12 – reflection of the seagull
2. 15 – The lonely bird and a sunset effect
3. 17 – The “framing” is interesting

October 17, 2007 7:20 am

I love 17 and number one!
Great experiment very clever.

October 17, 2007 7:23 am

I – (11)
II – (17)
III – (6)

October 17, 2007 7:26 am

1, 12, 28 in no particular order

October 17, 2007 7:46 am

9, 17, 22

October 17, 2007 9:21 am

The whole “sraightening the horizon” issue is a funny one. I had considered it. But then I thought – the horizon is rarely that straight, especially when standing on a sandy beach that undulates. I love all of the different interpretations. It just shows how we can see the world in different ways and yet all come together. These kinds of projects are great for discussion and community building.

October 17, 2007 9:28 am

16, 21, 6

Very interesting experiment!

October 17, 2007 9:53 am

I. – 25,26,27,28 (cant decide, thumbnails too small, sorry)
II. – 21
III. – 16

October 17, 2007 10:50 am

#3
#21
#25

October 17, 2007 10:57 am

3
11
26

October 17, 2007 11:31 am

1
3
11

Not necessarily in that order.

October 17, 2007 11:57 am

16,19,7

October 17, 2007 1:15 pm

28, 17, 1 in no particular order

October 17, 2007 2:02 pm

6
9
17

It was hard to choose, there are a lot of good ones.

October 17, 2007 2:46 pm

My top 3, no particular order:

9
17
25

October 17, 2007 3:22 pm

1st: 22
2nd: 17
3rd: 15

October 17, 2007 3:53 pm

My top three are
1) 19 by Adrian Ahlhaus
2) 1 by Andrew Rickman
3) by Libeco

October 17, 2007 4:00 pm

Nobody likes mine… Oh wait, there are two votes… :)

In order of preference: 28, 13, 17

And by the way, to all the commentators that were implying that post-processing should not even be tried if the original is under perfect, welcome to the new digital age.

As I think all people who have participated realized, there was no way to turn this image into perfection. But, as a technical exercise it was great. It could really pull out some very nice ideas. Call it digital art if you will, but processing is an integral part of photography nowadays.

October 17, 2007 4:02 pm

Sorry, forgot to list #6 by Libeco as my third choice

October 17, 2007 4:03 pm

13 – Gommel – I can’t read his discussion BUT what I especially like is that he has given the gull something to look at! Namely, a gathering storm. Darkening the sky to suggest this makes the picture dramatic, gives it an implicit narrative.

17 – Willeke – I thought the triptych very well executed.

Things I do NOT like: vignettes! Why do people think a lens problem is interesting? If you want to direct the viewer’s eye, do it with the composition. And those who think evening or sunset water would reflect magenta and green: you should get outdoors more. (And yes, my monitor is calibrated.)

October 17, 2007 6:58 pm

7, 6, and 17. Fantastic idea I love the photos.

October 17, 2007 7:50 pm

16,17,27

October 17, 2007 8:18 pm

#1 – 6 – Color is important.
#2 – 16 – Feels raw.
#3 – 28 – This one is just nice.

October 17, 2007 9:27 pm

3, 7, 11

Not much excuse for some of the lengths people went to whilst leaving the horizon distractingly crooked.

October 17, 2007 10:29 pm

first choice is 17 — i’m currently rereading scott mccloud, and i love how the lines make it all panelly and comic-y, and thus narrative.

tied are 15&1 = orange always draws my eye, whether a touch of it or far too much.

(i also like 28 — just wanted to mention that.)

October 17, 2007 10:33 pm

22, 17, 13

October 18, 2007 2:26 am

4,11,20 no particular order – great idea!

October 18, 2007 3:57 am

great article, thanks…

October 18, 2007 5:55 am

#1 & #22. I like the results of both. The color tones of number 1 give me a feel for the scene and the angle on number 22 adds something that wasn’t there to begin with giving the image a ‘newness’.

October 18, 2007 6:33 am

General Note: As I am new here and could not find a general posting forum, I just wanted to share my thoughts on some of your individual image sites. I couldn’t view them all as the time wasn’t there, but if what I found is any indication, you all have incredible talent.
A: Dawn – http://www.girl-inchoate.com/ – awesome stuff.
1. I love the car (beautiful) on the opening page.
2. Primeval is very well framed and I love the feel. Nice work.

B: Gabriel – http://www.10xzoom.ro/ – love the style.
1. Colors are crisp and clear.
2. ‘Halp’ is hilarious!

