Sunday, April 9, 2017

What Makes a Good Photo?

My favorites of my photos in the contest--San Francisco Public Library stairs (above), mural in Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, below.

The contest is now closed, and the winner is Audrey Sheller.

When my wife and I visited San Francisco over spring break, she, our oldest son and I decided to have a little fun with photos. We would each pick 10 pictures shot during the week, which would be anonymously posted in the same gallery on Facebook.

Then, we would invite our family and friends to “vote” via Facebook reactions (2 points for love, 1 for any other reaction, 1 for any mention in a comment). You can look and like all you want now, although the voting for the contest is over.

We would have two winners: The one who shot the best overall picture, and the one whose set of 10 scored the highest.

Audrey Sheller won them both. In fact, she had the two first place photos (a tie between a Waldo Street sign and a door with googly eyes) and the next place image, a rainbow flag.

The winners--door with eyes (above) and Waldo Street (below).

The winners earned 10 points, the next place (second or third—two images finished higher, but it had the second-highest score) had 9 points.

Two of my son’s images scored 7 points each.  My highest score was a 6.

The overall point race winner is not a huge surprise. Audrey Sheller was first with 59, next came Jon Sheller with 46 and finally, me with 35.

A crowd favorite, 9 point winner. Rainbow flag from Castro District.
I don’t feel terrible at the results. The “jury” was not professional photographers, and it’s clear emotion played a part in the voting. The top images both feature whimsy. I do think my library stair shot is way more of a made image, but humor counts in this poll.

Here is a list of the photos in the order they appear in the gallery (they were randomly sorted before being posted), who took each, and their scores:

Tree and city hall, Joe, 6.
Clarion Alley images, Audrey, 2.
Waldo Street sign, Audrey, 10.
Golden Gate Bridge, Audrey, 4.
Googly Eye Door, Audrey, 10.
Stars, Jon, 7.
Flower, sky, building, Joe, 6.
Painted ladies full view, Audrey, 6.
Canoe in museum, Joe, 1.
Cable Car museum, Joe, 2.
Lanterns in Chinatown, Audrey, 7.
Pushing cable car, Joe, 4.
Goblen Gate Bridge from levy, Jon, 5.
Park trail, Audrey, 2.
Lombard Street, Jon, 5.
Listen to wall, Jon, 7.
White flower, Jon, 5.
Church in distance, Jon, 4.
Castro, Jon, 5.
Flowers in her hair, Joe, 5.
Sun Dial, Audrey, 2.
Blue hair on garage door, Joe, 1.
Rainbow flag, Audrey, 9.
Haight Ashbury street sign, Jon, 1.
Park stairs, Audrey, 7.
Library stairs, Joe, 6.
Duck, Jon, 3.
Painted ladies skyline closer, Joe, 3.
Cable Car machines, Joe, 1.
Downtown skyline, Jon, 4.

I stopped the count Friday and didn’t include one accidental “like” from Audrey for her own photo (it happened on an iPad, and I understand how clumsy that device is with Facebook and that an accidental like is just an errant finger tap). If a photo was specifically referenced in an overall gallery comment, that comment was awarded to that photo, by the way.

Two images by Jon--yes, the one flower image in the contest was not by me. Flower from Botanical Garden (above) and Lombard Street (below).

Here are other pictures I shot during the week we were in San Francisco. It was a fun contest. It shows, I think, how important subject choice is for photos. We did know when we were shooting that week, at least by mid-week, that the contest was going on, so I can’t fault Audrey for picking the wittiest images.

And yet, Jon and I are the ones who teach photography. Go figure.

Some under-rated images, in my opinion. I just thought the image above felt like a nature shot, even though it is the giant engines that run the cable car system.

San Francisco City Hall and a trimmed tree from plaza by City Hall.

Oh come on, world. It's got sky, flower and building. Winner!

Even our champion was a bit stumped by some of the voting. I think we all agreed this was a cool image Audrey shot in Chinatown, but it did not score very high in the contest.

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