This article was previously published in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Outdoor Photography Canada. If you don’t want to wait nearly 2 years to see these articles then subscribe to this great magazine 😉
Photographers are their own worst editors. We are simply too emotionally invested in our images to be objective about them and, as a result, we keep a lot of images that really should have seen the deep end of the trash bin. A critical skill to develop is to remove our bias toward our work and look at our images with a healthy skepticism.
For me, the ultimate test of a photo’s value is the test of time. Does it still excite you and have meaning a week, month, year and even ten years after you snapped the photo? If it does, then the image is a keeper. But in a practical sense we simply can’t let our images age like wine and come back ten years later for a taste test to pick out the keepers. What we need is a system that lets us be objective in the shorter term.
Many of us come back from a shoot and then edit immediately looking for the ‘killer shots’. Often we use a rating system and rank our favourites as 5-star images. These 5-star images get processed right away; we quickly share them on the web and show them to friends. The 4-star and lower rated images we store on hard-drives, forgotten about until maybe (a big maybe) we revisit them many months later and cherry-pick a couple of ‘over-looked’ images. The remaining images gather pixel dust languishing in a library of forgotten hard-drives. We vow at the beginning of each new year to ‘deal’ with these languishing images but probably never will. Possibly we hope that like wine, the longer these images are ‘aged’, the better they will get. They don’t.
I find if I process images immediately after a shoot that I keep more images than I would if I returned to edit the images at a later date. As well, some of the 5-star images in my initial pick aren’t really that good after all! And surprisingly some images that I initially rank low actually end up being my favorite images. Time removes my emotional attachment and lets me edit more objectively. For instance in a recent shoot from the Cypress Hills in October of last year, I immediately went through the 500 images I shot in four days and kept nearly 100 images. If I had processed all these keepers right away I would have ended up with a whole bunch of filler images and only a few really worth hanging onto. Recently I went back and looked at those 100 ‘keepers’ and tossed away 80 of them I initially thought were great! In the end, time proved to me that there were really only 20 images worthy of adding to my files.
So the moral is that I try to build time into my editing workflow. Immediately after a shoot I will do a preliminary edit. In this edit, I delete obvious errors: photos that have poor focus, bad exposure and flawed compositions are removed. All the rest of the photos I keep and back up on an external hard-drive. Then, and this is the critical key, I wait at least a month before I return to final editing of the photos. After a month all the excitement of the shoot is gone; I have moved on emotionally, and I can be objective and ruthless. I become a machine on the delete key!
In this final edit, the images I initially thought were killer have lost a lot of lustre and some overlooked gems emerge. I see the shoot with fresh eyes and I can quickly pull out images that have lasting impact and clarity of message. In the end, I keep ten percent or less of the images that I shot. The rest are permanently deleted. My system is lean and mean and my image library is filled with only my best work. Time is your best friend when it comes to objective photo editing: use it wisely! To learn more about how Samantha and I use time and the delete key to make better editing choices be sure to come to our Enhancing Story and Mood in the Digital Darkroom talk on January 21, 2013 in Cochrane, Alberta (NOTE: this talk is only offered to Persistent Vision workshop participants, so don’t delay if you were planning on coming to that event March 15-17, 2013.)
So it’s the New Year and by now you’ve packed up your Christmas loot, put away your plastic Christmas tree and trooped back to work. We’re back at work after some time off this December, but I’m ashamed to report that our Christmas tree is still standing in our living room (we’re getting to that today, I swear!) New this year for us is the big photography seminar this coming March 15-17, 2013. We’ve convinced humanitarian photographer and globetrotting author David duChemin that, yes, it is safe to leave his warm house in Vancouver to visit the mountains in springtime in Alberta…. (cue evil laughter: “mwah ha ha ha!”) So David will be joining us at Persistent Vision: The Pursuit of Story and Inspiration this March held in the lovely little hamlet of Bragg Creek, at the base of the Canadian Rockies.
At the full day seminar on Saturday, March 16, participants will be regaled with David’s exploits and adventures from his travels around the world, and both David and Darwin and I will talk about what it takes to make a living at photography in today’s age. As well, Darwin and I will be teaching how you can ‘see’ the art in the everyday details around you so that, when you do head out on that once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’ll return with unique and personal imagery.
Which brings me to the point of this post. While we are discussing creating art with your camera at the Saturday seminar, we’re not going to be covering how to capture, edit and process your images to keep that storytelling aspect. Make no mistake: strong photographs are created when we ‘see’ the story, capture the story by selecting the correct camera settings and gear and then preserve or enhance that story in the digital darkroom.
Well, we have two special talks associated with Persistent Vision we want you to know about. The first one takes place in Calgary on January 19 from 1 to 4 PM and is called The Art of Storytelling (open to all) and covers techniques we use in the field to capture evocative stories. There will be great prizes at the event including a Sigma Lens and a pass to the Persistent Vision seminar!
The second event to be held here in Cochrane on January 21 is a special oopoomoo Talk, just for those people who have registered for the Persistent Vision seminar. We spill the beans on how we process our images to preserve the heart of a story in your images. And the price is only $5! Wow! As many of you know, we don’t really do talks on how to process your images or how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture etc. (there are lots of great tutorials out there already) but we can share how your processing choices affect the look, feel and story of your final image. This talk is NOT another ‘how to use’ Lightroom or Photoshop talk; we’re going to show you how we use our software and plug-ins to enhance mood and tell stronger stories. Learn more about this talk at Enhancing Story and Mood in the Digital Darkroom
Here’s a couple of examples of what I mean.
