HDR Insider Projects and the Importance of Practice, Feedback and Competition

This epic video trailer was made by an HDR Insider member, Chris Murray.  Chris also heads up the Facebook bi-weekly Challenge and comes up with some great project challenges for us!

Every month on HDR Insider I host a new, and sometimes unusual, Project.  These projects are designed to serve several functions.  Many of these are functions are subliminal in nature.  Not to sell you something or brainwash you, but subliminal in a way that you grow as an artist at a rapid rate.  Here are some ways these HDR Insider projects subliminally affect your growth:

  1. They Keep You Practicing
  2. They Inspire Peer Feedback
  3. They Tweak Your Competitive Nature

They Keep You Practicing

One of the most important things you can do in the growth of any trade or skill is practice.  That skill, no matter what it is, cannot be honed unless you attribute the practice it requires to sharpen it.  Practice is all fine and well, but the most important practices are ones that challenge and inspire.

If you practice the same idea continually you get bored with it quickly.  Running the same type of photos through the same workflow over and over is more like repetition than practice.  You need to branch out of your comfort zone and try something difficult.

You may fail, but failure is not bad.  If anything failure is more important than success.  How can you know what it is to succeed if you’ve never felt the frustration of failure?  I can count more failures in my life than success, especially in my artistic endeavors!

HDR Insider Project Failure Script 2


They Inspire Peer Feedback

Peer feedback is critical in artistic growth.  I am not talking about uploading your photo to Facebook and getting sympathy likes from your friends and families.  I am also not referring to the copious amounts of Flickr hugs you receive from that less than ideal composition.  Nor am I talking about the many times you’ve said, “I liked this image please go look at mine” on 500px.

In the grand scheme of things the feedback above is meaningless.  It is driven by social stepping stones and leverage rather than true-honest feedback.  I would much rather someone say,

“Blake, I love the colors and tone here.  Well done on the processing, but the crop doesn’t work for me.  I feel trapped in the image.  Maybe give your focal point some more room to breathe by cropping off the distracting edge of the photo.”

This is the kind of feedback the HDR Insider’s give on the Facebook page and also the Project submissions.  It is incredible.  Sometimes I fear putting an image into the HDR Insider feed because I know how much feedback I am going to receive.  I have learned to grow from the comments and ensure I am making images to the best of my ability before sending them to this well-spoken group of individuals.

Notice I said I fear putting images in the group to see.  It is natural to want kudos, Flickr hugs, Likes and +1’s, but to hear the truth can sometimes hurt.  I am a huge fan of continuous improvement, knowing full well that everything is not perfect and can always show some room for improvement.  Honest peer feedback will show you room for improvement and I have not seen such honesty anywhere other than the HDR Insider group.

HDR Insider Project CIP

They Tweak Your Competitive Nature

Lastly, but not least important, is the fun little “Gentleman’s Competition” on HDR Insider.  These projects do have a prize at the end.  However, this is not like the kids growing up today not everyone will get a prize!

As a society we have been driving ourselves away from the importance of competition by giving every child an award.  I am a firm believer that rewards should only go to the best of the best, the cream of the crop, and the ones who truly deserve it. Otherwise you dilute the importance of hard work with mediocrity at best.

The competitive nature of the HDR Insider Projects makes you want to try harder, advance your skills further, and in-turn reign as the victor!  No one can argue that any of those three things are in any way detrimental to your artistic growth.

HDR Insider Project Reward

How to participate in Projects on HDR Insider

The projects on HDR Insider are for HDR Insider Members only.  There are essentially 3 projects per month.

  1.  One project is held on HDR Insider
  2. There is a bi-weekly project held on the HDR Insider Facebook Page.

The Project held on the HDR Insider website yields a big prize but tends to be a bit more difficult.  These prizes are usually my training packages like the Zone Systems or Exploring HDR.

The projects on the Facebook Page are cleverly themed and usually a blast to participate in.  The winner’s image gets posted as the Facebook Page banner for 2 weeks.

This Month on HDR Insider

HDR Insider Project

Since this month is October, the project is Halloween based.  Each entrant must create a spooky environment for the background provided.  I even threw in a Zombie version of myself to composite into the photo.  Entrants may or may not use my Zombie image, they may use other Monsters if they would like as well.  The Project entries are flowing in.  If you would like to join HDR Insider and have a go you can check out this page and see all of the features on HDR Insider.

Insider Logo cut Ad with Join Button


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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