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culling photos
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Aug 9, 2018 07:37:23   #
steve49
 
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning out the photos that they shoot?
Do you save everything cause storage is cheap or
do you delete photos for good once you have sorted the " keepers"?

It is so easy to build a huge library with the ease of shooting digitally and I guess I wonder
how often I will revisit old material.

I travel a lot and generally sort by trip but do have a hard time picking what to save and what to chop.
Lately I find myself keeping the best and deleting the rest...

Anyone else wrestle with this?
 
Aug 9, 2018 07:43:34   #
BboH (a regular here)
 
I don't shoot the volume that others do. That said, early on I either read or was told to keep everything because you never know when one of those throw-away's will "fill the bill". And I have had that happen - not frequently, but...
Aug 9, 2018 08:01:28   #
mizzee (a regular here)
 
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.
Aug 9, 2018 08:03:50   #
Bultaco (a regular here)
 
mizzee wrote:
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.


Same here.
Aug 9, 2018 08:04:54   #
brucewells
 
steve49 wrote:
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning out the photos that they shoot?
Do you save everything cause storage is cheap or
do you delete photos for good once you have sorted the " keepers"?

It is so easy to build a huge library with the ease of shooting digitally and I guess I wonder
how often I will revisit old material.

I travel a lot and generally sort by trip but do have a hard time picking what to save and what to chop.
Lately I find myself keeping the best and deleting the rest...

Anyone else wrestle with this?
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning ou... (show quote)


I configured Lightroom to make a copy of all the raw (NEF) files on the card to a predetermined location, then import into LR as DNG files. As I cull, I delete the rejects as I know I have the original NEF to fall back on should I need to.
Aug 9, 2018 08:17:15   #
DirtFarmer (a regular here)
 
mizzee wrote:
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.


Ditto.
I run through the images and give the ones with promise a red label. The truly awful get an "x" for a reject flag.
When I'm done going through them, the rejects get selected and deleted from the catalog and the disk. The ones without a red label get deleted from the catalog but they're still on the disk. The ones with a red label get postprocessed and I go on from there.

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/user-page?upnum=1584
 
Aug 9, 2018 08:23:45   #
Picture Taker
 
I have been going to get rid of some for about 15 or 20 years now. Some rainy year I'l do it. I dump the bad shots but what is good and what is very good is my problem.

I also found my very good 10 year old pictures aren't that good now.
Aug 9, 2018 08:27:57   #
fourlocks
 
mizzee wrote:
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.


I do the same but I also severely limit the number of good photos of the same subject. My wife carefully nurtures spectacular irises and takes excellent shots of them but I'm forever trying to get her to reduce the number of images of the same iris, to one or maybe two.
Aug 9, 2018 08:28:15   #
Linary
 
steve49 wrote:
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning out the photos that they shoot?
Do you save everything cause storage is cheap or
do you delete photos for good once you have sorted the " keepers"?

It is so easy to build a huge library with the ease of shooting digitally and I guess I wonder
how often I will revisit old material.

I travel a lot and generally sort by trip but do have a hard time picking what to save and what to chop.
Lately I find myself keeping the best and deleting the rest...

Anyone else wrestle with this?
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning ou... (show quote)


I have a slightly different take on keeping everything. Unless the photo is a total wreck, I keep it, not necessarily for viewing, nostalgia or trying to make it better, but for statistics. In Lightroom, a search can be based on many different aspects, one of my favourites being "Focal Length"; when I need to decide which lens(es) to carry, or when I think a new lens is required, I search the focal lengths and can see which work best for any given situation. I can also see at a glance just how many times I use a lens, and if that lens can now be disposed of.

My Library is huge, but as all images are in collections the bulk is no bother at all.
Aug 9, 2018 08:36:49   #
nikon_jon
 
If it is photos of family or friends, especially ones that I may not see often, I keep them even if they are not technically perfect (focus, camera motion, etc). All else gets the super critical eye. If they can't withstand an 11x14 enlargement, out they go. It is not just the storage space, it is the time involved in trying to make them look ok. I pop the card into a card reader and when the window comes up, I go to preview and check them one at a time and do preliminary decision on whether I want to keep the shot. The bad ones get dumped immediately. Once I have culled down to the ones that have some merit, I look at each one in photo the editor and tweak color, sharpness, horizon line, and lighten or darken and contrast adjustment. I then open the storage drive and one at a time put each pic into its place in the files, which are labeled according to subject and location. My method takes a little extra time, but I am 72 years old and don't have 20 years left to anguish over what I should do with the photos I take.
Aug 9, 2018 08:39:23   #
Charlie'smom (a regular here)
 
mizzee wrote:
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.


