"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

Blogs vs Dedicated Photography Forums

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

This is a bit of a harsh rant maybe!
I will leave it upon the reader to figure out what might be best for them and their photography.

Remember the “poll” that I had some months ago?
Unfortunately, I made a mistake and deleted that poll before I retrieved the final numbers. 106 people took the poll.
The question in that poll was pretty much about what you were seeking as far as critiques while showing your images in a blog.
Choices were:
* Your images are a showcase of your work, therefore no critiques are needed.
* You show your images in a blog in hopes of receiving honest critiques.
* You are just having fun showing your images, and no critiques are really wanted or needed.

My question now is, “how am I to know that you want honest critiques from the images shown in your blog?”
Roughly 60% said that they posted in their blogs in hopes of getting honest feedback, and to get better with their photography.
About 20% stated that they needed no critiques, that they all were showcase images.
The other 20% or so were simply showing their images for fun.
So again, how is anyone to know that you are seriously asking for help unless you “state clearly” what you are looking for in your blog?
Do I give a honest critique for this blog that I am visiting?
If I give a critique, and this is considered a “showcase image” from the one who created the piece, … will they get upset?
Am I wasting time giving a critique to this image when the one who created it could care less if they get better at photography or not?
Lots of questions, thoughts, and ideas have popped into my head over the past few days about this.
Should the individual who is seeking help in hopes to get better put a notice somewhere on their blog about accepting honest critiques?
I don’t have any kind of notice on mine, (and maybe I should) … but I am always open to what people think, and their likes/dislikes with a image of mine.

Blogging is fun, … no doubt about that.
You meet a lot of people from all around the world, learning about their photography, where and how they live, learning about their families, cracking jokes, … but I think that there is less honesty when people leave comments about a image. Again, how are they to know what you want anyway?
If you truly want to get better with your photography, it is my opinion that a dedicated photography forum catering to the area of photography that you would like to persue, is without a doubt the way to go if you truly want to get better.
Wedding Photography? There are forums out there!
Nature/Wildlife Photograhy? Plenty of fourms to choose from!
Street Photography? They are there!
And there are more!!

Think about it!
You just don’t know what type of critiques you are getting in the world of blogging even when you actually get one, … most of the time. There is no “law of the land” with critiques and blogging. The blogging world is usually known as the “say what the hell you want to say” type of place.
In a dedicated forum, and when you posts your images, you automatically are asking for honest critiques/feedback/opinions/help, and normally you are going to get them. How else are you to learn if you do not get honest critiques?
How else are you to learn if you do not learn how to give critiques?
There are many who get a bit intimidated in a forum where there are professionals or advanced amateurs posting also. I most certainly understand that feeling! But, do you think that many of these people came into these forums already highly advanced? I sure didn’t. In fact, I came in to these forums pretty much ignorant on the subject of nature photography! I asked for help right from the start, … and I got it! Boy did I ever get it! LoL!!!
But it was the “honesty” that did the trick for me. It is the dedicated forums that has me where I am today in my photography.
Not a single person ever wanted to launch rockets to my house after I posted a certain picture, or come kick my door in and punch me out, or had any negative words in the forums.
Sure, they might have told me that the composition was terrible, but then they told me why they thought it was terrible and what they thought a good solution would be.
They might tell me that my usage of Photoshop was horrible, but then follow up with how to do it properly.
Then, I would get opinions on what I did very well with a particular image, and maybe how to enhance upon it.
Some wonderful people in these forums, and I have developed a long lasting relationship with many.
Blogging just might be the ticket for you, … then again it might not.
Do you truly want to advance your photography, to get better, maybe even someday to develop a style of your own as some dream of doing?
I have no doubt that a true dedicated photography forum is the way to go for the vast majority of people.
When it comes to dedicated photography forums, it is best to find a place where critiques received are offered in words, and not a point system.
Points can “never” take the place of spoken words!

