Do you go back and delete images?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by raymondc, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. There are those that say you don't delete images just in case and some reference the photographer who used a film camera to cover Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton when most others shot digital and they may not had a photo in their archives. Do you guys shortlist images as you are downloading it or do you go back at a later time and delete them or do you keep them all?
    I am a low volume shooter. My 9.5yr old camera has a shutter count of 11,000, the shutter was replaced at the about 1yr in from owning it. These days the cameras, 2GB is now 16GB. How big are your hard drives? Very occasionally there may be a city event on and later on I have a friend's wedding which he asked for some optional joyful snaps it's the 2nd venue in this city the week after. These events, one could just snap and snap right ... average Joe may have a 1TB HDD these days?
    I of course have a 2nd drive for redundancy inside and yet another external.
  2. I don't delete images, but I've been more selective about what I shoot for quite a while now.
    I think everyone has a saturation point in terms of file/image accumulation; at some level it becomes almost impossible to track, review, or retrieve content unless one is meticulous about housekeeping.
    I'm about at my limit with 4TB in total content including images, and have no interest in accumulating more, so now I delete as many old-thus-irrelevant files (but not yet any images) as I add new ones.
  3. grh


    4 TB total, so far, 2 TB for my work. I use a 2 TB RAID 1 NSA for a backup of the photos. Shutter count at 35,000 in 16 months. Yes, I delete images I know I will never need, or never be able to sell. I don't have the room to keep everything, and they just obfuscate what matters.
  4. I think for most people, digital has changed the way they take pictures. With film, taking a lot of images got expensive fast. So you had to pick and choose when you wanted to make an exposure. Now with digital cameras and large SD cards the "pick and choose' process has moved post capture. I still keep a lot more images than with film, but keeping every image only makes sense if your still picky about every exposure.
    I personally almost never have my camera in single shot mode. It's mostly set to bracket or continuous shooting mode. Which means I'll end up with multiple shots of the same thing. When I download the images the first thing I do is go through them and label/tag all the ones that are worth keeping. Then everything else gets deleted. A 20% keeper count is about normal, though with difficult subjects, for example macros of live subjects, that may drop down to 2-5%. Then I'll go through them again. And if I still have too many images of essentially the same thing, I'll pick the best 2 or 3 and delete the rest. And I'll delete the RAW files for images that I'm sure I'll never do any serious editing on later. All this is necessary to keep my hard drives from getting filled too quickly.
  5. stp


    I photograph primarily landscapes, so I almost always use single shot mode (when I photograph birds, it's continuous shot mode). I compose in the viewfinder, and very seldom crop afterwards except when I'm stitching. Even though my initial shot is the one that I think is best, I learned long ago that it's a good idea to look for alternate compositions of the subject right then and there, and that's what I do. It's not uncommon for me to come away with 4-5 subtle to distinct alternatives for a given subject. When I'm back at the computer, I look for one alternative that is clearly better than the others. If I find one, I delete the others (partly to save drive space, and partly to simply make a decision and move on to other subjects). Sometimes it may be difficult to find one that is clearly better than all the others; some of the alternatives may be equally good (or nearly so) but with different attributes. In those cases, I save all of what I consider good alternatives. Several years after taking photographs at at particular place, I may go through the shots again and delete some more, especially if I haven't been inspired to process them further. After doing all of this over the years, I have maybe 30 photographs that I really, really like. I also have just over two TB of other photos that I like and am presently keeping. Those represent approximately 20% of the photographs that I've ever taken.
  6. I've scanned all my film and slide output from the 70's through the 90's, and I only delete what is so under or over exposed that it's essentially un-useable. But there's a lot less of those than the digital era, where as Siegfried says I have changed how many shots I take. Now when I do the initial download I've got used to deleting a significant number of "same" shots unless I'm looking for a sequence of some kind (for instance a car going through a corner at a racetrack); and then over a period of time I delete more and more of those the similar shots as I can distance myself and see the images more clearly. Interestingly enough, although we shoot maybe 10K+ images a year our total stored number grows at a much slower rate as we edit and delete previous years and subjects. What continues to grow is the amount of storage, because the newer cameras take bigger pictures. Fortunately I enjoy the computer part of the process so the constant editing isn't an issue. I can see where it would be if you think of that part as a chore.
    Storage is so cheap I don't worry about disk space, or back-up drives. We currently have a little over a TB of photos, and I expect that to increase by maybe 200GB a year at the current pace.
  7. Nope, I don't delete. Except for black frames, pix of my feet, etc. But any image that captures the subject is kept as a RAW file.

