The NPN and BPN Experiment

I have had a wonderful experience on Flickr for the past year. From meeting new friends, to sharing my images to a wide audience, Flickr has made me feel a sense of community. As for improving my photography, Flickr has helped in two major ways. First off, the amount of comments an image of mine receives helps reflect its popularity. Secondly, my fellow nature photographers amazing work that graces my screen helps me to see what works and what doesn’t and apply these lessons to my own imagery.

Critical feedback as a whole is widely missing from Flickr. It’s unfortunate because the community is so large with many talented photographers, but in general, you will rarely get a critique of an image you post.

That’s why I have decided to include three more sites to help me grow as a photographer.

http://www.naturephotographers.net  (NPN)

http://www.birdphotographers.net  (BPN)

http://www.naturescapes.net

All three sites have galleries where you post your images and receive critical feedback. In return, you have to critique five images of your choosing. Each site includes all aspects of nature photographer, but naturephotographers.net specializes in landscapes and birdphotographers.net specializes in birds (who would of thought).

For 2010 I will submit all my best landscape work on NPN and my best avian work on BPN. I haven’t figured out where naturescapes.net fits in, it’s difficult to manage all these sites! Flickr will remain my go to site.

I have submitted two images to each site and and can give some early impressions.

My first image on BPN was downloaded and re-edited by three people, including Art Morris, the site’s head figure. They went through point by point their re-edits and uploaded their versions. WOW. It doesn’t get any better than that. My next image received a few comments but no critiques. Perhaps it wasn’t an image screaming “fix me”. I’ve really enjoyed critiquing others as well. You can click on any photo, read the critiques and learn something each time. If you look through the images, typically it’s the best work that receives the most views, just as it should be.

My first image on NPN was viewed and commented quite a bit, with a key composition critique that was extremely helpful. The rest of the critiques all revolved around how to sharpen an image for web display. An important skill I now have a better understanding for. Sites like Flickr and Smugmug allow you to post your image at any size. Other sites require tiny files which then require further sharpening to resemble their normal selves. My next post received a few valuable comments, helping me see the image from a different perspective. My complaint with NPN so far is that it feels a lot like Flickr. There are photographers that post on a regular basis that are rockstars. Tons of view and tons of comments, just like on Flickr. There is something to be said for a building a reputation, but at the same time I think the goal of these sites should be to react to the photo before the photographer. As with Flickr, I think if I put the time in, my experience will continue to improve. Showing my ability overtime on NPN will hopefully improve my ability to get critiques.

My goal is simple – Improve my photographic skill as much as I can each and every day. I will update as time goes by how my experience is evolving with these sites and how they are contributing to my goal.

Happy 2010!


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4 responses to “The NPN and BPN Experiment

  • Shawn Peterson

    I couldn’t agree with you more about expanding your experiences past Flickr for “true” feedback. When I first started on Flickr I would join groups, take part in discussions, and post anywhere I could for feedback. But as time went on, I realized the majority of Flickr users aren’t interested in feedback….most of them just want attention. Not that wanting attention is poor form or bad mind you. I just noticed the “rockstars” can post a photo of a pile of trash and get oohs and ahs for their efforts. If you really dig in the search function there are some wonderful photographers on Flickr that would benefit from these sites you’ve just linked for future critique. They (like me) aren’t interested in being a groupie at the rockstar’s fan bus to ooh an ahh. They and I just want to to get better and be inspired.

    So thanks for the links….I think they will come in handy.

  • Greg Russell

    I’m coming from a different perspective–I’m active on critique forums but relatively new to Flickr. I agree completely that Flickr is almost devoid of critique, and speaking personally, I have been hesitant to give critique to photographers because it isn’t a critique forum, and I’m not sure how it would be taken. A photographer who’s not expecting it may not take it as constructive.

    Nevertheless, I agree completely that participating in forums will help you improve as a photographer. And, if I may add an unsolicited comment, as a landscape moderator over at Naturescapes.net, we’d love to see some of your beautiful landscapes.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  • ontheroad22

    Shawn – Looking forward to running into you on the forums!

    Greg – I’m getting something on Naturescapes.net tonight!

  • Online Photography Critique Forums: One Year Later « Justin Reznick's Blog

    […] year I wrote a blog post about online photography forums, specifically Naturephotographers.net (NPN), Naturescapes.net NSN) […]

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