Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maine Photography Show

Burnt Coat Island

Gold Dragonfly Blue Water
For three years running, I have entered the Maine Photography Show. These are the images I submitted this year. None of them were chosen by the juror, John Paul Caponegro. What do you think?
All of them were shot in Phippsburg. The first one is of Burnt Coat Island. It was shot very early on a summer morning. Our dog had run off in the middle of the night and we were out searching for him. He wasn't there. I'll never forget the anxiety of not finding him, nor will I forget the delicious morning light in that cove.  The second one, submitted in the black and white category, was also shot on a summer day, but in the afternoon. It was hot and I had been working in a garden 'Weeding For Dollars.' To cool down, I walked to the edge of the lake for the bits of breeze and shade that there were to be had. The view of the lake seemed perfectly framed by this huge ash tree. Coincidentally, the dragonfly photo was taken on the same lake. It was the middle of the day when everything seems to shimmer and the cicadas whine is almost intolerable.
Entering photography contests can be most disheartening, especially when I've got no idea where these images failed. So, it would truly be helpful if some of you would wade in to tell me what you think of them, because there's always next year. Unless I can learn from this I'll just make the same mistakes, whatever they may have been, over again. I'm funny that way.


  1. We are John Paul possibly blind? The dragonfly photo particularly has a unique style, almost like it was a painting and not a photo. Maybe this year the juror was looking for Maine roadkill!
    HG and GP

  2. You would have my vote on all three!! Don't be discouraged, keep entering and it will pay off one day. Your photography is exquisite Robin!!

  3. Well I know young John Paul (I know his father as well), and the next time I see him I am going to give him (and his father) unshirted hell for not recognizing your fine photography skills (I am also going to give him unshirted hell for not accepting my photo entries)...

  4. I must agree with all of your other comments the photos are perfect in all aspects. I love the Cove only because there is something about a Maine seaside cove. Maybe it's not anything to do with "your" pictures but the other photos were beyond what you had entered. Although I don't see how that could be. Great job!!

  5. Are you kidding me? I think you shld win First, Second and Third Prizes........Kaky

  6. O.K. As a veteran of years of submitting woodcut prints to shows around
    the country and sometimes getting in and sometimes not I know your
    disappointment, but the word is KEEP TRYING because you are GOOD!

    I'll do my best, but I am not an authority on photography!

    First, it depends a lot on the eye of the judge(s). It is a very
    personal thing and not something you can control. It also depends on how
    many other people submitted, say, a dragonfly, or similar image to
    yours--they can only take one of two that are similar in concept. In
    the latter case, then, you should strive for originality of subject
    matter or composition.

    Photo I. I find your first photo exquisite and original--the reflection
    of the pattern of the railing is WONDERFUL and the light on the near
    grasses. It is an OOOOH!! photo. The only part that is not quite up to
    par with the two parts I just mentioned is the fact that the distant
    house seems to be sitting on the railing. You can analyze a picture
    (photo or painting)by finding separate compositions within it. You have
    the dock railing and reflection, and the beautiful grasses, but the
    point of land does not have the same perfection. If you had been able to
    have even a small bit of land under the house that might have done it.

    Photo II. I find this very original and striking and am perplexed why it
    would not have been in the show. It has a perfect range of really black
    black, medium gray in the foreground with very lovely leaf patterns and
    light gray in the distance. It is a beauty!! Should have been in!!!!!

    Photo III. This is another striking photo. Great contrasts between
    large flat areas of colors and exquisite fine detail in the dragonfly. I
    wonder if the judges noticed the weevil. Sometimes a title such as "The
    next meal" will draw an observer deeper into a picture to find more
    there. Would it have been possible to get the weevil in better focus? Or
    is he and it is the light glancing off that makes him seem not to be?
    Dragonflies are so skittish--it's a triumph that you got that photo!

    I liked your essay on mute swans. For someone who finds great beauty in
    Japanese beetles and excuses them everything (but still drops them in
    soapy water) it is hard not to rejoice in the beauty of swans. I
    especially love your first photo in the new blog on them.

    I was surprised you did not submit any bird photos.

    Only other suggestion is to go to the show--perhaps you did--and study
    all the photos and see what you can learn from them.

    Onward and Upward!! Excelsior! Your photos will receive recognition,
    I'm sure.
    I just noticed the two herons in the black and white photo!!!!That one
    is surely a prize winner and I would enter it again somewhere else!!
    Again, the title might have been "Two herons". Lakeside is obvious, but
    you could use titles that bring more awareness to the photo.

  7. That guy has a problem with his eyesight, and i would tell you if i didn't like those pics. I love the dragonfly pic! just stole it for my background.

  8. I’m sorry Robin.. I’ll call you and give you my thoughts over the phone, so you understand what I’m talking about. They are nice picture.

  9. Hi Robin, I can only say that I love all three pics. Sorry that I can't be more helpful but I know what I like and I love them!! Becky

  10. Hey Robin, its your new friend Bonnie in Vermont replying to your questions about your photos. I think they are excellent. The dragon fly is my favorite basically because it is so unusual. The other two are beautiful but I think the subject matter is to "ordinary" for the judge maybe? I don't think there's anything wrong with any of them but I might venture to say that the dragon fly is most interesting, dramatic and dynamic and I would head in that direction - go for the unusual - the dramatic and dynamic gets my vote.... - you have so many wonderful photos and I look forward to your emails and pass them on to my good friend, Penny, who loves everything nature, she's our "Mother Earth" friend!

