Critique the Community


Submit your best image incorporating water for your chance to win a free Fstoppers tutorial.
  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 24 Jul 18 03:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

Almost every photographer should have an image that fits this weeks theme for Critique the Community. Submit your best photos featuring water below. 

Although our featured image is a landscape shot from Elia Locardi's tutorial, your entry can be from any photography genre as long as it somehow incorporates water in the image. Of all the submissions, we will be selecting 20 images to provide feedback to. If your image ends up as the highest rated image by the community, we will send you a free Fstoppers original tutorial. We will also be selecting one random entry to win a second free tutorial. 

Even if you're not uploading an image to the contest, we encourage you to take some time to browse through the submissions and offer some valuable feedback of your own. Please rate the photos fairly and make any comments helpful and encouraging. It's easy to scroll through each submission using your keyboard's arrows and numpad. 

  • Submission Deadline: Tue, 24 Jul 18 03:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 911 people have cast a total of 78,698 votes on 875 submissions from 569 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results


Previous comments

OK, however the sentence "Usually photographers who are against editing are only against it because they can't do it, and see themselves falling behind." is simply hard to believe to be about /basic/ color correction, cropping, etc. That type of argument is almost always about advanced composite or special Photoshop trickery...

Michael Higgins's picture

I led with a line of questioning to explore his sentiment further.

I do however disagree that color-correction and cropping is "not photography". Photography is a lot of things, but above all it is the /INTENTION/ of the photographer, and the resulting photograph, that makes it either a documentary image, or an artistic interpretation. And simply put, color-correction and cropping can still be a part of documentary photography.

Anonymous's picture

Really well put! I think with art go for gold! but with landscapes I want to know that I could have seen the scene with my own eyes if I was at location at that time. At the end of the day each to their own, I just don't appreciate totally manipulated landscapes.

It has a lot to do with the fact that when you call something "a photograph", especially with an emphasis on the singular "a", ...then you're invoking a belief system that has been inherent in photography for nearly 200 years. That is, the fact that, despite full knowledge of the possibility for manipulation, people still "want to believe" it. In fact, one of the things that makes a photograph "special" is the notion that it's an image of a moment, an event that actually happened.

As an art form, that's what sets photography apart from EVERYTHING else, from painting and sculpting, to music and acting. All are art forms, but all of them are entirely fabricated by the artist. And it is understood, without explanation.

So if you want to call yourself a photographer, you have to ask yourself WHY you like photography in particular, compared to other art forms. If you're more passionate about darkroom manipulation and "fabricating something from nothing", or even just being in command of every color and every tone in an otherwise unaltered image that never leaves Lightroom, ...either way you ought to be proud of the whole process, of your talent as an artist. The minute you find yourself frustrated when viewers ask if an image was manipulated, and you wish you didn't have to divulge that you actually did something complex such as shoot the foreground at 14mm and the background at 50mm, or the moonrise at 200mm, ...then YOU need to re-evaluate your passion as an artist, and find a way to proudly embrace whatever it is that you like to do. In other words, either proudly state that you're a digital artist whose creative work only 'begins/ with a photograph, (or multiple photographs) ...or stop telling yourself that it's such a terrible thing to limit yourself to basic, simple color correction and tonal management.

Jordan McChesney's picture

You're absolutely right, there is a clear difference between photography and graphic design. However saying that if you use photoshop in any way it stops being photography is a little black and white. And the only thing that should be that black and white is monochrome photography... I don't regret my decision to make that awful joke.

Personally, I don't use photoshop all that much, but I don't think less of photographers who use it to express themselves (unless they lie and say it's all done in camera). But hey, if that's your opinion, that's yours to have.

