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Imaging/Sketching Contest Discussion

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#26 Charlie Hein

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 06:29 PM

In it's current form, there is no way to be fair in the Imaging/Sketching Contest. It's not even about what's fair it's supposed to be about "the best image produced" by members of CN.. That's all there is. If you want it to be fair then it's a lot more complicated. When a guy with an OSC is trying to compete against someone with a monochrome camera with an 8 position filter wheel loaded with NB an LRGB filters...how is that fair? How is two or three people pooling their resources going to be fair when competing against somone with a $600 dollar mount that drives 300 miles to get to some place with decent sky?


Robert, there's no way to have a perfectly fair and level playing field unless we put everyone together on the same field with the same equipment on the same night shooting the same target and processing it with identical computers and software. That's just not possible.

When you look at the Winner's Gallery it is very true that you see plenty of high end gear in that list of winners - but there are also plenty of winners that have modest gear as well. On any given month those folks must have beat out others with high end gear, because that high end gear is always in the competition.


In fact I think there is an un-intended exclusion that causes me to agree with a change. What about the guy who still has the desire and ability but physical limitations exclude him from going out and setting up? Maybe he/she, has to enlist aid or just plane have someone else set up? Here is a great reason to be in a cooperative! why should the rules preclude that person from taking part?


Well, That's a great example. In fact that's why it is important to talk these things through.

Charlie

#27 Charlie Hein

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 06:33 PM

Perhaps rule 9 should only apply to the 'Beginner" categories, as I doubt many "beginners' have remote obsevatories. My humble opinion


It's not just remote observatories that we're talking about here. There are many possible scenarios - Robert just brought up one about disabled people who physically couldn't build the gear but could possibly run it.

Charlie

#28 zerro1

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 10:35 PM

Robert, there's no way to have a perfectly fair and level playing field unless we put everyone together on the same field with the same equipment on the same night shooting the same target and processing it with identical computers and software. That's just not possible.


That's my point, it not possible, it's not required. I certainly don't expect anyone to try slanting anything to make it "fair"

My only contention is and has been to allow people to follow a link to a higher quality versiion of the image posted in the Imaging/Sketching contest. Even the problem with that is...if said image wins, that higher res version isn't going to be the "winning image" posted. It's going to be the lower res...So..No matter what it's "catch 22"..

#29 John Wunderlin

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 12:36 AM

It would be nice to raise the file size limitation. Depending on the target and the star field, sometimes compressing down to 100k really damages the images. I think 200k is a much more reasonable size for an 800x800 resolution image.

As for the remote observatory, I think it's ok as long as you are the one running the equipment. As you say, it will never be completely 'fair' and I think only the beginner forum even tries for the fairness issue- I think it does a nice job of that by 'graduating' winners so one person can't dominate as they advance.

Don't get me wrong, though- I want the CCD forum to stay open to all. Beginner contestants should work on the beginner contest if they want to 'win'. I think they could also join the CCD, but be aware they're in for some seriously stiff competition :)

It's all in fun anyway :) If the grand prize were $1 Million, then we'd have to really watch those rules!

#30 lacomj

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 11:28 PM

Some good discussion here...

I think the file size upgrade to 200k is a no brainer. If someone is going to look at an imaging contest thread, they are certainly going to expect to see nice images at the expense of a bit of bandwidth. As I have said elsewhere here, as an entrant, it is very discouraging to have to lower the quality to enter an image. The fact that everyone has to do this (level playing field) misses this point.

On the matter of remote or shared equipment, I say go for it, but stopping short of the pay-by-the-hour services that really do nearly all of the data gathering for you. As has been pointed out well above, this will never be truly fair when it comes to equipment, and I think that the advantage of access to a remote observatory co-op is FAR less than the advantage that a $30,000 astrograph setup will give you in imaging... they are both just facts of life and should be "legal".

More broadly, I support the idea of collaborative entries as well. It is healthy for the hobby to bring people together who desire such activities.

#31 SL63 AMG

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:34 PM

No matter what decision you arrive upon, one thing is for certain. Operating from a fixed observatory, whether remote or at your house, is a huge advantage over setting up a "portable" system, whether in your driveway, or at a remote dark site.

In my opinion, if there is any distinction in categories, it should be between permanent and portable imaging, rather than remote and local imaging.

Dave

#32 Charlie Hein

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 11:56 AM

Some good discussion here...

I think the file size upgrade to 200k is a no brainer. If someone is going to look at an imaging contest thread, they are certainly going to expect to see nice images at the expense of a bit of bandwidth. As I have said elsewhere here, as an entrant, it is very discouraging to have to lower the quality to enter an image. The fact that everyone has to do this (level playing field) misses this point.


