Name: Frank De Cock
Country: Belgium
Intro: About me Updated: 2008-05-19

I turned 45 in August 2007. I work as a Windows systems administrator.
My favourite pass-time is photography; what else? I've been interested in it since I was a teenager. That hobby really got a boost when the "digital era" began. I bought a small Oly that I took with me everywhere I went. Recently I upgraded to a digital SLR, which I also try to take with me as often as I can; but if I can't take it with me, I still take the Oly. My motto : always be prepared for that once-in-a-lifetime capture ☺.


When I look at your pictures, I try to notice everything. I say what I like, but more important, I also say what I don't like, or what could be improved IMO. Some members have nicknamed me "Mr. Eagle-eyes", others call me "Mr. Nit-pick" ☺.
I always try to communicate my opinion on a photo in an open, polite way. And I expect nothing less from you when you look at my pictures; please feel free to criticize hard and motivated - and honest. If there's anything you don't like, say it. Feel free to nit-pick away ☺…
Reading honest critiques is the only way to learn and improve IMO. Critiques like "Great shot" with a big fat smiley are nice, but they get boring very rapidly. I mean, what can be learnt from those 2 words? I'd prefer getting a one-point smiley, with a huge list of things that could be changed, anytime.

I do most of my critiquing in English (to save time). U kunt me ook in het Nederlands schrijven. Vous pouvez également m'écrire en français. Μπορέιτε και να μου γράψετε στα ελληνικά.

How I see TL

I've been around on TL for about 4 years now. In that time I wrote and read a helluvalotta critiques, and I've learned many new tricks and techniques. And, certainly not the least benefit of this site, I made many friends from far-away countries as well as from my own ☺. Thank you, broadband Internet; thank you, TrekLens!

In the past few years I came to meet some members IRL, during TL-meets in 2006 in Gent, the september 2007 Lowlands meet, and more recently in Athens (May 2008). It has always been a pleasant occasion, and my wife Ann agrees wholeheartedly - even if she's not into photography that much...

As for TL-the community, I was stunned when I saw all your reactions after we lost our charming Southern Belle, Kathleen. Unbelievable. As Kat was a special friend for me I really felt a loss, as if one of my family members had passed away. But all your reactions were also a comfort for me. And I'd like to thank one of my other TL buddies, Diana, for her initiative to print all farewell cards, bundle them in an album, and mail them to Kathleen's husband Wallis. Diana, you're a living angel! Thank you very much.

Photo dumpers

I tend to not write critiques for people that are around on TL for some time, have earned a fair amount of points, but do not write critiques themselves. That's who I call a photo dumper. People like that aren't interested in TL as a community, nor do they really want to learn. IMO they're ego-trippers whose only goal is to collect points and/or advertise for their personal web pages.
I consider them unworthy of the time we'd spend on critiquing them. So I refrain from critiquing their pictures, even if they make me drop off of my chair with astonishment! And believe me, that has happened ☺.

Learning about photography

Don't get me wrong, though; I don't expect an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" scenario. Though I will always (re-)visit the gallery of anyone that leaves me a critique.
I think in this community we have to learn from each other, and if you want to learn from the other members, you need to invest some time to write critiques. Besides, writing critiques makes you look attentively at other people's pictures. By doing so, you learn a lot too. So the time you have to invest in writing critiques will pay itself back easily!
See also "Critiquing" above ☺.

The point system

Many discussions on the general forums on TL, TN and especially on TE, have been dedicated to the point system. So, I'm not going to repeat all that's been written. But I'd like to vent my opinion anyway.

For new members the point system can be encouraging. I know it was for me! But after a while, one realises that it are not the points that count – it's the critique that comes with it. I also see that the members of this community – definitely including myself, I must admit – tend to write critiques for the same circle of members, their TL buddies. I guess that's only human… but I wonder if, after some time, this doesn't cause loss of objectiveness… Frankly, I think it does. For instance, I've received critiques saying a photo had a lot of things that could be improved, but I was awarded two points anyway... I think many members are reluctant to give the 1-point smiley, afraid of receiving retaliatory critiques, perhaps - which I've seen happen.

So, where do the points stand for, finally? In general, rather than showing how good a picture is, they indicate the amount of TL-friends a member has made... I, for one, don't care all that much about points any more.
So, why not turn off the points completely? If you do, you can't give any more points, but you can still receive them. IMO that's the world upside-down. As I said, for new members points can mean encouragement. So I like to still be able to give points.

A feature I really miss on TL, as I wrote to Adam here, is an extra check-box in the upload screen: Don't allow points to be given. Would be a good option in the member profile too, I guess; we'd be able to refuse points, but still be able to give them. What do you think? Please check that entire discussion launched by Diana, I really see some use for it.
Compared to other photo sites, a benefit I see in TL is that "only" 2 points can be given... other sites offer a rating of 1 - 10 points, and "critiquing" there can be as simple as writing "R10+" or so. Ridiculous, nothing to be learnt from it!

Time, time, time – the addiction

Addiction was the right word. From the beginning, and for more than one year, I visited TL daily. Who needs sleep anyway, right? But 2005 and 2006 have been years of intense growth for TL. The small community from 2004 has grown into a big city… which makes it impossible to look at all new pictures that are posted every day. This fact, and I guess also a bit of over-saturation (to stick to the photo-lingo), made me take a bit of a sabbatical in August 2005. Ever since, believe it or not, there are days that I don't visit TL. And I don't even feel guilty about it ☺.

Another thing I may not come around to anymore is answering every critique I'll receive. Be assured I'll read each and every one of them very attentively, but if I can find nothing to discuss, or if you don't ask particular questions, I won't reply. With regret, I must add, for those little chats are part of TL's charm for me...

I want to stress that, as I said before, for me a critique is more important than points. So if you decide to leave me a critique, make it an unrated one, so you won't lose one of your daily 20 rated critiques.

See you around on TL!



When I'm online, you can reach me with Windows Messenger: oPapagalos[at], or with Skype: dingo_mess

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Member Since: 2004-06-02
Camera: Canon EOS 300, Canon EOS 450D, Canon EOS350D/Digital Rebel XT, Nikon F-301, Olympus Camedia C-450Z
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