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Mu-43 Post Processing Challenges - Objectives/Rules/Criteria Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Contests and Challenges' started by savvy, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    714
    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Les
    Mu-43 Post Processing Challenges - Objectives/Rules/Criteria Discussion Thread (Draft Template in 1st Post)

    Draft Template now here at top of OP to make it easier to find.

    **Template Start
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Draft v0.2

    • [Title Box] Mu-43 Post Processing Challenge #nn [\Title Box] followed by :-
    • BBCode Link to unprocessed JPEG image to display in-post so everyone can see what is on offer.
    • Any explanation or commentary the Challenger wants to give (optional)
    • Download link to RAW file (unless only JPEG available)
    • Download link to unprocessed Original size JPEG (so "non-RAW" PP'ers can still participate, and for JPEG Shooters)
    • Winner shall be announced on or shortly after the [Date/Time/Timezone]

    Mu-43 PP Challenge Rules [<-- Bold & Underline tags]

    The Challenger will provide any photo that he/she deems worthy of challenging other members to "improve" by way Post Processing. It must be their own photo, and taken with m4/3 equipment. "Improve" is a subjective term, and includes many creative ideas as well as traditional "fixing". The Challenger agrees that entrants may make any changes they deem fit to post in their entry.

    The winner of the previous challenge gets to post the next Challenge and serves as the judge for his/her PP challenge.

    For obvious purposes, the judge is disqualified from participating in his/her own PP challenge. Instead, he/she should post a photo to start out the challenge. Should the winner not be able to commit to being the next challenger/judge, the responsibility is passed on to the runner-up.

    At the end of the 100-hours (we don't have to be strict about 100-hours, especially with time differences depending on where you are on the globe), the judge will name a winner, a first runner-up, and a second runner-up.

    Entrants [<-- Bold & Underline tags]

    The Challenger's image is posted for the sole purpose of the PP Challenge; it is not posted to invite Critique or Criticism.

    Entries shall be limited to 2 per member for each Challenge.

    Entrants to post a BBCode link to the Large size image of their PP edit(s), preferably 1024px x npx, or npx x 1024px, if the original image and/or the PP edit allow for these sizes. Also a click-through to the original sized hosted edit if appropriate (but not a requirement for entry). If you post your entry to a photo-hosting site such as Flickr, Photobucket, or a Gallery, etc., please credit the original photographer to make it clear it is not your photograph; something like "Photo taken by xxxxxx over at Mu-43.com" should suffice.

    Entrants are strongly encouraged to post the settings and techniques used for their entry, however this is not a requirement for entry.

    As we all know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We may not all agree with the chosen winners, but the judges decision is final without adverse comment from the Entrants; the judge is encouraged (but not required) to state what criteria he used to decide on a winner.

    To make sure we don't break any Mu-43 rules/regulations, by participating in the PP Challenge you are allowing the judge to re-post your image for the sole purpose of announcing the winners in the thread.

    Link to Mu-43 PP Challenge Rules/Template
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    **Template End


    Original 1st Post
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I opened this thread to contain discussions about the recently formed PP Challenges which were conceived originally by BAXTING; to keep debates out of the challenge threads themselves, which should be confined to the images, edits, judging, results.

    I presume this is the best section to open it in, so people can find it easily in the Contests and Challenges, but if not appropriate a Mod can move it.

    In a recent PP Challenge, a member opined that the image put up for the challenge was not of sufficient quality (my words not theirs) for a challenge.

    No finger pointing here, I'm actually grateful for their posts as this caused me to think hard about what the objectives are/should be for these PP challenges, and the criteria for images put up as challenges; and it may be that I have misunderstood what they were saying anyway, but I think it's worth clarifying going forward.

    To me, the purposes of the PP Challenges are possibly threefold (or more) :-

    1. To learn, stretch, and improve our PP skills by :-
    a. Experimentation of using unfamiliar toolset features on other people's images
    b. Seeing what and how other people do things
    2. To Showcase what we can do with our current level of skills
    3. To have fun !! :smile:

    The poster said this in one of the posts - "To me post processing is about making a good photo better, not about saving a bad photo."
    Now, I actually agree with with this when PP'ing your own photos. But, I don't think this should be the sole criteria for the PP Challenges, let me explain.

