Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Hoover Dam

Welcome back yet again!

I'm officially back sitting at my desk again and trying to work on some photos. I have to say, this trip to Vegas has certainly taught me something. Number 1 - Nevada is hot. But that's besides the point. Number 2 is the real meat of the issue. I need a better workflow. It has really never been an issue before but with so many photos in one trip, it has gone way, way out of control. I took about 2763 photos between 5 days...and 2 of those days I didn't even carry a camera around with me. Not good. Well, actually it's a perfectly fine thing but when you have no management for the data let alone the actual working on photos, you're just putting unnecessary strain on the shutter.

This isn't really an insane amount of photos. There are probably a couple hundred that I dedicated to panoramics (which may or may not get built depending on time I have available) and many were forays into the world of HDR. I have a couple HDR images in my portfolio but nothing since those has really been very effective (I haven't dedicated much time to this pursuit). So we can, in fact, drop the number of photos by, let's say, 200.

This leaves me with just about 2500 photos, give or take a few. Not a terribly huge amount but not easy or good to work with if you have a low powered Intel Atom netbook and your woefully underpowered desktop is halfway cross the country. I was stuck in a position where I had to dump my cards to the netbook and leave them to be worked on at a later date. By time I got home, the number was too much to handle in 5 sittings let alone 1. So, I have been gradually working on them one by one every couple of days and have a handful that I'm proud of.

But I will never be able to find all of the good ones. My life would be dedicated to editing for the next month (if my only editing time is after work and Sunday mornings) without even adding new photos to the catalog.

So what could have been done to avoid this disaster?

Step 1 - This can be no stronger message for a powerful laptop. Now, I'm not saying that you should do all of your work on a laptop but a solid machine could have saved me some serious trouble here. That will be the next purchase.

Step2 - Now that I have successfully whined about gear as any self respecting photographer/technophile would, I have to point out that a large portion of my problem is the inability to let go of photos. I believe one of the biggest hindrances to a photographer can be too many photos. This may sound like a contradiction but too many photos all in one place can make it hard to navigate and edit the ones that are diamonds in the rough.

I think it's important (and I haven't done this till now) that photographers need to use some sort of rating system to categorize photos. Lightroom uses a star method and I'm sure Aperture has it's own method as well. I will be implementing a new plan myself for separating the wheat from the chaff before I ever edit one photo. Chris Marquardt, a German photographer with an awesome podcast, Tips From The Top Floor, suggested a great method in one of his podcasts that I will be using a variant of for my own work (I can't recall all the details so if this sounds exactly like his then all credit goes to him!) I will label my photos 1-5 stars. 1 stars get pitched IMMEDIATELY. There will be no movement on this. 2's make it to a second pass and either get upgraded to a 3 or are put into an archive before any other editing, 3's are in need of processing. 4's are finished but could be better (the bulk of the processed work: good photos that aren't "Portfolio" quality) and 5's are....well...Holy God.  (I don't expect many of those)

This should certainly make it easier to work with my photos and will eliminate any unneeded excess.

Step 3 - TAKE MORE TIME. This sounds like an easy one, but I regret, with my job it isn't really possible. I do have a job that is not photography related so photos are a hobby...for now. But until further notice I need to take more time, if possible, in composing and thinking about my photos. After this trip I have been sorely disappointed with my performance and I know that a lot of it can be attributed to rushing. Admittedly, this was not a photo excursion. This was a trip for celebration and I tried to adhere to that. But I produced a lot of terrible images along the way. Which leads to the point: for a trip like this the DSLR may have been overkill. We were on a "Run and Gun" status and lugging the DSLR and 5 lenses was a totally unacceptable way to travel. So, in response, I will be using limiting my kit from now on on trips like this. More time changing lenses means more time not spent composing a shot. My ultimate preference would be to get an Olympus EP-2 or the like for this purpose but money doesn't allow for that right now so I will be limiting myself to my D90 and my 18-200 lens. It has a broad range and is totally versatile for the types of shooting I usually do. So without the extra lenses and the desire to avoid just spray and pray tactics, I will dedicate more time to composing and thinking about my shots and my lighting.

This seems like enough of a rant for now but I will have more to say on this subject tomorrow so be sure to look for it. As for now, enjoy a couple parting shots and keep shooting!

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Tallmadge, Ohio, United States
I'm Mike and I'm The Perpetual Hobbyist! I'm an avid home brewer, tinkerer, and traveler. Even though I work a 9-5, I always find time to indulge in my passions - even with a tight schedule. Join me as I make the most of my free time - learning and doing as many things as I can