What is Intra-Personal “Competition”

For most of us our lives probably have changed rather dramatically the last couple weeks with a strong emphasis on Social Distancing.  The Covid-19 epidemic has left many of us spending time at home.  Maybe I should give you a little homework to keep you busy 🙂 or maybe encourage you to share your idea about Evaluative vs. Informational Feedback.

My first thought was to respond to my friend Tom’s comment about his Sun City Hilton Head Photography Club (SCHHPC) and suggest how a Peer Mentor Program might be a valuable addition for a large responsive photography club.  But I’ll wait on that and hope that some of you who belong to large photo clubs can respond to Tom’s comments.  Large clubs like SCHHPC have a great deal to offer all level of photography including many levels of Inter-Personal Competition.  But what about Intra-Personal Competition?  I wouldn’t be surprised if you have never heard of this type of competition, even though you can figure out what it means.  So, let’s take a look at an example of Intra-Personal Competition and give you an opportunity to make the comparison.

Intra-Personal Photo Competition is comparing your own photo growth to your past photography.  That sounds pretty easy but it ain’t all that easy; how can you compare your present photography to your photography from 4 years ago?  I’m trying to encourage my peer mentors to do this, but the Covid-19 has cancelled our monthly meetings after I shared the experience of what I learned.  Let me show you what I have shared with my groups and see if I can get you involved.

For the past two years I have had the peer mentors share two similar photos for the Informal Critique session (more about the reason for that in a later blog).  I then asked the group to critique which photo they liked the best (evaluative feedback) and why they liked that photo better (informational feedback.)

At the February Peer Mentor Group meetings this year, I shared two photos with them for this and asked them which photo they liked the best and why.  The purpose of this critique was to introduce a form of intra-personal competition; the two photos were somewhat similar, but one was from April 2015 and the second one was from the same location in April 2019.  I had already decided which one I liked better and why; The purpose was to explore if I had improved and what I had improved upon in that past four years.

Since it is very likely many of you are sticking around home looking for something to do, I want to introduce you to one way to explore your possible improvement in photography.  I hope that you will learn something from this activity and it will get you to look at your Lightroom Library (or however you look at your old photos) and compare a photo you have recently taken with one from 1, 2, 3, or 4 years ago from a similar location (or of a similar animal or portrait or …)

Below is a photo I took at Blacktail Pond in Grand Teton National Park on April 18, 2015 with my Nikon 7000 at 25mm (with a 18-20 mm lens) at 1/45 sec @ f16 with ISO 100.  Your “homework” is to thoughtfully look at this photo and answer the 4 questions listed above the photo.  Don’t just skim over this!  Take time to answer each question (and preferably write down your answer):

  1. What do you like about this photo (Informational Feedback)?
  2. What do you think is not-so-great?  (Be specific, I’d really like to hear it in your comment)
  3. What specifically do you think should be changed?  This could be in exposure, composition, LR, etc
  4. What advice would you have given me on what I needed to do differently; what would you suggest?

 

Let’s look at a 2019 photo from a very similar place – Blacktail Pond

Let’s look at a photo taken at Blacktail Pond in GTNP on April 23, 2019 with my Nikon 610 at 24 mm (with a 24-120 mm lens) at 1/30 sec at f16 with ISO 100.  Your new “homework” is to thoughtfully look at this photo and answer the 4 questions listed above the photo.  But this time, also think of a 2015 – 2019 comparison – don’t give the 2019 photo any extra credit so that you can say that Randy’s photography has gotten better.  If you think Randy’s photography has gotten better, what about his photography seems better?  Here are the same questions:

  1. What do you like about this photo (Informational Feedback)?
  2. What do you think is not-so-great?  (Be specific, I’d really like to hear it in your comment)
  3. What specifically do you think should be changed?  This could be in exposure, composition, LR, etc
  4. What advice would you have given me on what I needed to do differently; what would you suggest?

So based on these two photos, do you think Randy’s photography has improve over the last four years?  I think I have improved (that’s a nice feeling 🙂 ) and I honestly do attribute a lot of that improvement to the Peer Mentor Program (more on that later).  Feedback from my peer mentor friends helped me think more …

Here is Randy’s Critique of these 2

The 2019 photo above has more “punch” in the sky, the foreground, and especially that line of orange willows just this side of the mountains.  The reflection of the mountains in the water isn’t great in either of the images and neither foreground leads my eyes to the mountains.  But the mid-range orange willows grabs my attention and leads my eyes to the mountain, and the mountains have interesting clouds in a more vibrant sky.  The 2015 photo has more balance but it is rather boring.  The 2019 has water on the right but brown grass on the left which is a bit distracting.  So my vote goes to the 2019 photo but there is still plenty of room for improvement.  Maybe more cropping?

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And at the early March peer mentor meeting a photo friend of the peer mentor program (Mike Jackson, Best of the Tetons) gave me some informational feedback.  Mike pointed out that the water and grass and rocks actually took away from the bold orange willows and suggested that I crop the image quite a bit more, which led to this photo.  I think this pano is probably the best of the three but maybe photo #2 could be improved with more cropping to take away some of the foreground and some of the right and quite a bit of the left.  What do you think?

What have I learned from Inta-Personal Competition?

I must admit that finding images from the past to compare with images that are similar but way more recent isn’t easy.  But I suspect you probably have some social distancing time on-hand to compare the past to the present and I think you will value what you learn.  After a good photo shoot (there will be some good photo shoots in your future) you will feel good about your improvement.  But what exactly has improved in your photography?  You can guess but doing a Intra-Personal examination may be very helpful.

I won’t bore you with a lot of details about the improvements I’ve made but here are some basic changes: I take a majority of my shots on a tripod which slows-down my thinking.  I’m more thoughtful when getting ready to take the shot; I look around the edges, check-out composition, etc.  I think about leading lines and other foregrounds to take the viewer into the photo.  I’m more careful about exposure and use my exposure compensation and blinkies (highlights in the monitor) for most shots.  I take most of my photos at sunrise or early morning and some at sunset.  But probably most important is taking time to look and think which is in many ways fueled by participating in informal critiques where the peer mentors and I discuss what we think about many photos every month.

So have you improved your photography over the past year or two?  How do you know?  Is it a pain in the fanny to find old pictures to compare to new ones, or are you just a bit too lazy to check?  I’d like to suggest that you take the time you need to make those comparisons now that you are locked-up with the social distancing.  Staying home will help keep you safe and healthy.  Checking out your old photos may help you to recognize what is better about your photography and may even given you some ideas about what to improve in 2020.

Let me know what you think.  Can Intra-Personal Competition get you motivated?