Same here.
 
Aug 9, 2018 08:44:01   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
Hey Steve, you beat me to a topic I've been collecting notes, ref: culling, from a recent multi-day trip. I came home from 7-days in Oshkosh, WI with 8830 RAW images using 215 GB. This morning, on hopefully my final day of part-time editing, I'm down to 439 images. I'd set a mental goal of 25 keepers per day from 6- to 12-hours of shooting each day. Obviously, I've missed my daily keeper goal (7x25=175).

I believe in ruthless culling. I have the same planes from different days from a 7-day airshow. The exposure and sharpness may be equally strong, but one day had better light or better background clouds. I've been using the Lightroom compare tool to pit two against each other side by side and getting rid of the version(s) I won't keep / don't need. I don't need the inferior versions from other days. Even if two were "perfect", I don't need two virtually identical versions.

Culling is necessary to improve your photography. If you can't determine your best image from a small sequence, ask for someone to view them and help you decide. But, you need to develop the skill to make the delete decision yourself as well as the discipline to make and perform the culling effort. There's lots of different tools and approaches based on colors, ratings, sorting, filters, etc. The process is less important than the end-result of finding, editing, keeping the best and deleting all the rest, permanently.

You mention revisiting older material. Here's where the ruthlessness has it's benefits. I only want finished images and I only want the best. If I quickly need an image for a new purpose, I don't have time to edit that image from scratch. I didn't go looking for work / rework, beyond maybe a new crop relative to the new purpose. I hate when I find my former self didn't make the 'which is best decision' and I'm presented with culling decisions that should already have been made. Remember the adage: you're only as good as the weakest image you share. Your best images show your improvement, everything else does not.
Aug 9, 2018 09:02:57   #
lsimpkins
 
mizzee wrote:
Once I bring my photos into LR, I page through them, flag the obvious losers and then delete them permanently. I see no point in keeping out of focus, poorly composed, or just “meh” images. I know I’ll never try to salvage them.

I follow a similar process - Import to LR (a temporary dated directory) with Auto Tone and Key Words that apply to all. In Library, I identify ones that I want to post process with the Pick, those that are duds with an X. The bulk get neither. Then I delete from the Catalog and Disk all the X images, add more Key Words to the remainder and process the Picks. Then I move all of them to a specific Directory that I create based on subject matter and date (usually from our trips). I often ask my wife for inputs on Picks, but seldom on those to delete. Picks often end up in books or on our walls, so I am selective in how many get that flag.
Aug 9, 2018 09:14:21   #
rpavich (a regular here)
 
steve49 wrote:
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning out the photos that they shoot?
Do you save everything cause storage is cheap or
do you delete photos for good once you have sorted the " keepers"?

It is so easy to build a huge library with the ease of shooting digitally and I guess I wonder
how often I will revisit old material.

I travel a lot and generally sort by trip but do have a hard time picking what to save and what to chop.
Lately I find myself keeping the best and deleting the rest...

Anyone else wrestle with this?
What does everyone do when it comes to thinning ou... (show quote)


I fixed it by not shooting digital. :)

I shoot film and so knowing that I will be spending time and effort developing and printing a contact sheet and then printing any "keepers" makes me very conscious of what I take images of, so I tend to shoot less but have more keepers.

Unless I have a roll of garbage, I don't have a need to cull.
Aug 9, 2018 09:55:46   #
steve49
 
Thanks for the replies so far.
It is helpful to hear how others approach the same issue.

As for the use of film. a few winters ago I culled thousands of slides and negatives from the collection.
Yes you shoot fewer photos in film but there was a lot of volume in those years.

I try to reduce keepers from any given trip to under 100 images.
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