Critique the Community

Long Exposure

Submit your best long exposure image to win a free Fstoppers tutorial.
  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 12 Nov 19 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

Our next Critique the Community will feature your best shots with long shutter times. What cool effects have you created with long exposure? 

Between now and November 11th at 11:45PM EST, you have the opportunity to submit up to two of your best long exposure images. This means your shutter had to have remained open for more than one second, preferably longer. We will choose a total of 20 images to provide feedback to and two lucky entrants will win a free Fstoppers original tutorial. The first will be chosen based on the highest community rated image and the second will be chosen randomly. 

Once you've uploaded your photos, scroll through the other entries and provide ratings and feedback of your own using the Fstoppers rating scale below. The easiest way to assign ratings is by using the number and arrow keys on your keyboard. If you see an area where an image could be improved, kindly pass along some advice to your fellow community member. 

  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 12 Nov 19 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 727 people have cast a total of 59,702 votes on 864 submissions from 535 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

137 Comments

Previous comments
Ruth Carll's picture

There are two common requests in the extensive commentary in every contest and they have shown up here as well: remove the anonymity and fix the scale.

Here are some basic suggestions:

1) Remove anonymity and stop protecting poor behavior.

2) Hold off voting until submissions are closed.

3) Use a ranking scale.
The current scale itself is an issue because the levels are categories not rankings. Rankings would be something more like:
1 - off topic
2 - bottom 30%
3 - middle 30%
4 - above average 30%
5 - top 10%
6 - winner

4) Put a checkbox at the bottom of the rating description and make people acknowledge reading it prior to voting. Will this control unethical voting? No. However, a VAST majority of comments in these contest threads indicate that voters are subjectively applying criteria rather than using the scale.

Will any of this change voters' motivation? No. However, it will better align honest voters.

And doing something - anything - will let the user group know the site owners care. There's nothing wrong with tweaking a system based on feedback!

Holding off voting would take too long and the more the recent photos would get way more votes due to the amount of submissions, people won't scroll to the bottom. Its better that people continue voting as images are being submitted. Perhaps hold the voting open a little while after submissions are closed so that the recent ones get similar amount of votes.

The scale is fine. No scale is perfect but it's pretty clear to anyone with experience what belongs and doesn't belong in a portfolio. Any rating is subjective, and this contest is no different.

Votes should continue to be anonymous. People will target vote based on them receiving bad ratings. Votes are not anonymous if you receive a 4 or 5 because they know anything lower could result biased voting.

Ruth Carll's picture

How about a suggestion? You use a fake profile to comment because you feel you have to in the current scenerio. How would you change it?

I gave a suggestion to leave the voting open for a short time after the submissions are closed but I don't think all voting should be done after.

I know your heart is in the right place and you're trying to make this community better but I disagree with some of your suggestions which I explained in my last comment.

I think there will always be people (most likely the same ones) complaining no matter what changes are done. I don't think there are any changes that can be made that would change me from replying to the cry babies anonymously.

Robert Tran's picture

Deleted, didn’t mean to reply to yours, will repost.

Jonn Schlemayer's picture

Nice to see someone with a few constructive options to the current system. Not just the common complains. :)

Personally I would love a checkbox saying "off-topic". Right now I am forced to rate photos (or not rating them at all) which has nothing to do with the theme. If i.e. 10 people would check the "off-topic" box, then it is removed until reviewed by an admin.

If you put 1 or 2 stars (which we all do from time to time). I would love if the community are forced to write a comment in addition to the rating. Not only are trolls removed but the idea of improving as a photographer would be much more present than it is today. We are after all here to get better!

My recommendation would be to use the current rating system. Though, have the list present. It reminds people of what is stands for:

1* / Snapshot (+ Comment)
2* / Need work (+ Comment)
3* / Solid
4* / Excellent
5* / World class

Lastly. With the system as it is today one can be very strategic about when to submit their photo. The timeframe would need to be looked over. Instead of having a week to send in the submission do, i.e., something like this:

- 4 days of to submit your work. No voting during this time.
- 3 days casing one's votes.
- Have a randomised order for each and every one going through the submissions.

