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Non-judgemental Evaluation NJE - Round 2

FundyBrian

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Would you like to participate?
Non-judgemental evaluation is another way of looking at images to help us learn how to make our images stronger.

Typical evaluation covers the usual stuff about exposure, colour balance, composition, subject, impact, etc. It is all about "how". "I like this picture or I don't like this picture because"...

All of that is irrelevant in non-judgemental evaluation. We're on a journey of discovery. We can't do much to change how an existing picture was shot. We are not interested in criticizing an image. However, it makes a useful example to explore how pictures are capable of evoking emotions or creating a story in our minds.

This is how you start.
After examining the image you say, "This picture makes me feel _____".
You don't say anything about the picture. You only describe how the picture makes you feel.
"I like it (or not)" isn't relevant. Don't try to analyze or critique the image. Just reach inside yourself and see what has been awakened by the image. Whatever the feelings are, whether you understand them or not. Once the feelings have been named or described then you set out to figure out exactly what it is in the image that gives you that feeling. After doing this with several images you start to see how to create those feelings in your own pictures.

Don't expect everyone to feel the same emotions from the same picture. Our emotions come from our past experiences and how we evaluate what we see. We even attach meaning where maybe there isn't any. Realizing that other people may read emotions differently than you do is valuable knowledge when you set out to convey a particular emotion in a photograph.

Would you like to participate? we would need to have a few people with curious minds, and a few images to explore. Don't put forward an image hoping for ways to improve it. Think of it as an example of something that you like to do or something you have trouble with. Give yourself room to grow. We would have a group discussion, one image at a time, with everyone having an opportunity to explore how the image makes them feel. It is always interesting to see what points of commonality arise from the feelings raised by the image, but also what areas of divergence. And then, how does this image cause those feelings to arise? This is where things get interesting. Reading or interpreting the clues in the image to discover where the emotions come from.

When searching for an image to use for non-judgemental evaluation I am often disappointed to discover my camera roll is full of pretty pictures but not many that really express emotions. It's a sobering fact that most of the time we get caught up in the process of image making without being emotionally engaged in the process. This reminder always makes me determined to pay more attention to expressing feelings or telling stories in my pictures.

Would anyone like to offer up the first image? Or shall I get things started?
 

digital_bunny

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This sounds interesting. But I don't know if I have any photos with emotions in them.
 

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This sounds interesting. But I don't know if I have any photos with emotions in them.
You probably do but I know what you mean. Sometimes I find when looking back that I have spent too much time making pretty pictures and not putting enough thought into expressing an emotion or story.
That's the whole point of this process, to try to see how photos can arouse emotions in us. Once we have our first photo to discuss you'll see more what it's about.
 

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Here's an image to work with. Feel free to jump in.
ImageUploadedByMobiTog1459135512.760231.jpg


Remember to start with "This image makes me feel________". Identify the feelings, name them or describe them, and then try to figure out where the feelings come from. Some of the sources will be in the image and some will be in your personal experience.
 

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I'll go first!

This image makes me feel.... Lonely.

Yep. Lonely. The prominent two trees, to me, appear to be hugging/embracing. But my eyes are completely drawn to the solitary lone tree in the corner, which appears to be reaching/longing. No matter how long I stare at the image, my eyes are always drawn up to the lone tree. I felt sadness instantly, and settled on the term lonely thinking it would best express the set of feelings I was experiencing.
 

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I'll jump in. I hope I'm responding in the right place. I'm an artist that has recently moved into photography. What I respond to emotionally in this photo, what it makes me feel is harmony. I love how I feel when I look at the colors. The reds against the green, the beautiful golden grains in the back. All playing off against the greys on the trunks. It feels good. I love the shapes of the two trees and how they work together so simply and beautifully. Mother Nature truly is the best artist.
 

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Going well. Remember to start with "This picture makes me feel ______".
Remember, the emotions are happening within you. The picture is just a picture. Your feelings come from how you interpret the image, even subconsciously. Where do they come from? A trigger from the picture combined with personal past experiences.
 

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This image makes me feel comforted. Even in nature, there are living things that cling together for support. Because of the strong foreground, my eyes only really saw the two trees. The other parts of the image were secondary. After I read the other comments, then I saw the other components and felt other emotions.
 

JillyG

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The image makes me feel like singing a bit from a song by Bill Withers "Lean on me when you're not strong,
and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long 'til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on."
 

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This picture makes me feel invigorated. It reminds me of a nice, brisk walk in a forested area during autumn where I can enjoy the changing colors of the leaves.
 

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OK. Good start. Try to dig a little deeper to see where your feelings are rooted in your own experiences.
 

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OK. Good start. Try to dig a little deeper to see where your feelings are rooted in your own experiences.
I know exactly what experience of my own triggered my reaction to the image, and almost posted that in my original reply but wasn't sure if we were doing steps this time like we did last time.

