Critique the Community

Black and White

Submit your best black and white photo for your chance to win a free Fstoppers tutorial
  • Submission Deadline: Thu, 08 Nov 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

Got a killer black and white image? Submit it to this weeks episode of Critique the Community for your chance to win a free Fstoppers original tutorial and receive feedback from Lee and Patrick. 

Between now and November 7th, you can submit up to two black and white images to participate in this weeks' Critique contest. Although the image above by Brian Matiash features architecture, your submissions do not need to fit any particular genre, they simply needs to be void of color. We will be selecting 20 images to give feedback to and will choose two winners to receive a free Fstoppers original tutorial. The first winner will be based on the image which has the highest average community rating. The second winner will be chosen at random. 

Whether you want to add your image to the contest or not, we invite you to scroll through the submissions of fellow community members to give feedback of your own. The easiest way to rate images is to use the arrows and number pad on your keyboard. We also encourage you to leave constructive feedback for all of us to grow together.

  • Submission Deadline: Thu, 08 Nov 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 823 people have cast a total of 61,913 votes on 1,138 submissions from 714 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results


Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I'm seriously concerned that no one is complaining about the ratings. What's happening? :)

Lionel Fellay's picture

What do you mean ?

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Usually there's a lot of rant about the low ratings on the pictures

Nick B's picture

I think people now expect the ratings to be so stupidly low. But for this contest it's the worst I've seen it. Great images who would get a 3.5 average in any other contest now get less than 3, it's idiotic. Maybe it's because people love color and give 4 to overprocessed sunsets all the time ? Now they're lost and don't know what to do because they actually have to rate the composition...

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Composition is much more difficult to understand than catchy colors.

joseph cole's picture

haha i think your absolutely right nick plus how many pros or people that actually know what they are doing are rating. its probably a bunch of noob a-holes just being annoying trying to get a free tutorial...its called youtube people

Muhammad Iqbal's picture

for me, in black and white. the highlight and contrast is very important, after composition. and post proccessing.

Auguste Bernick's picture

Exactly! I'm by no standings a professional photographer, but I'm advanced enough to know what is good and bad. I feel these image ratings are being based on whether people like them or not opposed to the photographers skill and image content. I personally think the post processing has a HUGE deal to do with the quality of an image. Especially in the digital age and especially in Black & White. Would you agree?

Muhammad Iqbal's picture

Yes, I would probably absolutly agree ((: haha, I mean & I think, in black and white, every lil thing is more matter. not so easy as it seem. I'm just stil learning dude, I'll try to less talking on this forum. but I love when the people gave some feedback to every person who try to know, and share some knowledge.

Practice makes better (:

Snehit Kalluru's picture

Completely agree with you

Jordan McChesney's picture

In terms of ratings, this one is actually not as bad as the last few I was a part of. I've seen more photos closer to 3 or even above 3 than I ever recall in the past.

That being said, the rating system is still a broken mess and they should not attach any kind of prize to the highest rated. So long as they do that, it's going to continue to be a toxic, meaningless rating system.

Until they figure a solution out, all we can do is try our best to provide feedback, and hope it encourages others to do the same... but don't hold your breath.

Ryan McQuillan's picture

Ratings are subjective. Because you think something is a 3 and someone else thinks it is a 2, doesn't make either of you wrong. It's an opinion.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I'm not arguing that, I never once mentioned that people are "wrong" for rating photos 2 or 3. I'm simply saying if you compare the rating of a photo in the contest to that same photo in someone's portfolio it will always be lower in the contest.

Ryan McQuillan's picture

Interesting. I've never compared the contest to a portfolio. I guess in the contest people are comparing their photo, against others photos. Not just rating photos.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I've done a comparison with one of Mads Peter Iversen's photos. In his portfolio the photo was rated 4.29 and in the contest 3.38. However all you really need to do is go back to a previous contest and check "highest rated". I don't think I've ever seen a "highest rated" photo with 4 stars.