    Currently I have 4TB of on-line storage with another 2 TB of off-line backup. I have about 40K photos in my Lightroom catalog.
  8. No delete here, too.
    I'd have to look, but I think I have about 5 GB of archived images. The total storage is 3X since I keep three copies on different media. So far no problems. I use bare-drives as the media, and I have a 3-drive trayless SATA dock build into my desktop PC.
  9. I keep all of my images in RAW format. In the past I have regretted deleting older images finding that I had need for them later on. I have 2 one TB hard drives in addition to a TB HD in my computer. I also have back up on commercial back up as well as copies of all of the images on CD or DVD discs. It may sound like over kill but so be it.
  10. The type of photography I do means I take about 150,000 images a year.

    I did do some deletions a couple of years ago, but I don't have time for that now.

    I've got about 18Tb over several external drives, ranging from 500Gb to 3Tb, some with raid.

    I used to have one Lightroom catalog, but now use one per event. I store it in a directory at same level as the raw files
    and it seems i can move this over to another drive and lightroom will still find the files. it must be using relative paths, i don't get the missing directory warning and so I don't have to point Lightroom to where I moved the files to.

    My largest catalog has 300,000 images and a few months ago got corrupted after upgrading lightroom and took ages to
    recover manually using SQL. I've had several more get corrupted too but it's not too bad to recover if they only have 10-
    50,000 images in them.

    I would like a solution that would allow me to keep more of my material accessible at the same time. I often get random
    requests from production agencies to fulfill a particular brief, and searching for a matching image, even in the same
    catalog, might mean plugging in several drives one after the other, which is tedious since they pretty much all use
    different power supplies and its also slow for Lightroom to notice which directories in a catalog are now active. But
    servers that can keep that amount of storage spinning are incredibly expensive, especially when you factor in some
    growth and a safe raid configuration. I would prefer it uses zfs filesystem for the added reliability, almost instant snapshot
    backups and facility to add capacity to the storage pool dynamically. i have no current backup solution, and all I can think
    of for my envisaged server would be another one on which to store the snapshots.
  11. I shoot freely and delete freely. It costs nothing but a little time and a little wear and tear on the equipment. I'd rather shoot bursts to select the best frame and discard the rest, than to hesitate and miss the perfect moment. But I shoot mostly spontaneous candids - literally, snap-shots - and what works for me may not be the best practice for someone who prefers another technique or has a different vision.
  12. Lex, do you find that ones camera choice makes a difference in ones trigger-happiness?
    I find that a more responsive camera tends to result in more pictures on the same shoot, and any camera-related limitations tends to progressively reduce the amount of pictures, for example if the flash is slower to recharge or the focusing is slower; situations where you know a keeper is less likely.
  13. I've had to be careful tossing images I took years back I haven't even edited yet of mostly areas around my town such as bridges, parks and other places of interest due to the fact my town keeps rebuilding, renovating many of these scenes that now no longer exist.
    Some of the old shots of walk bridges, park accouterments, old brick work, etc. look a bit boring to me either from bad composition and/or lighting at the time of capture where now I have to judge whether I keep them based strictly on their historical value and importance to my town's history because those actual places are now gone and/or been modernized.
    After all the ones I've tossed so far I still end up with around 3000 Raws and about 500 jpegs. I still need to toss even more but it just gets tedious after a while.
  14. it


    I delete about two thirds of what I shoot.
  15. Deleting requires thinking about the image. For me, and perhaps others, it's the thinking that we need to use judiciously, as there's only so much thinking I can do each day, and my work requires a lot of it. I don't delete images because:
    1. No precious thinking time should be spent on bad work, and
    2. With the cost of storage these days, I'd be making maybe 12 cents and hour while I'm deleting, and
    3. I could make a mistake, either deleting something that should be kept, or flat out deleting the wrong image.
    (I also don't delete spam, because to delete it I'd have to look at it, and I refuse to do that. I just don't see it. Kind of like ads in a magazine when I turn the page to continue reading an article.)
  16. Good questions.
    I use a 16GB card in the camera. That's enough for any session I shoot. I always shoot in-camera dupes. For birds, kids, and low-light portraits, I'm shooting continuous. For easier shots, I'll take two or three. I always shoot RAW.
    I review and edit in Lightroom. Here I delete ruthlessly. I'll keep the "keepers" and about 100% more. This means I'm deleting probably 80% of my exposures.
    In this mode of working, I'm able to keep everything on one big hard-drive. I don't want to have to be finding that umpteenth hard drive or figure out which one holds the session I'm seeking.
  17. "Lex, do you find that ones camera choice makes a difference in ones trigger-happiness?"​
    I'd flip that proposition around to say that I was always trigger happy and want cameras that suit my preference. When I was shooting mostly film I'd often use motor drives on my Nikons for street fairs, etc., and burn through several rolls a day. I was happy to get a few keepers.
    I also got plenty of good photos using cameras that were slower to operate: TLRs, compact rangefinders, SLRs without motor drives, even a old Agfa folder that's really slow to operate - outdoors it was a chore to be certain I'd advanced the film properly while peering through the dim, hazy ruby film counter window. But I missed a lot of fleeting expressions and gestures too.
    When back and neck pain from a car wreck made it difficult to lug around my 35mm film SLRs with motor drives and bulky dSLR I actually gave up shooting anything but snaps of family and friends for a couple of years. My only other digicam was an early 2000s Olympus P&S that was really slow - sluggish shutter release, slowpoke AF, and it seemed like it took a minute between frames for the buffer to clear if I shot TIFFs, so everything was JPEG only.
    I didn't really begin to enjoy candid photography again - just walking around downtown, or around my own neighborhood at night - until I finally got something smaller, lighter and much quicker last year. And it's pretty common for me to shoot 100 or more photos a day when I'm out, and delete most of them later after reviewing them on the PC. I don't mind because there are usually a few keepers with just the right nuance of gesture or expression I was looking for.
  18. Shooting quite freely, and deleting after backing up - so the backup is the complete collection, my "working set" is only those I want to keep and/or work on. I hardly delete from camera, it really has to be an obvious failure.
    Over time, I did start to shoot less, partially because I did got a tad but better at guessing the settings I want and the composition I envision, partially because I have already quite some photos by now, so there is less left "unshot". The percentage of deletions has gone down, but I guess the number of photos that remain in total is relatively stable.
    Lately, I'm increasing the amount of film I shoot, but it still leaves me feeling a bit 'cramped' because of the costs, and I tend to be less adventurous with it. With digital, it's easier to just try. In the end, for the percentage of photos I am pleased with and will edit, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, it's about equal.
    (Tech. data: 2x 2TB in desktop, plus external 1TB drive)
  19. david_henderson