The result would probably be that fewer people leave a 1 or 2. But more people would get feedback how to improve. Since the order of the photos are at random, no advantage is given a person adding the photos on the first or the last second.

I don't think it should be mandatory to comment if you rate a 1 or 2 but a maybe prompt could be helpful in encouraging people to leave comments. If the comments are mandatory then you'll see much less voting in general which I don't think would be helpful.

Or maybe you have to leave a comment for every certain amount of votes, every 10 votes you have to leave a comment or something like that. That way you can still vote a lot and leave a few comments along the way.

Robert Tran's picture

Your post is certainly constructive. As an alternate view, I think the scale is fine as-is because:

1. Off-topic posts don’t make the videos anyway, so we’re debating a moot point. Just skip then move onto the next image.

2. The way photos are selected for CTC aren’t really based on any criteria or votes. Aside from the top scores all others are irrelevant at the end of the day.

3. Based on where I am in my photography, have no business winning top score in any of these and have had no issues with any of the top scoring photos winning - they’re all great images.

Essentially, people are arguing about a sweepstakes type drawing where a random winner is selected for the second tutorial. The ones who post off topic are already disqualifying themselves - that’s the biggest consequence.

Steve de Vet's picture

I wouldn't mind a "mandatory comment or action" on a 1 star rating. Perhaps not on the 2, as with this rating system, a substantial amount of images would be a 2 rating. Anywhere from "I can see you tried to make a nice composition" to - "beautiful image, but you missed a dust spot".
So, having a mandatory thing for 2 votes, would maybe discourage voting.

A comment, maybe won't work that well. Spammers can just type "bfhdbflcsada" and move on to the next. Obviously it will show their account names and can be reported after if they repeat it. But, secondary accounts can be used.

but perhaps that a 1 requires you to select a pop up with "you've voted 1 because;"
- lighting
- composition
- doesn't meet criteria
- sharpness
- etc.

and one has to be selected before being able to continue voting.

Maybe even having something like that on all images would be nice. Mandatory for "1 votes". and optional for all other votes. Just to allow quick feedback to photographers.

At the very least something needs to be in place to prevent someone of going "right arrow *1, right arrow *1, right arrow *1" and preventing the possibility of spamming "1" votes.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

Removing anonymous voting for 1/ 2 ratings is an awful suggestion. What will stop others from revenge rating your image when you give them a 2?

Ruth Carll's picture

I just don't believe revenge voting is common. I think people are expressing their opinion independently of the scale because the scale is confusing.

Rather than knocking down ideas, why don't you suggest a solution.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

I do not suggest a solution, cause there isn't one. And also we do not need one.

The current system is flawed, but it is working and producing more or less statistically diversified results. Any implementation to fix it will cause a complicated voting procedure, making the whole process harder while opening up even further branches of fixing/tuning in the future.

There is also the human element. As a system gets more complicated in nature, it takes more time than the expected. When it takes more time, people will avoid contributing to that system. While votes you get will be better in this way, due to the decreased amount of contributors, they will make less sense statistically.

"662 people have cast a total of 53,118 votes on 865 submissions from 536 contestants"
(As of this moment) That means 80 votes per voter. 80 votes look a very good number, but in reality it only covers 10 percent of the total work submitted. That person did not even see the rest of the 90 percent. Any complicated implementation will drop these numbers even more drastically.

Let's look at some of the solutions people did suggest in the past and lets do some messy brainstorming about them:

-Removing anonymous voting: How are you going to prevent revenge voting? you personally not believing in it does not change the fact that revenge voting may and will occur. To stop that, maybe we could reveal the negative voter only after you vote them back? sounds reasonable, but then I will still remember that person in the next contest and some members here are regular attendees for multiple contests. Revealing low votes will discourage people to not vote, resulting less votes per person.

-drop down menus for 1 and 2 votings: This is the most logical solution I have seen so far, but still with problems. Those dropdown items will be predetermined text for several down-voting reasons, and people will ask for more options to be implemented. That will end in some drop down items like "other reason" to be picked more and if you force those "other reason" choice to write down what that other is, they will not vote at all. Also, voting from mobile devices will be even harder.