    Of course, it should go without saying that we should endevour to capture our images right, first time, and only do minimal PP on them afterwards (unless we are deliberately going for special after-effects); but that is not what we are posting for PP Challenges.

    In my own workflow on Import, I go through all the images for that shoot, marking the keepers and discarding the rest. So, by definition, in my own processing, I only have "good" images to work on.

    If I want to think about 1., above, to really delve into some of the technical features, and learn more about applying these recovery features, it is useful to see some other difficult images to practice on - and learn. Most of my own images (hopefully :rofl: ) won't need this level of skill/knowledge, but learning about the feature and using it will come in useful someday.
    Having others explain how it was better to do some local noise reduction on an area of an image, rather than just apply the slider to the whole image will help people in the future, for example. You won't get all of this by just offering up "good" images, in my opinion, or only to a lesser extent.

    I know you can read tutorials, and watch videos for some of this stuff, but I find I learn better when getting my hands dirty, and it's much more fun in the company of like-minded people !!

    If I think about my own recent challenge that I posted, I would not have been able to set this challenge if the criteria were "good" images. In fact, I was lucky to have this difficult image; it was only because I was experimenting that I kept it, normally an image like this would have been in the discard pile. I myself got two good different images from this RAW file, so I knew there was something there, and I was very interested to see what others would do with it; there were some very good and interesting edits.

    Here are some categories of images that I feel would all be very appropriate for the PP Challenges :-

    1. A sub-par image that you could not fix - "Here you go, fix that if you can". There's a challenge if ever I heard one.
    2. A sub-par image that you did fix, but would like to see what others can do with it too.
    3. A well exposed, noise free etc., image, but you are not too happy about the composition. What can others do creatively to bring more out, give a different feel to?
    4. A "good" image that you are pretty happy with overall, but would like to see other people's creativity go wild on.

    There are probably others, but I'm just illustrating a point. I'm not saying, either, that people should include the category of their image when posting their challenge, although they could explain if they wanted to.

    Of course, it would be good to have an ongoing mix of types in the challenges, it would be somewhat repetitive after a while if we always only got one type of image to work on.

    When, and if, after debate, we get some consensus on how these challenges should progress, perhaps we can put some of what we agree by way of explanation to new posters in an expanded "rules" part that goes in the first posts of the challenges, and expand/add anything to the rules themselves if we need to?

    Where would we maintain the rules, criteria, etc., so they are easily found and updated if necessary?

    Apologies for this long ramble but, hopefully, somewhere in here I've got enough of my point across to be understood.

    Feel free to join in, add your own thoughts and suggestions, violently disagree, or just say we don't need to do anything. Maybe you see these challenges as just showcasing your ability without any explanation?

    It would be good to hear other people's thinking on these challenges, as opposed to just my own ramblings. :biggrin:
     
    • Like Like x 6
  2. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    I also think that since this thread is clearly labeled as post-processing challenge, then this would be nearly completely focused on the post processing side.

    How restrictive and boring would it be if the source material (raw) are limited to be of certain quality, scene or subject; and if the direction of pp is also restricted to a certain direction (ie: to make it look 'classically better'). I expect as the challenges progress, we'll be thrown curve balls such as a completely blurry picture with an interesting direction like 'make this an interesting abstract art' or whatever.

    I think as long as the source material comes from an m43 device, then it's game time for us.

    Just imho.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    372
    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    Alan
    In my opinion, the PP challenge is too restrictive, I don't shoot raw, so if I happen to to win one, I could not put up a raw file for others to process.

    Us jpeg users still process our output wether it is in Lightroom , photoshop or whatever, in fact the final result of any post processing ends up a jpeg or tiff file, and I dought wether many could tell the difference when looking at the end product.

