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What Image files to keep, what to send to the dust bin of history?


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#21 Marjo

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:55 AM

I try to cull mercilessly for the following reasons (in "my" order of importance):

1. I strongly believe that the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is that "a good photographer only shows good images". I think this statement applied beyond what you show to the world outside. It applies to what you "show yourself". I feel that I benefit from only keeping around images that are in my own mind "good'. It unclutters my minds vision and keep me more disciplined both in my shooting and editing.

2. I believe that keeping a smaller amount of images makes it easier to manage and keep track of what you have, both in your management system as well as in you "mind". When you need it you pretty much know if you got it or not. Not only that you do in fact have an images of a particular subject, but also that you have a "great" image of it and something you can with confidence, off the cuff' say to a client "yes" rather than "let me go dig in my file-pile".

3. I find that there is a cost of ownership for every file I keep. Yes, you could say that a 1 TB hard drive at $100 is "cheap" , although that is of course a subjective statement as we always seem to think that something that originally cost $X and a year later costs $x -60% is "cheap". But then if you consider that you want to keep for example a) a working set of images b) a backup c) an archive backup and d) an online storage of originals, it suddenly isn't so "cheap" anymore. Especially online backup of RAW files is at least in my mind not "cheap". Yes, you could be diligent and transport your files on HD's off to some off-site location or FTP them to another location you maintain yourself, but pretty much all the options involves cost one way or the other.

Having said this, I still find it difficult to kill some "darlings" and I still need to become more disciplined. But I can say that I have never in hindsight "missed" an image that I doomed to go live in pixel afterlife.

#22 Steve Williams

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:04 AM

1. I strongly believe that the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is that "a good photographer only shows good images". I think this statement applied beyond what you show to the world outside. It applies to what you "show yourself". I feel that I benefit from only keeping around images that are in my own mind "good'. It unclutters my minds vision and keep me more disciplined both in my shooting and editing.



Thanks folks, all great input. I'm resonating with Marjo. An uncluttered vision is a goal I'd like to achieve more consistently someday. I hadn't made the connection between keeping a bunch of unusable or marginal images around and clarity. I like that. Thanks Marjo.

Discipline is an interesting word when applied to what we do. I've learned it's tough to be very accurate on my passes through the days images when I'm on a boat. I'm finding I tend to miss some shots that I should keep. I'm not very disciplined with a rum drink in my hand. :D In taking your advise and going back through images I shot last summer to clean up the drive I came across this one in the trash pile.

Posted Image

Clearly not a cover shot but it's growing on me for it's simplicity and I like the eye contact. At the time I was working on making images with more complicated compositions so this one didn't make the cut. It points out that our definition of good can change over time. Another reason to keep the shots that are at least in focus until you can get to a quiet place and can be more "disciplined".

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#23 loftus

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:12 PM

Had a great day and a half this weekend at a workshop with Joe McNally. He pointed out how even the great photographers don't accrue that many great images over a lifetime: He commented on the fact that whenever you see a retrospective of the work of great photographers like Alfred Eisenstadt, it's always the same 30 or so images. I think the best thing we can try to do is be brutally honest with ourselves; our friends and family will thank us as well.
The other comment I would make Steve with regard to the pic above; I think it's a cool photography - but is it the best one of the series you took at the time? If so then maybe it's a keeper, if you have a couple or three similar ones that are better, then maybe this one should go. So did you find this one with a rum drink in your hand or did you miss it before because of the rum drink? :D

Edited by loftus, 22 May 2010 - 07:17 PM.

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#24 MikeVeitch

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 12:58 AM

i use the star system in Lightroom to cull mine. Go through the images in a folder and give 5 stars to the best possible keepers, and a 4 to ones that i am thinking about and x the ones that are definitely throw aways. I then sort them into order and delete all the x-ed out ones right away, from the hard drive, not just from the Catalogue.

I will then go through the 5's one by one and work on the ones i deem acceptable.

As i am going through the 5s i will compare the similars and then gives the "loser" a 4 :D

I will then go through the 4s a little later to see if some of them are actually keepers, if not.. they all get deleted.
That way i am only left with the 5s. Although some are not really 5s.. :D

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#25 Steve Williams

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 08:33 AM

I will then go through the 4s a little later to see if some of them are actually keepers, if not.. they all get deleted.


