What do they do with their thousands of images?!!

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by pjdilip, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. Looking at the various U-toob videos, many by well-respected and solid wildlife or nature pros, I see they may take many thousands of images on just a single outing. I couldn't do that in my entire lifetime of slide film photography! I used to put a roll in, and cast about in despair for ways to finish the 36 frames in it! (I still have an unfinished roll in my F801s). The question is: how do they deal with this profusion (hundreds of the same pink flamingo or ibis flying from point A to point B). Do they actually do the trashing themselves? Do they employ assistants to cull? Do they just toss more and more 8GB micro cards into a bin for posterity, like the Sumerian clay tablets? What's the best approach to this embarrassment of riches (which actually put me off photography for a few years)? I'd be grateful for your experiences and insights.
  2. There is the archivist-historian-archaeologist approach, which is to keep everything.
    The other extreme is to edit severely and toss everything that is not a 'gem'.

    I kept far too much over the years, but when I went to digitally scan the images, I found that the "power" of Photoshop helped me realize in lots of cases why I had taken the picture in the first place. It turns out, for example, that the poorly lit dark areas, seemingly black, in Kodachrome were often easily recoverable -- the eye's range was better than the visible result in the slide. Information was there in the slide, but needed massaging to be seen.

    After all, slides are small and only took up masses of space when things finally got out of hand.

    Keeping digital images, even high resolution ones, is a no-brainer, given the incredibly low cost of multi-terabyte storage.
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  3. SCL


    Give a monkey a typewriter and over millions of random tries he'll eventually produce a great novel. Some photographers utilize the same approach...relying on luck rather than skill. Occasionally there's something to be said for that approach, but IMHO mostly not. I think most of those images just go the way of the "delete" button.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    This really doesn't fit as Philosophy but I couldn't see another forum where it was a good match . IMO Those of us with extensive film experience have developed habit patterns that carry over to digital. I often find after a session, that I have shot 36 exposures. It always amuses me. When "film" is free in the digital world, many shoot huge numbers of exposures and bursts in the expectation of getting the remarkable shots they need to sell. They must succeed or they wouldn't do it. I can't say how they handle their images. But here is a summary of what I do with my single large charity photo job. Over three days I shoot somewhere around 1300 to 1500 photos. At the end of each day, I cull ruthlessly. The next morning I cull again, then crop and do minor touch ups and post processing. I usually end up with less than 400 images, which I organize, review for a final cull, put on Media and deliver to the organization. Probably too many still, but I have found that individuals have different likes and dislikes. For myself, I might take 4 or 5 hundred photos on a six day vacation. Hope that helps.

    Edit: Still film days as regards my vacation photo numbers - I habitually started with two loaded camera bodies and a dozen 36 exposure rolls of film! ;)
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  5. I'm in the process doing a personal photo book. So now I have to go through dozen and dozens of CD's to find the ones I want to use. It's a very slow process as it takes time to see the pictures load off a CD or DVD.
  6. Philosophy:

    There are an infinite number of pictures to take and an infinite number of pictures not to take.

    The amount of photos other people take is none of my business.



    I don’t cull right away. I’ve wound up finding potential in too many shots or crops of shots I ignored the first time looking.

    The number of photos I take per outing varies wildly.

    I copy my cards onto 2 externals at home. Every 2-6 months, I copy new photos from those externals to an external I keep at a friend’s house.


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  7. I don't know what "they" do - I only know what I do. I delete the obviously poor ones and keep the rest. Granted, of those I do keep, quite a few are "duplicates" or "just in case" - but eventually I'll whittle those down too. Unfortunately, going back to the archives to cull (and update the backups too) is quite time consuming - so often the way out is to kick the can down the road and buy another hard drive (or two) to increase storage capacity.
  8. No, he will not. Never. A complete waste of time it would be, waiting for that to happen. Luckily, monkeys too do not live that long.

    You see, you need the basic skill to begin with. Same with photography.
    Being there, getting in the right spot with the right gear... spray and pray then is just a precautionary way of doing things when luck plays an important and uncontrolable role in creating success or failure.

    Consider that landscape or architecture photographers, to name a few, have other habits, and why that might be.

    Only the usable images are kept. The rest is trash.
    Approaching things with a more parsimonious mindset, a lot of usable images are not captured, and the rate of good versus trash is worse.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  9. Never a wiser response has been given to an Internet meme that's taken hold for some pop godforsaken illiterate reason.
    Ahh, but it's he who recognizes the potential in what at first might appear to many to be trash that may come up with something special.
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  10. Potential is what not yet is and very well may never be.
    It has nothing to do with taste.
    That someone is famous for doing something doesn't make what he or she says right, not even when talking about that something he or she is famous for.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  11. I agree. Potential is also what may yet be.
    I think it has something, though surely not everything, to do with taste.
    I agree.

    But I think, in this instance, there's a good deal of "right" to the spirit of what Picasso said. I have found that if I defy my own tastes sometimes, I may see things in a different way and discover things I may not otherwise have. To each their own, of course.
  12. There is a difference between a failed image and one you do not like. Spray and pray produces quite a lot of the first. More than the latter.
    The first is not usable, the second might be. So what to do with the potential yet undiscovered in those failed images? Well, you could argue that, since storage is really cheap, your time however probably less so, you could keep them all and let someone else have a go at discovering what there is to his or her taste in what you can't.
    Still remains the answer to the question about taste: if you defy your own taste and then discover something that is to your taste... uhm... well... say again?
  13. One defies one’s taste sometimes in order to change it. Taste is not a fixed aspect of one’s being.

