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After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-07-2010, 03:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A few days back I was listening to an interview with the photographer who did that fantastic "Afgan Girl" shot that graced National Geographic years ago (I can't remember his name though). Anyway he was given the priviledge of shooting the LAST production roll of Kodakchrome reversal film ever. Can you imagine his dilema? You only have 36 exposures and so you must do your level best to NOT screw up the shot (He did on one exposure where he forgot to change his aperture)! Well, we don't have that problem now with digital capture.

Or do we?

I was just going through the RAW files of the lastest shoot I did with Sara (perhaps my favorite model...or at least the one I've photographed the most!) and I kept hesitating over a few images that are...let's just say...not 'up to standard'. Do I cull them out before running the images through Lightroom? Or do I keep them as they are, like those images of Uncle Fred on his 90th. birthday shot with a crappy instamatic, the only images of her in that pose with that 'look'? Yes, agreed, there is motion blur (due to falling light and iso not set right) or they are a bit out of focus...but it's hard to let them go, throw them into the Recycle Bin and later nuke them.

I guess what I am getting at is that even though I've got hundreds of other images from that shoot and much the same amount from other shoots I still have that 36 shots mentality...each exposure is precious and there's no duplications of THAT particular moment in time. So I keep it even though I know it's not good ...or it's real crap.

It's also not that I'm not going to get a chance to work with her again, nor that we couldn't go to the same place, same time of day, same clothing/hair/makeup to recreate those images that just don't work. It's just that we won't get THAT original look. Then again we may get something better.

But to get back to the title...are you ruthless in your post shoot picks/archiving? Or do you look at this like a bad neg in the strip (you are not going to cut that film to remove it!) and just archive it as it is? Oh sure people say that hard drive space is cheap now...and it is...but why keep less than perfect images? Unlike the shot of Uncle Fred who may not survive to his 91st birthday...so you keep it for sentimental/memory reasons...this should not have that kind of hold on you.

Over the years and increasing number of shoots I *have* gotten better...so I have a lot less 'crap' shots but still much the same volume of shots per shoot. So the culling process is a lot tougher.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-08-2010, 10:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I know exactly what your talking about Richard. I think I got into this frame of mind originally because I just didn't know what was good and what whas crap, so I kept it all. At this point I know crap when I see it and they get thrown out. Now I just have to work on knowing good when I see it. Then I'll start throwing out all the mediocre stuff too.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-08-2010, 11:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Ah, yes...the mediocre shots. That's what I am struggling with. How many have I got that I think, "With a bit stronger PP I might be able to pull something good out of this"? Some are just not workable...at all. But I keep them as they are the only ones from that moment in time.

I have seen improvement in my decision making only because I have gotten better in my shoots...a lot less 'crap'. But then that makes it harder now as the mediocre ones are bordering on acceptable or good. Imagine my dilema if I ever attain to the point of... no crap, few mediocre, the vast majority good. Or even worse, what if I *only* have good ones...what standards do I apply then for culling? Do I say, "It's got to be Gallery Show quality only!"?

Our decisions are highly subjective and these are our 'babies'. You lose perspective of what works in the world away from our computer screens. I suppose I could ask my wife what she likes but then she's not in the same mindset as I am. Perhaps I should put together a temporary gallery page and ask the GG community? I mean you guys do the same work as I am...or better than. I think I could trust your judgements.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-08-2010, 10:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think thre is a difference in mindset, the way we 'see' and shoot, between those of us who learned with film versus those who learned to shoot with digital. I'm not saying one is better than the other, so none of that digital vs film stuff. For example, I learned to shoot with 4x5 sheet film, then progressed to 35mm and medium format. With sheet film, mistake are costly, so we learned to look, think and look again before clicking the shutter. Those of us who learned with film tend to shoot slower, paying more attention to each shot on order to minimize errors. With digital, it cost us nothing to shoot, so we often use the machine gun approach, often hoping for a good shot among the crap.

