Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In answer to a critic.

I've blogged for quite a few years and very early on I learned that if you open your self up to comments not all of them would be positive. My first negative comment took me by surprise and really upset me, until I realised it was a good friend having a laugh, but by then I had gone through the emotions associated with the comment and come to terms with them. Over the next few years I've had the odd bad comment and a fair share of spam, but have kept the comments free from any restrictions or censorship, but I do delete spam.

A few weeks ago I received a very poor comment regarding one of my photos, but before I could respond one of my readers beat me too it


my 12 yr old can take a better pic than that lol

Alison Worrall

Nice reflections and colours, my fave bridge subject is Cherry eye further along the canal.
Don't fancy meeting a 12 year old of such prodigious talent with such a gutless anonymous parent.

My comment was "After blogging for over 4 years I have found that its really is not worth taking any notice of anonymous comments, if someone has something to say that is worth while they will put their name to it."

And there the matter would have rested until yesterday,


It's amazing how a canal can offer so many beautiful and varied this one with the perspective and the hint of reflection of the trees.


get real AL its a snap shot nothing special in anyway at all.

So Mr or Ms Anonymous is back with yet another poor comment, and while I have said " that its really is not worth taking any notice of anonymous comments" I did re-look at the picture and re-evaluate the images and its worth.

So is it " its a snap shot ". Well it is a snap shot, taken in a 60th of a second, with out a tripod and the only one of that view, so no mucking around trying to get the perfect angle or waiting for the right light. But its well framed, not just falling within the rule of thirds but also having 2 or even 3 lead lines taking you in to the picture and it is well exposed and colour corrected.

So from that point of view it is almost perfect, if you judge a picture on technique alone and really I would only expect that sort of critique from a skilled photographer.

Now is it " nothing special in anyway at all", well now that is a subjective argument that goes to the route of all art.

Lets start with "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" Al is from Australia, Brisbane in fact, so a snowy scene will look different to him than to someone from our area, special even.

Then we can look at the reason behind the image, it's not a random picture, the camera was pointed at a particular spot and the image captured, it was meant to show that view and to convey a certain message. Now not everyone can appreciate all art, it's like music, some you like, some you hate and some you just can not understand, but it's still music. So while this picture can speak to some, others remain deaf to its message and for me that fine, I saw something that I felt I needed to record, it touched me at that moment and made it through all the processes that stop 49,000 other pictures from seeing the light of day.

How do I feel about the picture, well it was a snap shot, I put no deliberate effort in to the framing, I just saw the image in my head, captured it and walked on, but then I have been taking pictures for over 20 years and if I needed to think about it I would not really be that good. The picture its self is better than average, it meets my standard for this type of image, it captures the scene in a structured way showing it as it was, to be seen by people who were not there, Al could not be more perfect as a target audience.

How do I feel about Mr or Ms Anonymous, well first if they felt so strongly that they commented why not back it up with a name? The second thing is that I feel upset that they did not leave a name because I probably know them as they came to my blog via Facebook, making them, on paper at least, my friend.

To finish here is a reworking of the same image in 4 different ways, perhaps one is to your liking, and here is a link to the original one


  1. Such a shame that you are subject to such cowards and possibly from someone you might know. Perhaps its just jealousy that you are so successful.

    I've compared the 4 images to the original and frankly like all 5 for different reasons, but the original has an honesty to it that the other 4 do not. Keep up the good work.


  2. Yes, I have done similarly to Snowdrop, with a similar conclusion. I appreciate the first version with whatever enhancements you used at that time.

    The sad think about the anonymous comment, and earlier comments, is that it might be from someone whom you might know, even if only virtually. However, their opinion is misguided, in my opinion.

  3. Brett, just to let you know that, as someone who lived in my early years on Woodside Lane which is very close to the Cauldon canal and which I therefore know very well :-) ... I really appreciate following your blog, not just because it takes me back to the Leek area I grew up in, but also for the generally very high quality of your photographs. Keep it up!

