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Thread: What makes a great photo ?

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    What makes a great photo ?

    Is it light, composition, technical challenge, colour, a decisive moment, impact, newsworthiness?


    What makes a great photo in your view ?
    Last edited by kiwi; 09-05-2011 at 12:46pm.
    Darren
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    Can I say all of the above? For me it depends on the photo. A truly stunning landscape shot can grab my attention for its visual appeal. Where a grainy black and white journalistic photo can equally grab me because of the relevance of the content of the photo. Each photo can have its own appeal on differing levels and for differing reasons. I might see a photo of an elderly lady as well taken because of the lighting and eye contact, whereas the next person to view it might get an emotional connection cause it is a photo of their grandmother. We both see the same photo as being great, but for differing reasons.

    Therein lies the benefits and limitations of critiquing, it is a personal thing and no-one can tell us what we see or feel from a photo is wrong, because of that individual appeal that might be overlooked by others.

    Interesting topic, looking forward to where this one leads
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    Kiwi, i think that a good photo has mostly all of the elements that you mentioned going for it and "followuing the rules" as it were. However for me a "truely great" photo can break all the rules, have relatively poor light, and be technically flawed, but if it grabs you on some emotional level it will always be a winner. Landscape shots for example can make you feel like you are there, or make you want to go there yourself, to do that thery don neseccarily need to be technically good, just convey something that strikles a chord within the viewer.
    As Rick mentioned above, this is one of the reasons why critiquing can be subjective. I could see a "poor" picture and have it speak to me on a emotional level where as the same shots could in your eyes just be flawed. Doesnt make any ones thinking wrong, just different.
    One of the things i love about photography on the whole...... great topic.

    Simon.

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    A Great photo to me is one that cannot be exactly copied by anyone else. Unique to the photographer. Something that makes you say, " Wow, I wish I was there to see that ". One that you know has taken the photographer a lot of time, skill and effort to achieve. Then there is the luck factor. Right place, right time, right camera setting for that " great " shot. Greatness as well as beauty is definately in the eye of the beholder. As has been already stated, One mans treasure is another mans junk. To be truely Great though, I feel that the image should be straight from the camera, before any PP. In my opinion that is true greatness.
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    A great photo is one that makes you feel.........something.......whatever that feeling may be

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    A great photo can be technically perfect but it can also be flawed in all the areas you mentioned but it has that emotional connection. I try to vote, in the competitions, on photos that are different and make me want to look more because most of the photos are ALL fantastic technically. I have seen some exhibitions where the photos are not what I would have thought to be amazing, but they were 'different' and techinically perfect in terms of exposure, light, composition.

    To sum that up - emotion and difference draws me in to a great photo....something that makes me want to pull up a chair and just stare at the image!!
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    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    I know that I can take a technically flawless, theoretically correct image - only to have 95% of people say it's terrible. Then I can turn around and show them a rejected shot, slightly OOF and underexposed and they will love it.

    Personally, I look for a pleasing image to the eye, composition and colours. Followed secondly by the technical aspect of it, surprisingly emotion and story come in last for me.

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    to me a great photo is one that makes a connection to the viewer. It jumps out and tells a story. One that is technically correct is not always a great shot if has no connection.
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    I think some of the great shots of the past have significant technical flaws....so....it can't be that, but yet we are seemingly obsessed with pixel peeping and new better gear...interesting isn't it

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    In this day and age Kiwi it is hard to tell if what you are looking at is what came out of the camera, or , what is the result of hours in front of a computer. We are becoming slaves of technology.
    Maybe AP should run a competition that is PP free ?
    Last edited by PH005; 09-05-2011 at 5:06pm.

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    I'm not sure why you have an issue with PP, it's always been part of photography and still is. You might as well ban all Jpeg images as they are all processed too according to individual preferences.

    I don't agree at all with the OOC is pure brigade really. In saying this I typically loathe poorly conceived and executed post processing in all forms

    Digital art is really just another form of painting and should be discussed separately

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    Quote Originally Posted by PH005 View Post
    In this day and age Kiwi it is hard to tell if what you are looking at is what came out of the camera, or , what is the result of hours in front of a computer. We are becoming slaves of technology.
    Maybe AP should run a competition that is PP free ?
    That would be based on honesty, Because no one can tell if PP was applied , The big word is "Subjective" , If I like it . It's a good shot , Bugger all the WhoHa about whats right and whats wrong , If you like the image in your eyes It's good IMO - Bill
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    It's all about the Light!
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    A great image has to grab me emotionally first and foremost. Technical elements come 2nd.
    The elements you describe generally need to work together for an image to sing.

    That said, glaring technical problems also put me off, eg. horizons not level, blown highlights, etc.

    Per our conversion last night, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Behind the Gare St. Lazare does not do it for me at all, (checks that flame proof suit is on),
    where Steve McCurry's Afghan Girl to me is totally brilliant.
    Last edited by Kym; 09-05-2011 at 5:39pm. Reason: spelling
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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    What makes a great photo ?

    Anything.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    f o t o w o r x

    People taking the time out to give me CC is always very much appreciated

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    Yes, although I also think that when the photo was taken and the equipment then available has a impact on the technical aspects

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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    I have a single photo of my Grandfather in his Light Horseman uniform taken just before being shipped out to England. I wouldn't trade that for any other photo. So sometimes it can just be the content.


    Don't we all have a grainy, out of focus shot of a loved one that is no longer with us? Today it wouldn't make the cut and you'd delete it without a second thought. But how valuable is that grainy, out of focus shot of the loved one that is no longer with you?

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    You mean one like this Jim, A photo of my Dad just before leaving for Europe WW11 , For Bomber training as a Mid Upper/ Tail Gunner in Halifaxes and Langcaster Bombers across the Atlantic , He was 18 , Still with us at 88 , I treasure this one , I think It's a great old Portrait , And It was'nt DSLR
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I think historical family photographic records are important for sure

    But are they great photographs ? Not necessarily in their own right

    I think a great photo is one that tells a story simply.

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    Thanks Darren , As Kym said a photo that grabs you emotionally , Well after finding this one , And posting it , I broke down and have been in tears for the last hour , I guess just knowing what he went through and the innocence on his face at 18 !!
    Last edited by William; 09-05-2011 at 8:05pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    You mean one like this Jim, A photo of my Dad just before leaving for Europe WW11 , For Bomber training as a Mid Upper/ Tail Gunner in Halifaxes and Langcaster Bombers across the Atlantic , He was 18 , Still with us at 88 , I treasure this one , I think It's a great old Portrait , And It was'nt DSLR
    Terrific photo William.

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