Mauro Scattolini's picture

technically, if you do graphic design, you use illustrator and not photoshop, most of the time since made for that kind of thing. Probably for painting photoshop is better, but not 100% sure about that. If you shoot for a living and you expect your client to like a RAW file, you'r going to die broke. I shoot products, and even thou I spend time cleaning them spotless, there is not dust proof studio, so every time I have to clean them a bit. Does it fall under graphic design? Nope.
If we want to discuss the subject on a 'reality' point of view, photography is a medium that always distort reality. You can't take a picture of words, you can't take a picture of the whole scene and it's always an interpretation of the reality. You are already distorting facts. Erasing a blemish, a dust grain, changing a color or putting a different sky ain't different than just taking a picture of few elements you've selected from a scene.
Going deeper, our brain is the first filter; it alter reality. We perceive colors in different ways, we interpret scenes in different ways and our background determines what we will see first. As other said, both the extreme of no photoshop or extreme photoshop, are extremes and so 'wrong' but there are thousands of different shades in between. Neglecting those just makes your works poorer.

Anonymous's picture

Continued from your last reply.

So, what you say is crossing the line, is quite literally HDR, which I can do in camera, using the camera software.

Again because of this terrible comment thread system, I don't know which statement you're responding to, but no, bracketing itself does not stop an image from being a "photograph", in my opinion. It is certainly easy to process an HDR to look totally wacky and unnatural, indeed, however the act of bracketing and merging itself can still be a simple procedure meant only to overcome a relatively fleeting drawback of sensor technology, limited dynamic range.

Anonymous's picture

Matthew, despite the "terrible comment thread system", there is enough information to see that I haven't addressed you at any stage, until right now.

Sorry, I see that now, but previously I was basing my replies based on a comment paragraph that was literally 1-2 words wide. I've figured out how to re-stretch the page width to make things a lot more obvious.

Anonymous's picture

First I just want to say I really enjoy the discussion your comment has sparked!

Second, I think you shot yourself in the foot a bit with your original statement (that Photoshop is NOT a part of photography), but can see that your opinion isn't so black and white as originally stated and I really agree with almost everything you're saying.

I totally agree that when you introduce elements that weren't actually in a scene it's no longer true photography but this is just my stance and I still appreciate the art. Photography in any form is an interpretation of an environment, people see colors differently and in general just look at the world differently and this difference in how we interpret a scene is largely shown in how we post-process an image. On the same line of thought however, we may see colors and interpret spaces differently, but there are clear lines in manipulating a photograph, like for example,
although we may all look into the clouds and see different shapes or patterns, we're still looking at the same clouds, when you replace those clouds with a different sky, you're telling a lie.

My biggest issue with Photoshop is when people fundamentally change a scene and try to sell it off as real. An example of where this can be really shit is Instagram accounts promoting tourism or travel companies, half the pictures they put up are complete composited lies that they use to sell holidays to people based on false realities which can only lead to disappointment. In this kinda case I feel like there is a responsibility to keep things as real as possible and certainly not to composite in extra elements. In the case of say, a large print to hang in the home though, who cares what's been done to it, if you like it and want to hang it up, go for gold!

"Acceptable" is relative, because this is both art, and photography.

In landscape photography, at least half the battle is to be at the right place at the right time, to see the beautiful light, when all the elements come together perfectly for a single click of the shutter.

Sure, as an artist you're welcome to "go nuts" in Photoshop and do whatever the heck you want. But don't pretend that it's still "a" photograph. It's art, and they're called "photography contests", NOT "art contests", (usually) ...for a reason.

If the contest rules decide that they want to prohibit "adding, subtracting, or significantly altering the shape, position, or scale of major elements in the scene", then have some respect for that rule. They want it to be a /photography/ contest, not a Photoshop contest. It's that simple. It has absolutely nothing to do with what qualifies as art or not, or what looks beautiful or not. It is simply a chosen requirement of entering a PHOTO contest. If you don't agree with that, then host your own art/photoshop contest!

There will always be be arguments for and against - the purist vs those who push the boundaries.My take is, if the contest allows image modification, knock yourself out.

Secondly, if one decides to sell a modified image and the buyer is a purist, then the amount of modification done should be declared.