-Forced explanation for 1 and 2 votes: People will avoid them (even if the reasons are displayed anonymously.), cause it is extra work they do not want to do. Less people will vote for the low ratings, and those that are still devoted to vote 1 or 2 and ok to give feedback will still rate less images in total, as each low score image will take a lot more time to vote. If I have 20 mins a day to vote, I will not increase it to 40mins. I will either vote less, or will avoid voting 1 or 2. As a result, overall contest scores will rise up, 3 will be the new 2 and you will have either an unnecessary accumulation in the 3 range, or some stupid 4s and 5s in the distribution. Fstoppers do not have enough voters to be able to compensate that effect.

-Holding voting until the submission deadline: In some contests there are more than a thousand submissions. For this to work, this website will have to implement a system that forces the voter to display submissions randomly. (otherwise last entrys would be advantageous) Regardless of how you display them, total votes still will be less than the current system. Because some people vote only during a certain time of the contest, some return back regularly, while a few of them vote everything throughout the whole contest. You will lose the people that are not online during the voting period. Your sample will be smaller, more biased and skewed. A statistically meaningful result is a lot more valuable than a fair looking but not representing result.

Steve de Vet's picture

A lot of fair points while brainstorming.
you definitely don't want something in the voting system that would discourage voting or maybe slow it down. Like you said, only about 80 votes per person, which is on the lower side of where you'd like it to be.

Either way, a "1" vote, "should" be quite rare in competitions like this for the serious voters. Usually reserved for off topic images, or clear snapshots.
So, a mandatory action when voting a "1" should (in theory) not be a huge time consuming thing for the serious voters on this website.

Not sure what the mandatory action would be, maybe the dropdown menu, or even just having to "confirm" your 1 vote by clicking ok in a popup or something.
Just some/any additional action in place with the 1 vote to prevent someone from just going "1, right arrow, 1 right arrow, 1, right arrow" etc and spamming the 1 votes.
Yes, he/she could still spam the 2 votes, so I understand it's not perfect.

Or, brainstorming here, that at the very least Patrick and Lee should be able to see the voting patterns of people on here.
And before an image is selected to be used in the episode on youtube, they check the voting pattern of the owner of the image they want to use. If the voting pattern is normal (few 1's, good amount of 2/3, some 4/5's) the image can be used in the episode.
If the voting pattern of the owner clearly shows a significant amount of "1" votes (15-20%? or more), the image will automatically not be used in the episode, regardless of the image's rating or how cool it is. As the owner is considered to be downvoting.

Again, I'm aware this isn't perfect. Secondary accounts can be used for down voting, or some people just upload and don't even vote at all during the contest. But it might just filter out a few and discourage spamming "1".

David Pavlich's picture

While it's not the easiest thing to do, take a look at your gallery and check the ratings given for shots that have been entered. Now, check your ratings received during the contest. I've done it. Not only are the contest ratings lower, but lower by a substantial amount. Certainly, this is unscientific, but it does give support to those of us that believe that there are members here who wish to win by subversion and not by merit.

Steve de Vet's picture

This could very well be true, the contest ratings are usually lower anyway then they would be normally. Very likely due to downvoting, which shouldn't happen.

But, that said, You can, for example, have a long exposure landscape image that in a landscape critique and landscape portfolio got an easy 3 or 4. Since it stands out between the other images in a portfolio or in a normal landscape critique.

But, putting the same image in this critique, where the "long exposure element" of the image is being critiqued, based on putting it in a "long exposure portfolio" and next to other long exposure images, it might be a 2 or 3.

It most certainly doesn't mean an image is bad, it's just voted on using slightly different criteria and a different eye.
In a landscape critique a "milkyway" will stand out and get a higher vote then a milkyway shot between the hundreds of other milkyway shots here.

So it's not impossible for ratings to be lower in this specific contest then then would be in another contest or in a gallery.