    I will still enter but could not produce a file for the next competition, If i was lucky enough to win
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    714
    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Les
    @Al.

    Kelly (KVG) posted a JPEG for his challenge, for the same reason, it was a well entered challenge, too !! This should be added to the "rules"

    I was also thinking about the converse of this last night. i.e. where people have old versions of software that suit their camera, but don't want to update the RAW converter in that software, e.g. PS or Elements, etc., so couldn't cope with unsupported "modern" RAW files.

    In this case, it would be better to offer links to the RAW file, and an "unprocessed" JPG, i.e. just a straight import and export with no other PP in the RAW software. I think it would also be best to offer these files as independent links not as a zip containing both, to reduce the download size for each category of person.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Ehud
    I think that we need diversity in the challenges. It will be hard to make restrictions to the OP because good, interesting or even challenging are subjective.
    The OP has the right to post any photo he likes to, and if we don't like it, there is the next challenge.
    In the end it all about fun.

    A solution for RAW converter is to use Picasa.
    It is free and supports wide variety of RAW formats.
    http://support.google.com/picasa/answer/15625/?hl=en&
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Les

    Thanks for providing a platform to expand this debate.

    I am in total agreement with your definition of the purpose of the challenges, but don't think there should be a need to define a standard for entry. That 'should' be a self regulating thing.

    Photography is a curious blend of aesthetic and technical values, and as photographers we should be striving to improve both those values.

    We all put different emphasis on this, some being more concerned with the aesthetic side, on making an image that is interesting to view, or indeed tells a story. Others on the other hand get more into the technical aspects, and end up with a fine collection of pictures of brick walls :)

    Personally I am interested in the aesthetic first and the technical second, though am always trying to improve both.

    In general I find this forum much more enjoyable because there is a nice balance between the technical and the aesthetic, between the beginners and the more experienced, and long may that continue.

    In this particular challenge, I was disappointed ( and expressed it in a not too subtle manner :)) with the challenge image because it, to my eyes, lacked any interest either from a technical or a aesthetic point of view. In the end the entrants rose to the challenge and flexed their PP muscles, and I applaud them, though I don't think any of them actually turned it into a better picture.

    It was doubly sad when I looked at the OP's flickr stream and saw some good images that would have made for a more interesting and satisfying challenge. Only he can answer why he chose that image, but I do think he sold his ability short by choosing it.

    In photography , as indeed all aspects of our lives we should strive for improvement and not be satisfied with mediocrity.

    If you wish to get a little more background about myself , you can check out this interview I did on this forum a couple of years back.

    https://www.mu-43.com/f70/interview-kevinparis-1695/index2.html

    or look at my pictures on flickr

    K
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. lubov

    lubov Mu-43 Veteran

    417
    Apr 4, 2011
    I agreed with Kevin on the previous challenge, it was not a good choice.
    I think it would be far more interesting if the winner chose their best images.
    Also it would be better if the winner was decided on a voting system, i.e thanks gained rather than the left to the provider of the raw.
     
  8. lubov

    lubov Mu-43 Veteran

    417
    Apr 4, 2011
    I agreed with Kevin on the previous challenge, it was not a good choice.
    I think it would be far more interesting if the winner chose their best images.
    Also it would be better if the winner was decided on a voting system, i.e thanks gained rather than the left to the provider of the raw.
     
  9. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    714
    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Les
    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the post, and the link to your interview, I hadn't seen that before. You come from an artistic family background, and worked for Apple, so leaning towards the artistic/aesthetic will be a natural for you, as well as being interested somewhat in the technical.

    I don't consider myself to have an artistic bone in my body :rofl:, but am very into software and technical. However, I do love seeing the creative stuff people do with these challenges, and often say to myself "I'd have never have thought of doing that", I just struggle with envisioning things different ways.

    Like you said in your interview, you don't spend that long on PP'ing your own files, and in one of your challenge posts you spend MUCH more time on these challenge files - ME TOO !! But, I do feel I'm learning from it.

    Glad we agree that challengers are able to post any image they care to.

