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How Do You Rate Travel Pictures?

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A Discussion that will hopefully shed light on how other travelbloggers rate photos! What deserves a 5/5 for you? What deserves a 1/1? Should photos be rated according to how well they illustrate a country or should it simply be a matter of aesthetics?
6 years ago, December 3rd 2007 No: 1 Msg: #23554  
Im totally the monority, but I stopped rating random photos because I noticed many of them are random shots of people with no travel value. I found that there are tons of 4 star pictures from other bloggers that have never been rated before- located by either browsing certain countries or looking at the "Unrated photos" link from the specific country sections.

Also I have issues rating pics. how does everyone else rate pictures? Of course a great picture is a great picture, but I tend to rate pictures high if they seem to illustrate the country they were taken in. Like this photo: Its not exactly composed perfectly, or really pretty, or an amazing sunset or mountainscape or a sharp portrait of a local- yet it is so Chilean but showing Chilean Huasos and their flags I had to give it a 5/5!

I try and improve the "travel photos" of travelblog by rating them accordingly- like sometimes I find myself rating decent pictures 3 because I dont want them to show up on the "south America" Level of pictures(average >3.5), but I want them to show up in the country level(<2.5 avg)

What does a "1 star" picture look like for me? I guess this one is an example: I like this picture, its pretty cute of this travelling french couple! The problem is its not exactly a 'travel photo' in the sense that it could have been taken anywhere in the world and in no way illustrates the USA where it was taken(unless you can make out the Giant portion of food). I feel guilty rating it one star, because it deserves better- but I just dont feel like it should be a travel photo as such.

Then take this picture: , its a decent picture of a mixed drink but is it really a 'travel photo'? Should it even show up under the USA section of photos? I imagine a person visiting travelblog for the first time, going to the USA travel photos page and seeing pictures of a beverage rated highly isnt exactly what they had in mind- but Im certain this is all subjective and open to interpretation! Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 2 Msg: #23559  
I like to think I do a lot of photo rating. I really enjoy looking at photos. When I'm bored, I'll just pick a state or country and go into the unrated photos and start rating. Sometimes I'll start by going back to older photos on blogs that now get overlooked and sometimes I'll start with newer photos. I think people like when they're photos get rated, I know I do, so I do it. I love seeing photos I've rated start appearing as highlighted photos. The folks who took them deserve that publicity in my opinion.

As far as what I rate...photography is an art form so five people can have five different interpretations of what is a 4 or 5 rated photo in my opinion. I prefer landscape shots or shots which are unique and country or area related. When I find several photos on a person's blog that I have found wonderful, I'll also usually leave a short note letting the person know that it caught my eye. I'm not sure if people like that but I love it when people leave me notes on my blogs about my photos.

I only give ratings to those photos I judge as a 3 or above. I don't rate anything below that. I leave them unrated if they don't score at least a 3 with me. A 3 for me is a shot that is good but just misses being a 4 or above by maybe having questionable lighting or framing or coloring issues or weak skies. 4s maybe have some lighting issues but are still excellent photos overall with great coloring. A 5 for me is a perfect photo. Something I'd gladly hang on my wall or wish I'd somehow taken (I'm a real amateur so still learning). I don't tend to rate candid shots of friends or people as you noted above or like your drink example above. Not sure if that makes sense but that's how I do it.

I know I've rated A LOT of your photos because you're one of my favorite photographers!!! Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 3 Msg: #23564  
Thats interesting... I dont like sometimes when a lot of my photos get rated, because I feel like it pushes out other pictures from being included in the top rated photos that deserve it too! dont get me wrong, I love getting my photos rated though, thank you! Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 4 Msg: #23566  
Yeah, but the way to deal with that is to get more people's photos rated. There are so many great photos out there (especially on older blogs) that just haven't been rated yet. If more are rated, then yours would not be alone as much. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 5 Msg: #23569  
Thats true. I take back what I said! Everyone Rate As Many Great Photos as you can! I feel like this is what makes travelblog more visually appealing to a new visitor- spectacular images from around the world taken by the independent traveller... Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 6 Msg: #23574  
Oh and a last thing...I feel people should definitely put their candids like those above on their blogs if that's what they want to share with families or friends or Travelblog readers. Just because someone like me doesn't rate them a 4 or a 5 doesn't mean they are not an important part of the blogging experience.

