Dunning Kruger Effect: Why Insecure People Can’t Take Good Photos

geekpower

EOS 80D
Feb 22, 2015
187
0
Orangutan said:
geekpower said:
9VIII said:
Good composition in photographs is utterly subjective.
this is exactly the kind of thing that a person who couldn't tell the difference between good composition and bad would say; in other words, someone exhibiting dunning/kruger.
Since you don't think it's subjective, perhaps you could share with us the objective standards of good composition.
it is obviously not possible to break any art form down into some ultimately objective 'score' based on some well defined and well known scoring system, but that doesn't mean that all art is created equal. some art really sucks. some art is mediocre and forgettable. some art is good. some art is so powerful it changes the world. this is objectively true of music, writing, painting, photography, and more.

the only way to improve one's art is to recognize the difference(s) between good and bad. people who aren't very perceptive or intelligent, or who can't be honest with themselves for whatever reason, can't do that, and their art never improves. people who can be self-critical, and do recognize better art than their own when they see it, at least have the opportunity to improve. whether they put in the effort to do so is up to them.
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
geekpower said:
Orangutan said:
geekpower said:
9VIII said:
Good composition in photographs is utterly subjective.
this is exactly the kind of thing that a person who couldn't tell the difference between good composition and bad would say; in other words, someone exhibiting dunning/kruger.
Since you don't think it's subjective, perhaps you could share with us the objective standards of good composition.
it is obviously not possible to break any art form down into some ultimately objective 'score' based on some well defined and well known scoring system
We agree here.

that doesn't mean that all art is created equal
No one said it did. When I say it's 100% subjective, I don't mean all art is equal, but that any given piece of art may be very interesting to someone, even someone very knowledgeable. There have been blank-canvas "paintings" shown in galleries. There's someone like Pollock, whose work looks like random drips to some, and genius to others. There's Andy Warhol, whose work looks like childish crap to me, but people have paid a lot of money for it. Then there's Robert Mapplethorpe. A few years ago I saw a photo exhibit in, I believe, Chicago, where the photographer had taken photos of litter in various settings. The artist's statement had lots of (to me) nonsense trying to give it a concept. To me it just looked like bad urban photography. Someone at that gallery thought it was good enough to hang in a major art institution.

some art really sucks. some art is mediocre and forgettable. some art is good. some art is so powerful it changes the world
This is true, but misses the point: neither you nor anyone can hold up a work of art and claim that, as an objective indisputable fact, "it sucks." You can only claim that you think it sucks. I think Warhol and blank canvases suck, but would never claim that as an objective fact.

this is objectively true of music, writing, painting, photography, and more.
It's objectively true only that you get to decide what you think sucks, is mediocre, or what is great.

the only way to improve one's art is to recognize the difference(s) between good and bad.
Is a photo of a religious symbol immersed in urine objectively good or bad?

people who aren't very perceptive or intelligent, or who can't be honest with themselves for whatever reason
Ah, now the truth comes out: you want to feel superior to others.

I'll repeat it once more: saying it's 100% subjective does NOT mean all is equal; it means only that each person gets to make their own decisions, and cannot be told by some great authority that they're wrong.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,252
285
Davidson, NC
I take pictures to please myself. I like it if others like them, too, maybe even see what I see in them, then that's great.

I take some pictures that try to convey what it feels like just to be out in the woods. There is no subject as such, but more a matter of feel of textures and atmosphere. I like them for the most part, and think some of them work in the way I intended. I don't normally share them with anybody, because they are not conventional and I figure others will miss seeing in them what I see. A good photographer could probably do both at the same time, but I'm not there yet after decades of trying.

This is not the best example, but one handy to post:



It loses a lot of its effect in being reduced for web posting and then enlarged by the board software.
 
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geekpower

EOS 80D
Feb 22, 2015
187
0
Orangutan said:
geekpower said:
people who aren't very perceptive or intelligent, or who can't be honest with themselves for whatever reason
Ah, now the truth comes out: you want to feel superior to others.

I'll repeat it once more: saying it's 100% subjective does NOT mean all is equal; it means only that each person gets to make their own decisions, and cannot be told by some great authority that they're wrong.
Lol. As a matter of fact, everyone does fall on a spectrum of skill. Wanting to feel superior has nothing to do with it. The essence of Dunning/Kruger is that it is easy to recognize that others are on a lower "level", but difficult to recognize when others are on a higher level. It's not about right or wrong, or higher authority. It's just how our brains work.