Of course, you should be aware that the "level playing field" comments are somewhat tongue in cheek and don't really explain the point of file size constraints.

In each forum thread "page" there are 20 "posts" as a default. Each of these "posts" can have from one to as many images as the reader cares to link imbedded in them. Since all 20 "posts" are downloaded at one time, it is the cumulative size of all the images on a page that determines how fast the page will load. This is one of the main reasons why there are rules regarding the file size of an individual image - the bigger each one is, the longer it takes for the entire page to load.

There is a conscious effort on the part of CN to make sure that the user experience is good for everyone who may visit. Some folks have good internet connections and some do not. We see this file size issue as a way to make it best as we can for everyone.

EDIT: We have up to now disallowed links to "full resolution" images for this contest. Changing that rule might be a compromise on the file size issue, but again there would need to be broad support for it.

Charlie

#33 lacomj

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 01:27 PM

Thanks Charlie...that clarifies the underlying reasons much better for me and makes sense as a constraint.

Perhaps increase the file size constraint on ONLY the contest threads, and reduce the default number of posts per page to a more manageable number? We don't seem to get more than about 5-10 entries each month (varies of course). Those who upload earliest will get the benefit of being on the front page (if it ever goes beyond the default number).

As it is now, various forums have a LOT of off-site link redirects to larger images just as a regular course of business. That seems to work fairly well, but I would favor having a decent quality image (200k) right inline for the contests. It would be a bit of a hassle to be following through links when voting and comparing favorites.

#34 Dave Kodama

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 01:35 PM

You can count me in for allowing *supplemental* links to larger images. Limiting images to less than 1 megapixel resolution is absurd when HD TV does better than that. OK to limit the size of the "thumbnail" actually posted in the forum, but let us see the full quality and the shot in all its full glory, no matter if it's a single frame or a huge mosaic.

#35 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 06:07 PM

Perhaps increase the file size constraint on ONLY the contest threads, and reduce the default number of posts per page to a more manageable number? We don't seem to get more than about 5-10 entries each month (varies of course). Those who upload earliest will get the benefit of being on the front page (if it ever goes beyond the default number).


I don't know if the default number of posts can be set on a per forum basis or if it's a global variable - I'll have to check. Even so, I'm fairly certain that the default number of posts can't be changed on a thread specific basis, which is what would be needed.

As it is now, various forums have a LOT of off-site link redirects to larger images just as a regular course of business. That seems to work fairly well, but I would favor having a decent quality image (200k) right inline for the contests. It would be a bit of a hassle to be following through links when voting and comparing favorites.


Mike at Astronomics has authorized a 200K file size limit on a trial basis so that we can understand how this works for us.

However, the file dimension limits have been maintained at 800px X 800px. The dimension limitation is to avoid the usability problem you get when someone loads a big image (in dimension) or posts a very long URL - the forum controls slide off-screen to the right. The current 800px limit accomodates a 1024 x 768 resolution screen, which has been shown to be the most popular screen size world wide.

Many if not most imagers these days deliver images that are much wider than 800px. Allowing folks to link to their full-sized image would cater to the majority of the folks entering the contests and still maintain the usability factor. On the other hand, shrinking a large image down to 800px can hide a multitude of sins. ;)

Charlie

#36 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 06:10 PM

You can count me in for allowing *supplemental* links to larger images. Limiting images to less than 1 megapixel resolution is absurd when HD TV does better than that. OK to limit the size of the "thumbnail" actually posted in the forum, but let us see the full quality and the shot in all its full glory, no matter if it's a single frame or a huge mosaic.


I'd support carrying the linked images over to the "winners" galleries as well, so that folks can see the image at full size if desired.

On the other hand, the rule disallowing links was implemented as a result of conversations just like this one a few years back. I personally would feel better about changing that particular rule if we could hear from some of those folks to see if the reasons they chose to go that route still apply.

Charlie

#37 John Wunderlin

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 06:55 PM

I think the 200k limit is great- Most of the time I think we can get a decent image at 800 pixels + 200k while still not burying the servers (or at least any more than we already do) :)

#38 zerro1

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:11 PM

I've made my feelings clear that allowing a separate link is good. the dillema of course; are the votes for the winner a result of the off-site image? technically it's not the one that the vote is supposed to be cast for. (I'm trying to look at it from all sides here)

I'd support carrying the linked images over to the "winners" galleries as well, so that folks can see the image at full size if desired


I think that would be great! I can't speak speak for others, only myself... These images are often a labor of my love of this sick...er I mean "hobby", in the event I ever make it to the winner'e circle (Har Har!) I'd like people to be able to see what was really in the original..

