Sunday, February 2, 2014

Photo Tip 101: Take Another Look at Your Images before Deleting

Fuji X-E2 with XF18-55mm lens. 1/2400th sec F/8.0 @ ISO 1600. Shot jpeg, edited in CS5 & Photoscape
We've all done it before. We take a picture, we chimp the image, we're not happy with the image, and we hastily delete it. It's a waste of time, waste of frustration, and perhaps you could have deleted the best image you've ever taken. This is why many photographers recommend we avoid chimping (take a quick peak at the back screen right after we take the picture) while shooting with our digital cameras. It's a nasty habit. Deleting an image in the field is also a bad habit. Keep it and look at it again at home where we can learn from our mistakes...unless the mistake turns out to be a great shot!

I've gotta come clean here, I was chimping this series of images as I was just setting up and shooting directly into the sun. I wanted to make sure I had the right shutter speed-aperture-ISO combination, and I used this guy standing as a quick check for depth of field and exposure (F/8 and manual focus set at 6-8ft). I didn't think much of the image, and if I was hasty, I would have wasted time deleting it, but I didn't. I saw another group of people approaching and wanted to make sure I was ready for my next shot (you can see them approaching in the distance).

After my photo shoot, I always go for a coffee (tea) break and go over all my images. I saw the test image and didn't think much of it. However, I rarely delete an image at this stage. After getting home and properly viewing all my images on my computer screen, I still didn't find much interest in this picture, but I still chose not to delete it. I formatted the memory card and packed the review camera to return, and so I knew I could never recover this deleted image, so I still kept all my throw-away images...

Today I was working on picking my images for my Fuji X-E2 review. If the image was good but I had to crop or edit it too aggressively, I "demote" the image to my Instagram account.  I came across the picture for the 4th time, but this time I took note of way the light was hitting the front part of his body. I zoomed in and realized how cool his face looked with the strong backlighting. I started playing with different cropping aspect ratios (1:1, 16:9, 21:9, 4:6) and other Instagram-like effects (vignetting, blurring, colour isolation, HDR, etc.). I finally decided on black and white, and played with the highlights and shadows without making it look too HDR-ish. The above picture is the final result. I've also posted the original unedited image below (except reducing vertical resolution to 1080) for comparison. 

Same image as above with zero editing, except reducing image size

Perhaps it's easy to see why I ignored this image, or maybe you could see the potential? Either way, I'm glad I kept to a good routine of image management. First, I don't delete images in the field. I review all my images in camera, but I still don't delete my images (the screen is too small to make a good judgement). Once I'm home, I go over all my images carefully one by one (not just thumbnails and picking the best looking) and still do my best not to delete. Because of this work-flow, I was able to give this image a second chance (ok, 4th) with good results. In fact, I've even gone back to old images I've taken years ago and look at it with a different view and sometimes I've decided to revive and use it. 

So I hope you can learn from my mistakes (chimping and deleting in the field was the norm for me). Keep all your images, revisit older images more than once, and try experimenting with them (crop, add effects, remove colours, add filters, etc.). Instead of running out and looking for your next great shot, maybe its already sitting on your backup hard drive waiting to be discovered. 

Here are the pictures I did choose for my Fuji X-E2 Review

Happy shooting (and editing!)

Munetake

BHT

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