RULES! get over yourselves. Play outside the BOX

I am hoping for clear direction!!!

i Have tough skin.....bring on the commentary

Im sorry to express a different vision than the elitists.

Little known FACT Mike Kelley is a COMPOISITOR!

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

As I'm going through another CTC series a though have emerged - this kind of CTC could benefit with another star in the rating. I would place it between 2 and 3 (so it would be like 2.5 for now). I'd call it "Instagram ready!" - still not good enough to be in a portfolio, but will do just fine when scrolled through on Instagram. WDYT, guys? :D

Jordan McChesney's picture

I'd agree with having a wider range of ratings, however, based on my experience on Instagram a 0.5 star rating would be "Instagram ready!" and it would just have to be a picture that exists.

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

If I understand correctly, the "picture that exists" is, for now, a 1. No thoughts given, anyone can take, usually the work shows lack of technical knowledge & skills, as the artistic concept in it. What I meant is to place this kind of step between the present 2 & 3 stars rating, so it would look like this:

1 - snapshot
2 - needs work (a lot!)
3 - Instagram ready! (will do just fine on social media but that's it)
4 - solid, good enough for portfolio
5 - excellent, with recognizable style of artist, well planned & executed
6 - world class, state of the art

Jordan McChesney's picture

I think they mention "has an instagram filter" for 1 star.

My jab was more at what gets popular on instagram vs quality. I just checked and the photo with the most likes/most popular for the hashtag "japan" was someone's smartphone photo of their ice cream (over 10,000 likes). He had over 200K followers and it was all smartphone photos of food. I'm not saying my photography is world class or anything, but it's definitely better than that and I'm struggling to stay over 450 followers and get 80 likes per photo after over a year on the platform.

Instagram is more of a popularity contest and less of a good way to judge quality. Don't get me wrong, when used correctly it can be a good way to build networks and get your work out there. It just seems to me that quality is not always taken into account, but rather popularity (see the case of Daryl Aiden Yow).

Perhaps instead of using instagram it could be something like "viable as a stock photo" or something more rooted in actual photography.

But that's just my (possibly cynical) opinion

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

I agree that popularity doesn't have to come hand in hand with quality. Although, I think we still try to rate the quality of the images here, not their popularity potential. When I say "instagram ready" (or "Social Media ready") I mean a picture with decent quality to publish it to your audience, by a photographer's standard (but not as good to make it into your portfolio). I would like to put the popularity aside here.

Stock photo is also an option here, although, for some people, stock IS portfolio. :D

Jordan McChesney's picture

Hmm, can see what you're getting at. I think that could work.
I think we could also use a 0 star rating that means "delete this", haha.

Andrew Muhlbeier's picture

People please read the link explaining the rating system before voting. My long exposure shots are not snapshots, I entered this contest for critique and feedback and cant take the ratings seriously when photos that obviously required a tripod, ND filter, long exposure, when I needed multiple shots to get right and spent time in post processing are called snapshots. If you think that It needs work that is fine, if you want to tell me what needs work that is great. This community feels like a bunch of crabs in a bucket constantly pulling each other down. I know it is the Minority but seriously every time the video comes out the community ratings are more of a joke than anything informative and only 20 photos make it to the video to get an actually informative critique the rest just had their photography skewered for no reason. There are some outstanding images in these competitions but a 4 star rating is so rare its ludicrous. Before you say it, art is not Subjective only your taste in art is.

Christos Dikos's picture

So agree. I deleted one of my entries. Same thing - long exposure, ND filter, lots of attempts, time in post and got a number of "1" ratings. Lol.

Remi Lachaine's picture

The problem is that, this is a 'contest' and the people who are rating pictures are the same that are posting pictures. So, to win the contest it is in their interest to downvote everyone else, so that their picture has a chance to win. It would be much more helpful if people were focusing more on constructive critique and less on the contest.

