Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Shoot More, Process Less
Try these simple rules, and you’ll be able to spend less time in front of your computer screen and more time in the field making photographs
4 Avoid “Monitor Eyes”
You undoubtedly spend a fair amount of time at the computer, no matter how much you work to minimize it; it’s the nature of digital photography. When working at your computer, be sure to give your eyes a rest. Eye fatigue is common and easily written off as a minor problem when spending hours at your computer. Your blink rate can drop to just one-third or less of the eyes’ normal rate when doing computer work, resulting in severely dry eyes. Additionally, focusing on a near object such as your computer screen for extended periods of time is strenuous on eye muscles.
To remedy these problems, eye professionals recommend the “20/20/20 rule.” This means that after 20 minutes of computer work, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to rest and regain a healthy tear film and helps avoid painful, bloodshot eyes. Ask your optometrist about eyewear specifically designed to reduce eyestrain from computer monitors. Availing yourself of these glasses is a great preventative measure even if you have perfect vision. Furthermore, beware of carpal tunnel syndrome due to extended periods at the keyboard and mouse. Help avoid it by taking frequent breaks, practicing good posture when typing and using keyboard and mouse wrist rests.
While computers give us a number of incredible tools for enhancing and improving our photographs, it’s only too easy to get distracted from the photographs and photography when we get too wrapped up in the digital side of things. If you find that your cameras are collecting dust while your computer is constantly overheating from rendering various Photoshop plug-ins, it’s time for a quick reality check. As powerful as Photoshop is, it primarily should be used for enhancing, not fixing, an image. Simple things like using a split ND filter or keeping your sensor clean can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend using the computer. Bottom line: If you’re struggling with an image in Photoshop, it’s probably time to reshoot. After all, isn’t taking pictures really more fun anyway?
Keep in mind that postproduction isn’t a step to be despised or avoided. It’s a necessary and vital tool to creating great photographs. But if it’s behind the viewfinder in the great outdoors where you most like to be, keep these tips in mind to help make postproduction just another element of the whole photographic process and not the dominating factor in your photography. After all, would you rather spend your time clicking the shutter or clicking the mouse?
Even with an efficient workflow, it’s necessary to build up your editing speed so that your images go from capture to print (or upload) in the shortest possible time frame. If you’re like me at all, you can sometimes get a little too trivial in your editing process. The never-ceasing battle over which composition is better, which white-balance setting is most accurate, how much saturation is too much and, yes, even which cloud-cover pattern is best can consume an exorbitant amount of your time, often with very little return. Chances are these minor differences in a set of pictures won’t make or break the final image.
Have you ever truly regretted not picking “that other one?” Take the approach they taught you in high school for the SATs: Stick with your first choice. If one image seems like a winner to you, commit to it. The longer you sit and ponder over all the minor differences between shots, the more likely you are to overthink it and choose the wrong one. This actually is a skill and is something that you can practice and get better at. Although it’s important to be rigorous and uncompromising in your editing, don’t devote so much time to it that it begins to eclipse what really matters—getting new material. Thoroughness and swiftness aren’t mutually exclusive. The quicker you edit, the sooner your images can start making you money.
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