C: Stephen Brown – http://www.hautevienne.moonfruit.com/
1. I love the ‘Le Dorat, Capitale de la basse Marche’

D: Kyle Little: http://www.pbase.com/littlekc
1. Colorful. Well organized site. Love ‘night shots’.

These are just a few that I could get to. You all express yourselves in different ways through your photograhy. I’m just glad I stumbled upon this blog. Thanks again for sharing your wonderous creations! Kirk

October 18, 2007 7:07 am

I finally decided…. what a difficult task…
1) 13
2) 1
3) 22
4) 17 (as an honorable mention)
Congrats all!

October 18, 2007 7:11 am

I – 11
II – 1
III – 28

October 18, 2007 7:22 am

Very interesting project alright!

my votes go to…

1) 11 – I like the addition of the teal tone, the squarish format and how the crop brings the focus to the bird and the shadow.

2) 17 – I do like the splitting of the photo, the tint and the grain…

3) 27 – I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for contrast and I think that almost going monochromatic with the blueish tint makes for a striking photo.

Can I say these three are in no particular order?

October 18, 2007 8:23 am

1)3
2)2
3)28

October 18, 2007 11:48 am

1
4
20

October 18, 2007 1:36 pm

Excellent Experiment!

#3 DOF, Colour tones & cropping (serene look)
#7 (B&W, crispness of the feathered friend)
#17 (Law of 3, I can imagine this on a wall somewhere)

October 18, 2007 2:05 pm

I should have been paying attention sooner – this would have been a fun one to participate in!

My choices:
#1
#19
#23

October 18, 2007 3:26 pm

1) 17 – I would hang this in my home, because the triptych tells a story
2) 10 – I like how this one retained the most natural sense of colors
3) 25 – For me, if something in nature is going to be made to look unnatural, it should do so completely, as this photos does

October 18, 2007 3:43 pm

Great project / experiment to see the variety of interpretation. Although I’m not too fond of the tilted horizon I think the processing and presentation of #17 stands out most.

October 19, 2007 1:23 am

3 12 26

October 19, 2007 7:25 pm

Amazing idea! — 13, 18, 17 –

October 20, 2007 12:11 pm

This has been great to follow!
11 – interesting sqaure format, more detail in the bird, great reflections in the water
3 – bird has been made the focal point, nice cool evening tones
22 – interesting angle, bird more of a focal point, more sunset tones to the water.

October 21, 2007 5:11 am

Hello, really nice project! As i was reading this text, one thing crossed my mind. If i understend the comments, some outhors expressed that they would do it in complete other way now. Next time, maybe you should give work of all authors to exchange and draw a second try. What would be the results then? Maybe some learning feedback would be present. Just a tought.

October 21, 2007 8:27 am

I: 1 – great coloring, it worked better cropped than others that showed the sky and were colored similarly, which looked really fake… also the bird is in such sharp detail compared to the waves… i love it.
II: 17 – love the triptych idea and the fading out along the edges. love the highlighting of the buoys.
III: 28 – the dark coloring was really unexpected. i like the use of purple in the foreground. again, love how the buoys are noticeable.

great job everybody!

October 21, 2007 10:47 am

That’s an interesting idea, and I’ve also noticed a few making the same statement. That might be something worth incorporating the next time we do something like this. I may run a similar project in a couple of months, but I have a few twists in mind to make it unique from this one. Thanks for the idea!

October 21, 2007 9:36 am

1 – 13 – The eery lightness is very good.
2 – 27 – Almost too dark in places, but the coloring is just perfect. Changes the mood completely.
3 – 21 – I love how the bird is the full focus now. Pity about the buoys though.

All in all, that was a lot of fun to look through! Every piece up there was very creative, and it’s amazing how different the results can be when everyone is starting off with the same photo.

October 21, 2007 2:58 pm

I’m not really good in photos but one thing I can say on the photos above…very beautiful, has a lot of meaning and shows different point of views. Great work!

October 22, 2007 2:08 am

3 is the best, and none of the others are worth ranking.

October 22, 2007 9:07 am

è una buona idea, suggerirò ai miei alunni il tuo esperimento

ciao

October 22, 2007 9:35 am

I like number 12 if we are counting in order left to right and down.
The one where the bird is the largest!

I like that the subject matter is larger and the center of attention, … and it is not over treated with zagged edges … looks lovely and natural, the bird is looking out for a change, and the COLORS are muted and lovely !!!!!!