Terry Waggoner's picture

Remi, it's best not take any of this serious as there are several agendas at play in any photo contest. Those who are naive beginners, those who ardent enthusiasts, those who are serious and those who are way too serious.

Andrew Muhlbeier's picture

That's the thing its not even that serious of a competition! Other sites have far better systems this rating system for one doesn't work at 5 stars it doesn't allow a wide enough margin between solid but failed attempts and just disasters of photos.

Yeah these contests aren't really great at getting feedback, which should be the priority, and I think that after everyone's pictures get destroyed in the ratings without any actual feedback they get more likely to rate others lower. And then because of the fact that 3 stars in these contest generally means it's actually an amazing image, the 1 star ratings seem to come out easier.

That said, I don't think that just because someone used a tripod and an ND filter it can't be a snapshot. The rating guidelines say little to no thought went into the image and that could certainly be the case if I saw a stream, and broke out the tripod and slapped on an ND filter and shot away. I don't want to single out any images to make a point here but I think sometimes we forget that no one else knows the story of the image and all they see is the final product, and sometimes that final product looks like a snapshot even though it was relative difficult to create the image.

Andrew Muhlbeier's picture

Yes I have noticed that it has started to make me feel a bit jaded but ill stop participating if i ever start felling the majority of submissions are one stars

Yes an ND filter and a tripod are pretty clear indications that the person put thought into the picture the fact that have to manually set your setting and adjust your filter or swap filters to get the shot you want excludes it from being a snapshot. that doesn't mean it is a good shot though. they have discussed this on the videos multiple times a snap shot is something anyone could take with any camera by accident. that doesn't even mean that a snapshot is a bad photo it just means that the Photographer isn't necessarily good.

Danial McCoy's picture

Personally I think that in order to be allowed to rate an image 1 or 2 stars you should have to giver a critique along with it. Yes there would be less actual rating given by people who don't want to take the time to give a proper critique as a result, but the ratings that are given would be more meaningful to the artist. Such a system could easily be moderated by select community volunteers.

Yeah I think that would be good or at least a system where you need to leave a comment ever 10 votes or so. I know I'd rather have 10 votes and even just a few comments on one of my images than 60 votes and no comments. But I do think if you required it for specific ratings then it would just make people less likely to give those ratings, so I'm not sure that would solve all of the problems.

Andrew Muhlbeier's picture

That would be great since if you are getting consistent 1 star ratings then either you don't understand some fundamental things about photography or the voter doesn't , maybe they are petty but I hope there are few of them. Either way a comment would clarify why you are getting that low of a rating.

Anonymous's picture

Having looked at the ratings on every single image in this comp, the audience appears to be excessively critical.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I've told the Fstoppers crew that attaching a prize to a voting system where the competitors themselves vote doesn't work. They actually commented back, but it seems like this broken system is here to stay until they think of something better.

Subjective or not, it is a major red flag when even your highest rated photo, out of almost 900 photos, can't break 4 stars.

I haven't seen a single photo over 3.5 stars (with more than 30 votes). Not even Mads's (from Fstoppers) photo. It has a 4.26 rating in his portfolio but only has a 3.37 in the contest (82 votes, no comments), last I checked. That's almost a whole star lower.

However, it's best not to get too caught up in the ratings for the contest. I have a photo rated as "excellent" in my portfolio that was rated as a "needs work" in the contest, and another one at 2.52 (without a single comment). Luckily it doesn't affect your rating in your profile, so there's no real damage done.

Personally, I'm not in this for the tutorial, so I don't pay too much attention to the ratings, other than to laugh at how ridiculously low ratings are. I know that a lot of people just downvote for the tutorial, so I don't take it personally. The way I see it, if you have to downvote other people's photos because you don't think yours is good enough to win in an honest way, then maybe you should spend less time downvoting, and more time using your camera.

I even try to avoid rating photos if I lack the knowledge of what's good and bad, for example, a portrait (because I can't give proper feedback).