Ruth Carll's picture

I think that the profile images are more highly rated because people are just dropping "nice work" feedback. Here, the images are being looked at critically. It's a different exercise. I agree with your point though. I have a "photo of the day" shot that I entered into two contests. Its a 4 on my profile and never broke a 3 in either contest. I think it is just the nature of the beast! :)

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

... or it shows that your photo has less exposure when that photo is in your portfolio and/or reaches to a different target group of people that would value it more. My photos in my portfolio only has 6-7 votes at most, but they get 40-60 votes in a contest, which means a lot more exposure in a contest. Also, while they are in my portfolio, they are judged as old-school black and white portrait shots (which is a very niche category with more forgiving criteria), while the same photos in the "moody" contest are judged differently as the expectations are much different and the submitted content is much more diversified.

David Pavlich's picture

Like I said, it's not a scientific method, only an observation.

Patrick Hall's picture

Can’t throw a 6 with one hand...rating system isn’t changing.

But you can... Bare with me for a moment.

What I suggest is a bit different. Most of the images here fall into a 2 star category (mine also). What you can do instead is divide that category:
1 star - beginner's work. Good that you took the photo. But too early to show it to anyone.
2 stars - needs work - the photo is almost there, needs a little push to be in your portfolio.

What about Snapshots? Easy - 0 stars. Here goes all the "accidental" submissions and off-topic ones.

Effectively you get 6 points rating that you can show on 1 hand. But I understand that you would have to rewrite how the rating is calculated on your site.

Ruth Carll's picture

Ha! Never thought of that! :)

Just to clarify I am totally against removing anonymity. I think there should be more of that.
Because in notifications you see who voted on your image. So if you stay on site - you can just wait for a notification and look at your image current rating and understand who voted what for the first 5-10 votes.

I think the reason you get higher public rating and lower anonymous rating is because people don't want be vied as dicks, so they try not to offend anyone and make the votes higher. When the social pressure is off - that's when people can rate how they really feel about your images.

Steve de Vet's picture

Not sure that removing the anonymity is a good idea on the voting. Sometimes lower votes are used for pictures that just don't meet the criteria of the week or based on the criteria just rank lower.

My suggestion, whenever the images get picked for the episode, Patrick and Lee should be able to see the voting pattern of the owner of the image. If the owner shows a reasonable voting pattern, the image can be used in the episode.
If the owner clearly shows a voting pattern (let's say for example, more then 15-20% of the votes he/she made are 1's) the owner is considered to be downvoting on purpose and his/her image will not be used for the episode, regardless of it's rating.

This way anonymity and privacy remains preserved, but at the same time, purposely downvoting will automatically mean you will not be entered into the episode. (I'm aware this isn't a perfect solution, as multiple accounts can be used, but it might be a start)

Other suggestion, maybe removing the prices for the contest. They even mentioned in the last videos that voting has gone down ever since they started offering the prices. And the channel and website are big enough to keep this critique going for the people who are serious about it without prices.

Personally, I don't even like this rating system. the "2" is far to broad and wide on the scale, as most images will have some thought behind it. the "2" goes anywhere between "I can see you tried to make a nice composition" all the way to "Amazing shot!! but, you missed a dust spot so I wouldn't put it in the portfolio before removing it".
It's SUCH a wide range for the 2 vote.
And then the gap between 3-4-5 is basically just personal preference.

Josh Sanders's picture

Ruth, first let me say that I always appreciate your thoughtful, insightful, polite, and encouraging contributions to the community. I think you're one of the more active participants on the message boards and, while recognizing the hard work that Patrick, Lee, and the Fstoppers team put into creating the community, it's people like you that make it a worthwhile place to post your work and solicit feedback--so thank you!

I've always refrained from engaging in this side of the debate on these critiques because I generally agree with Patrick's rationale that he gave at the beginning of the last critique. However, I've noticed that there seems to be growing frustration with the system over the last few months, so I thought I'd lay out my thoughts—not that they're any more valid than the concerns raised by you and others.