Great job. Cheers, Fay in Flagstaff

October 22, 2007 3:08 pm

i like these ….
15
17
21

thanks,
madhav

October 23, 2007 12:21 am

22 It’s unashamedly arty
12 Because he has isolated the bird and improved messy composition
19 He has improved composition

October 25, 2007 1:28 am

Hi all,

Great experiment! Guess what, I like the test shot really, needs some contrast boost and that’s it. This is a mood shot in my mind. You want less contrast and low color saturation to convey the foggy and lonely mood of it. Capturing the whole scene, sky, beach, bird, shadow is essential to this point of view. So here goes.

24. I like the vertical composition better than horizontal, it keeps the same mood but focuses it a bit more.

14. Same discussion as before, with a better contrast maybe.

11. Hands down winner for an artistic shot. keeps same color low saturation and contrast as the original but in green tones with more emphasis on the bird as well, nicely done.

Looking forward to the next test.

October 25, 2007 9:39 am

WOW, wonderful journey: Looking forward to your next trip into the minds of creatives. Please include me in your next adventure.
Joseph Frank Staszak – Mexico CIty

November 1, 2007 11:19 am

Great idea!

11. – Terrific composition. Emphasizing the detail of the bird against the blurred waves was very effective. The blue/green color also lends a surreal twist to the photo.

6. – Portrait cropping was compelling – the saturation and colors worked with this photo. Creating a silhouette with the bird provided dramatic contrast.

1. – Loved the colors and contrast. Also the cropping out the horizon – very clean.

November 4, 2007 2:51 pm

1- 17
2- 26
3 -15

November 7, 2007 6:58 am

1.3.12

November 7, 2007 10:13 am

i – 3
ii – 16
iii – 25

November 7, 2007 11:30 am

It’s so cool this experiment. I just love it. it gives you a chance to see how different we can see the world, especially the same thing. It’s true the phrase that says: “Todo depende del cristal con que se mire”, which it means that everything depends of the certain way (or crystal) that you use to see the things, or what is the same, that the differents backgrounds or points of view makes that people see the same things in differents ways.

Anyway, I like the experiment and hope it would be repeated.

November 7, 2007 7:29 pm

3 7 12

November 11, 2007 9:43 pm

I = 17
II = 3
III = 21

November 12, 2007 8:02 am

16
27
28

November 14, 2007 5:58 am

1. 7
2. 17
3. 20

I do find the pictures were helpful to give a better idea of how all this looks like, thanks for sharing your photos…

November 30, 2007 4:09 am


this is a pretty cool social experiment and it’s definite proof that diversity in creativity is still alive and kicking!

December 22, 2007 4:27 pm

My favourite is
1
3
23.

All are nice..though

January 28, 2008 8:16 am


I see it is late but I would vote 3,15,25

February 11, 2008 2:56 pm

I only see it now so I checked out the winner and even if it wasn’t my first choice I have to say that after second and third look it seems right

March 17, 2008 9:26 am


15
25
27
are my choices…

April 10, 2008 10:25 pm



brilliant experiment, i learned a lot by following it

i also dugg it, not that you needed my 1 digg when you had 1,111 diggs. Maybe that could be your next blog, how to get some many bloody diggs, i have submitted about 7 or 8 articles and my personal best is 7 diggs, lol!

July 3, 2008 3:09 pm


Brian,

Great post – a fantastic social experiment.

As you know we offer photo editing and touchup services for customers and we seem to have tackled this exact challenge of different perceptions/requirements when we do work for our customers – where we let the customer tell us exactly what he or she wants edited changed on their photos and it has worked out great.

We actually let our customers do both:

1. Tell us what exactly what they want
OR
2. Tell us to go ahead and be creative with their photos

So by leaving that choice to them at the very beginning – it has worked out great for our customers and for us.

Cheers,
http://www.wowApic.com

July 14, 2008 1:14 am

25
17
8
in that order :)

August 9, 2008 8:27 pm

1,17,23 in that order

1 is the only one I would purchase if that states how far ahead of the others it is.

September 16, 2008 11:25 pm

What’s wrong with this experiment!
Clearly, the experiment was designed to make the conclusion “Photography is 50% capture and 50% post processing” seem right! Let me explain. . .
You started with a photo that has technical flaws, lacks color, etc. Definitely, the post processing will make the flaws disappear and make the photo more beautiful. Try starting with an already great photo. Will post processing improve it? Then the conclusion in this second experiment would be, that “Photography just doesn’t need post processing.” And, if the initial photo is already great in the first place, then, the way to analyze why it’s great must be in the technique (light, composition, etc)that it was captured.
Back to your experiment, why are the results amazing? It has nothing to do with the artistic or technical abilities of the post processors. . . the initial photo is just not good!
Regarding the winning photo in part 2 of your experiment, it’s the one that very obviously shows that the photo has been edited. People chose this because they are aware that they are choosing from among edited photos and the tryptich style just makes it stand out. It’s as if there was an additional step that the artist did that the others did not do. But, it’s not necessarily the best work!

