Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Results of the copper lily poll

with 20 comments

Here are the results of the poll about the four copper lily photographs that appeared on September 25th. Beneath each of the four images I’ve put the percent of votes it has garnered as of now.

You can see that picture #1 proved the clear favorite, getting more than half the votes. Part of that may have been a bias toward whatever picture happened to come first, and in a proper survey different people would have seen the pictures in a different order to compensate for any effects of position, as opposed to the intrinsic appeal of each image. Even so, it seems picture #1 would have come in first regardless of the order of the photographs.

(Maybe it should run for president of the United States. With high favorables and no unfavorables that I’m aware of, picture #1 would be a strong candidate.)

Copper Lily Flower 5992


Copper Lily Flower 6055


Copper Lilies Fresh and Shriveled 5988


Copper Lily Flower 6048


© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2015 at 11:22 AM

20 Responses

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  1. It would be the strong silent, do-nothing president that would really be such a relief these days. It has demonstrated its centrist stance. I endorse it!


    September 27, 2015 at 11:55 AM

  2. Not to take anything away from the actual winning image (as it was my choice too), but I thought the background of #1 was more attractive – pastels blending/bleeding into one another, whereas the background detracts from #4 which is a similar image. The solid lines of colour affect the way you see the flower. Now maybe you need to conduct this experiment using images on the same neutrally coloured background so all the attention is on the candidate flower. 🙂


    September 27, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    • I like your analysis. Number 4 is indeed different from my usual approach to backgrounds, given the bands of color behind the copper lily across the lower portion of the image. The flower in #4 is broader and brighter than the one in the first image, and therefore intrinsically more likely to appeal to people, except for that unconventional background.

      I was experimenting, so I knew that not everything would turn out to my (or other people’s) liking. Sometimes experiments lead to novel results that are favorable, other times not.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2015 at 2:22 PM

  3. It’s taken this second look to realize that the first is my favorite not only because of the background and the light, but also because of its Art Deco lines. Its simplicity is part of its strength.


    September 27, 2015 at 8:49 PM

    • The first strikes me as a figure with raised arms and therefore as a positive emblem (and also just now for the first time as one of those stylized figures that used to stand front and center on car hoods).

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2015 at 9:21 PM

  4. I’ve been ill and trying to catch up on my other work before my blog post reading and visual treats, Steve, so this is my first viewing of the four pictures. I tried to look at them from the bottom of the page upwards to counteract the order effects. It was interesting to me that my feelings about the small pictures were different to the enlarged views. My clear favourites when I quickly looked at the small pictures was the top one followed by the bottom one. Once enlarged, the middle ones increased in appeal. In fact, the one that only gained 9% of votes became my favourite followed by top and then bottom shot. Strange how viewing them like that can affect one’s attraction to them. The 9% shot became more atmospheric and I enjoyed the light through the petals and the depth. Like others, the top picture reminds me of raised hands…perhaps imploring for mercy or the opposite, embracing/reaching out for the light? I am waffling now. 🙂


    September 28, 2015 at 12:09 AM

    • I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill, Jane. I hope you’re two hours closer to recovery now than when you posted your comment.

      In the context of a poll, I hadn’t thought about the effect the size of photographs might have on people’s appreciation of them. You’ve described the effect that size had on you, but now I wonder whether the difference in size affects different people differently. I had thought, more generally, that when pictures are too small, as they often are in books, people (by which I mean especially and frustratedly myself) can’t see enough details to appreciate or even distinguish what’s there. Hooray for the ability on the Internet to click and make images larger—at least when whoever puts the pictures up allows for enlargement. Some photographers and other artists keep things small to try to thwart people who would otherwise steal the images.

      What I like about photo #2 is the green “cloud” beyond the flower, something that fits in with your description of the view as atmospheric. My wife was one of the few other people who chose that picture as her favorite.

      Your mention of waffling raises still another aspect of polling: people’s opinions aren’t necessarily constant, even in the short term. All of this leads to an appreciation of the difficulties that professional pollsters face.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 2:27 AM

  5. Very interesting, especially the discussions on how difficult it is to conduct a fair and reliable poll. We will soon have a referendum on which new flag, if any, we would like for New Zealand. One thing which is difficult to judge from a flat picture is how well the flag will look flying from a flag pole! By the way, I think any of your copper lilies would make good Presidential candidates. Silence is golden, or in this case copper.


    September 28, 2015 at 3:27 AM

    • In 2002 I had to teach an introductory statistics course, so naturally I studied up on the subject, which I knew little about. What I learned gave me a lot of respect for the intricacies of setting up non-biased polls and surveys. For decades the news media rarely mentioned the margin of error when reporting the result of poll. Fortunately the margin of error now usually gets reported (though not always correctly interpreted by the people doing the reporting), but I still never see an acknowledgement in the news media that a certain percent of the time the true value being sought still falls outside the interval created by the reported value plus or minus the margin of error.

      I remember discussing New Zealand’s proposed new flags with you after my experience of seeing a flag I didn’t recognize at Waitiangi Day celebrations. I didn’t realize that a referendum is already at hand. You raise a good point a flat flag looks different from one hanging on a flag pole or blowing in the wind. Perhaps you can bring that to the attention of the proper authorities so they can show each candidate for the flag in several positions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 8:42 AM

      • Gallivanta

        September 29, 2015 at 4:16 AM

        • I hadn’t heard about the so-called red peak design, but I have to say I prefer the flags with ferns on them. The inclusion of the red-peak makes me wonder if the vote for a fern will be split among the four fern candidates and by doing so allow the red-peak to win.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 29, 2015 at 7:39 AM

          • Possibly, but more likely is that the Red Peakers, being so enthusiastic will make more of an effort to vote than others and their flag will carry the day in the first referendum. Out walking today I noticed several homes flying our current flag. It has a lot of support but whether that support carries through to people actually voting is another matter.


            September 30, 2015 at 2:17 AM

  6. beautiful pictures!!!!


    September 29, 2015 at 3:55 PM

  7. It’s always rewarding to have supported the winner.

    Steve Gingold

    October 2, 2015 at 5:15 AM

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