If you are asking a question about a visual effect in a photograph, in addition to posting a sample image or a link to one, it is very, very helpful if you describe your impression of the effect briefly in the title and in more detail in the question.

Short "what is this?" questions have three problems.

  • First, answerers may not see what you find interesting in the photo, so it's best to be clear about what you're wondering about. Otherwise, you'll get answers talking about other aspects of the photo you may not care about.

  • Second, no one looking for the exact same thing is likely to ever find this in a search, because there's nothing distinct to key off of. There's no way in Google to distinguish one "what's this effect" from another, let alone in Stack Exchange's own rudimentary search engine. If you describe the image, though, people looking for the same thing have a chance.

  • And finally, the flip side of that: people who were looking for some completely other effect may stumble across yours, which doesn't help anyone. A clear description will let them skip over it (or know right away that they should ask a separate question).

I know it's hard to put pictures into words, and sometimes it's hard to even know what to say. The sample images are important as well — but please make an attempt at the text.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Nice. This, the Q&A is hard, let's go shopping blog post, and similar helpful stuff really ought to be linked in a section of the FAQ. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 20:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think it might be useful, in order to support google searches in the future, to either edit these posts and add a description of the actual effect, figure out a way to tag these with actual effects, or something along those lines. Otherwise, as you say, they are really only useful to the person asking the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 12:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ With you on this... That same effect, that I suspect triggered this post, has shown up here at least 3 times recently. It would also be helpful if people answering the question instead pointed the asker to the question that already has the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Part of the problem with those answering the newer versions of the question is that they can't find the older versions either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 6:25
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark Yes; let's also fix up older questions as well. Or close them, if the original author isn't around anymore and they don't seem fixable without. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 12:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ P.S. Bonus points if you can avoid using "dreamlike" or "dreamy". Based on the widely different images we've gotten described in this way, that term itself doesn't really narrow things down. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 13:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm new here, but not to SE as a whole - I'm with @jrista on this though; catching one of these questions, even after it has been successfully answered & adding, for example [bokeh] [aperture] [tilt-shift] etc to the actual question tile, after the fact, could go a long way to making these searchable in future, even if the searcher doesn't know the name of what they're looking for, collectively the correct terms should push them in the right direction. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a little concerned to see that there's no requirement that a credit/attribution line be included in any question (or answer) which displays someone else's work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobulous
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


This is a template for a comment which can be added to questions which just ask the bare question without detail:

Please read [Important information for asking "What's this effect?"
questions](http://meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3881/) and
edit this post accordingly. Make sure to use a descriptive title, 
too. Thank you! 
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. Added to my AutoReviewComments script. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb Mod
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 16:20

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