    Rgds.


    Les.
     
  10. PatrickVA

    PatrickVA Mu-43 Veteran

    264
    Jul 31, 2012
    Central Virginia
    Thanks for starting this discussion. I wanted to say something in the last challenge thread but it wasn't the place for that. I commented once there, to offer my version of the photo which I had fun messing with.

    My take on any challenge here is that it's there for fun. If you don't like the challenge, rules or photo chosen don't participate. Or wait 72 hours for the next challenge. It's that simple.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  11. nsd20463

    nsd20463 Mu-43 Regular

    116
    Apr 30, 2011
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Some thoughts:

    > [people should post their best photo]

    If I had to post a challenge, I could not pick out a photo of mine and be sure other people here would judge to be "good". There's so much variability in what people like that one single photo is unlikely to have a broad appeal. Since the challenges are voluntary, when I don't like it I sit out the 72 hrs and see what is next.

    (In addition, a few people might not post their best image because it's good enough it's for sale.)

    > [voting with the Thanks button]

    I rather like that just one person (and sometimes their spouse) chooses the winners. It mixes it up. Popular voting is so predictable; the brightly colored basket of kittens always wins :)

    Secondly, when I give "thanks" to a post, it isn't necessarily because I like the result. More more often it's because I learned something from it. I could change that behavior, of course, but I rather like thanking my educators.

    > [not everyone has the software to process a raw file]

    I think the challenges would encourage people who don't process raw files today to try it. Like someone already pointed out, not all raw processing software costs money.

    Also what if someone posted as a challenge a set of raw photos with which to assemble an HDR or a panoramic image? These require even more software, plus some experience using it. But wouldn't that be an interesting challenge?

    I agree with kevin that the submitted photo was... difficult, and as a consequence the entries weren't much good either (mine included). But in all this there was, out of all this, for me, one useful bit: the heavily cropped entry concentrating on the repetitive yellow lights (the most interesting bit in the photo) and putting them on a contrasting blue field. That entry did what I wished to do (crop out the unnecessary and emphasize the interesting). So there's still a silver lining.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  12. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I don't think a picture submitted has to be the 'best' you can do - but I feel it should be an image that the poster has at least some aesthetic, technical or even emotional 'investment' in

    K
     
  13. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    Yes, so let him be the judge of that.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    agreed.... but surely the purpose of a photograph is to capture and communicate something?

    K
     
  15. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    660
    Sep 17, 2012
    UK
    Photos, like everything else, are a matter of personal taste. You won't please all the people all the time. Whilst the photo in question wasn't the most emotive of images, I think it was a worthwhile challenge and I thank Stonetape72 for posting it. I thought it was interesting to see how others interpreted and tackled the challenge. There were some good efforts put forwards and I for one have learned from them.

    I also agree that a voting system would make for a better judging method.

    :smile:
     
  16. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    I have not been following the PP challenge lately, but I was surprised it caused such controversy.

    I've got a foot on each side of the argument. On the one hand, I would not be motivated at all to 'fix' a poor photograph. On the other hand, this thing is called a 'Challenge' for a reason. :smile:

    I guess if you didn't like the pic, wait a few days and enter the next one!
     
    • Like Like x 4
  17. lubov

    lubov Mu-43 Veteran

    417
    Apr 4, 2011
    Well "best" was probably a poorly chosen word, you have expressed what I meant, far more eloquently right there.
     
  18. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I am in the camp that the winner of the PP challenge is free to post any photo he/she wants. Aesthetic is a subjective matter, and if someone doesn't find the photo interesting, that person can take a pass on the challenge and wait for the next one. It is not like the host of the challenge is posting a photo inviting comments or criticism. It is called a "challenge" after all, so ruthlessly trashing a photo posted by the host of the challenge is absolutely uncalled for, IMHO. If someone is curious as to why the host posted such a photo, at least he/she could ask politely, and if the host responded by saying that he/she is putting up a piece of trash to see if anyone could save it, that another matter...
     