When we do recognize that others' work is better than our own, it means there is still room for us to improve, but when we don't, it means we can't improve any further, because we literally don't know what improvements to make. And in the case where we are told that someone else's work is better than ours, and our reaction is to say, "i don't understand why you would say that", we should listen to our own words and take them to heart, because it's true. It is not the case that the other person is not better than us, and the 3rd person is making stuff up, the truth is that they are better, but we can't see it because we aren't on that level, and that's ok. Be happy with yourself and your own art, but don't make the ridiculous claim that people who are regarded as being better really aren't, just because you don't understand it.
 

CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D SR
Jan 28, 2015
4,111
1,655
Irving, Texas
Orangutan said:
geekpower said:
Orangutan said:
geekpower said:
9VIII said:
Good composition in photographs is utterly subjective.
this is exactly the kind of thing that a person who couldn't tell the difference between good composition and bad would say; in other words, someone exhibiting dunning/kruger.
Since you don't think it's subjective, perhaps you could share with us the objective standards of good composition.
it is obviously not possible to break any art form down into some ultimately objective 'score' based on some well defined and well known scoring system
We agree here.

that doesn't mean that all art is created equal
No one said it did. When I say it's 100% subjective, I don't mean all art is equal, but that any given piece of art may be very interesting to someone, even someone very knowledgeable. There have been blank-canvas "paintings" shown in galleries. There's someone like Pollock, whose work looks like random drips to some, and genius to others. There's Andy Warhol, whose work looks like childish crap to me, but people have paid a lot of money for it. Then there's Robert Mapplethorpe. A few years ago I saw a photo exhibit in, I believe, Chicago, where the photographer had taken photos of litter in various settings. The artist's statement had lots of (to me) nonsense trying to give it a concept. To me it just looked like bad urban photography. Someone at that gallery thought it was good enough to hang in a major art institution.

some art really sucks. some art is mediocre and forgettable. some art is good. some art is so powerful it changes the world
This is true, but misses the point: neither you nor anyone can hold up a work of art and claim that, as an objective indisputable fact, "it sucks." You can only claim that you think it sucks. I think Warhol and blank canvases suck, but would never claim that as an objective fact.

this is objectively true of music, writing, painting, photography, and more.
It's objectively true only that you get to decide what you think sucks, is mediocre, or what is great.

the only way to improve one's art is to recognize the difference(s) between good and bad.
Is a photo of a religious symbol immersed in urine objectively good or bad?

people who aren't very perceptive or intelligent, or who can't be honest with themselves for whatever reason
Ah, now the truth comes out: you want to feel superior to others.

I'll repeat it once more: saying it's 100% subjective does NOT mean all is equal; it means only that each person gets to make their own decisions, and cannot be told by some great authority that they're wrong.
Well, everybody must like those blank canvas paintings because I see them for sale even at the WalMart. Warhol? His work was so good that some company built an industry around his soup can work. :eek: :eek: :eek:
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
272
Its an interesting discussion.

"In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the metacognitive inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.[1] On the other hand, people of high ability incorrectly assume that tasks that are easy for them are also easy for other people" - according to Wikipedia

Photography is an interesting subject to look at through the eyes of Dunning-Kruger.
The Dunning-Kruger effect is probably only measurable on a topic that has something with definite right answers. Photography has plenty of competitions where photographers are measured according to their output and often the judges are under the illusion that they doing a fact based assessment as opposed to an opinion based assessment. Art unfortunately is very subjective but if you are entering competitions you have to deal with some collective biases for the type of competition you enter.

So for instance I compete in the arena of FIAP and if you want to win in their arena you need to be very aware of what the judges biases are. There would be an air of perfection in winning work. Either people are flawless or they are so disheveled they look like they have been run over by a bus. Every landscape is incredibly colourful and pristine. There is no blown highlights or distracting objects (except in nature where any human traces will disqualify you). For every winner their is lots of other competitors who believe their own work is far superior to the winners. People whinge alot about judges. The standard in its genre is very high but for me is all a little unreal and fake and lacking meaning.
That's my subjectivity which is shared with very few of FIAP competitors. If you want to beat them you have to join them.