There are some who have visited this blog before, then decided to take the plunge and go to a dedicated forum, only to go crazy in those dedicated forums! LoL!!
I have seen some to go into these dedicated forums and simply to have a blast.
They decided to jump in with both feet and finally start to learn something, … and “my o’ my” have they ever. No regrets!
I have seen some come over to NatureScapes and have really jumped in with vigor, … and I do mean “vigor!”
It’s fun, … and it’s fun to learn. Just do it!
My youngest son Joseph did, who is now 13 years old, has around 1500 posts in less than a year, and he loves it. Plus, he is learning from some individuals in those forums who are well known around the world!
So one more time, in my opinion, dedicated photography forums is the way to go!

*** With all that has been said, and with the image posted here, … tell me what you think.
I will tell you, that there is something that really bugs me about the image and I am trying to correct it.
Critique it for me. Tell me the good. Tell me the bad.
Since I have started this blog, I don’t remember one single and very hard critique on any one of my images. Why? I believe it is the “blogging atmosphere” that creates it.
I always get critiques at NatureScapes, both good and bad, … and helpful! All comments help to open one’s eyes!

Blogging is a wonderful portal to use in order to advance, … but still lacks that certain aspect that everyone should seek out in order to reach that peak.
So ask yourself, … “Is now the time to take the next step in my photography, … or maybe not?”
Whatever avenue you choose to take whether it be the use of blogging or a dedicated forum, I do wish you the best in your photography and for many years to come!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

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May 7, 2006 - Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, daylily, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hemerocallis, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, lapidary, life, macro, Macro Photographer, minerals, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, rock hound, rocks, slabs, Wildlife | , , , , ,

23 Comments

  1. well written and many valid points. Thats my critique :)

    Comment by tuan | May 7, 2006

  2. See this is why I frequent both worlds! If i want to just showcase my work I blog it! If i want to learn and grow I use NSN ( but you know that LOL) and I tell you I have days I am not up for an honest critique! LOL

    Comment by Doris | May 7, 2006

  3. Thanks you two! :)

    Doris, you are one of those that I am talking about.
    You did not hesitate over at NSN.
    You jumped right in and gave it a go, and in no time flat, well over 1000 posts!!
    You have been hooking up with some other NSN guys on some outings, and looks like to me you are in fact “having a blast!”

    Both worlds are wonderful.
    It’s just that I think that for those who want to take it to the next level, that they need a more dedicated forum in the area or style of photography that they want to improve in.

    Another thought:
    If one who blogs is eager to learn about portrait photography for instance, posts a image in their blog of a person, then receives 20 comments, 15 of those comments are from individuals who shoot a little of everything and maybe they have not figured out what direction they are heading yet, … well, it does make one wonder if they are getting honest comments, or the right critiques from the individuals who are consistantly shooting the very same thing that they themselves are trying to shoot and learn.
    (Did I say that right?)
    There just seems to be way to many variables in photoblogs.

    Let me get out of here before I confuse myself.
    Gettin sleepy!!!

    Gd’nite gang,
    Thanks again!

    Comment by MBrown | May 7, 2006

  4. I agree with the points you make here 100%. I wouldn’t mind if people visited my blog to critique the photos there, but in general what I post there is fairly polished already. And actually the main point of my blog is the writing, rather than the photography.

    If I do specifically want critiques of my shots, a forum is much better than a blog. Blogs are like galleries, forums are like workshops.

    Comment by An Enlightened Fellow | May 8, 2006

  5. Greetings, Michael.

    I came across this blog tonight, while looking for new material to use on my blog, “bright stupid confetti.” I run a kind of art forum over here, and I’d like to highlight you and your work. Wanted to ask permission to use one of your photos as representation of what you do. Drop by my spot and check it out. If you like what I do, and wouldn’t mind appearing there, send me an email.

    Thanks.

    http://brightstupidconfetti.blogspot.com/

    Comment by chris | May 8, 2006

  6. Mike, I agree with the sentiments you are expressing in this post. In fact, it is often the lack of awareness of the reason that someone is posting a photo on these blogs that keeps me from being absolutely candid – I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Too, what anenlightenedfellow says above strikes a chord with me… often what you see on a blog is what a person considers their best work and most proud of and those are exactly the images that they will feel hurt about should you find fault with those images.