#39 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:26 PM

So - just to make sure I'm getting the important bits covered, we are now talking about two possible rule changes.

The first consideration is to change the rules to allow an entrant to use a setup that they did not assemble themselves. Examples of this could be a family observatory, a remotely controlled observatory that is owned or co-owned by the entrant (specifically disallowing "pay for play" observatories like Slooh and Lightbuckets), a club observatory operated by a member, a setup operated by someone whose physical disabilities prevent them from assembling the equipment themselves but do not prevent them from operating the equipment - or whatever else might fit into this category.

The second consideration is the removal of the rule that disallows links to a "full size" or "full resolution" version of the entry.

If you are just now joining the conversation, thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Charlie

#40 rigel123

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:29 PM

I'm all for including a link to larger sizes. I typically know pretty quickly which image I'm going to vote for just from the intitial post, but it would be nice when I'm not certain to take a look at each in a higher res format.

#41 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:33 PM

No matter what decision you arrive upon, one thing is for certain. Operating from a fixed observatory, whether remote or at your house, is a huge advantage over setting up a "portable" system, whether in your driveway, or at a remote dark site.

In my opinion, if there is any distinction in categories, it should be between permanent and portable imaging, rather than remote and local imaging.

Dave


Dave,

I was reading through the thread again just to keep things fresh in my mind, and this is a good enough point to repeat just so that we don't forget about it. Thanks for bringing it up.

Charlie

#42 Nebhunter

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:06 PM

I've managed thru some connections to book some time on the 70" mirror. lol And I'm not kidding. Would that qualify as remote?

If you notice - or give a flying pickle - that the film guys rarely bother to enter the contest. If it's 35mm - it can fit the old guidelines. But to those who use the full potential of the medium and large format cameras it's just not worth the effort once you seen the compressed image. The new guidelines will help - but still not much help unless we crop out 60% of the image - or more.

I just do not understand why a link cannot be used to a webpage where the image can be displayed in hi rez and full size? Simple, and use CN to post the comments and thumbnail.

#43 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:19 PM

I've managed thru some connections to book some time on the 70" mirror. lol And I'm not kidding. Would that qualify as remote?

If you notice - or give a flying pickle - that the film guys rarely bother to enter the contest. If it's 35mm - it can fit the old guidelines. But to those who use the full potential of the medium and large format cameras it's just not worth the effort once you seen the compressed image. The new guidelines will help - but still not much help unless we crop out 60% of the image - or more.

I just do not understand why a link cannot be used to a webpage where the image can be displayed in hi rez and full size? Simple, and use CN to post the comments and thumbnail.


I can't really remember why it was voted to specifically disallow links to the "full size" version of an image. This happened several years ago. If I had to speculate I'd say that the thought was that it would level the playing field a bit if everyone was constrained to the same dimensions. That's why I'd really like for those folks who raised the issue originally to chime in. It could be that they feel the same way and can remind me why it was important. It could be that it doesn't matter as much to them now. Could be that the prevailing view wants the rule changed (that's what I'm seeing right now). In any case, it would be good to hear from someone who disagrees with removing the rule restricting links to full size versions of entries.

For the record, I am keenly aware of the situation in Film Astrophotography. I'd like nothing better than to have more participation from you guys.

Charlie

#44 ldesign1

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 09:10 PM

No matter what decision you arrive upon, one thing is for certain. Operating from a fixed observatory, whether remote or at your house, is a huge advantage over setting up a "portable" system, whether in your driveway, or at a remote dark site.

In my opinion, if there is any distinction in categories, it should be between permanent and portable imaging, rather than remote and local imaging.

Dave


I don't think that the portable vs. fixed is a fair way to go either. I'm one of those few amateur astrophotographers that work 3rd shift six days a week, while most of you are out imaging. That leaves me Saturday to attempt a full night imaging session (weather permitting). We all know that an entire month can go buy without a clear weekend. Therefore, when I know that there will be a clear night, I rush home after work to catch the last hour or two, at most, before twilight, to do some imaging. That is why built a backyard observatory. Otherwise, the only hours I have to image during the week would be spent on setting up.

I consider myself to own a modest set of equipment which I have acquired over a 17 year period by trading up every so many years. Eventually I'll own dream equipment but until then, I make do with what I have. It's a slow climb up but I am learning a lot every day that passes. Every year, I review the previous years images and notice how much I've improved in both processing skills and imaging techniques. Though I'm not winning the contest every month, I always believe that I have an equal chance. Those of you who are really good, live under perfectly dark skies and enjoy exceptionally clear skies 6 days a week can only win three times before you are move up to higher level. Leaving the beginner contest to those who are still progressing.

