A Summer Place – Recap of the Series
Introduction to the Series (from a Summer Place 1, June 15, 2014): How many photos should one take of a single subject? Just one? Dozens? Hundreds, perhaps? Well, if the number of possibilities for combining daylight, perspective, camera settings, filters, etc. are to be considered, the choices could be infinite. And then, when one has to choose a single or just a few of the myriad of photos of the same subject, the dilemma begins. It seems that all the selected photos are equally special and none deserve to be discarded! And so, unless the photographer is clearly guided by a set of criteria or specifications, the final choice of image/s is simply defined by his personal style and preference.
This series features a set of photos taken over a 24-hour period of the same small, idyllic, almost obscure place called Club Asiano in the Island Garden City of Samal in Southern Philippines. The site is composed of just a few bungalows and picnic huts situated on less than a hundred meters of beachfront area and so there were not to many choices of subjects on the beach. But my viewfinder always gravitated towards a certain nook — a small thatch hut standing on the water alongside a couple of enduring mangrove trees by a boardwalk that stretches out to the sea — and, at the end of my overnight stay, my camera quickly aged by several dozen clicks just because of this spot.
The fourteen images I finally chose out of dozens have undergone various combinations of settings and processing based on my personal preference and style as I have previously explained. I’ll be posting a part of the series each Sunday and, at the end of the series, I hope to pick the best (if that is even possible) based on the number of likes and positive comments each image got from you, the judges. Let’s see if this little experiment works.
Well, folks, this series was so much fun and I wish it can go on. But we have come to the final image last Sunday and we need to move on. But before we do so, let’s take a look at all the images once again, see how each image fared in terms of the number of likes and comments, and reflect on what this tells us, if any.
The ranking of the images from the most to the least number of likes and comments given to the post is as follows (You can click on the link to revisit the post and still register your ‘like’ or comment if you wish.):
1st: A Summer Place 3 = 77 Likes, 14 Comments
2nd: A Summer Place 2 = 73 Likes, 8 Comments
3rd: A Summer Place 12 = 72 Likes, 6 Comments
4th: A Summer Place 7 = 66 Likes, 7 Comments
5th: A Summer Place 1 = 65 Likes, 0 Comments
6th: A Summer Place 13 = 64 Likes, 6 Comments
7th: A Summer Place 6 = 64 Likes 5 Comments
8th: A Summer Place 10 = 61 Likes, 4 Comments
9th: A Summer Place 11 = 60 Likes, 4 Comments
10th: A Summer Place 14 = 60 Likes, 2 Comments
11th: A Summer Place 8 = 55 Likes, 2 Comments
12th: A Summer Place 5 = 54 Likes, 10 Comments
13th: A Summer Place 9 = 54 Likes, 2 Comments
14th: A Summer Place 4 = 49 Likes, 8 Comments
There were, of course, a number of variables that influenced the “votes” (likes and comments) and statisticians would chastise me if I’ll claim that ranking was fair and conclusive. In the first place, the composition of the “panel of judges” was not constant. There were those of you who faithfully followed the post for the last fourteen Sundays and there were those who just stumbled upon part of the series one Sunday and liked it and/or saw it fit to leave a comment.
Assuming, however, that these variables had minimal effect on the ranking; we can still learn a thing or two from the result. The most interesting finding I have — and this might come as a shock to some — is that the top half of the ranking or the most liked in the series were images that went through the most amount of processing and, inversely, the images in the bottom half of the ranking mostly had the least processing and therefore are the ones that are still very close to the RAW image format. In “A Summer Place 3” (ranked 1st) for example, I significantly increased the color saturation (among other filters I applied) to make it more visually captivating although I knew, of course, that the almost “unnatural” color is detectable upon closer scrutiny. The same technique was applied to the balance of blue hues in “A Summer Place 2” (ranked 2nd) and the distribution of yellow and gold in “A Summer Place 1” (ranked 5th). On the other hand, for the image in “A Summer Place 14” (ranked 10th) I only increased the sharpness and contrast, while the ones in “A Summer Place 4” (ranked 14th) and “A Summer Place 5” (ranked 12th) only got a minimal dose of color saturation. The image in “A Summer Place 9” (ranked 13th), being in B&W, apparently did not require much work in the color scheme.
So what does the ranking mean to me as a photo blogger?
Firstly, I think that, in general, there are two groups of photographers (as some fellow photo bloggers point out): the first group is composed of those who give priority and special attention to the technical aspects of the photo from the shot to the processing; and the second group is composed of those who let their personal style and preference (their “gut feeling”) take precedence over technicalities. I belong to the latter as indicated by the fact that very seldom in my more than 600 posts did I discuss or indicate the technical configuration of my photo. Not that I don’t subscribe to the science of photography but I always turn out to be just a stronger disciple of its art even if I always try subscribe to both. Interestingly, the findings in this series appear to affirm that style: if I make it a priority to create maximum visual impact and generate as much positive response from my audience; I must go the whole nine yards and even beyond in terms of creativity and not constrain myself with any technical limitations especially in photo processing.
Secondly, in this blog, , I constantly move between photography (in my definition, the art form using photos as the medium) and photojournalism (in simplest terms, the creative combination of photos and text to convey news, a story, or other information). Often do the boundaries between the two gets obscured in A Traveller’s Tale but, unlike my photo essays that followed a storyline; the intention for this series was not too much to tell a story but mainly to create a visual impact through a photographic image. The audience was told this and therefore was looking for it. As we already know, a strong visual stimulus is something that is not only beautiful but also colorful, exciting, unique, refreshing, dramatic, with a touch of mystery, creates an appeal to a vicarious experience, etc. In this aspect, the findings seem to suggest that heavily processed photos have an edge over photos that are processed within a set of technical limits. Had the series been intended to formally inform (e.g. a documentary or simple info-graphic), the images that got minimal filters would have perfectly done the job.
Interestingly, the type of comments seem to confirm this. For example, the comments that “A Summer Place 3” (ranked 1st) got were mostly expressing visual appreciation (the emotion evoked by the image) while the comments that “A Summer Place 5” (ranked 12th) got were more inclined towards the technical quality (light, contrast, etc.) or the logic behind the image.
Finally, if I were to rank these 14 images myself based on visual impact alone; the resulting ranking would have been not too different from the one above. I say this even if something else told me that the image in “A Summer Place 14″should be ranked higher being the least edited. But that’s the scientific part of my brain talking. 🙂
Now, on to the next series.