    • Like Like x 5
  19. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    714
    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Les
    Draft Starting Post Template & Rules

    Trying to take on board the comments so far, I've attempted to come up with a Starting Post Template for PP Challengers to use, including a rules section, heavily borrowing from the 72-Hour Challenge Rules. The PP Challenges, so far, have had a rather loose rules commentary slightly different from each challenger.

    Some explanations :-

    1. I have left the challenges to be judged by the challenger for the time being, for the sole reason that people use "Thanks" for different purposes. This could be revisited later?
    2. I have given the option for JPEG shooters who win a challenge to be able to post a "JPEG-only" challenge.
    3. I have added the requirement to provide a download of an "unprocessed" JPEG so "non-RAW" PP'ers can participate. It has been correctly stated that there are free RAW converters out there, but I felt we should make it as easy to participate as possible. - Yes/No???
    4. I added the bit about the edited image size as, in my challenge I got some small images entered that I could not compare the detail on with those of the other entrants - what do you think of this?

    What does everyone think of this as a starter? (I know we are on Challenge #5 already :smile: )

    1. Do we need it?
    2. Is it over the top?
    3. Do you agree with the content?
    4. Changes/Wording/Additions/Suggestions?
    5. Tell me to shut up and crawl back into my box (I won't be offended, really :biggrin: )

    **Template Start
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Draft v0.1

    • [Title Box] Mu-43 Post Processing Challenge #nn [\Title Box] followed by :-
    • BBCode Link to unprocessed JPEG image to display in-post so everyone can see what is on offer.
    • Any explanation or commentary the Challenger wants to give (optional)
    • Download link to RAW file (unless only JPEG available)
    • Download link to unprocessed Original size JPEG (so "non-RAW" PP'ers can still participate, and for JPEG Shooters)
    • Winner shall be announced on or shortly after the [Date/Time/Timezone]

    Mu-43 PP Challenge Rules

    The Challenger will provide any photo that he/she deems worthy of challenging other members to "improve" by way Post Processing. It must be their own photo, and taken with m4/3 equipment. "Improve" is a subjective term, and includes many creative ideas as well as traditional "fixing". The Challenger agrees that entrants may make any changes they deem fit to post in their entry.

    The winner of the previous challenge gets to post the next Challenge and serves as the judge for his/her PP challenge.

    For obvious purposes, the judge is disqualified from participating in his/her own PP challenge. Instead, he/she should post a photo to start out the challenge. Should the winner not be able to commit to being the next challenger/judge, the responsibility is passed on to the runner-up.

    At the end of the 72-hours (we don't have to be strict about 72-hours, especially with time differences depending on where you are on the globe), the judge will name a winner, a first runner-up, and a second runner-up.

    Entrants

    The Challenger's image is posted for the sole purpose of the PP Challenge; it is not posted to invite Critique or Criticism.

    Entries shall be limited to 2 per member for each Challenge.

    Entrants to post a BBCode link to the Large size image of their PP edit(s), preferably 1024px x npx, or npx x 1024px, if the original image and/or the PP edit allow for these sizes. Also a click-through to the original sized hosted edit if appropriate (but not a requirement for entry)

    Entrants are strongly encouraged to post the settings and techniques used for their entry, however this is not a requirement for entry.

    As we all know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We may not all agree with the chosen winners, but the judges decision is final without adverse comment from the Entrants; the judge is encouraged (but not required) to state what criteria he used to decide on a winner.

    To make sure we don't break any Mu-43 rules/regulations, by participating in the PP Challenge you are allowing the judge to re-post your image for the sole purpose of announcing the winners in the thread.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    **Template End
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    Do we need really all this...

    I have a feeling that having more rules is inversely proportional with the potential fun. It's restricting the surprise factor that can come up in giving out the challenge image or the modification done in the submissions.

    I think it's all about having the right attitude...

    Edit: sorry, i meant the first paragraph in particilar, about making the image specifically 'better' (seemingly in the classical sense) :D
     
    • Like Like x 2