I do something very similar Mike with the star rating. I just haven't been able to bring myself to delete the "losers".

Jeff, ---"So did you find this one with a rum drink in your hand or did you miss it before because of the rum drink?" Probably a little of both. :D

I would keep a shot like this because I can use it in the slideshows we put together for the kids. Not a poster shot but could be nice filler material in a background.

Cheers,
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#26 Marjo

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 07:43 PM

Steve, if that shark shot was in my library I would surely keep it. With its uncluttered nice even blue background, good eye contact and nice 45 degree I think that is a marketable image for sure. Of course if you have a gazillion images like this, the you might want to cull it out. Wish I had that problem... :)

#27 bmyates

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:32 AM

I do something very similar Mike with the star rating. I just haven't been able to bring myself to delete the "losers".


My problem is that the ones I think are 3 or 4-stars on first pass sometimes later turn out to be more than that...for reasons I didn't think of initially. My grinning shark is the perfect example. I (like everyone else shooting "lemon snaps") was trying to get a shot of a lemon shark with its mouth wide open, half underwater and half out, so when going through the shots initially, I swore at the "grin" just like the rest of the "failed" shots with the mouth closed. It wasn't until I was going through them later and showing them to someone else that I thought that shot was kind of interesting (let alone worth entering in the Nature's Best contest). Bottom line: I'm sure glad I didn't dump it just because it wasn't a 5-star shot upon initial review...

My point is that each time we look through photos, we have a slightly different mindset/perspective, and may be blind to positive characteristics that are later apparent upon closer review. I haven't entered (let alone won or placed in) many contests, but the grinning shark and another shot I almost dumped (because it was somewhat underexposed) were both winners that I'm glad I kept.

I understand that keeping thousands of extra files is "clutter" in one sense. But storage is cheap and getting ever-cheaper, so I still tend to err on the side of keeping everything that is in sharp focus and isn' obvious crap.

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#28 loftus

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 08:57 AM

I'm finding that I am getting more and more and more picky with time; so when I do happen to go back through old stuff,which is not that frequently, I usually land up throwing out more stuff.
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#29 Steve Williams

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 11:04 PM

I'm finding that I am getting more and more and more picky with time;


It is amazing Jeff how the stuff I loved a few years ago, I wouldn't even keep now. Want to have some fun? Go back to those very first images you took underwater that you were showing off to everyone you could find and look at them now.


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#30 loftus

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 02:27 AM

It is amazing Jeff how the stuff I loved a few years ago, I wouldn't even keep now. Want to have some fun? Go back to those very first images you took underwater that you were showing off to everyone you could find and look at them now.


Steve

Yup, can hardly bear to. It's not only diving stuff, but topside and pool stuff as well. Just yesterday I trashed everything from two complete shoots; thinking 'Why keep these? Who would ever want to look at them?'
Having said that I can understand those folks who collect images of different species just because they like to collect, or those who keep stuff for potential commercial reasons, though I think most of it is wishful thinking except for those who actually make their living doing this.

Edited by loftus, 03 June 2010 - 02:28 AM.

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#31 tdpriest

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 03:18 AM

This thread has made me think hard about my workflow: I now delete about 50% of the images from a dive immediately, and take 50% home. I'll keep about half (ie 25% of the original shots) as RAW files. Something like 10% of the original images become dng files, then about 5-7% fully processed psd files (sharpened, adjustment layers added, Noise Ninja applied and judicious Photoshop modification if they're for my own use). 2-4% become jpeg images...

... I hadn't realised how ruthless I've become!

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Edited by tdpriest, 05 June 2010 - 03:19 AM.


#32 DiverPam

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 05:12 PM

This thread has made me think hard about my workflow: I now delete about 50% of the images from a dive immediately, and take 50% home. I'll keep about half (ie 25% of the original shots) as RAW files. Something like 10% of the original images become dng files, then about 5-7% fully processed psd files (sharpened, adjustment layers added, Noise Ninja applied and judicious Photoshop modification if they're for my own use). 2-4% become jpeg images...

... I hadn't realised how ruthless I've become!

Tim

:)


Curious - what do you do when importing to LR? I have only been working wiht LR2 about 1 1/2 months, but when I import into LR, I have the convert to DNG box checked for all of the photos. So, based on your post and some others, you guys do not do this. Can you tell more about your process with this please?

Thanks - DiverPam

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