Saturday Evening Post #184: Less is More

More or less. 🙂
Much of the advice regarding storing digital ‘assets’ almost since the beginning of digital photography has been something like, Well its cheap to make digital photos as you don’t have to buy film so take as many as possible.
The corollary to that advice was keep them all, disk space is cheap, and you never know when you might need one of them. Or, like high quality wine, they will improve with age on the disk.

So, I guess we have to admit. We did.

Recent weeks I seem to have been ‘enlightened’ on blogs and newsletters, by those same experts with a new mantra. (Perhaps they forgot their old advice or needed to trot out something new)

It follows roughly similar calls, to “learn to curate you photos- delete the ones you won’t use. Choose the best ones and work with those.”

While the “shoot lots and keep all”, was a good idea when digital files were small—the first ones I made were 750kb each! (Think how many I could get on a 1 megabyte card) today’s high res, high pixel count files in raw can be as much as 65mb or each. It quickly begins to build up terabytes of files, most of which will never see the light of day.

I have to say, (mostly) I tend to edit hard after a shoot. Comes from the old days of filum I guess. Out of a roll of 36 exposures, I didn’t want to sit in the darkroom and print every one to figure which were the keepers. Make a quick Contact Print. Mark with Chinagraph pencil. Print the best. Reject the rest.

I could also argue that most of the social media sites promote poor to average photography as being ‘normal’, but not tonight.

If I do about 250 shots in a day’s outing, by the time I get home I’ll edit them down to about 20 or so useable. Then I need about 8-10 for Flickr, 1 for this blog and several for a book project and perhaps a photo-story here on the blog.
For completeness I usually know in advance which shots I want for a story anyway as I’ll have tried to assemble much of that in the field.
Now if I do 3 field trips a week, that is about 60 or so images.

If I stuck with the old mantra, that would be around 700 images I’d need to store a week. A month, it’s 3000 (boy scout math), by the end of the year—36,000 images. (Not bad for a years work). Ten years? Oh, no wonder I need a new 8tb drive this year.

Ansel Adams is reported to have said, “Twelve good images a year is an excellent crop”.

So the new advice seems to be—edit.

The other hidden advice in all that is of course the ability now to run off, for fun, as many as 20 or more shots in a second. Then spend anguished hours on the computer trying to find the best one. The software doesn’t help either as it allows the shots to be ‘Stacked’ so that you only get to see the best one, and 19 languish in the ether, never to be seen again.
Or, and I put tongue-firmly-in-cheek, just post them all and let the viewer decide!!
One ‘guru’ recently claimed to have returned from a workshop trip with over 30,000 shots. And aren’t I glad I’m not getting an invite around for that slide show!

For those of us who do lots of inflight shots, and I have to admit to leaning more and more that way in my own work, the chance of a multi-burst gives us a range of wing, head, body, lighting and expression to chose from.
And just sayin’ for my own work, if its not ‘That’ shot. Then the remainder get deleted.
I’m looking for “… an excellent crop”

Knowing how the bird is going to react is also a huge part of the inflight learning process. This young Kite was ready to go and join its siblings hunting over the grasses in the late afternoon light.

It turned on the branch, I held my breath, and then it simply launched into space. It was heading straight down the barrel of the lens. 🙂

I paused, and as its face came into the light, pressed the shutter.
Less- is more.