It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

Whose tomato picture is the best?

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Folks, I am shocked at the voting results for the Fruits and Vegetables category, specifically the 2nd place tomato photo submitted by kinard:

I have attached my cherry tomatoes photo that I submitted that is basically the same theme: a branch of red and green cherry tomatoes. I'm not saying I should have won 1st place, only that I think my tomatoes picture is much better than kinard's, yet I didn't win anything, not even runner up. I have nothing against kinard and I wish him/her well. My gripe is with the voting.

Never in a million years would I vote for a blurry picture like kinard's. I throw out my blurry pictures and I wouldn't dream of submitting one for a calendar. I would be too ashamed to send such a poor quality picture. I'm sure kinard has taken much better pictures; I just can't imagine how anyone could vote for that photo. I threw out hundreds of my blurry tomato pictures, and I would have laughed if anyone told me one of them might win the Dave's Garden Calendar photo contest.

I'm not trying to be a snob, but I just want people to know that I actually have taken art in college-8 courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Art was always my favorite subject in school and I've been a photographer since I was about 6 years old taking photos with my parents' Polaroid. I've worked a paying job as an artist (graphic design). So, I have a solid background that makes me well qualified to judge the artistic merit of calendar photography.

I know, people will say: "Gosh, she's a sore loser," but I believe the best pictures should win, so it's not about that. If someone's picture is better than mine and won instead of me then they deserve to win and I admire their talent. I love looking at art and I got great enjoyment from viewing almost all the other winners. So, for next year's contest should I submit the blurriest photo of my tomatoes or choose my best photo and blur it in PhotoShop so it looks like it fell in the kitchen sink fading the ink into a blur?


Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Oceanside, CA(Zone 10a)

Poor loser! Hehe jk

Between those 2 pics(yours and hers). Here's my evaluation....

-Your photo is nice and clean. No argument there. But who wants to see a tomato cage? That is a big no-no imo. For everyday shots, sure why not. But for a contest, I would try to not show cages, containers(unless they're old wooden styled), or pretty much any background that's in focus.

-Her photo looks blurry, but actually is purposely out of focus, while the center(orange tomato) is in focus. That takes a little bit of tinkering with the camera(or the correct lens). It's kinda artistic to some. Also the raindrops add a nice touch.

I didn't vote, actually never have. Maybe I should start looking at the entries...and even submitting a few next time. Never really thought about it much.

Anyways, both pics are nice.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

Ray_Der_Phan, I think tomato cages can be beautiful, and the tomato branch I photographed is actually on a beautiful fan-shaped trellis with metal birds on it. But the photo just shows the top arc of the trellis and the main attraction is the tomatoes that are draped nicely over the trellis. This is the sunniest part of our garden facing the strong western sun and the entire image looks very summery with lovely golden sun and absolutely fantastic tomatoes that look like glass balls in gradient shades from green to red. I chose this image from hundreds of photos of my tomato plant because I thought it was the best, even better than any of the tomato pictures I posted on the following thread:

I also submitted a photo of green tomatoes (1st picture) that didn't win any awards even though it's much better than kinard's in my opinion. My green tomatoes photo shows blurry tomatoes in the background but most of the image is the sharp-focused branch in front that totally dominates the image because it takes almost all the space, has the biggest tomatoes, and is in front. So I do allow blurriness in my art photos, but only if it's artistic and kinard's photo is almost all blurry with a tiny moderately sharp tomato. I doubt that it took a lot of camera manipulation to get one somewhat-focused tomato amidst many extremely blurry tomatoes because my camera automatically chooses to focus at an object a specific length away and blurs everything in front and behind, and I almost always throw out those images unless I want to crop it, filter it, or it contains an image I want to show someone.

I wonder if the hot, sunny look of my best photo annoyed many voters because a lot of DG members experienced a hot, blistering, plant-killing summer this year, so they might instinctively been drawn towards kinard's cool-temperature-looking image of a water-drenched plant and ignored the fact that it was such poor quality. Perhaps I should have submitted one of my many water-drenched tomato photos such as photos #2 and #3. I considered submitting photo #3 for a long time, but finally decided not to submit it because I thought it was too blurry, thus too inferior to be considered calendar art. Now I know that DG members don't care much if a calendar submission is blurry.