    I delete over 50% of what I take; some when I'm working the scene, a few when reviewing a day's work that evening, and maybe 30% of what gets uploaded to my PC. Most of the first batch is pretty obvious. Most of the last batch is unnecessary duplication, and I can tell much better what from a batch of say ten what I want to keep in Lightroom than on my cameras screen.
    What that means is ( since I back-up automatically on upload) is that I have raw copies in my backup of those images I delete after upload. So I have several hundred gb of pictures I don't need on my backup drives. I did once think of deleting them but the time it would require to free up a bit of cheap (these days) drive space just isn't worthwhile. OTOH I've never had to look for a file on the backup rather than on the main drive, so they serve no useful purpose.
  20. My motto for film was 'Shoot lavishly and edit ruthlessly'. I still use that motto now that I am shooting digital.
    However the edit ruthlessly was what I showed and not what I keep. I still have the negs I took and processed over 55 years ago even though I have scanned most of them! I really must clear all my B/W negs and transparencies. It's going to be tough, very tough.
  21. My primary interest is landscape photography so my criterion is "will a print of the photograph, manipulated or not, be worthy of hanging on my wall?" If not, it gets deleted. For other photographs, such as those that document trips or family events, I am not nearly as selective and delete only about one third to one half of the images. And like Jeff, I have hundreds of boxes of old Kodachrome slides and hundreds of rolls of B&W negatives in plastic sleeves. Somehow, throwing out something physical, such as an old box of slides, is much harder than pressing the delete button on a recent mediocre digital image. I expect that my heirs will keep only a few of my framed prints and dump and delete the rest.
  22. Yes I delete. Not ruthlessly, but some are obvious fails, and become clutter making it difficult to find what isn't.
  23. david_henderson


    Certainly I delete a higher proportion of digital images than I did when I shot MF film. Then I threw away only the technical failures or the most obvious of dupes- maybe 10% of the shots tops. Most of the remainder were roughly catalogued and went up into the roof storage, never to be seen again, and I'd guess that I kept accessible no more than 20% to submit, project or print.
    Of course I shoot rather more these days and I'd guess that what was on average 50 frames a day/70 on a real good day is now more like 100 frames a day - mostly because there is no financial disincentive to working a scene harder. Still, more is being kept in my Lightroom catalogue than I ever achieved with film and there is no doubt in my mind that what used to disappear into the roofspace is now sitting on my P drive, in Lightroom and on my backup storage because its simply not worth the effort to identify and delete them. Back in film days I had to cut out, mount and store in an archival sheet all my "keepers/showers". Now I don't need to do a thing or spend anything outside of identify and colour-code them on the edit so I can separate them from the dross.
  24. I delete anything I don't like. As often and as ruthlessly as possible. I even take a scissor to negatives when I am sure I will never want them. The last thing I need after I die is to have some annoying little curatorial intern decide who I am and reprint some of my unprinted negatives.
  25. I tend to review my images annually or sometimes more. I keep jpg copies for reference (removing duplicates) I delete any Raw files from past shoots that I don't think I'll ever use again. If a client does not want them in a year; then I will have no further use for them. I do keep RAW files where i think they may be of future value; but for example if i've shot 500 files of birds then I'll only keep the most useful 10%. i tend to keep personal images of travel and have an extensive collection of Angkor and other Cambodian Raw images; which might have future commercial value. I have found that newer editing software can get much more out of a shot if I need to use the images again.

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