September 17, 2008 10:41 am

Thank you for the rant, I’m glad you got that off your chest.

September 17, 2008 11:01 am

I often take photos with loads of future plans for it to be presented. I take photo with the intention of having the widest possibilities for the photo to be processed. That is a highly skilled way to take a photograph, you’ll have to really know the vast types of media that your’ll be working on, ans the various types of situation and people your are going to present your work. And especially when one does photo journalistic type of photography, the sheer candidness it’s nature simply put a lot of constraint to the photographer in terms of time to think, to decide and all.

This (keeping the flexibility of my works ) I do so that I can present the same subject, issue or art to different type of viewers. I may change my view of my work in 10 year time and I might want it to be presented differently. We photographers, painters actors whatever our profession are, do change over times and situations and so does the viewer or the people who enjoy our works of journalism or art for that matter.

The common notion of assuming that people who process photos aren’t good photographers or they took a bad photo in the first place is in fact an extremely shallow perspective of the issue.

I too am glad to get this off my chest thank you, Brian.
Fadzly

September 17, 2008 11:57 pm

I agree. Though I often shoot a particular scene with a certain intent, that intent may change once the post-processing begins. And it may change again if I revisit the photo several years down the road. I really don’t see what the big deal is with processing photos — to each their own, I guess. How is Photoshop any different than the traditional darkroom? How many people would call Ansel a hack just because he was very much into his darkroom activities?

September 18, 2008 12:07 am

Seems that this thread is having a renaissance one year on! Jon seems to have entirely misapprehended what the point of the exercise was. It never seemed to me to have anything to do with trying to “prove” an existing thesis about photography being x% this and y% that: it was merely an invitation to enthusiasts to apply their skill and imagination to a given image.

What I think these comments do show is the futility of trying to set up “rules” for creative endeavour, with the implication that following the rules is right, but breaking them is wrong. There’s no right or wrong here, there’s only more or less successful end product. If you take two pre-eminently famous photographers, Adams and Cartier-Bresson, it’s hard to imagine two more different routes to photographic success. In Adams there is painstaking planning and meticulous attention to technical detail; whilst with Cartier-Bresson we have the spontaneous capture of the “decisive moment” and no cropping or manipulation of any kind. Is one right and the other wrong? A totally pointless and meaningless question. Are both brilliant and inspiring photographers? Absolutely.

September 18, 2008 5:49 am

Well said Steve! I am glad that more people “get this” project than don’t. But, yeah, as long as photography exists, so will the debate between processing vs. no processing.

September 18, 2008 8:54 am

I’m glad Steve also have a more open view of the issue at hand. Blogs like Steve has here is a heaven sent to many new and promising photographers who wish to explore photography much further than merely taking brief snap shot, photographers who wish to take photography up to a higher level by for adding post processing as part of their work flow. Keeping an open mind like Steve has done is what we should all encourage.

September 18, 2008 8:56 am

I never said I’m against post-processing. I never said post-processing isn’t good. I never meant to bring out the issue about post-processing and no post-processing. All I said is that the experiment is flawed. . . and while everybody is thinking about styles and individuality, nobody dared to think about the validity of the conclusions supposedly drawn from this experiment. I rest my case.

September 18, 2008 9:52 am

Jon, it was a project — that’s it. The starting photo was chosen because it wasn’t perfect. One of the sub-motives for the project was to show that a sub-par photo can still be worked into a decent final product if you just allow yourself to get creative.

If we had started with the “perfect” photo, I’m willing to bet that we’d still end up with highly unique results. This project has been duplicated several times (with different starting photos) within the online photography community — two of those times I’ve participated in the processing.

http://www.leggnet.com/2008/01/calling-photoshoppers-results.html
http://www.cameraporn.net/2008/02/05/one-image-17-amazing-interpretations/

I’m thinking we’ll rerun this project soon, but I’ll allow participants to submit and vote on the starting photo. So when that happens, I’d encourage you to submit a photo that you think is “perfect” straight out of the camera.

September 18, 2008 10:46 am

Jon, you started your original post with, “Clearly, the experiment was designed to make the conclusion “Photography is 50% capture and 50% post processing” seem right! Let me explain. . .” Well, that is clearly your premise, but it isn’t in fact the stated or implicit aim of the exercise.