The photo rating system is just another piece of Travelblog for those who get into photography (in my opinion) and is for the higher quality photo rather than the fun candid. However, both have their place on Travelblog in my opinion. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 7 Msg: #23580  
I strongly agree with the last comment. For many people a blog fills the gap between them and their families and friends while they are away. So we actually made an effort to put our faces up on our travel blog, just because we knew our families would appreciate it. Receiving messages about the state of our hair was funny and meant a lot to us. Of course that only works with people who know us and I'm certainly not expecting those pics being rated at all. However, I love having my pictures rated, just because I like to know what appeals to the public and some ratings do surprise me. Rules as to how to rate a picture? Hmmmm... I don't think you can be so black and white on that one, it is a colourful art in the end. I always use my gut feeling - 5 --> Can I put it up in my house please!, 3 --> Nice, but it would not catch my eye amongst others, 1 --> I would have deleted that one! I also do often not rate anything below 3. Now, following these guidelines is very subjective. So in a way the rules go out of the window straight away. All in all, I think what would be great is, if more and more people would make an effort to rate pictures. Only that would truly express how good a picture is. A picture rated 5 by only one person doesn't really give me a reason to be too proud as yet and vice versa. Now I'm off to rate 10 random photos ))
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6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 8 Msg: #23582  
Wow- I in NO WAY am saying pictures of people are bad!!! First and foremost its travelBLOG... not travel! I love seeing pictures of people and couples looking their best- and worst. Keeping regular blog entries for friends and family is probably the bigges use of this site. Im just saying this: If I click on the "travel photos" link which displays the best of the best pictures on the site- I feel like a picture of me drunk with my friends with no indication of the location we are drunk in kind of isnt a travel photo- 1/5. A cute couple in front of a well lit and framed Perito Moreno glacier and surrounding mountains? 5/5! Hey Andy- why do your nuts have so much ginger on them? Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 9 Msg: #23585  
Totally agree Actually looking at our photos not one has been rated with our faces in it. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something, lol The "arty" ones for me are always without the photographer in them. Ginger is GOOD - Josie Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 10 Msg: #23589  
I'd give a higher score to a traveler's face because it's certainly a unique shot.
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6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 11 Msg: #23613  
Got it Stephen! I wasn't trying to imply that you said that but I was afraid that my responses may have indicated that I didn't think candids were important and I wanted to clarify that.

Like Stephen...I really enjoy just going into the unrated photos for a country or state or city rather than using the 10 random photos option. Just too much to plough through with that option in my opinion. But whatever gets more photos rated, the better! Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 12 Msg: #23616  
B Posts: 5,099
I tend to rate photos high if they have 0 stars - unrated - if they already have a rating - then I give them a more honest rating.

5's - I'd put them on my wall, or really sums up a place.
4's - great photo, or is really appropriate for where it was taken.

1's - I wouldn't have shared this one!
0.5 - it's been "borrowed" from a brochure...

The photo shown - great travel photograph for Namibia - photos with the blogger/traveller can be great photos too - in my opinion shows the traveller, the place, is in focus - all good - and for the subject what a fantastic shot to share with family/friends. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 13 Msg: #23624  
For me, a 5-star photo is one that deserves to be on a wall, not just for being technically good, but for the wow factor of the subject. 4-stars is a photo that is either really technically good or has a wow factor, but doesn't have both elements. I use 3.5 stars for photos that give a good sense of a place, but don't necessarily inspire me. I think of it in terms of my own photos--3.5 might not be a great photo, but it shows an important part of the story I'm telling.

I completely understand why people upload photos of themselves in the places they visit. I tend to rate the candid traveller photos pretty low, not because they are bad photos, but because it's not the style of photography I think of as being the best on the site. But if it's a creative photo that makes me laugh, and is unique to the location, I'll rate it higher. I don't like leaving them unrated though, because I assume they could keep showing up in the random photos to be rated until they get at least one star. It makes me shake my head and laugh to see the number of photos of girls in bikinis that get five stars. Either there's not as many photos of shirtless guys to rate, or we girls just don't see those as being the best of travelblog!
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6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 14 Msg: #23628  
I'm right on board with both Ali and Tannis's comments. I have a subjective rating scale that is based on technical skill, interest and wall-worthiness. I do rate people's pictures below three but often I do that when I find a picture with a high rating that I don't feel deserves the high rating. I may try to average a rating out. If something has five stars and I think its more of a three star picture, I give it one star as a means of averaging out, what I feel, is too high a rating.

I also find that I'm harder on people who are on the front page. If you are on the front page then it is important that you take that into consideration. Yes, I still put pics of kel and I on our blogs so that friends and family can see us, but I try my best to make the first three to five pics top quality ones whenever I can. I do find it irritating when the first couple of pics aren't that great and the good ones get buried deeper in someones blog.

Ultimately, a travelblog is all about personal taste. I create our blog for me first, the front page second and my friends and family third but I know that other people have a different standard and desire for their blogs. Some people only use it as a "group email" sort of thing that allows them to keep in touch with those people who are interested at home. I think that's completely cool and applaud anyone who takes the time and effort to keep their friends and family up to speed. But, with that said, I will only give a four or a five to really good pics. It might be harsh, but I think its fair.

P.S. Tannis, I knock down any of those Bikini Clad babe pics that I find. I like a pretty woman as much as the next guy, but rarely is that a five star photo in my humble opinion. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 15 Msg: #23631  
I rate pictures based on many of the criteria already mentioned - color, composition, overall aesthetic, how well it represents a location/experience and also based on where I feel it is appropriate to appear travelblog. I think uniqueness also plays a role. Often I’ll see a nice shot but it’s one I’ve seen dozens of time before.