Andrzej Muzaj's picture

I've noticed similar pattern - photos that I put for the CTC contest usually gets almost a full star lower rating that same photos in my portfolio. So, apparently, that applies to others, too. And yes, it is somewhat strange, that not a single best rated photo can get to a 4 stars level. But, as you mentioned, it's a flaw of the system, that some widely abuse in hope to... actually not win a free tutorial, because it's impossible that way, but for standing out less (in a "bad" way). I suppose... ;)

Anonymous's picture

I can only chuckle wryly in response to the strong emotional reactions to my comment about people never having given any thought to what constitutes art.

NO photograph is a literal representation of reality. Just some photographs are less so than others.

But sure, ban all black and white, because that is not representative of reality. And you know, if you take two exposures of the one scene to account for contrast, and combined those exposures, you totally shouldn't be permitted...

Go for it guys, attack me, but the strength of your reaction says more about you than it does about me.

Anonymous's picture

William why didn't you take the time to read through the comments again properly before posting this and digging yourself into a deeper hole. I will tell you one more time, the comment chain you're referring to was a civilized discussion on where people personally draw the line between calling something a photograph and calling it digital art. For some people that line is as soon as something is done off camera, for others the line is only when an image is built from scratch (literally drawn in or constructed), for most people however it's a blurry line somewhere between the two extremes and that is what was being discussed. You made a snide blanket accusation against everyone who places that line differently to you that they're just upset and have probably never given any thought to what constitutes art, you have no reasonable grounds to say that. I called you out on your comment in a civil manner, I simply stated no one was acting upset, asked you why you felt the need to make such a comment without any intent of providing constructive discussion and said what the conversation was clearly about. You say to go ahead and "attack you" that was never the intention, you turned this into an attack no one else, it started with your "people have never given thought to what constitutes art" comment and was made clear by your response to call me a snowflake and the proceeding chain of comments between you and I as well as you and Matthew Saville. You say that our "emotional" responses say more about us then about you, obviously... just like your comments say more about you than they do about us...anyways that's not a bad thing when you have a decent personality, if was worried about my personality being exposed I wouldn't have made my account using my real name and I certainly wouldn't comment so much without anonymity.

PS. It doesn't take the sharpest tool in the shed to see by the response to our fun little comment chain how people feel about you, the little thumbs ups by the comment are a decent indicator.

PPS. NO ONE suggested to ban all black and white or that a photos can't be bracketed or any if this crap you're raving on about.

Jorge Gonzalez's picture

My GOD, I wish I had the power to delete you guys from here. Pathetic

Anonymous's picture

1) You have no power here
2) Just skip past the comments
3) Get over it
4) If I'm being called out and attacked on a public forum I will defend myself, my opinions and what I've said, if you have an issue with that please refer to points 2 and 3 above...

Anonymous's picture

Poor baby, got all upset over a fairly innocuous post, which wasn't directed at any person in particular, and now wants to cry about the consequences.

As I said, you're a snowflake.

Jorge Gonzalez's picture

lol. Main point: " If I'm being triggered on an anonymous virtual reality, I reserve the right to extreme douchiness". lol

Anonymous's picture

I'm not anonymous here and this isn't virtual reality... Extreme douchiness, well you're entitled to an opinion Napoleon, doesn't make it right. Have you actually read the discussion between us?

Jorge Gonzalez's picture

Actually no lol. I have no idea what's going on in all honesty. I just know that I keep getting annoying notifications from a couple of losers that won't shut up(most likely talking about nothing important)

Anonymous's picture

Are you including the part after I made it totally clear that I care so little that I'm not even reading your comments, but you continued "defending" yourself?

Jorge Gonzalez's picture

Alright ladies. As much fun as it was trolling you guys, I've got better things to do . Not to toot my own horn but that was an amazing thats what she said joke. Take it to heart Mrs. Isaac

Anonymous's picture

I'm just having fun screwing with him. He really did ask for it.

Anonymous's picture

I didn't ask for it but I won't back away from it

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Contest Submissions

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