Another photo I didn't submit but think is fabulous is the Jack-In-The-Pulpit photo #4. Jack has a hood that shelters him from the morning sun. Maybe that photo would appeal to folks whose gardens were destroyed by the hot summer sun. Voters will choose what they think is best based on many factors, so what I learned is to try to predict what DG voters' mindset is during a particular year and what kinds of images they might like rather than just what is artistically beautiful.


Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Snellville, GA(Zone 7b)

Your photos are much clearer (In focus) true. But the reason I voted for the kinard photo is because it shows an action; drops of water about to fall. When I took photography many years ago I questioned the same thing. I was told that a photograph shouldn't be a documented rendition (unless meant to be a document) but rather an artistic work. And that an action implied or captured will always have more of an artistic effct than a static one. Focus isn't everything. Think of how much more effective your photo would have had if you captured a butterfly or bee in flight with it.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

ricecake, I respect your right to consider photos portraying action as superior to photos that don't portray action, but none of my photography or art teachers told me that art portraying action is better than art portraying stillness. After spending over 40 years creating art and taking many art courses over a lifetime I've decided on my own way to judge 2-dimensional art. Among many things I consider the composition. Do the elements flow and balance regardless of whether the picture is of an actual moving object?

The above link shows the winning photo by rockgardenplants. The peppers are standing still so there's no actual movement, but the orange and yellow fruit look like flames of fire moving in different directions. Another type of movement important to judging art is how the eye moves from one part of the image to the other. For example, my sunny tomato photo has tomatoes arranged in staggering positions so the eye moves from one tomato to the other, up and down the trellis arc, etc. which creates "movement" in the photo.

You can see the same type of movement from staggered objects in the pumpkin photo in the Dave's Garden header (unless you changed the default image to another one for this month). Notice how your eye moves gracefully from one pumpkin to the next? It's a lovely composition that looks active even though the pumpkins are sitting still. Few of the winning photos in this year's or past years contests show a moving object or animal:

So I don't think my photos didn't win anything because they don't show movement, but rather because most people voting are not artists and/or don't have extensive art history knowledge. It's okay that most people here don't know a lot about art because most people in general don't know a lot about art. That's why professional art contests (photography, dance, etc. are usually judged by experts in the field or artists themselves (i.e. the Oscars are judged by people working in the movies industry-actors, directors, etc.). This is a forum devoted to gardening not art, so of course it's not required that members be artists, but every year gardeners without artistic training are asked to judge the best calendar art, therefore the really best photographs often get sidelined in favor of lesser works.

I'm not blaming DG voters for not having an art degree! I'm just offering my knowledgable opinion that something went very wrong in the Fruits and Vegetables voting. Most of the winners are absolutely fabulous but there are always the duds like kinard's tomato photo, and unfortunately excellent photos get ignored because most people judging the photos lack a trained eye for fine photography. But how much does that matter because at the end of the day people choose photos that they would like to see up on the wall every day for a month rather than Mona Lisa quality artwork.


Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

You have to keep in mind that some people, in an attempt to gather more votes, tell other friends which photos they have submitted and to 'go vote' for this or that photo. It's not really fair, but that's how some photos do get more votes. Fair? No, not really, but it could be a reason.

I looked through a lot of the photos and didn't always agree with the winners either but mostly I did. I was bit surprised at this second place also, but it was a decent photo. Not outstanding IMO either, but good. I recently won in one of the County Fair categories but didn't even place with a couple of entries in the photo contest, but not surprised given the high quality of the competition.

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

OutsidePlaying, I admired your pygmy goats photo and voted for it. I was too busy to send my photos on time but I wish I had submitted the attached photo of my tomato harvest. I rushed to send my calendar submissions on the last day but then I found out that the deadline was extended for several days because the link to submit work wasn't replaced by the voting link till many days later so there was no need for me to frantically post my photos. You made an interesting point that people ask friends to vote for their picture, which is also a typical thing in the art world where who you know makes a big difference.


Thumbnail by NancyGroutsis
Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

Thank you, DoGooder! This was the first time I submitted anything, either in the County Fair or in the photo contest. I'm by no means a pro, and I wouldn't even call myself an 'amateur', but I do love to take photos.

Your photos are very nice, BTW.

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