    Have a great day and keep taking those photos !!!

  11. Robin -- I enjoyed every one of these 3 immensely; would be proud to have taken any of them myself. I don't have any specific reason, but I think my choices would be 1 - 2 - 3 in the order they appear on your blog. The first two are pretty much tied; I love b & w.

  12. I can't thank all of you enough! Your responses were constructive and truly helpful. You've given me good thoughts to mull over and new ways of looking at my images. It's been almost better than making the jury cut! I even had one person call last night from out of state to give me her thoughts on the images. Interestingly, It's a split verdict on the photos: as many people loved the first two as much as the third and some did not like the third at all. "I'm not a bug person," was her reason. Maybe John Paul Caponegro isn't a bug guy, either! So for me it's "HI HO Silver and away!" On to the next one. Thank you all very much.

  13. I'm a Mainah,( not a photographer) and as such, it is easy for me to pass over images of what we see every day. With that in mind, the first 2 pictures, don't wow me. But the third, is extraordinary, without being contrived. I love it. Ignore the judge...make up some prints for the Sidewalk Art Show in Portland and watch your business take off.

  14. To me the fist picture needed alittle more blue in the sky. But who am I to critique your work. It's always beautiful. Loved the bridge. Can't figure out why it wasn't good enough .
    The tree framing the scene was exceptional. I would hang those in my home.

  15. Shame, shame shame! How silly is that Maine photography show not to see the beauty in those pictures. I think I will march down and wrap them one. The color, presentation, depth, detail , etc etc was outstanding. What is wrong with them!!

  16. Perhaps this comment based on Popular Photography's January 2010 magazine issue that I found interesting may be of may be of interest to you as well.

    Editor Miriam Leuchter writes about “What does it take to win a photo contest?” She mentions:

    1) Photo is technically excellent
    2) Clearly defines subjects that instantly draw you into the picture
    3) Inspire emotional reaction or mood
    4)An element of surprise that piques your interest and
    5) Convey all of the above in an instant.

    Other photographers she asked this question to responded, “The photo jumps off the screen at first viewing”, “First impressions matter” and one responded with “Amaze me!”

    As for the Maine Photography Show, perhaps looking at past winners and getting an idea of what past judges are looking for may help.

    Good luck on your future contests.

  17. Thanks for that, Andy. I think Popular Photography is a great magazine. I guess I shouldn't have let my subscription lapse!

  18. All three are really nice and obviously mean a lot to you. There's no predicting how a juror will decide about these things. I submitted 3 to the Chocolate Church few years ago. I think they were too literal for them. The one they accepted was OK, but not my favorite.
    You obviously take great photogrtaphs. Display them on your blog and soak up the applause.
    (Did you ever find your dog?)

  19. They all looked damned good to me. Perfect as a matter of fact. It will be interesting to see what actually did make it. I guess I liked the one of Burnt Cove the best because I have seen perfect mornings like that. The composition of the lake picture was just perfect, the double arching of the branch and what it framed. The lily pad and dragon fly.....I know you said that was exactly as the light was but I wonder if they thought it was manipulated? Who the hell knows. This is what happens with artists you know, they fall in and out of favor with the critics and usually the people chosen to judge are like editiors.....frustrated that their own work never really makes it. It's hard not to be annoyed with egos isn't it?

  20. They all looked damned good to me. Perfect as a matter of fact. It will be interesting to see what actually did make it. I guess I liked the one of Burnt Cove the best because I have seen perfect mornings like that. The composition of the lake picture was just perfect, the double arching of the branch and what it framed. The lily pad and dragon fly.....I know you said that was exactly as the light was but I wonder if they thought it was manipulated? Who the hell knows. This is what happens with artists you know, they fall in and out of favor with the critics and usually the people chosen to judge are like editiors.....frustrated that their own work never really makes it. It's hard not to be annoyed with egos isn't it?

  21. Thanks for that SRB (above post, not mine :)) The variety of responses to those photos has indeed been fascinating. RRR

  22. Getting caught up on your blog since being away- and absolutely LOVE all three of these photos, but the third one is most impressive! It almost looks like the leaf is on a blue cloth- yet you know it is water. Stunning! They really blew it Robin- maybe they knew you had been in the show for a few years, so just decided to skip over and let someone else in- who knows? All of your photos always take my breath away. Still will always love the striking photo you took of the Osprey trying to take a fish away from the Eagle. The look on the face of the Eagle was literally so graphic you could hear the curse words coming out of his eye! To me, that was the most stunning nature photo I've ever seen. You should have entered that!!! Title it "I don't think so"....
    Ms. Boo

  23. Robin, I understand your frustration. I was selected in the B & W category and went to the opening and frankly I couldn't understand most of the selections for winners. Your images are much stronger than a lot of the ones selected but don't be discouraged by that. I'm sure you have seen the lily pad shot which won third place? Well, frankly, your dragonfly shot is far superior. The print at the show was pixelated and poorly printed...and it was sold! Find your niche. Just because someone doesn't like your work certainly doesn't mean it is bad. You just need to find your audience. My audience was certainly not at this show.

  24. I Love the the Golden Dragon fly Blue water.
    I would love to paint this type of shot.You can see some of my work on
    If I give you credit would you allow me to paint something like this or do my silk round?

  25. I would be pleased for you to commit a painted rendition of that photograph. I'll be looking forward to seeing it!

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