    It should be obvious that “taste is the enemy” means a couple of different things: popular tastes and fixed or hardened taste. Perhaps more.

    I’m not specifically addressing spray and pray, which is too facile a mark.

    I’ve spent time on what I at first considered a failed image, and have sometimes wound up with a keeper out of it. Like I said, though, to each their own.
  14. Almost all of the photos I take are of people during interviews and at events. Occasionally at sporting events.

    I often take lots of similar shots too, in the full knowledge that I will cull most of them and keep/deliver very few. The reasons for this are all related to "change" and "predictability" . I suspect that wildlife/nature/sport/news photographers have similar reasons.

    I try to take shots from different places, from different perspectives and with different 'frames' (wide-angle to close-up), so I'm moving around (and changing lenses and focal lengths). And people - like other forms of wildlife ;) - move too, especially at business, social and sporting events. But even when sitting or standing, their physical orientation, posture and facial expressions change. As do their patterns of interaction.

    Anticipation and Predictability
    We can anticipate where we need to be with which lenses and camera settings to have the best chance of getting the photos that we want. To some extent, we can also learn to anticipate changes in our subject's location, orientation, posture and expressions. But that's about as far as it goes. I can't predict the exact timing of movements, gestures and facial expressions. So when I anticipate that something interesting might happen but can't predict what or (exactly) when, I often start shooting in 'burst' mode' capturing perhaps 5-10 frames in about 1-2 seconds. My hope is that one or two of these frames will turn out to be 'perfectly framed and timed'. Not only in terms of the gesture but in terms of capturing an attractive (or even normal!) facial expression.

    It still amazes me how many frames in a 2 sec. burst of someone talking shows him/her with (half-)closed eyes, a wide open, closed or skewed mouth, etc. Or in how many frames of 'someone running' the person actually looks to be standing still (with both legs parallel to each other or "standing" on one leg with the other leg apparently amputated below the knee). I guess the same principle applies in wildlife photography too.

    I also think it's also true that we find some 'in the moment' group shots of people/wildlife more visually appealing than others. Not because of the technical quality but because the group distribution, individual and collective activities, etc. in one photo looks more appealing than those in others. Again, we can anticipate for this but we can't predict exactly whether and when it might happen.

    Across a broader period of time (the outing) we often can't predict the photo opportunities that might present themselves later. So I tend to take the opportunities when I get them knowing that even better ones may present themselves 'later'. One reason to take similar photos 'later' is that these are - or may turn out to be - even better than the previous ones.

    Selection and Culling
    Manual selection of the 'best' photos from hundreds (or even thousands) of shots can be time-consuming. Over the years, I've adopted a standard selection process that has sped things up considerably. If I could 'delegate' the first three rounds of my selection process to someone else, I would. But I can't, so I do it as effectively and efficiently as I can by using my memory of the 'outing' and working with image thumbnails and meta-data where possible. Taking PP opportunities (cropping, image adjustment) into account during the selection process has helped too.

    A 'hot topic' right now is using AI 'neural networks' in the selection process. I don't yet know much about this except that apps are now available and in development that will suggest which photos are likely to be most (and least) appealing based on ratings given to similar photos by other users. I'm not sure how useful these apps will be in practice yet, but I'd be interested in trying some out.
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  15. All kinds of metaphysical word games can be played, but that doesn’t interest me. What interests me is that something that is not to my taste today can be to my taste tomorrow. Further, some distasteful, to me, things can still stand as art I’ve made and stand behind.

    On that, and failed images, I don’t pretend to be God. Who, besides God, knows here and now what’s an eternal failure and what’s not? So, being human and flexible and allowing myself shades of doubt, I’m comfortable calling an image a failure today that I might find success with tomorrow. Then again, I’m Godless!
  16. @mikemorrell, I appreciate however others want to work. When I’m taking pics, I like the feeling—and often think it results in different sorts of pictures for me—of being in sync with my subjects, which means wanting control over when the shutter is pushed. I have no doubt I miss an expression or two by not bursting. But that’s made up by my feeling of dancing cheek to cheek with my subject. I think these are personal decisions and preferences and also may differ based on the context of the picture taking.
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  17. What Pablo is on about is not taste, but getting out of a rut, the comfort of habits i.e. comfortable habits. You may find that when you do break the same old same old there is more to discover/do you will like.
    Either that, or he was saying that even when you think something is bad yourself, there is always someone else to be found who would gladly lay down a bundle of cash to get it. So do not let your tatse get in the way of productivity (rather than creativity).
    The first, i think makes more sense. The latter, i think, is a better fit to Pablo's personality.
    Not very metaphysical.

    And yes, taste will evolve.
    And yes, whether something is art or not does not depend on your or my taste. Unless it is fine art we're talking about... ;-)

    Now that's metaphysical!
    If something is not what i intended it to be, it is a failure. There is no higher, or external, or both, entity that gets to decide over that.
  18. I guess you’re never pleasantly surprised. My happy accidents are good partners with my best intentions. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  19. Oh, i am!
    But rarely by something of which i was the one making it happen. I am usually quite aware of how things went.
  20. An interesting difference between us. I think of my photographing as a collaboration with the world. I make things happen and things happen. I’m often pleasantly surprised by the photos I make.

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