Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Perils Of Vanity

Morning folks - how are you all? It's been a while I know, but them's the uncertain times we live in!

Anyway, today's post is a salutary tale of a face-off between gut feelings and caution and a hang-it-all-why-not-throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude.
Oh yus, it doesn't get more intense than that. 

Like an episode of Looney Tunes with two angels, one on each shoulder, I battled with myself, until,  backed up by some goading and encouragement from friends and family, I capitulated.
It wasn't entirely unconsidered, but all the same, it was highly unusual for me.

And, as if I hadn't expected it, at its bitter end lay a bottom line that was a waste of the equivalent of roughly 5 rolls of FP4 money and a sour (entirely self-inflicted) taste, rather like eating a couple of bulbs of raw garlic and then going straight to bed.
What, you've never done that? Goodness me, what a sheltered life you have led!
On a positive note, it was also a welcome validation to myself that art (sic) can often be a largely pointless (but thoroughly enjoyable) exercise, and that I shouldn't expect any back-slapping or champagne corks from said engagement in it.

If you proceed further please bear in mind this blog is its own wee country and any views expressed within should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway.

So there I was, with an idea in my head and some really (so I thought . . really?) not bad photographs. They'd been gathered over a couple of years and after quite some time spent editing and thinning and reassessing and beard stroking and bum scratching and gallons of coffee, I got the herd down to seven images.

Why seven?

Ah well. It's that masked banditeer, that siren of dreams!

El Potty!


Well Manuel, wait whilst I slap you around the back of the head and poke your eye with my thumb, El Potty, El Presidente, Channel 9!

Oh OK, when I go off onto one like this it is always (in my head) a mix of Dance Commander (by The Electric Six) and anything on Channel 9 courtesy of The Fast Show.

El Potty, is actually LPOTY, which, is actually an acronym of that fantasy land of fame: 

Landscape Photographer Of The Year.

So y'see,  the title of this blog is correct - The Perils Of Vanity.

I have to say kudos to the organisation - the whole process from cradle to grave is exceptionally smooth - it is easy to register, pay your money, upload your (albeit really small) thumbnail images, add the necessary attributes, write a bit about yourself, bask in the glow that you've actually done something and then sit back and await the Herald Angels with their trumpets, who are going to come down and hang about your house, drinking beer and smoking tabs, and then, when the message finally comes from the Gods of Landscape, they'll grab those horns and proclaim:

"Hark, all ye with eyes and ears, for they are here! 
Great Images, worthy only of The Second Coming Of St. Ansel await your attention. 
Come forth in great multitude and gaze in awe at their wonders!"

Or something like that, but the batards pissed off and hung about somewhere else . . .

Anyway, these are the really small thumbnails I submitted.

They were resized to about 1.5MB each - I do have massive scans of them too, but of course, being scans they're really not doing justice to the full-on print experience . . . but they're OK.

Hasselblad SWC/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Abandoned A-Frame

Hasselblad SWC/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Ancient Path

Hasselblad SWC/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Dawn Woods

Hasselblad 500 C/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Disused Railway Cutting

Hasselblad 500 C/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Flooded Path

Hasselblad SWC/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Pre-Christian Sacred Site

Hasselblad SWC/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Ritual Place

Hasselblad 500 C/M, Phil Rogers, Dundee
Rocks, Moss, Wood Sorrel

I entered them (funnily enough) in the Black and White Competition, which (from what I can see) largely seems to be slanted to that rather strange thing Digital B&W

I've often thought that was a peculiar one - you have a camera that can make a, what?, anywhere between 10 and 50+ megapixel image in colour and then you footer around and try to balance the software to make something that looks like it might have been made on film and printed in a darkroom on paper. 

It's about a thousand times easier to actually print an image the old way (as long as you do have access to a darkroom) and you know what, even bog standard, vin-ordinaire prints look pretty decent. 
When you get up into the heady realms of experienced printing then things become a tad more intensive, but they are still well within the bounds of being able to be done by ANYONE with a negative and some time on their hands
It's cheaper too (believe it or not) if you're going to be handling things, making prints and shoving your grubby thumbprints left, right and centre on an actual physical thing - if you don't believe me, go and have a look at the cost of 'professional' monochrome inks for inkjet printers - it is truly 100% shocking.

Anyway, I diverge. 
The 'we'll notify you' date passed and I was left with a sour taste in my mouth - worra BABY!
I suppose I should have known that competitions are vanity exercises anyway, but all the same, when you're beavering away at something like this and genuinely think you have a feel for Mother Nature, Atmosphere and Landscape In General, there's a bit of you that sort of hopes that after all these years  (a not inconsiderable 40) someone somewhere, might somehow quite like your stuff.
But it was not to be. 
I heard nothing, and threw my toys out of the pram, resulting in a solid 4 months of camera neglect. 

Really stupid dontcha think, but I guess in some vain way I was looking for validation of me and my snaps.

I am sure you'll be the same as me - you photograph because you enjoy it, but somewhere at the back of your most private thoughts there's a little bit of attention craving associated with our hobby. 
What if, someone, somewhere, went:

 I really like that

And sure, we'll get it from contemporaries and friends and in the case of this 'ere blog, you, my readers. I've always appreciated people's comments, but still some mad part of me craves more. 
Hence my folly in entering. 
And folly is the correct word. 

Why on earth should it matter to me (or indeed you) what people think? 

I've always been avowed that any artistic (sic) pursuit has to be about personal satisfaction first and then anything else (champagne, canapés, back-slapping, tipped nods) that follows is a bonus. 
But for some reason the dark cloud overtook me and there I was, £25 handed over to LPOTY and Associates and a sour taste in my mouth. 
Incidentally, my images were (on the site) in the range of entry numbers 36,000-ish. 
So that's 36,000 submissions from people all craving the same thing - obviously the actual number of entrants will be less as you're allowed a maximum number of images, however that is an awful lot of landscape wannabees.

 . . . Hmmmm, things that make you go hmmmm . . .

Anyway, enough of that - it sounds very sour on my behalf.
If I can say something positive about my rejection (sob, sob) it is that it has made me sit and think long and hard about this. 
And I have come to the conclusion, that I was right all along:

If I like it, that's fine and if anyone else does, well that's fine too, and if they don't well that's their choice - it's like water off a duck's back.

Why do I need validation from anyone, and especially from a bunch of 'experts' who mostly I have never heard of?
Madness indeed.

There is a coda to this, and I was going to include a nice little video of me setting fire to The Making Of Landscape Photographs. It's a decent book, but not my cup of tea as to what makes a good landscape photograph.
It was given to me by a compadre from Scottish Photographers as he no longer had any use for it - venting my ire seemed a good thing at the time (none of that bottling up of angst for me!) but down the line, I think its current state is more preferable - chewed by a really lovely dog called Bailey. 

The baby in me would say "Well done Bailey", however, to quote the old TV advert tagline for stout:

 "Like The Murphys, I'm Not Bitter".

I actually prefer Guiness these days so I am off to dip my Farley's Rusk into a nice cool pint of the Black Stuff.

TTFN - and remember, please keep taking photographs that please you and you alone.