You then go on to claim that “nobody dared to think about the validity of the conclusions supposedly drawn from this experiment”. Once again, only you are drawing any conclusions, valid or otherwise. This has nothing to do with people not daring, it has to do with the fact that they don’t share your presuppositions. So your case, rested or not, is what’s really flawed here. :)

September 18, 2008 1:14 pm

Seems that this thread is having a renaissance one year on! Jon seems to have entirely misapprehended what the point of the exercise was. It never seemed to me to have anything to do with trying to “prove” an existing thesis about photography being x% this and y% that: it was merely an invitation to enthusiasts to apply their skill and imagination to a given image.

December 17, 2008 1:13 pm

Jon, you started your original post with, “Clearly, the experiment was designed to make the conclusion “Photography is 50% capture and 50% post processing” seem right! Let me explain. . .” Well, that is clearly your premise, but it isn’t in fact the stated or implicit aim of the exercise.

December 19, 2008 3:08 pm

3, 11 and 17. Great post thanks.

February 12, 2009 9:31 pm

25
17
8

Interesting experiment you thought up.

February 18, 2009 12:29 am

11 and 17 are my favourite ones. I really like he concept of posting these interpretations thanks.

February 18, 2009 10:42 am

I like number 6 because of the real sunset feeling. The seagul is quiet, not even flying, and looking into infinity.
Also number 20 is very nice. It keeps the idea I expressed about no 6 and uses the widness to improve the view. Also the colors are brighter and more expressive here.

Thanks for the beautiful photos and tips.

March 3, 2009 4:39 am

Brian, what a great idea…it just proves that no two sets of eyes are the same. (And personal tastes as well.)

We conducted a similar experiment in one of my photography classes, with one difference. After viewing and choosing an image, we conducted the same experiment with the same images ONE WEEK later, under the same classroom conditions.

50% of us chose a different image! We concluded that "mood" could have played a part in our choices and perhaps has some control over our artistic expressions.

Thanks for sharing your interesting experiment!

March 15, 2009 11:18 pm

What an amazing exercise… I particularly liked 16 (sepia) and 25 :) But when I take a look at them more, I tend to like other modifications as well.

Superb exercise…

March 17, 2009 12:58 am

I know I am a bit late on this one, but I felt that I had to leave a comment. This was a really cool idea and the results are so different. Did you guide them to be artistic?

Great post…thanks for sharing.

March 30, 2009 10:47 am

Hey Brian

Came across this old post from a keyword search on my site and this is a great idea, although the emphasis is on basic post work of the photo there are lots of other ways photos can be interpreted.

I often look at the natural detail of photographs, being able to pull things out of the photo such as shapes, faces, objects, colours that would not immediately be noticeable. Attention to detail is a must have when looking at photos such as this.

Great idea on the post work though, I would have liked to have seen a faux 3d version by shifting the image left and right, that would have brought out the perspective of the birds still but real stature in the water.
Blog bookmarked, now looking at newer posts :)

Cheers

Kev

April 12, 2009 3:45 am

I’m a bit late with my vote, but:

First: #17 I would consider framing this in a 3 column picture frame and would make a nice photo in any decor.

Second: #16 Here Mario isolates the subject, yet leaves an obvious background. Nice "portrait" framing.

April 12, 2009 9:35 am

i didnt realize how tough it would be to choose the 3 favorites but i really was. In the end, for me it came down to personal style and mood and i just went with my gut instincts:
1. picture 17 by Felix- i love that he cut it up- it made it so much more of a statement and i can actually c this picture hung up in a house on the beach
2. picture 21 by Ulrich- many ppl did B&W and got really nice results but this photo took it futher. it sort of looks like a starburst effect coming from the hed of the bird and gives it really nice contrast and depth
3. picture 19 by Adrian- i don’t know how to explain it but he made this picture really feel like summer- maybe its the coloring in the sand, i dont know but it feels like a late summer afternoon which is shocking consideering the original feels more a wet hazy fall day

April 21, 2009 10:08 am

I like #17. It completely changes the whole pic – it’s funny how such a small thing can change the whole picture.

May 7, 2009 12:37 am

This may be an old post but a great post is timeless, if of this high quality! But here is my take on it: 15, 17, and 20, but 16 is amazing too. I am an oil painter and would love to paint # 16. Are any of these prints available for purchase? They should be if not already.

May 22, 2009 11:39 pm



Number 17

Number 16

Number 25

But it is really hard to choose.

August 22, 2009 3:14 am


1. 18
2. 2
3.
21

Connie

October 15, 2009 1:47 pm



Comment now!