The complaint people are making isn't "I disagree with people's ratings" it's more a question of abusing the system and dishonest ratings. The ratings in general tend to be lower than usual because there is a prize attached for the highest rated photo and the people voting are the people who are also trying to win the prize. Thus, nothing is really stopping people from rating other photos a 1 just to get an edge in the contest-- no opinions, no critiques. just trying to get a prize.

Kyle Foreman's picture

One of mine in the contest is at 2.25 the same photo in my portfolio is 3.8, clearly something is amiss.

George Popescu's picture

As I said before, people vote low so that they think other people will vote higher on their own photos, except most people vote everyone's photos low just in case!

Mauro Scattolini's picture

that's why in proper contest you have a jury panel and not a whole bunch of people. Always remember that not so long ago, for the majority, the earth was the center of, not just the solar system, but the whole Universe. Can't expect any better.

Wojciech Sawicki's picture

Actually... it's starting to lean that way again, too :(

Jordan McChesney's picture

Yeah, plenty of people of suggested a few things such as people who enter the contest can't vote, or having some Fstoppers crew pick the best ones.

I personally like the idea of having a panel of judges, however I see two possible problems with it. I'm not sure they really have the people power for that. I know I don't personally have the time to look through every single entry and pick out the best ones, so I can't really expect them to have that much free time. I've suggested getting volunteer moderators, but nothing came of it.

The other reason I'm not super for a panel of judges is a more personal reason, so feel free to discard it as just an opinion. I like the concept of the users voting and giving feedback because you get a variety of perspectives, seasoned pros and people picking up their cameras for the first time. One problem I found with a previous CTC video was the two presenters (who were pros) were handing out 1s and 2s because they'd "seen that location too much", which, and I can not stress this enough, is not a critique of the actual quality of the work but an interesting fact about your life experience. I'd rather have users voting here, and the pros handling the videos so we get a nice range of feedback and ideas. I just want to get those users to actually give feedback rather than just a star rating.

For me, the simplest solution for making votes a little more authentic is to not attach a prize to the top rated photo, and see how it goes.

I'm not really sure how to respond to the astronomy bit. Are you referring to our tendency think of ourselves as more significant than we actually are? Or our own self-centered nature?

George Popescu's picture

I feel that the rating system is not exactly the main problem, I feel that most people just don't know how to rate a photo very well.
They just base the rating on how much they like the subject matter, and sometimes if it's something like a nude photo a lot of people will give it a low rating for 1 or 2 for their personal reasons only, they don't care if the photo is great or not but if they're jealous that they can't take the same photo they'll rate it very low.
This of course goes for other photos of maybe airplanes or other subjects that most people don't have access to.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Well, that's also true, but it also goes for the general community page so it's a little bit different from the general concerns surrounding the contest rating system.

This one is more a question of preference vs critique, but still an interesting discussion to have. Of course, everyone has the right have opinions based on their preferences, but opinions based on personal preferences are not criticisms. Personally, I don't rate photos low based on my preferences. I tend to avoid rating photos of subjects I don't like or subjects I don't really understand because I know my personal preference is not a critique. For example. just about every portrait shot they feature looks mediocre to me. However, that's because I don't have an interest in that kind of photo, so I'm level-headed enough to know they only seem mediocre due to my lack of interest, thus I'm not qualified to rate the photo. Am I allowed to rate the photos? Absolutely. However, the artist would have every right to challenge the validity of my rating if I'm unable to provide any tangible criticism or feedback.

One way I like to simplify this argument is like this, "just because I don't like spicy food, it doesn't mean all Korean restaurants are 2 star restaurants. They could be 5 star restaurants that serve food that doesn't match my preferences."

As for the envy part, that's very possible. It's petty, but possible, though I don't have any personal experience with that.

Cecilia G's picture

I think people are harsh because of the rating explanation in the videos, a 2 seems too low for an image that needs a bit of work IMO. Anyway it is nice to have this platform to give and receive feedback

Robert Listes's picture

Should we be concerned?