  4. I am totally gobsmacked at the reaction an innocent and well meant comment has caused. I still stand by my initial reaction to the canal image; I like it a lot, and for me, it is all about what I see and if it pleases me or not. As you point out Brett, it is a well composed 'snap-shot', framed well and with plenty to interest the viewer if only they bother to look. You are very correct in your comment about me being in Brisbane (in a sub-tropical climate) where snow is rarer than hen's teeth. Yours, along with other people who post winter scenes, are a constant delight. Your images win out mostly because they are good...very good! I understand that this is not the first time that 'Anonymous' has commented, but on this occasion, I think that his/her cowardice and spineless comments are unwarranted, futile and not worth the energy that they evoke. Perhaps this person is known to you in some way or other, but I get the feeling that they are jealous of your work, and somewhat innadequate.

    Keep up the great work mate!

  5. Brett, that's an extremely worthy and considered response - and a very interesting read. I'm tempted to say I wouldn't have wasted a single breathe or keystroke over 'Anonymous' - I don't know, why does the Internet provoke such bile? Is it the anonymity? I'm pretty sure that 99% of the utterly hateful things published on the net wouldn't be said to someone face-to-face. Maybe even 'Anonymous' is actually a relatively nice person who just happens to have awful (none) Internet manners. Or maybe they're just a git. See, it's even rubbing off on me. Regarding the additional images, I'm inclined to agree with all your friends here - I really like the re-worked versions but there's something very true about the first one I saw. And so I still prefer that. But then I think that's simply like reading the book before seeing the movie and vice versa - you always prefer the version that moved you first. Keep up the fantastic work - you'll never please everyone but that's more to do with them than anything to do with your superb photography. When you have an idle moment look at your 'response' stats and work out the ratio of positive comments to negative - I think that'll tell you everything you need to know.
    From A DIFFERENT Anonymous

  6. Hi Brett. I've been reading your blog for a while now and don't comment usually because I am just enjoying your photos but I had to chime in on the Anonymous thing. I don't know why people leave nasty comments on blogs. I live in Sydney, Australia and write a blog that's a mix of short stories, observations on life and in my case (average) photography. I get quite a few nasty comments several times a month which the spam filter fortunately catches. Most of the time I don't read the malicious comments but every now and then one will slip through and it does upset me even though I tell myself it's written by someone who needs to get a life. I don't know why people do it. I can't figure it out.

    I just wanted to tell you that I enjoy your blog a great deal. I was born in the UK and moved to Sydney when I was 12 (many moons ago now) and it is such a treat for me to see your images which are so different from the Australian landscape. I really love them. They remind me so much of my childhood. Even though I lived in Scotland I had family who lived in the Leek area and it is so nice to be reminded of the good old days. The anonymous trolls will never appreciate the work that goes into your photography or the pleasure your photos give to other people. So thank you. Looking forward to more of your photos!

  7. I came here after reading the comment you left at Al's regarding the fact that you'd written one of your longest posts ever and were hoping for his feedback.

    I've had occasional negative anonymous comments on my blog but not many. As a rule I don't find them worth fretting about, but I do believe you took a positive stance by questioning your own work in a fair way. The answers you provided are perfectly valid: it IS a very well composed photo with all the right ingredients in the right place. I personally love that image and wouldn't mind seeing it in print in a prominent position anywhere.

    I suggest you keep up the good work and disregard the rest.

    (I do find disturbing that the person arrived through your facebook network though...)

  8. Oh, and I forgot to say. I really like the two top versions of your photos above, the soft sepia one especially. But then the original was so beautiful I'm not sure it was worth fiddling with it.

  9. Have just discovered your blog and as an ex Stokie who used to live in the Staffordshire Moorlands I know I shall keep coming back to view the photo's and the views. My heart has gone into homesick mode now after being there just this last weekend. Keep up the good work. From a very happy and satisfied blogger.


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