    For myself, I use sites like NSN and NPN as the sites to post and get honest feedback from. I do this because there are such good photographers that frequent these sites. On my own site I just showcase the images I like and use my own blog as the place for expressing my thoughts sans images. Then, I have a forum where people can comment however they like on my images (or post whatever else they want to talk about).

    Oh, and I knew you were talking about Doris.. :-)

    Comment by geoffs | May 8, 2006

  7. I would not attempt to critique your photography . . from where I am as a rank amateur. I see your photographs as art, your interpretation of the natural world. And I like them very much. I like this image very very much. However, that is not a swallowtail butterfly. It is a brush-footed butterfly, I believe a red-spotted purple (limenitis arthemis). I do think nature photographers owe their subjects a best effort at identification.

    I agree with your opinion about comments on blogs: They’re too nice! I cringe when people say something like “Great pix” on my blog because I know my photos are so-so, but I post them to help tell stories about bugs.

    Thanks for all you do to help educate erstwhile photographers.

    Comment by vanessa cardui | May 8, 2006

  8. Thanks again guys!

    Vanessa, I believe you are right.
    Went back into my files and have some file names flip flopped around.
    Will rename them sometime later tonight.
    Thanks for catching that one!

    Comment by MBrown | May 8, 2006

  9. Mike, this image sucks. Too flat.

    HAHAHA!

    Just kidding, it doesn’t suck. Do you want the real critique here? I read the post yesterday and I forget what it said and the baby girl is pulling at me……gotta go!

    Comment by Shawna | May 8, 2006

  10. Ok, you’ve convinced me — I’m going to search out some dedicated forums.

    By the way, you gave me some constructive criticism on one of the photos on my blog. I made a joke back to you, but I went and looked at the photo and thought about it. I learned something. Thank you. I appreciate that.

    I do a great deal of writing in my job. I often circulate articles with friends and colleagues before I send them out for publication. I am really looking for constructive feedback. In fact, among my small group of peers, the more comments someone makes, the more it indicates that they took the piece seriously enough to spend time making suggestions for improvement. I’m always a bit disappointed when I send something out and just get a “looks good” back. I know that it can always be improved.

    Thanks for your “rant.” Now, I have to go figure out what a dedicated photography forum is.

    Comment by Donna | May 8, 2006

  11. I get what you are talking about. I had a People photographer trying to give me tips. Shooting People is a whole other ball game from nature. I understand the fundamentals are the same. but angles and lighting are all different.

    Any way.I really need to get back over the macro forum :-) been hiding out in DC LOL BUT Lisa called me on it today LOL

    Comment by Doris | May 8, 2006

  12. After months of browsing and looking at many different sites and trying to learn as much as I can…both of which I will continue to do…I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and create a blog. I hope in doing this, I can improve my “amateur” photography.

    One of the biggest reasons for me taking this step is to recieve honest critisicm (the good and the bad!) and advice for my photos. I look forward to learning different techniques and ways to improve from all the incrediable talent that is out here.

    I feel I take something with me everytime I view and read a new site. Yours defenitly being one of my favorite. I have learned so much from you already. (I also have frequented browsing in NSN and I guess its about time I take the plunge there too!)

    Comment by Laurie S | May 9, 2006

  13. Thanks again everyone!

    Astrid Piepschyk gave me a great critique last night via private e-mail. Although I want post his response here (since I have not asked), I will mention a point or two given.
    He mentioned some of the good points, then went on to point out what he thought were maybe flaws or something that seemed a bit odd.
    It was the hands that he mostly spoke of in which he mentioned that they seemed a bit awkward in appearance. I agree, … they do!
    That was one thing that did bother me with this particular shot.
    I was shooting over my sons shoulder, from behind his back, and it was about the only shot that I could get, even though it did look sort of strange looking.
    Still, … it is different looking, and that sometimes is what catches a buyers eye. They all want something different than the norm.