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I think I made a mistake :)

Shane Smith's picture

Im not sure if this may work but what if they make it that the only way you can rate a photo is if you give a comment on how you came at your rating. The reasoning is it may help the person whos photo it is learn something they havent learnt before.

Just an idea 🤪

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I agree but I think if people are not mature enough to give an honest rating, I don't think I would like to read their critique.

Shane Smith's picture

I totally agree with if people are not mature enough to give an honest rating but I also feel that then those people will be found out and not taken seriously about their critique. I just guess we are going to get those kind of people in any type of media.

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

I like that idea but I'm afraid it won't work either. Since putting a "star" requires little to no effort, same would translate for "write us why did you rated this image with X stars". Some people would just copy & paste Lorem ipsum there. Unless there's a quality check, this kind of ratings are meaningless.

On the other hand, if there was no prize at all - most people wouldn't do it, and the contest would start to fall into "deep and dreamless slumber". I believe this might be a valid solution AFTER there's generated enough community around CTC contests to make engaged people actually stay and provide meaningful critique, even if a short one, without any kind of incentive from the Fstoppers team.

Nick B's picture

Honestly I don't care about the prize in those contests, it's just a tutorial... They give them out like candies. If they gave a spot in a workshop, that would be much better. Anyway, what might work is a "weighted" rating system. Meaning if you've been rated by someone from fstoppers, or by someone whose portfolio has like 10 to 30 images with more than 100 votes total with an average above 3.5 stars or something, then it has more weight that the vote from someone who doesn't even have a picture in his portfolio and never comments. People might think "why should my vote mean less", well for a contest you have jurys usually, and in figure skating you remove the highest and lowest notes... You've got to adjust the rating system after realising its flaws.

Guy J. Sagi's picture

How about instead of, or in addition to, the random tutorial winner in each, one also goes to one commenter who offered the most constructive criticism on an image submitted for the contest? I'd say use the term "one commenter, because it would be too labor intensive for a moderator to read them all.... Interesting approach I don't think I've seen, like ever.

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

Good idea again, but there's a quality check involved. Lots of time needed to even scroll through the comments.

Ben kiff's picture

that would be great :) the only reason I have started posting pictures is for some constructive criticism :) I dont really care about the ratings. ooo and maybe a free tutorial wouldnt be too bad lol

Christian Vladutu's picture

People are getting too critical about ratings etc. Hardly going to impact your career negatively by posting your images.

I'm here for the free F-stoppers tutorial. :) Heck if I got the (Make Real Money) tutorial, I might actually reignite my interest from years of trying to make a living in this gig. :(

Jordan McChesney's picture

It's true, we are all here for fun and no one is getting hurt. However, does wanting a free tutorial really justify tarnishing the validity of an entire voting system?

It would be like entering a talent show and voting everyone else down so you could get a free gift card to Olive Garden. Sure no one's getting hurt, but is it really too much to ask people not to be selfish dicks?

Personally, I don't care about the tutorial. If I happen to get one, that's neat, but I really don't care. They all use pro level stuff (Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC) and I use elements, so I can't do half the stuff they talk about anyway. I'd rather get meaningful feedback from both the people here and the Fstoppers crew. If people want a free tutorial, there's this wonderful site called Youtube where you can learn pretty much anything for free.

joseph cole's picture

hahahahaha you killed me with the olive garden line!!!!

Christian Vladutu's picture

I've done enough sifting through hundreds of hours of YouTube videos who drag their videos to get the min revenue footage time. Almost makes me want to go watch someone play covers songs on the ukulele. When you look at some of the Fstopper tutorials they do actually know how to put a video together compared to the majority of online videos. I used the Art Behind the Headshot and it gave me the edge over competitors at the time.

