The Quandary

With my photography, I find myself in a quandary often. It's quite simple but frustrating at the same time. Take two images that are similar and make a decision on which one is "the better" image. I can take pictures all day long. And I think I am a pretty good judge of what makes a good composition and what does not. I'm also easy to coalesce with group thought. But then again, my informal polls are hardly scientific when I quiz an audience do you like this more than this?!?! If my sample is less than a hundred people can it possibly be accurate?


Case in point: These two photos are two of my most popular photos from the 12 Metre 2019 World Championships. But every time someone asks me about the shot, I usually show them the wrong one! "I saw that photo you took of the two sailboats crossing and I want to purchase it." I send them one or the other based on whatever they said and invariably they say, "No, not that one." When I produce the other, it's that one. 



Now, the time has come to place a new photo into my gallery here! Which one? I got all scientific this week and posed the question to personal friends, sailing aficionados, photography pros and amateurs, artists... even Mom! After vigorous polling the votes were compiled and remarkably these two photos were tied! The comment threads were really great. And interestingly, the photogs who voted were evenly split as well! What is going on! My head is spinning! There were great technical critiques that came with it all. There were surprising insights and things to think about in the future. I came away with many things to consider.

Surprisingly, the one rule I had made about these two photos was that only one was going to be able to grace the pages of my new gallery here.   << Cartoon Sound Effect >> I couldn't make this more complicated if I wanted to. I actually have two other photos that I processed at the time of the event... meaning, I thought they were the better shots than either of these two at that time! I've looked them over again now. They are both nice. But these two convey the story in the moment more than they do. It is clear, different people are drawn to different images for different reasons. I had quite a few people say they would buy both and use in a comparative  and contemplative setting.


For those who understand the rules of sailboat racing, whether they know the rules of match racing or not, all appreciate the battle for the lead to a windward mark. The boat on the starboard tack has the "right of way" over the boat on the port tack. In both of these photos the port tacking boat, on the left, is changing its course as little as possible to cross behind the other boat as close as possible because they have gauged they do not have sufficient advantage to cross in front. Every degree the port tack boat "falls off" behind the other boat will be counted as the lead gained by the starboard tack boat. This becomes "fair" over the course of the race as each boat gets the opportunity to be in the starboard tack position.

A resounding statement I heard over and over as I fell into this quandary, was, "why not just show both?" This was my opportunity to be flexible with myself instead of being so darn rigid! Both photos are now available from my Performance Sailing category. Was all my polling for naught? Absolutely not. I learned all sorts of things in the journey to decision. I would love to hear your thoughts too! Do you like Crossed Swords or Crossings better, equally or not at all?


The song that popped up in my mind more times than once during the whole quandariacal process was one from The Lovin Spoonfiul; Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? It was released as the 4th hit from their first album in 1966. While the West Coast was having its heyday with flower children et al, New York City had its own thing going on and Lovin Spoonful was at their peak from 65-69. what began as a folky roots jug band morphed into one of the top pop bands of the day! "Summer in the City" was the #1 song the band achieved on their second album. This tune gained a #2. The band released seven albums between 1965 and 1969 before drifting off into oblivion. John Sebastian, the best known of the group had a hit in 1976, "Welcome Back" that was used as the theme song for the TV show "Welcome Back Kotter." While, perhaps his hitmaking days had passed, Sebastian has had a long successful career! I love the combination of jug band sound, pop and psychedelia in this song and hope you hum it too every time you find yourself in a quandary!

In the end, my quandary is your opportunity to see two photos, one of which is here only from the strong consideration generated by the strong voice of many who said, "don't sweat it, Chris!"