I think there is definitely intentional downvoting that occurs, but generally these things even out during the course of voting. That's not to say that I agree with every rating and every winning image—far from it. I'm just as disappointed as anyone else when an image I worked hard on doesn't receive the rating that I think it deserves, particularly when some people seem to be voting based on personal interest rather than merit. But generally speaking, when the results are released and you can sort them by rating, better images are rated higher than ones that need work, and my images generally fall where I would put them in comparison to others (if not in terms of the actual rating system). Those that engage in downvoting do receive a marginal benefit to their own work, but they are on the receiving end of all of the other downvoters (except themselves, hence the marginal benefit). That benefit of one less downvote is fairly small when you rack up 50-100+ votes on each image. I'm definitely not condoning downvoting, and I think its a really deplorable thing for people to be doing in a community that should be constructive, but I'm not sure that it skews the results of the critique that much.

To some extent, trolls gonna troll, shitposters gonna shitpost, and downvoters gonna downvote. I know this is akin to throwing your hands up and accepting the status quo, but, as I said, I think it generally evens out. Disclosing peoples' votes could be one solution, but I'm not sure that solves the problem of people creating anonymous accounts—which I know is a separate problem that you've tried to discourage. It's certainly possible to create some sort of algorithm to flag accounts that consistantly give high-quality images 1 star or pay someone to spend their time looking through it, but ultimately these guys are a small business and I'm not sure that's a good or necessary use of their time or resources. I think these critiques are primarily for fun, with an outside shot of having some seasoned industry folks give you some public feedback that may or may not be useful, and an even longer shot of winning a tutorial.

That being said, I do hope that Patrick and Lee take your ideas—and just as importantly, your frustration—seriously. If for no reason other than losing you and others like you would be detrimental to their business. Absent changes to the system, perhaps some sort of public effort (even if it's just a disclaimer at the top of each critique that acknowledges the problem of downvoting and encourages people to vote on merit) would help people feel like these concerns are being heard and not just dismissed outright. It may not change peoples' behavior, but it also would make it clearer that Fstoppers doesn't conone it.

I'm not sure that wholesale change is needed to the system and this is definitely Lee and Patrick's discretion, but if I were to rework the rating system myself I'd probably condense the higher end of the spectrum and create more separation on the lower end—something like:
-1 star—snapshot
-2 stars—test shot: shows some thought and use
of photographic techniques, but the
image itself does not contain the
necessary tenets of a portfolio shot—
whether due to subject, composition,
etc.
-3 stars—has potential: it’s not ready to hit your
portfolio, but with some small
adjustments (not just in post, but in any
aspect of the photography) could get
there
-4 stars—portfolio shot
-5 stars—world class

Sorry this is so long! Just want to send what I hope is a thoughtful response to some of your concerns that lay out another side of this. I hope people can continue to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about this topic, and thanks again for all of your constibutions to the community!

Ruth Carll's picture

I appreciate the time and effort you took to share your thoughts! "group brain" often comes up with better ideas than "single brains"!

Josh Sanders's picture

haha agreed! And I think we should all be open to listen to new ideas and ways to improve the system--after all, that's why we're submitting work to a critique in the first place!

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

I wish there was a notification about new contest starting. I've missed the second one I could participate in in last few weeks... 😅

As a newby to longexposure I uploaded images so I can see how it would be rated and critiqued. What I have learned since reading the comments is that people are not judging the images correctly. Im not saying my images are winning images, its clear as night and day but id like to hear CC from photographers that actually know. There are amazing images here, like Mads and Kai to name a few. That type of photography is what I am aiming for, I want to be better everyday. I think photographers here should take a hard look at their images and really compare to some of the greats and if they are honest with themselves they might learn something. Just my 2c.

Geoff Miller's picture

I think a couple of things can be true at the same time. Pretty much all of us have things we still need to improve on when it comes to our work. I can, and do, take CC, but at the same time, I still see a disconnect between how many images in this contest are being graded and Fstoppers' definitions of the rating and how they should be applied.

The guidance for example says that a "3 Star" is a "Good image, but not great." It also says that every image except "5 Star" images have some element(s) that could use improvement. The main guidance for "2 stars" images appears to be that such images only represents "some" thought and understanding of photographic principles and closes with "Even complete amateurs who don't understand photography" are capable of hitting "2 Stars."

