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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Future Of Nature Photography

The Next Generation • Show Me The Money • The Crystal Ball • Too Much Of A Good Thing

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Q Do you ever just end up with too many pictures?

A Every day. Even in the prehistoric days of film (your grandpa told you about that, right?), when I was limited to one (in large format) or as many as 36 exposures at a time, I had too many pictures, and I’m still trying to sort them all out. In the age of digital cameras that capture at 10 frames per second and capture media that holds hundreds of RAW images, you can just imagine the scale of the task. In a recent 12-day project in southern Africa, I took more than 11,000 images. Some of my gigaramas (high-res, multiple-image composites) are created from hundreds of images. Too much information is a problem!

The answers are diligence and strict standards. The sooner you put these qualities into your workflow, the better. I review my images immediately after a shoot and ruthlessly apply the following three tests to winnow them down:

Quality: Is the image technically perfect (by my current standards!) in terms of sharpness, color and exposure? Does the file contain sufficient information to be optimized to fine quality in postcapture processing software? This is the first cut; if the image fails on any of these criteria, it’s gone.

Content: Assess the composition, placement and size of the subject in the frame, and the impact and uniqueness of the image. If there’s no center of interest, no reason for being inherent in the content or portrayal of the content, the image doesn’t make this cut.

Usefulness: Does the image expand the range and quality of my collection? Is it of immediate or potential personal or commercial use? Is it marketable?

Once you’ve determined an image is truly worth keeping, assign it to a location that will allow you to find it again quickly when you need it. Good formats are resident in Lightroom, Aperture and other commercially available image-filing programs, or create your own database. If it’s worth keeping, it’s worth finding.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.


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