    The on thing that not anyone has mentioned, is the tips of the fingers.
    With the lighting that I had, … it was tough.
    They are a bit washed out, or hot looking.
    I can balance that out in Photoshop and will get to it later, but to me, it was the most glaring of all faults.

    Shawna, … you cracked me up on that one!!! LOL!!!

    Donna, if you need some ideas or thoughts on which forum you might feel comfortable in, just let me know!
    And I fully understand about feedback. It most certainly does help at times.
    But you know something, … you might be so good in your job/writing, that not many are comfortable in giving their thoughts/ideas/critiques! :)
    Happpens a lot with many of the well known photographers who are in some of these forums out there. Still, they are just as open to ideas and thoughts on their work as someone who is just starting out.

    I think the whole idea that I am trying to get across with this idea of blogging and learning photography, is that many different types of individuals from many places around the world, with many different interests in photography and many different levels of skill, and the abscence of honest feedback can leave a person who is eager to learn, to find themselves swirling around in whirlpool of “I don’t know what to think!”

    Comment by MBrown | May 9, 2006

  14. Laurie, if you head over to NSN, just let me know so I can chime in with a hello and a welcome.

    In fact, introduce yourself in the general photography forum and you will get a bunch of “hello theres!” :)

    Comment by MBrown | May 9, 2006

  15. I agree with Vanessa, Mike. A lot of people visting photoblogs seem to be looking for people more advanced than themselves. Looking to learn, or a new idea. The rest seem to find something or someone they like and bookmark those sites. The happy posters. I use my photoblog as a photo journal, so I can look back at my growth as a photographer.

    Right now I’m at flickr and groups there seems to be worse than blogs.

    Guess I need to look into a dedicated photography forum as well.

    Thanks for the post, Mike.

    Make it a great day!

    -M-

    Comment by askme2flashU | May 9, 2006

  16. OK, so I might as well jump in too. Very valid points. One of the reasons that I stopped posting my images on sites like usefilm.com is because I was getting nothing but positive feedback and I was seeking serious improvement. So, since you asked to be critiqued, here goes :-) : There are a couple of things that I would change about the image.

    1. I prefer a closer crop so that there the subject, which I believe is the butterfly, is more clear.
    2. I would tone down the highlights on the hand. I found that my eye kept going to the highlights and away from the butterfly.
    3. I would blur the hand, just a bit. Again, to bring more emphasis on to the butterfly.

    Overall, I love the image. I would assume that this is a studio shot, no?

    Here’s my version: http://www.paullesterphoto.com/misc/critique.jpg

    Kind regards,

    Paul

    Comment by Paul | May 10, 2006

  17. Martin, Paul, … thanks guys!

    Martin, you are welcome over at NSN anytime. I believe Paul is over there too? :)
    Plenty to learn over there, and you can simply sign up so you can read all of the articles and look at the images, then if you like, later on, become a full member.

    Great critique Paul!
    I like your version, as it seemed to tone it down to a more pleasing level and along with the crop.
    Still, those “hot finger tips” bother me, even after they have been toned down a bit.
    Or, ….. maybe I am just being to damn picky! LoL!

    Thanks again guys!

    Comment by MBrown | May 10, 2006

  18. I love this, beautiful image.

    I agree with a lot of your points but I’ve found that many forums are cliquey and can be far more destructive than constructive, either steering people in the ‘wrong’ direction while sounding like they know what they’re talking about, or just intimidating people with overly harsh and snooty criticism.

    The best place to get productive critiques for me is offline, at photo clubs.

    Comment by miles | May 11, 2006

  19. Thanks for the invite and the comments that you left on my blog Michael.

    As to being to picky;

    The key to being a great photographer, is being a ruthless editor.

    Happy shooting,

    -M-

    Comment by askme2flashU | May 11, 2006

  20. I’ve been enjoying your posts for a few weeks now – I recently got my first camera in years, and it has a macro lens – and I appreciate your insight and suggestions. Such beautiful images!