I recentluy had a conversation with a young shooter who was doing his first gallery show. Some damn nice work, by the way. But he commented during his shoots he usually shoots more than 1000 images during a three hour session with a model. Frankly, I simply can not imagine that sort of volume.

So am I ruthless with my editing? Damn right I am. Unless I consider an image to be excellent, it's history.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-09-2010, 05:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I spent most of the 1980s, 1990s, and into the 2000s with an RB-67 Pro-S in my hands, shooting bridal portraits, weddings, and lots of commercial stuff. With film and processing fairly expensive, I was very careful about every shot before I clicked the shutter. I started shooting digital in 2003 and have never looked back, but I am still not a "machine-gun" shooter. Yes, my weddings are around 300 shots now instead of 150 on film, but I don't see the need to shoot 1000 shots at a wedding like some people do "just because we can". When I am done with a shoot, no matter what it is, I download the images onto my harddrive and immediately burn a CD or DVD of the images and file the disk. THEN I go through and edit and throw away any images I feel don't make the grade. Then I burn another disk of the edited files. Occasionally, I copy everything in my pictures folder to an external harddrive and then unplug it. So now I have a set of unedited images and at minimum two sets of edited ones. If you buy CDs in packs of 50 for less than $10, you are spending 20 cents or less per disk... pretty cheap storage/insurance.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-09-2010, 10:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've had read failures on older CDs so I'm not so sure about trusting that media. Then again I've had hard drive failures, too. One in particular nuked a whole bunch of my wife's images...Ooops sorry honey. About the only media that I think we could consider truly archival would be thumbdrives/solidstate hard drives and/or prints. Even though the digital photography technology is getting better it's still far too easy to lose information as it is to copy it. Printers are getting better and the inks have better longevity but the age of a print done in the darkroom is still so dependent on getting the chemistry right. My parents have a 25th. anniversary poster sized print of my sisters and me on their wall at home. It's now over 30 years old and fading! I don't believe we have the neg on that one either so when the print finally ghosts away that will be it for that particular memory. Oh well, the image only has importance for the family and is worthless otherwise.

Speaking of 'worthless' I read or heard somewhere that a 20cent piece of plastic suddenly becomes PRICELESS once something is burned to it.

However, your idea of 'immediately burn a CD' would have made my wife a WHOLE lot happier when the hard drive FAT went...gooblegook! I did manage to salvage a handful of images but the rest...well they just weren't recoverable at all. Oh well, chalk that up to experience.

So...if one was to burn these images to a CD or DVD are those higher priced discs truly worth the expense? Are they 'safe'?
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-10-2010, 12:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I shoot a good bit of film, but when I shoot digital, I approach it the same way as my film -- I keep everything. The good, the bad, everything. I think it's helpful to see the good with the bad as a reminder to try and not do that again. I guess it helps that I don't shoot thousands of frames per session, though.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-10-2010, 11:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Nothing is "safe". Way back in the 1980s I lost 20 years of negs, chromes and prints due to a broken water pipe while I was out of town. Only a couple of years ago I lost about 10 sleeves of medium format negs and 15 or so DVDs after my Great Dane decided they were dog toys. Yes, the dog opened a drawyer to get them out. Now I keep them backed up on DVD and two separate external hard drives, one of which is unpluged except when I am doing back ups. I still do not consider them to be safe. And bear in mind I still keep only the 'keepers', everything else is tossed out.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-13-2010, 05:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm another one of those "old", film trained shooters and I went through I lot of it on the learning curve. Now with digital, I do tend to shoot more than I used to but there is one big difference. Now I will experiment a lot more than before because mistakes don't cost anything. I will try crazy exposures, different angles, and all manner of stuff, 'cause you never know, you just might come up with something unusual that works. If it doesn't, delete it and it's gone.

Now, when I edit a shoot, stuff that is really and truly crap gets dumped right away. But I will save even the mediocre crap because, well, there's no way to be sure what use you may have for even a less than perfect image sometime down the road.
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Re: After the shoot...are you ruthless?
Old 08-15-2010, 01:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I keep them most of the time. I just rated the stars *****
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