Interested? You can read more about the talk here. Remember, this talk is only open to participants who have registered for the Persistent Vision seminar by January 21, the date of this talk (so if you’re sitting on the fence, maybe this will tip you over to our side!) Now, on to that Christmas tree….
We are super thrilled that our oopoomoo photography talks have been so well attended and that we have received such great feedback on our little experiment of holding talks in small town Cochrane. Thanks to all of you who have come out and attended! We hope to take our talks further afield next year by making them available on demand on the web. More on that later. For now here is a wee video we presented at our Iceland Talk. And a reminder that, for our final oopoomoo Talk of the season, the incredible Patrick Kane is coming all the way from Yellowknife to tell you how to work with and get published in magazines on November 17! If you live in the Calgary area, be sure to come out and learn more.
We are thrilled to bring you two exciting seminars this November on how to get your work published. The first seminar is on the Art and Craft of the Photography eBook on November 3 in Cochrane, Alberta. Samantha and I will present a detailed talk on the art and craft of making your own photography eBook. Whether you are interested in compiling your wedding photos into a special digital album or showcasing your once-in-a-lifetime trip — or even if you plan to market and sell your eBook to a larger audience — we have loads of practical advice on how to do it right. Benefit from our experiences both positive and negative on the ‘meat and potatoes’ (and even the chocolate pie!) of making an eBook. To register click here.
Have you ever wanted to have your photos published in magazines? Or have you dreamed of getting assignment work with prestigious publications? If so, have we got a talk for you! We are proud to be bringing you photographer and former photo editor Patrick Kane to Cochrane for an informative talk entitled: Get Published! Insider Secrets to Shooting for and Working with Magazines. Pat will walk you through:
- the production cycle of a typical magazine revealing how stories are developed
- what photo editors look for in telling those stories
- where photo editors find images
- why some images get chosen over others
- how to pitch your work to editors, and
- how to get your portfolio noticed (and published!) in such fast-paced and competitive market.
Whether you’re looking to sell images or pitch feature photo essays to the top magazines on the newsstand, Pat will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the industry and offer advice, tips and tricks to help get your photography on the printed page. Be sure to visit Pat’s webpage, blog, and Facebook page to see the breadth of this talented photographer’s work! To register click here!
First things first: we have less than 10 spots available for our Twoonie Talk – Two Weeks in Iceland: Tales of (mis)-Adventure which will be held this Saturday (Oct. 27) at the Days Inn in Cochrane, Alberta from 2 – 4 pm. You do need to register in advance by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. So bring your twoonie and come see our unpublished images and a video or two about our adventures in Iceland. For example, in a country with so little vegetation, where do you go when nature calls? Come and find out! (Note: this talk is now SOLD OUT)
Catherine, our assistant will also be making her speaking debut — no pressure Catherine 😉
And now… drum roll please. Believe it or not, I’m selling one of my tilt-shift lenses!!! I know, I can’t believe it either!
Yes, I am giving up my Canon 17mm f4L tilt-shift lens. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a preaching disciple of the Tilt-Shift lens because I believe they are the absolute best lenses for landscape photography – see why here.
So why am I selling this super cool, ultra-wide tilt-shift lens? Well… for practical reasons. As cool as it is to own the 17mm tilt-shift lens, I find the 24mm tilt-shift lens more in line with my creative vision and personality. I’m not really an extreme wide-angle guy. Plus Samantha and I plan to do more assignment work with people and I really should get a more practical lens like a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom for that work. So my 17mm TS-E is looking for a home. It will be at the Iceland Talk ready to be adopted by a loving owner. Register for the talk and come see this cute bug-eyed lens! 😉
To buy this lens new in Alberta will cost you $2725.00 with GST. I am selling mine (in excellent condition) for $2100.00 (includes GST, all the goodies in the original box plus our Tilt-Shift eBook on CD).
Here’s how it works: I’d rather not bother with mailing the lens, hence why I am selling it at our Twoonie Talk on Iceland on Saturday. So, anyone seriously interested in obtaining this lens be sure to come to the Iceland Talk (and be ready to buy with cash!). I’ll sell the lens at the mid-break in the show (should be entertaining). If there’s more than one of ya, we’ll do a draw out of a hat from those of you who have cash in hand. This is a great chance to see the lens before you buy! Below are several images from Abraham Lake made with this lens.
Also at the Iceland Talk I will have a new, in-the-box (only used once) Sigma AF 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Macro OS lens for sale (Canon mount). A long telephoto macro lens is a boon to anyone who wants to get close-ups of nature subjects but have a good working distance between the lens and the subject (especially important for rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders, and angry field mice). New this lens is $1300 with GST. I am selling mine complete with original 10-year warranty for $1000 (includes GST). Come check it out! Same rules apply; I’ll sell it at mid-break.
And finally… speaking of sales, the Cochrane Camera Club is having a huge Swap and Sale of used gear on November 10, 2012 at the Cochrane Alliance Church. This event is free to participate in or to attend. If you have gear you want to sell, tables are free; you just have to book a table. And of course if you are looking to buy, come with cash! All the information you need is on this downloadable PDF. Catherine will be there staffing our oopoomoo booth where we will have lots more goodies to sell then!