I saw no reference to the 20 images to be reviewed relating to ratings so you still have a good chance to get what you want. So those who play dirty, let them. If its not the best system for voting, at least the voting doesn't result in a new evil dictator as our F-stoppers leader lol.

joseph cole's picture

Lol..yeah most YouTube videos are terrible but every once and a while you find something that is actually educational and beneficial to progress I'm just too cheap to pay for a tutorial.

Jordan McChesney's picture

True, Youtube isn't always the most efficient source, but every free platform has ups and downs.

Once again, wanting something for free isn't a justification for ruining a contest where some people actually want a fair shot at that same thing. This argument basically boils down to saying something like, "people want this free thing, so they are going to make the whole contest aspect of the contest pointless, and that's OK because they really, really want this thing, guys". That's not really how a "contest" or really anything works.

Furthermore, saying it's OK if people abuse the system because it doesn't affect me personally is once again not how a contest works.

Once again, I know this is all fun and no one is getting hurt, but that's a very, very low bar of principles to have.

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

I think that there's enough people who just wants to get free tutorial by voting down others to lower the average rating of all pictures, but not enough of them to actually break the whole rating system. After all - highest rated is a highest rated picture, despite how much (or few) stars it got here.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Yeah, it still kind of works in the way it's intended to, which is why I haven't complained to the Fstoppers crew about it or completely given up on the contests. It's not perfect, but it does tend to balance out overall. So it's more a question of principle. But you're right, it could be worse.

But this does still ignore the whole feedback part of my previous statements. I don't care about my photo's ratings, I'd like to know why they are rated the way they are rated... you know... a critique . But it's not like this is called Critique the Community or anything... oh wait.

Shane Smith's picture

I totally agree with you Jordan. Im not worried about winning any tutorial here the point is if someone is going to give you a rating then it would be nice to know why they rated that way.

You are right, be a critique as this is what its all about.

Andy Ruxanda's picture

I actually don't think that it's all about the free tutorial. Some people just do this to try and feed their ego, which is why I'm pretty sure that even without the free tutorial, we'd still see many one star ratings for photos that don't deserve that...

Benton Lam's picture

My bar is even lower than that. I'd be happy if my submissions get beyond a 2 :D

Michael Comeau's picture

People who enter the contest should not be able to vote. Duh.

John Dawson's picture

I think a good approach would be to add the following minimum criteria to be eligible to vote:

1. The person must have at least five photos in their portfolio.

2. The person's portfolio must have a minimum average community rating of 2.5.

This would help ensure that the people casting votes have some credibility as a judge. Of course it doesn't help the sandbagging issue of people intentionally voting down other entries.

Carl Irjala's picture

Everyone have the right to share their opinion. I do not know if anyone is more qualified than others to judge a photograph. There are many factors that affect each rating: the age of the person, the cultural background, his or her own photographic experience, education, even what kind of monitor they have. The list can be made long.
I have rated two star to one photo as others consider to be a world class photo. I have also given four and five stars to photos that others have rated as "Needs work".

I also have two submissions here that have not been so high rated. One of these has been published by National Geographic. But I'm not sorry about this, nor disappointed. This is only a challenge to make my pics better next time but without any kind of compromises to my personal style.
This B&W assignment has been very interesting and absolutely amazing photos are produced by all of you!
Kind regards

Ryan McQuillan's picture

Well said

Jordan McChesney's picture

Once again, I don’t think anyone is questioning anyone’s right to give an opinion or a rating. The argument seems to be that people aren’t giving opinions or critiques when giving ratings and the fact that the number is connected to a prize (basically a conflict of interest). A number, usually not an honest number for the contests, without any feedback is not going to help anyone improve as a photographer.

Rich Foley's picture

This couldn’t be more true. People can rate all they want but if they don’t give feedback no one is going to grow or learn. Don’t know why anyone would downvote this.

More comments

Contest Submissions

Click on the thumbnails below to comment and vote on each image.

Click here to learn about the Fstoppers rating system and what each star value means.