    As for the hand – when I first looked at it, my eyes immediately went toward the lighter areas, especially the pinkie finger and the knuckles, and away from the butterfly which was unfortunate I think. The hand looks artificial (or “dead” even – ever seen a cadaver?), plastic and somehow disconnected from the butterfly.

    Comment by Pam | May 11, 2006

  21. I am not sure if this is where the image critique is supposed to go. To begin, I prefer the monochrome over the color. It’s a great image! I think the hand looks a little tense-I would prefer it to appear more relaxed with some separation between the fingers, especially the thumb which is neither hidden nor exposed, but seems to exist in that no man’s land between the two. I’m am curious as to the lighter halo around the butterfly, but I’m neither for, nor again’ it at this time! Love the photo in spite of all those mean things I said!!!

    Barry

    Comment by Bearmann | May 11, 2006

  22. Hi Michael! I found this post most interesting as you brought up a lot of good points and plenty for me to think about. I quit blogging in early April to spend more time with my family, but I do miss blogging and sharing my photos very much.

    The best part about blogging was meeting people from many parts of the world, but blogging hardly satisfied the main reason I began sharing my work. I never really got the serious critiques that I sought. I made it known on my blogs that critiques were most welcome. Instead, I got the usual “good work”, “I like it”, etc., and not much more. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated all of their kind words, but what I appreciated most was when someone (like you) went into depth about what they liked about the photograph and made suggestions on how I could possibly make it even better.

    But to be honest, I don’t know if I really want critiques that badly anymore. (Yes, I’m still taking photos). Maybe I’m just a little confused. If ultimately, all that matters is whether YOU-the artist/photographer-likes your work, then why seek anybody’s critique? When you AREN’T sure about how something looks to you, that would be a good time to seek a critique. I guess, too, it depends on what you want to do. If you want to go pro, then I can see how critiques can be very beneficial. So I guess my confusion is really about where I want to go with photography-do I want to stay amateur or aim to be a pro? I’m not sure anymore. All I know at the moment is that I simply want to keep on improving and learning which I think I did a lot of during my one year of blogging WITHOUT any critiques! How could that be? I say it’s because all the wonderful praises helped give me the confidence in my work that I never had before. I’m not saying that I think now I’m as good as a pro (although in my opinion, some amateurs can turn out better work than some pros!), but it’s just nice to know that I have some potential. Also, being exposed to so many other amazing photographers who had photoblogs (like you :))gave me so much inspiration-that alone had improved my photography and had given me plenty of new ideas! So I am most grateful for the photoblog experience.

    I didn’t mean to write an ‘article’ here so I’ll wrap this up real soon but I do want to share a few of my thoughts on your photo since you did ask for a critique. IMHO, (remember I’m ONLY an amateur ;p) too much of the hand is showing. I would also have composed it so the hand was more to the right rather than centered and showed a little more space at top and at the left. I do like that there’s nothing in the background but a soft, subtle texture, and I prefer the b&w, although the color version does have beautiful colors (I noticed you cropped the color one, too). It’s just everything looks much softer and more delicate in the b&W.

    My apologies again for going on so long. I’m not very good at keeping it short and simple. lol. Or maybe this is a side effect of not blogging anymore!

    Peace

    Comment by lotusearth | May 16, 2006

  23. hm, well it’s kind of different here (in Germany). If I post my pictures in my blog usually there is wether discussion nor critics about them there. It seems like we use blogs in a differerent way. A blog is something about written thoughts, stories, ideas. And my photopgraphs will support this stuff (mostly). Usually I’ll find rarely more than a ‘nice pix btw!’ as a comment to one of my pix in my blog. But anyway, most blogreaders here are only ‘buing public’, they read/watch it but most of all readers will not comment anything. Guess, that’s the point here why I would never go out and use my blog as a plattform for my developement in photography.

    So if I am on my way to express myself, learn about me, my talent, my mistakes I do have to go into all these kind of forums.

    Whatever: I just love your blog!

    Comment by creezy | May 20, 2006


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