The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

September 10, 2006


So, as previously announced I participated in the 3rd Vienna Photo Marathon yesterday. The whole exercise turned out to be somewhat futile, more about which below. I also learned a few probably not too flattering things about myself, more about which also below.

They said that it wasn't literally a marathon, only in the way that you were supposed to take 24 photographs within 12 hours. Yet the kilometre counter on my bicycle shows exactly 42.3 kilometres, so I suppose it was literally a marathon after all, at least as far as I and my itinerary were concerned.

You were supposed to wear this around your neck all the timeAt the start they gave the participants a list of 24 topics. There was no prescribed route, so you could go anywhere in Vienna to take the pictures, but you had to take them in the exact sequence that was on the list. Meaning that when the topic "My friends" came up, I could either phone some friends of mine to arrange a spontaneous meeting, ride home all across town to take a picture of Haldur and my potted plants, or ask a few complete strangers on the street to pose as friends. I'll let you guess what I did.

What I learned about myself: either I'm a cynic, or the topics on the list brought out the cynic in me. For example, the topic "On Public Transport" had me think about taking a picture of a crammed underground train, "Typically Viennese" made me want to take a picture of a dog turd on the street, "21st Century Technology" had me look out for particularly ugly mobile phone masts, and "Youth(s) in Vienna" made me want to go to a department store and take a picture of youths spending all afternoon playing at computer games at the playstations.

What I also learned about myself: Apparently I have no sense of humour. The hardest picture to take was "A Humorous Photograph". I ended up taking a picture of the photographs on display at the Kabarett Simpl, which were, after all, humorous photographs, sort of.

Oddly enough, "Tourists in Vienna" cost me about an hour. You'd think it'd be easier to find some photogenic tourists you can take pictures of. Not so.

Anyhow. I still won't win any of the prizes. Not the first prize, the trip to Barbados, not even the second one, which I'd like more than the first one, a Nikon digital SRL camera. Still, regardless of the quality of my photographs and those of the 900 other participants, I won't win anything for two very simple reasons:

  • In an apparent subconscious reflex, I noticed only after I had taken the photograph "Vienna Coffeehouse" that I was supposed to take the "Humorous Photograph" first. Meaning that the two pictures are in the wrong sequence, which is a reason for disqualification.
  • Even if they don't disqualify me for taking two pictures in the wrong order, they still won't give me a prize for the simple reason that at least three, possibly more, of my pictures were destroyed when the film got jammed in my camera as I rewound it. It looked as if it had been fully rewound, it felt as if it had been fully rewound, yet when I opened the camera to take out the film, I found that it hadn't been fully rewound. No idea how many photos got destroyed, but it turns out that the 42.3 kilometres and all the effort to take original, non-cynical pictures had all been in vain.

I also noticed that people with digital cameras were at an unfair advantage because they could just take as many pictures as they liked, in any order, and at the end simply delete the not-so-good ones and rearrange the rest so that they conformed to the list of topics. Also, they are quite obviously invulnerable to jamming films. There really should be two separate competitions.

MedalAnyway, I submitted the destroyed film and got a medal, like everybody else. A medal that looks rather cheap, I'm afraid to say. Haldur likes it though, so I let him wear it. I'll get my pictures on a CD in four weeks or so, and if some of them haven't been destroyed, I'll upload them to my Flickr site and let you know about it.

In the meantime, spending a whole day outdoors in perfect weather and a 42.3-kilometre bicycle ride aren't all that bad either, are they?

Posted by Horst on September 10, 2006 11:26 AM to my so-called life | Tell-a-friend

We received this ping from The Aardvark Speaks on October 16, 2006 04:44 PM:

Pictures: The photographs from the ill-fated photo marathon have arrived and are now ready for your edification on my Flickr site. I have provided extensive annotations for each of them. Your comments &c. (on the Flickr site) are appreciated. The winner's photog... [more]

bob said on September 10, 2006 05:26 PM:

of course with digital cameras there is always the danger of wanting to delete one of the not-so-good pictures and accdentally deleting all of them.

Chris said on September 12, 2006 12:24 AM:

The (badly encoded) contest website stated (and what I can't find anymore), that digital pictures will be checked for the correct order with "a special program" -- I assume they just proof the exif data stored with pictures, and unless you know how to change that data (well, not that difficult with a good software), you have to keep the order, too. But, as you say, one can always delete the pictures you doesn't like.

Jann said on September 12, 2006 07:16 AM:

To answer your question: a long bike ride on a beautiful day doesn't sound like a bad idea, no.
Two questions:

1) What criteria are they using to judge the photos aside from right topic in the right order? (Seems they don't want "cynical" ones).

2) Did you still have time to go to the poetry reading?

Horst said on September 12, 2006 11:01 AM:

1) No idea at all. I don't even know who they have on the panel. Last year's winners are on their website (click on "Galerie 05"), so that could give you a rough idea.

2) Yes.

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