In practice, it appears that many voters are deviating from the guidance and assume that "2 Stars" = "Good" and "3" = "Great" and so on. I realize that a lot of this is subjective, but that's the view from my seat.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

Voting is subjective. There is no way you can standardize it.
While I agree that photographers should compare their work to the ones they believe that are better, they will not be learning anything unless somebody teaches them how to reach that point.
The only thing the highest rated images in Fstoppers contests do show me is what this community likes and prefers, but does not teach me what I should do to reach that level or even if I should.
Also, a totally different community may weigh different aspects of a photograph more important than the Fstoppers community. Some of the contest winner/critic praised/potd photos here in Fstoppers would mop the floor in a Lensculture contest where “gallery art” and “story telling” qualities of a photo is a lot more praised than the image quality, to the point where sometimes the Lensculture contest winner is not even a photograph anymore.
Another purist contest would eliminate 70-80 percent of the4 star and 5 star photos here for being photoshop stacked images with excessive compositing.
In my country, 100s of money prize competitions are announced each year. They all do allow LR and PS editing but I haven’t seen one that allows composites.
So the vote you get here is what this community believes your photo to be (not a universal truth) and Fstoppers community do have very specific and predictable tastes in that. And even that changes a bit depending on the contest. Someone else may find a diamond in this community’s trash :)

I don't agree with your statement saying you can't learn from someone else's work. If you actually look at the images really great photographers produce then one can see loads and use that next time in the field. But that means you have to really loot at a image not just a quick glance. You have to notice leading lines, what was used as leading lines, foreground interest, main subject, angle of the camera. Once that is mastered I believe your'e halfway there. Editing is the other half and agreed, some go overboard but those that do it right, natural looking, their images are fantastic! Another example is Nick Page, his images are amazing and it looks natural.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

The problem is who those really great photographers you are aiming to learn from are. Fstoppers, as a community,believes that photography work in 80s and before (all the eras before the film scanners and therefor digital editing) are far inferior to todays' standarts in all aspects. On top flash? delete. Motion blur? delete. Out of focus element in the subject? delete. not sharp edges? delete. naturally occurring oldschool lens flare or vignette? delete. Not good makeup? delete. Too many untouched details on the skin? Delete.

They believe that the bar set by digital photography is really high now, and anything below that bar is inferior. Such an assumption assumes that all photography should do heavy editing and compositing to reach the perfection.

That is a very digital point of view, and it is a community's point of view, not a universal fact. It is true here, within the boundries of this website, but may not be true somewhere else. If I had a way of going back in time,convince a few famous photographers to shoot some rolls for me, travel back to present, scan them and enter a contest here, those photographs would be bashed as hell. Some of their composition choices would be criticized so much, you would be amazed.

Whose images should I look at? What should I learn from them? What I learn from Fstoppers is, post-processing should also include a lot of photoshop work, it should take hours and any method for reaching to that perfect image is legit.

Is it always a true lesson to learn?

If that was the case that Fstoppers believe in hours of photoshop, then why did Lee take a long exposure with which I believe very little editing and like it? Another thing is if you look at Elia Locardi's work, editing specifically you'll see he doesn't edit for hours. And there are many others like him. Landscape photographers want to spend as little time as possible editing. They'd rather be out in nature. I understand that you like as little editing done on your images but in todays time you unfortunately have to if you want your image on a cover somewhere.

Geoff Miller's picture

Sonat, so I guess I just need to ignore the rating guidance given by Fstoppers and no longer believe that images that rate as a "2" are images that no serious photographer, with minor exceptions, should show as an example of their work publicly.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

Demands of a commercial success is different from artistic expression. A portfolio image of 2 in commercial sense, may turn out to be a successful art gallery or printed book work artistically, while an image with a potential of great commercial success may have very little contribution to the photographer’s fullfilment. So, what defines ”portfolio worthy”?

Your goals do.

This does not mean snapshots and no work done images are ok. It means aesthetics of the image should match your goals. Not others’ goals.

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.