I joined a local camera club last year with the express purpose of getting better at taking pictures. The best way to get critiques is to enter competitions and get feedback from the judges on what works and what doesn't, and more importantly, why. While some of it is useful, most of it is quite subjective and comments are dependent on what the individual likes or doesn't like (one may have an aversion to flowers and another only likes birds) or whether or not he's had a fight with his wife before he left the house that night. "Watch your corners" and the rule of thirds seem to be another couple of golden rules, but sometimes those too are challenged.
A few weeks ago we had a general, anything goes pictorial competition. This means no category, no rules in terms of what you could do to change the photos, and no theme per se. Here are my entries. The judges particularly liked the first one, saying it reminded them of a art nouveau magazine cover. It was taken on a foggy morning near here, and that's exactly what it looked like when I shot across the lake. They liked the spot of sun on the water and the shape of the tress on the left. One judge did not like that teensy little vertical branch wayp up on the upper right side, but short of finding a ladder, climbing the tree and trimming it (which the municipal workers might not appreciate and by that time, the fog would have dissipated) I had to leave it as is.
The second one was a milkweed pod, but they were kind of iffy on that one. I loved it, but maybe because it was a beautiful sunny fall day, and I kind of stumbled upon this little puff of a plant at the end of our cottage driveway. Usually a photo means something to the photographer and it evokes a mood or a memory of where they were and how they felt when they took it. Sometimes that can be communicated in a photo, and sometimes it's just another milkweed pod, my friends.
Then the third was a rock wall. This created a bit of a debate. One of the judges suggested it would look better if it was rotated. Oddly enough, that was the way I'd taken the original but I liked it better turned on its end as I feel it's more interesting that way and creates a bit of tension.
So I'm asking you. Which do you like better? The first one or the second one? You don't have to tell me why. You just have to agree with me.