For me, currently, I spend a lot of time alone. (Health issues have me in bed for extended periods of time) I am lonely and the image triggered me. I had just visited family for the day (out of town trip) and felt very separate the entire time. I probably view most images as abstracts and not as a "literal" interpretation, so it didn't surprise me that I experienced emotion with this image. It was a pretty automatic reaction and I did try to force myself to just see trees and grass, and could not.
 

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I know exactly what experience of my own triggered my reaction to the image, and almost posted that in my original reply but wasn't sure if we were doing steps this time like we did last time.

For me, currently, I spend a lot of time alone. (Health issues have me in bed for extended periods of time) I am lonely and the image triggered me. I had just visited family for the day (out of town trip) and felt very separate the entire time. I probably view most images as abstracts and not as a "literal" interpretation, so it didn't surprise me that I experienced emotion with this image. It was a pretty automatic reaction and I did try to force myself to just see trees and grass, and could not.
Thank you! I was hoping that someone would be brave enough to look inside the way you have. You can see how your self knowledge explains the type of reaction you had to the photo. This is exactly why we must not make assumptions that other people will see our image the way we do.
I'm going to hold off for a while longer with my own interpretation of the image to give more people a chance at it.
 

JillyG

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Sometimes images touch you on a deeper level and sometimes they don't and, for me, this image doesn't suggest anything more than entwined trees. I think I may have misinterpretated the brief and I realise I should have looked to see if it 'spoke' to me before posting. It's fascinating though to hear how an image touches a person. I suppose that's why art is said to be subjective.
 
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FundyBrian

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Sometimes images touch you on a deeper level and sometimes they don't and, for me, this image doesn't suggest anything more than entwined trees. I think I may have misinterpretated the brief and I realise I should have looked to see if it 'spoke' to me before posting. It's fascinating though to hear how an image touches a person. I suppose that's why art is said to be subjective.
Not feeling something is as important as feeling something in non-judgemental evaluation. One of the important things we learn is that people have very different responses to the same image. This is very important information for a person making images based on their own feelings and assuming others will feel the same, but then wondering why they don't.
To some degree, it depends on whether you see the entwined trees as lovers embracing, and/or, if you do see it that way, what meaning you attach to it. To some people a tree is just a tree, even if it happens to look like something else as well. Some people anthropomorphise quite readily but others don't. For instance, some people are quite ready to assume human feelings and expressions in dogs and cats, even though we realize animals don't have the same ways of making facial expressions that people do.
 
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I felt comforted because I could only see a little bit of the trees. There was more to the scene, I could tell. So since all I could see was just a little bit of the scene and the foreground just jumped out at me, the closeness of the trees was my focus and therefore where my emotion came from. I've been doing reading and reflecting on our purpose as individuals and the role others play in our lives. So I think that was also in the forefront of my mind as I reflected on the scene, closeness of the trees and their "need" for each other.
 

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This picture makes me feel: hopeful, happy, curious, awe, humour, connection, love, concern, warm, silly, sad, disempowered, probably others, too.
Some background. Finding Faces is a visual game I play with myself. I see them everywhere. I immediately saw these entwined trees as lovers in a passionate kiss and I have tried on various titles: The Lovers, Lovers Kiss, Embracing Lovers, etc.
I remember trying hard to simplify the composition by avoiding the background tree but this was the best angle for the embracing couple so I composed the background tree as best I could. I considered cloning it out but in the end felt it provided some balance. The background tree is a disturbing element for me.
You can see that everything I feel about the image comes from what I project into it. Really, it is just a picture of 3 trees. From the few hints in the image I make up a story in my head.
I feel hope because I see the trees as lovers and I see love everywhere, even in places where I am obviously making it up. I didn't always. I went through difficult times and made a conscious effort to change my way of thinking to be happier. I think now in fairly basic elements. What do I really need. So now I'm a dedicated cup-half-full person.
You can see immediately that I have anthropomorphized the trees into people or tree spirits or some other loving couple. I do this all the time. Projecting meaning or human emotions or actions into inanimate objects is another thing I do a lot. Another game perhaps. Or perhaps a way of feeling connected to the world.
I feel hope that my love can be as steady as the trees. Able to bend with the wind without breaking.
I feel happy I found another face for my Found Faces and that I found a place to share it with others.
I feel happy for the tree lovers who found each other, knowing how hard that is.
I feel curious, wondering how it came to pass that these two trees grew together like this.
I feel awe at the infinite variety in nature.
I feel humour, laughing at myself for getting emotional about 2 trees I happened to meet.
I feel love, being reminded of my own love and how hard it was to find, and amazement at the completely unreasonable chain of coincidences involved in us ever having met.
I feel concern about what the background tree is feeling. It seems to be turning away from the couple, almost in the act of fleeing, as if their love is too hard to watch.
I feel concerned that one lover hasn't closed his eyes and what that might mean.
I feel connection because I have chosen to identify with the kissing couple and not the one alone. Perhaps some fear for a place I don't want to go back to.
I feel warm seeing the warm fall colours, even though I remember the day was quite chilly, especially the wind across the marsh. I made the picture a little warmer to compensate for the cold.
I feel silly for making up this scenario in my head, even though it also pleased me.
I feel sad that the evidence of fall means winter is coming soon and these walks will be harder to make.
I feel disempowered, because I feel the need to protect these 2 trees from harm so they may remain a symbol of love for others to discover. Are they too close to the snow plow's blade? What about people carving the bark with knives? Will the beaver in the marsh ponds pick them for its next meal? Or worse, pick only one? I realize I am powerless to do anything to protect them.

