Over the past few years, I have dragged various Cohen family members and my children to the LA and Orange County Fairs. Perhaps yearning for some of the care-free (and grease covered) fun of my younger days, I love to wander the Fairs, including the barns and the shopping areas and of course, the food sections. One place I often find myself is the photography exhibits. I wander through looking at all of the places people have been and all of the things people photograph. I often leave wondering what makes a particular photo a "good" photo and whether or not that photo had been retouched.
Before I continue, I must admit that I am a bit of a purest in the sense that I don't want to rely on Photoshop in order to get a great picture. I think that if the photographer is talented enough, there shouldn't need to be any retouching. Really, what did the pros do before computers and digital photography? Even as recent as ten years ago, my wedding was shot on film, something that is practically unheard of today, unless the customer specifically requests it. (We won't talk about the photographer then threw out the negatives.) If the pictures had been digital and the Photoshop option available, maybe I'd have a picture of Mom walking me down the aisle with her eyes open. Har-de-Har-Har.
Another example - a few months ago, I schlepped down to the LA Convention Center on a Friday morning to take part in a class put on by Scott Kelby, a professional photographer and one of the leaders in Photoshop. The class was designed to show how to set up lighting for studio shots and also how to edit in Photoshop. The problem I had with the whole process (well, one of the problems) was that I could not tell what was wrong with his original images. (And maybe that is why I find myself here, in the land of rejection.) He would set up the shot, take a picture and then put his original image on the screen. But before he would start altering it, I could not find a thing wrong with it. I also still maintain that if you are a good enough photographer, you don't need the computer.
I did learn that those great photos you sometimes see with monuments and buildings all lit up with the moon bright behind them.... spoiler alert!... those photos are usually mash-ups or layered photos. Someone takes a photo of the moon, all big and bright and then drops it into the scene behind the monument.. or something like that.
But I digress. 2 years ago, 6 or 7 months pregnant with Kensi, I found myself wandering the Orange County Fair photography exhibit. As I looked at the pictures, I thought "I can do this!" My Mom bolstered my confidence by saying that someone in her office submitted pictures and if he could do it, I should, because mine were better (or something to that effect.)
As the months of 2011 wound down, I scoured the Internet for information on how to enter. Most of the postings were put up at the end of February and early March of this year and I was ready. I printed the list and began sorting through my photos. As the time wound down to the wire, I decided on 5 photographs to submit in various color and black and white categories, at a whopping $10 per entry. I then had to wait for a whole 15 days to hear my fate... would I move on to the next round of judging or would I receive a lovely email thanking me for my submission and telling me to try again next time. After digging through several hundred junk emails, I found the ones I was looking for, and..... no dice. Each email separately thanked me for my submission and politely said that I (or rather, my photography) was not good enough. There was no explanation of the judging criteria or why my photos were not accepted, but it did say that the judges change each year, so I should try to catch someone else's eye next year. We'll see.
In the meantime, below are the 5 photos that I submitted, along with a brief description of what/who they are. Other that switching one photo from color to black and white, what you see is what I actually shot. I have not altered them in Photoshop at all (although I might have cropped one or two of them.) I did not change the lighting or the shading or the color balance or any of that other crap that I don't completely understand. You tell me - are they good enough to exhibit? Good enough to compete for the ol' red or blue ribbon? Ah well.... maybe next year.
(1) This one I called "Bright Eyes." Shot in color, I switched it to Black and White for submission to reduce a spot of glare on her eye. I also cropped in close to her face, as she was peeking out from behind the stroller. (I can't find the B&W, so here it is in color.)
(2) This one was submitted under the heading "Landscape/ Foreign Travel." Taken a few years ago, on a family trip. (One of my personal favorites from the trip, after a long day of wandering the streets and hopping on and off the Metro.)
(3) Another one from that same trip. Funny thing about this one - after my entry was rejected, I happened to be flipping through some things I saved from the trip. I came across a post card that has almost exactly the same photo, from almost the same vantage point. It made me laugh to think that my "reject" might be good enough to grace a postcard. Maybe I should have cut some off of the bottom?
(4) "Dancing." Sometimes, the light is just perfect and a funny angle adds a little something extra. I was trying so hard to snap a shot of Kensi dancing in this particular spot on the floor, where the light was just perfect, that I didn't even realize I was tipping the camera. When I saw the pic, I really thought it was great (if I do say so myself) and blew it up for framing.
(5) Brooklyn - This was taken near the Museum of Natural History last spring. Typical of B, she hopped up and started posing. Maybe she's got some flyaway hair, maybe her face is a bit in shadow, but again, what makes this a "reject"?
So there you have it, my first attempt to breach the vaunted halls of the Orange County Photography exhibit. Someone mentioned to me that the Antelope Valley Fair has such a contest, so I'll be checking on exhibiting there before the summer is out. One can continue to hope, right?