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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Time And Digital

In my post entitled "Editing" I talked about how I came to realize the importance of editing images in a timely fashion.  And I have been doing just that.  This weekend I finished editing down the couple thousand images I had taken over  the course of a week in the Smokies to what I considered the best ones, which totalled about 50, and put them in a "Smokies 2012" collection in Lightroom. It was a fair amount of work and took a good deal of time, during which I was not doing any processing or printing.  Nonetheless, I believe it was clearly an extremely worthwhile endeavor, even if I don't end up processing or printing all 50 RAW files. At least I have them all in one place and can work on them as I want to or need to.

However, while doing this editing I did have a few thoughts that I thought might be worth sharing.  Digital has made it very easy to take many images at essentially no cost.  And that is a good thing.  However, I find that in the field it becomes very easy to make many variations of the same image.  Some with different f-stops to  try to maximize depth of field vs minimizing diffraction.  Some with the focus placed in slightly different locations, some with multiple exposures for HDR, various HDR sequences with different exposure values, some with multiple focus points to try focus stacking, some to use as panoramas etc.  When all is said and done you can end up with a somewhat confusing panoply of pictures that need to be grouped and labeled ASAP in order to remember what you did.

One lesson is to try to minimize this in the field as much as possible, though the fact is that after traveling to a location like this I know I won't.  I like making several variations and being able to choose when there is more time to evaluate them.  However, lesson two was more important for me.  And that is that when editing multiple versions of the same image it is easy to take inordinate amounts of time making comparisons between them to see if one is slightly sharper than the other etc.  There comes a point where the loss of time available to work on images exceeds the benefit of this type of editing, which could conceivably take many, many hours.  This is particularly the case when choosing among a series and it is not at all clear that any in the series are going to make the final cut anyway. 

So, it became clear to me when looking, for example, at differences in sharpness at 100% that it isn't woth micro evaluating every pixel.  I believe the best approach is to scan around the images at 100% in Lightroom's comparison mode and if there aren't any really obvious differences choose the one with the better histogram and move on.  Don't spend 30 minutes microanalyzing at this stage.  If it turns out that the photo makes a really fantastic image when processed and that it is going to be printed large you can always go back and spend hours micro-examining every pixel between different images in the series at a later date.  But it isn't an exercise for every series of images.  Not when you come home with thousands of pictures.  Everything has some degree of tradeoff. 

Just my two cents!!