I think it is quite typical for the maker of an image to have more feelings, or perhaps more complex feelings, than the viewers. Although it is entirely possible a viewer may also be highly affected, and possibly for different reasons. Even so, it isn't reasonable for the maker to assume that viewers will follow the same flight of fancy that they did.
 
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Would anyone like to post another image to work with?
 

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Since no one else has posted another image here is another of mine. My first image edited in the new Hipstamatic after I reloaded it on my iPhone. It was shot in Fusion and a sign cloned out in HandyPhoto before going to Hipstamatic.

Old Bike
ImageUploadedByMobiTog1459529617.566906.jpg


Remember to start out with "This picture makes me feel _____." Then feel free to see if you can determine the clues in the image and your own experiences where the emotions come from. See if you can identify the triggers.
 
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JillyG

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Since no one else has posted another image here is another of mine. My first image edited in the new Hipstamatic after I reloaded it on my iPhone. It was shot in Fusion and a sign cloned out in HandyPhoto before going to Hipstamatic.

Old Bike
View attachment 75505

Remember to start out with "This picture makes me feel _____." Then feel free to see if you can determine the clues in the image and your own experiences where the emotions come from. See if you can identify the triggers.
This picture makes me feel happy. The bike is like the first bike I ever had and reminds me of the joy (and trepidation) I felt when I was given it. It wasn't a new bike, but it was new to me and spelled freedom and increased mobility (in the sense that I could go places quicker). I was quite old for my first bike, never having had a smaller three wheeler or anything. I had to learn to ride it, which was a bit daunting, but I knew it would be worth the trouble. Nostalgia is the second feeling that emerges. They were happy times being out on that bike - carefree (the roads didn't have as much traffic back then).
 

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This image makes me feel reminiscent. In a "former life" I vacationed twice on Mackinac Island, Michigan; which does not allow motorized vehicles of any kind. We rented bikes like this when we didn't feel like walking around the island. That former life passed long ago and I'm happy to say I've moved on to a much better life.
 

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Since no one else has posted another image here is another of mine. My first image edited in the new Hipstamatic after I reloaded it on my iPhone. It was shot in Fusion and a sign cloned out in HandyPhoto before going to Hipstamatic.

Old Bike
View attachment 75505

Remember to start out with "This picture makes me feel _____." Then feel free to see if you can determine the clues in the image and your own experiences where the emotions come from. See if you can identify the triggers.
This picture makes me feel nostalgic, cheerful, encouraged, hopeful.
I think the nostalgia comes from the colour of the bike that reminds me of car colours from the 50s, although in this case it is just spray painted all over for a decoration. The style of the bike frame also looks quite old. The soft focus, almost Orton effect, provides an idealized romantic feel to the image. I'm hoping to see my sweetie pie walk into the scene ready for a bike ride together. The rich cheerful colours are a feast for the eyes. These elements combine to give me the impression that the world was softer and gentler and less used up in the old days and it would be fun to revisit that time. The days before Silent Spring. Before pollution. Before the realization that there were limits to how much abuse the environment could absorb.
I feel encouraged that in this time of everything modern and new that some people still see value in the older way things were before carbon fibre and hybrid bikes with suspension and high pressure low rolling resistance tires.
I feel hopeful that the rush towards high tech everything might be tempered with the appreciation of simpler ways of doing things and appreciating what we have rather than thinking about what we want to buy next.
 

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The photo of the bike makes me feel happy. It is clearly a lovely day, spring or summer, the colors of the bike compliment the day and the picture either indicates to me days gone by or adventure coming. Either way, they are happy thoughts.
 

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Since there are no volunteers I will post another of my own pictures.
ImageUploadedByMobiTog1460163848.316096.jpg

Remember to start with "This picture makes me feel _______."
And then try to figure out where those feelings come from. Part of it is what is in the picture, part is in your own experiences, part is the meaning you project into the picture.
 
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