Most photos of the travelers themselves are not representative of the destination/experience or of good quality to begin with so I may select 1/1 if it’s already been rated or will opt not to rate it at all. That’s not to say there aren’t some GREAT photos that include the traveler or other people, but the amount of those on travelblog are not the norm. I include photos of us in our blog occasionally because friends/family like to see us in action! However I also tend to put these photos towards the end of the blog because I know that’s where friends and family will eventually end up. I always put photos which I feel are more of interest to the general public first.

I’ll admit to rating some photos lower to balance a rating out. Sometimes there will be dozens of excellent photos of the same thing from the same photographer from a slightly different angle, all rated highly because they’re nice photos. But…there is more to that location than that ONE area, so I will usually select the best of the bunch, rate that as high as I like, and then rate the others a little lower to balance out what is displayed on a page so that a greater diversity of photos can be shown.

5’s: Makes me go “Wow”. Unique perspective, great composition, something I would like to look at again.

4’s: Great photo, not quite a five, but definitely above average

3’s: Nice but doesn’t really stand out

2-1’s: Not really of public interest
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6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 16 Msg: #23634  
B Posts: 38
Personally I love my own picture of Sydney Opera House at dusk across the Sydney Harbour, but honestly I think everybody could take the same shot if they're in the same place at the same time, although I tried to do my best to create a good frame, angle, composition etc. Notice that I tried to blend the House into a silhouette, so lighting here is good (according to my intention)
Sydney Opera House is an amazing landmark, but it doen't mean that every pictures of it needs to be rated 5/5. The same thing with people, some are more photogenic that others, but it doesn't mean that every pictures that show the aforementioned good looking people should be rated 5/5.

Travelblog is an inspirational site for travelers, and the high rated pictures that worth mentioning shall capture the spirit of the place and make others eager to taste the same experience, in my humble opinion. It's not necessary has to show 'pretty pictures' of landscape or famous landmark, but like everyone else's saying, it also relates to the composition, angle, lighting, timing, creativity, etc.

Obviously the rating system is varied from person to person, but simply put, a '5/5' for me is something that LonelyPlanet would put in their books. (And for others trying to imitate the shots, LOL). Several people have sent me some emails, asking me whether they can publish several pictures in their publication etc. But do those pictures get a 5/5 rating here?

My favorite picture all times is from Sean and Shannon, showing Sean tries to depict the ancient Egyptian secret.. It reminds me of Indiana Jones, intriguing and anxiety, full of sense of exploring and adventure. And also , it is very creative way to capture a place through a mortar hole.

Do you have to use a high tech camera and lenses to worth a 5/5 rate ? Cumberland Sausage, Crazy Canucks, and Stephen Paul obviously have more camera equipment than most of the regular travelers out there. Of course there is no match with my SONY pocket camera. LOL but honestly I think I am getting better and better in picture composition/lighting just from viewing photos from Travelblog.

My .02 cents.
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6 years ago, December 4th 2007 No: 17 Msg: #23635  
B Posts: 38
One more thing. Do you have to be a member of Travelblog in order to rate other bloggers pictures?
And sometimes I wonder why two people voted for my Singaporean MRT sign? Reply to this

6 years ago, December 5th 2007 No: 18 Msg: #23664  
I always rate the pictures for what I think they deserve. Previous ratings do not matter to me. Why make it so complicated? If a picture it rated 5 *, and I think it is a 3, I will still rate it a 3, and not try to balance it out with a 1. We all have different tastes and I don't see why my opinion matters more than anyone elses and therefore I will not oppose my rating onto the picture. I really think the only way we get a true rating is, if quite a few people rate the same picture. If a 5 was unjustified, a lot of 3s will prove it and bring the rating down by itself. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 5th 2007 No: 19 Msg: #23686  
You, of course, are right. It is a bit of a presumption of arrogance on my part to think that my views are superior to others. If more people rated pictures then some of the pictures that show up as 5* would be moderated a bit, I'm sure. Unfortunately it seems that only the hardcore Travelbloggers seem to rate pictures (and maybe those of us with to much time on our hands in my case). If we could convince everyone who joins to rate 100 pictures then we would truly get a statistically significant read on pictures ratings. Sadly, I have no ideas about how to make that happen. Until then, I will probably continue being arrogant...but will make sure to remind myself that my opinion doesn't matter above all others. Thanks for checking my megalomaniacal tendencies. Reply to this

6 years ago, December 5th 2007 No: 20 Msg: #23688  
Ha, agreed. It certainly doesn't have to be that complicated. But that's the most interesting aspect of Stephen's questions, why do we do as we do? Human motivation can be a tricky thing, whether we rate everything highly because we like the photographer, rate things a bit askew because of what we like to see on certain pages, or try to rate them as objectively as possible. Is there a right way? Surely you could argue some ways are more reasonable than others...but lacking hard fast rules (which would make the rating system obsolete anyways as there would be a subjective measure) what can you do other than encourage more participation. We can only hope that this discussion has brought attention to the existence of talent and exceptional photos on this site and possibly made each of us think about "What are our motivations for rating photos as we do?" and "What does make a good photo anyhow?"
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