So I think it's fair enough the way it is set up. I do like the idea of a larger file size limit. As far as link to a higher resolution image, I thought we've been doing that already. Am I missing something? "CLICKABLE LINK"

3. Images to be considered for entry to the Challenge must be limited to a maximum of 100k in file size, a maximum of 800 pixels square. Entrants may elect to set this "entry image" up as a "clickable link" to a higher resolution image if they so desire, and entrants may also elect to instead provide a separate link to such an image if they so choose. If the entrant provides a legally sized and working "clickable link" as their "entry image", that "clickable link" will be included in the polling thread so that voters can examine the high resolution image before voting. However, any "entry images" displayed on the CN site that do not meet the file size and pixel dimension requirements stated above will subject the entry to disqualification. Any questions on this rule? Just ask.



#45 Charlie Hein

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 09:16 PM

Hi Ralph. For the Challenges, links are allowed. For the site wide imaging/sketching contest, they're specifically forbidden by rule #7:

7. In order to provide a level playing field, links to any other versions of contest entries are specifically restricted and will subject the entry to disqualification if included. It is the contestant's responsibility to ensure compliance with this restriction - although a moderator or administrator may alert a contestant to a possible problem in this area they are not bound to do so.


I definitely see your point about fixed vs. portable setups. It helps to see these things from different perspectives.

Charlie

#46 Bill Snyder

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 11:00 PM

I'm all in favor of raising the limit for the images to 200K
Also allowing link to a high rez image from the winners circle.

As for rule 9
I have to say a lot of people could be looking at a remote observatory option due to light pollution etc. Most remotes are owned by more that one individual, or have some kind of partnership involved. A remote site with good skies could produce more data than one person can process by themselves.
I'm all for adjustment of rule #9. I don't believe the pay for play should be allowed, I think you should still have to operate the equipment. A remote defiently has it's advantages,But when there is a problem... it's not in your backyard, it could be 3000 miles away:-)
Bill

#47 lacomj

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:26 AM

It seems that the issue of remote observatories is a bit complicated. Not all observatory operations are equal. Remoteness isn't the issue...the issue that we seem to be agreeing on is that the entrant should have a non-trivial amount of setup and operation of the observatory equipment.

If I buy into an existing co-op and don't have much to do with the assembly, maintenance and upkeep of a shared facility (just log in and use it), how is that any different than a Pay-for-Play service (which so far, there appears to be a consensus as being "too much")?

It seems that the criteria should be phrased in language that remote observatories are acceptable if the entrant plays a meaningful part in the maintenance/upkeep/operation of the equipment.

#48 zerro1

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 10:17 AM

remote observatories are acceptable if the entrant plays a meaningful part in the maintenance/upkeep/operation of the equipment


but there is always another consideration:

I feel that "physical limitations" must be thought of as an example of extenuating circumstance's.

I just think this needs to be kept in the dialog and be part of any rule changes...

#49 Jared

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 02:35 PM

Glad that we have the rules change for the file size limit.

As far as rule #9, I don't see a problem with allowing remote observatories that were setup by a third party or a partner. Frankly, anyone with a remote observatory (either wholly or partially owned) is likely to already be competent to setup and polar align a scope, so they aren't really gaining a competitive advantage because a third party took care of this part of the process. If they aren't gaining an advantage from the fact that someone else did the setup, why restrict them? This would be true for someone with physical disabilities as well.

I would recommend we keep the requirement that the equipment be owned by the contestant, but would remove any restrictions regarding setup. Data should still be acquired and processed by one person. Rent a scopes and club scopes should continue to be prohibited.

#50 Don66

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 09:06 AM

I'll jump in regarding the Rule #9 change. Due to injuries/disability from Iraq, I am not able to physically set up even my modest system. I have to have friends come over just to switch out OTAs. As the observatory becomes closer to reality, I will be doing none of the work on it. I will however be the one designing every part of it. Once a new (Goto) mount is acquired, someone else will be installing it on the pier, and turning the knobs as I direct for polar alignment. I have chosen not to participate in the contests due to this factor. It would be nice to be able to.

Regarding the file sizes and which version of the image is used for judging, I feel that the full-resolution image should be the one judged. I can absolutely hide a multitude of sins when I reduce to 800x800 px and 200k. Shoot, I do that on marginal images when a family member wants a print to make them look much better than what the image really holds...
My $.02


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