Every year I buy the book on the Taylor Wessing Portrait prize. I don't love all the portraits but I love many of them. Especially when they are of noone famous. They'd never win a FIAP gold medal. From my subjective viewpoint they capture something of humanity I'd never find in a FIAP competition. They are often plain and simple but there is something in the eyes.

I've been involved in other things like sports etc but of all the thing I've got involved in I've never met so many egos as I have in photography. To be successful in the art world I think you have to be able to sell yourself as superior to others. Hiding your talents under a bush will not get you discovered (until you are dead - like Vivian Meier). I think many photographers completely overrate their own ability and maybe because its such a subjective thing that they are right to do so. You can get away with it. You just need to get enough other people to say you are great to get everyone else to start believing you are great.

Even in the microcosm of Canon Rumors people go to great lengths to prove they are correct even when they are often incorrect and up against people of far superior technical knowledge. Possibly demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger effect. However I'd fear some of the Canon rumors experts spend more time reading technical manuals rather than taking photographs. I think its a pity as they are missing out but maybe they an enjoyment out of that aspect of photography.

Even with FIAP where once I might have raged against the unfairness of a judges decision in retrospect they were mostly correct in terms of measuring a photograph against their criteria for judging. I think its good to have your critiqued even if you don't always agree with it. For me in the end the objective is take photographs I'm happy with and if the whole world thinks they are crap it might be a little disappointing. But I know I didn't take the photographs for them but for myself.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
Jul 6, 2017
1,252
285
Davidson, NC
I’ve never felt any urge to enter a photography contest. I have no interest in tailoring photos to appeal to judges. I’m certainly open to criticism and critiques, and I welcome suggestions on how I might have better done what I was trying to achieve, so that’s not it. I don’t think fragility of ego is it, either.

There are certainly objective criteria, but one man’s poor exposure can be another’s idea of atmospherics.

An online friend told me long ago that his camera club expects pictures of birds in flight to have even the tips of their wings really sharp. To me that sounds a little odd, to make all kinds of birds look like they are riding wind currents rather than actually flying. But that is apparently the club’s main criterion.
 

unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,006
1,362
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Hector1970 said:
Its an interesting discussion...
Thanks for intelligent, thoughtful contribution. And thanks also for the reference to the Taylor Wessing portrait prize, I was unaware of that and now I think I will be ordering the book.

I am always fascinated by the huge disconnect between what the general public perceives to be great photography and what the art world, such as the National Portrait Gallery, see as great photography.

Of course, it's been this way for a hundred years or more, with the camera clubs, professional organizations, commercial world and general public extolling the virtues of formula driven images, while the art world is often looking for the unique and unusual.

My tastes tend to run toward the museum/gallery side which is more interested in what the person has to say, rather than technique and simply making things pleasing to the eye, although I readily admit that many of today's best practitioners of more commercial styles are incredibly talented and I would be very pleased to have their level of competence.

Anyway, thanks for bringing some insight into a thread that was pretty ridiculous from the beginning.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,227
415
But a good photographer is not just ab\out prizes and competitions or who can follow the so-called 'rules' of photography. To me, a good photographer is one who can not only create a good photo but has the skills and experience to do it more times than not. I have some wonderful images of friends' weddings, but am I a 'good wedding photographer'? Nope. The number I take I would hope to get at least 2 or 3 great ones and those are the ones I share - but could I adapt if the church turned out to be having restoration work? or it started raining? Unlikely. I have got some great street shots, but I have a limited ability to 'see the moment' much less react quickly enough to capture it. I consider myself a 'competent photographer' not a good one.

So where is all this leading? I see the article about the person who has my level of competence, but is convinced that because they can take the occasional great photograph as proof they are a great photographer. They have one or two photos that everyone fawns over and do not take criticism that actually they are not that good - and I mean good in the way I described above.
And you can only get that confirmation over many many photos - and it is why there is still a place for professional photographers.


stevelee said:
There are certainly objective criteria, but one man’s poor exposure can be another’s idea of atmospherics.
Sure. But sometimes, you may get the effect you wanted but then realise it does not work after all. BTDT and got many, many T-shirts! A good photographer to me can increase the hit rate of when it actually does work.
 

Talys

Canon 6DII
Feb 16, 2017
2,058
329
Vancouver, BC
Bad photography and abstract art aren't the same thing :)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder doesn't mean that randomly blurry pixels are beautiful.

Photography now being highly accessible doesn't make the art and science of creating and capturing light simple.