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.

10 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #184: Less is More

  1. Indeed, the mantra has changed dramatically! And yet I tend to still err on the ‘too many’ kept side! I guess it is a bit like my library of audio tracks (music, effects etc) one day I will want to use that particular one. Thus far I have been able to meet every request!
    A splendid image of the young kite!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, I guess I was just amused that the old mantra is out, and the new one is shiny and bright and everyone jumps on the bandwagon.
      There is a difference between keepers, and Keepers.
      Another thought I should expand on next week, is that some of the images, (also rans) are important to keep as they for part of the memory of the day out. They may never ever be used, but the carry some of the emotion of being there.


  2. Hmm if I shoot different genres does that mean I can post more than my 12 a year? 🙂 Its a dragon chasing its tail, we get better, we get more keepers, we get more nickpicky we get less keepers. As pointed out what many would rave on SMedia about others don’t hesitate to put out for recycling. Do I wonder “am I ever going to get this shot again” if not then maybe its one of the 12 otherwise come back tomorrow and burst away again. A bit like sitting in one spot waiting for them to come, how long, I could be getting that other shot, I know they will be there, but don’t move, don’t disturb the force Luke. After all if you go and get that shot today, the other shot that is, then you’ll only end up back in this spot again waiting for the one that didn’t eventuate. At which point I normally wrap the doona closer and realise I dint een get out of bed yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, but I’m still not coming round to sitting through the 30,000 holiday snaps. 🙂
      As i said to David, and I’ll likely blog to it next week, some of the also rans are great as they from the emotion of the moment of being there. Yep, its a spot on shot of a … but it doesn’t tell the whole story of being there.

      in the old days of Apple Aperture, they had a section called Light Tables, and it allowed me to spread the images over the screen, move them about and make the storyboard on the fly. What was left after the run through was a coherent story and the dross were gone. I do miss that feature.

      Walk for hours or sit and wait. I’m falling into the sit and wait catergory these days. (Big lens on tripod says so:-) )
      I guess its a step up from Jon Young’s sit spot.


  3. Beautiful moment captured with that immature BSK David, and true we can be a quandary as to keep or throw at times. It is that special shot we look for with character and lighting that makes it an art work more than just a photo of a bird. After all there are many of those. I love how you waited and caught that moment when the bird looked at you and flew. I know the joy also having that moment when it infrequently occurs. I continue to reduce my earlier not so clear images which I cherished in the early days of birding, as I shoot better ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ashley, funny enough the image does not convey the heart in mouth moment of knowing this flight is going to be special. 🙂

      I Guess I was amused by the stream of similar advice(s) that came to me the past couple of weeks. I don’t expect every outing to be gold standard, so its easy to keep a few more just because they help tell the story, even the ones that just give a feel of being out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. David


    I agree about the editing…easier in my case with my bumbling efforts.

    However, I do keep some ‘just because I was there’ and/or there is a story attached or the subject is something special…or…whatever.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. A wonderful shot of the BSK coming towards you.

    The grand clean-out I did during the big 2020 lockdown made me feel very virtuous at the time, but the image numbers are creeping up again. I need to do it all again this winter!

    Liked by 1 person

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