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Saturday, 04 April 2009


I have recently started to limit my exposures on shoots for this reason. for example, a commercial portrait shoot should not exceed one 4GB card. That's my new rule. If you shoot a lot, clients want to see a lot. It just looks silly to take 800 shots and present them with only ten to choose from (which is what I normally do for one sitting). Better compose slightly more careful and work on the shots before you press the button. Also to bring the time costs of selection and storage.

Most of the material costs would have to be your proof sheets. I fit 50,000 1Ds3 raw files on a 1TB drive. Cost of 3 drives (2 backups) + 1 enclosure = $350. That's 0.7 cents per image. But what actually costs the most by far (even at 8 cents per image) is editing time.

This has been precisely my experience. When I used film I almost exclusively shot color transparencies, which had the dual virtues of lower price per frame and ease of editing. Each roll of film was promptly edited on a light box, the failures immediately tossed in the circular file and the acceptable slides subjected to more rigorous editing before deciding which would be archived, and which few were perhaps worth printing.
Digital capture has not changed things nearly as much as I expected. Exposures are 'nominally' free, but the real cost comes later. Storage and backup costs are non-trivial, but for me the rate-limiting step is editing time. Slogging through dozens of variations on the same frame becomes tedious. Toss in multiple exposure variants for HDR and/or multiple frames for pano stitching, and it's easy to spend hours of screen time after a single shoot just winnowing the files. Being sensibly frugal with exposures lets me spend more time scouting and 'seeing', and less time parked in front of the monitor.

I commend Lightroom for quick on-screen proofing, if it will handle your images and you can work with it. The rating and flagging features exactly cover this area.

It's funny - back when I was taking film pictures, I was in the habit of being very sparing of my exposures, due to the expense of both film and developing (I was a kid, and then a starving college and grad student).

When digital came along, I was ecstatic about the ability to take as many pictures as I wanted - and did.

Yet what I've discovered about that is that because film was costly, I ended up treasuring every image, however mediocre, because it was unique. My digital images, on the other hand, because they are numerous and they require so much post-processing time (more because of the numbers than because of the quality), are culled much more ruthlessly.

You then add in the time it takes to upload them and re-process them for the web, and the number of images gets winnowed down considerably.

So weirdly, the cost factor of film made me both more cautious as a photographer, and less likely to edit my corpus; with digital the opposite holds true.

Currently I'm doing a variant of the Photo A Day project wherein I take two identical (or near-identical, given the liveliness of the subject that day) photographs - one with my DSLR, and one with the Argus that was my first 35mm camera. It's been interesting - the Argus is in some ways easier to use - but the images don't quite seem real yet. When I do develop them at the end of the year, it will be fun seeing how I feel about them compared to the ones I took with the Pentax.

(In many ways, this experiment is less about the photographs, or about the cameras, and more about the effects of the cameras on the photographer.)

Just the opposite for me. A few years back most all my work somehow became B&W but I never made a pact not to shoot color. Then I started shooting a lot of B&W film but again never made a claim about not shooting digital. I make not one dime off of it all so in the end it's just what I want to do.

I have always used colour slide film for my photography. I use film for prints for family.

Mother is 92 and has trouble seeing things. Relatives don't have computers at home so prefer seeing snaps. The Pentax Espio is used for such purposes. The Nikon F100 is for colour slides.

To me digital is a pain, you the photographer have to do the dirty work so to speak. And then print the desired images. For me digital is all about something you can't physically feel, much like the electrons on the internet. And for most of my friends who use digital rendering their life is the internet and how and what and where they can place their images.

I do have a small Canon digital point and shoot for quickie shoots, however long for the days of a 128 K card,
Figure one card should just about equal one 20 exposure roll of film.

Oh, and I take images with Canon the same way I take photographs; figure each exposure costs about a dollar. When you're
on a limited pension, every shot counts!

This is precisely the reason I have just bought a 6x7 camera. With only 10 shots on the roll and no automation, I should hopefully get back to the process of making decent photographs that I will treasure for years to come and not resign to the "TO DO" folder on my computers desktop!

I went on a photographic trip to southern Utah with some co-workers last month, and one of the interesting things I noticed was that I shot about half as many photos total as the other 4 guys on the trip, in spite of having a P&S along for "snapshots" and "out the window" shots as we were driving from place to place.

Why? I think it was a combination of factors. One is that since I got a D700, I've quit bracketing as much, and shoot far fewer HDRs. I've found that I can frequently get everything in one exposure if I'm careful about the exposure and watch the histogram. I'd shoot one sunrise photo, and then wait five minutes while looking at the light and waiting for something to change, while listening to the other cameras do their three or five shot bursts of auto-bracketing.

Another is that I've always tended to be a "quieter" photographer. Even when shooting hockey games in high-school, I quickly learned that no matter how fast my motor drive, I was better hitting the "decisive moment" by aiming for one shot, rather than just blazing away. I'd frequently come home from a game without finishing a 36-exposure roll, or with over half of it being "crowd shots."

When shooting landscapes, I spend a lot more time looking around the viewfinder than through it, and then when I do look through it, I spend a while making sure I've got the framing right, scanning the edges of the frame, etc, shoot one frame, look at the histogram, and then pack up for the next location.

It's not for everyone, but I sure enjoy having fewer photos to sort through and process when I get home. I'd rather spend more time behind the camera.

Reminds me of a comment I overheard at a PPA convention where one of the "Big Cheese" weddings gurus was holding court in front of about 200 people, and was boasting proudly that he shoots 3,000 exposures (!!) at a wedding... all thanks to digital. So is he really charging for his talent or his staff of minions to edit and archive all that crap? Myself, being an old chrome shooter, still edit in camera, and just do exposure brackets when necessary. Yes, time is money.

Dear Michael,

I get the impression you're disapproving of this guy's approach. Well, let me ask you this? How much does his business gross a year?
I'm gonna guess enough to make you gasp, if he's pulling in a big audience.

So who are you to criticize?! It's an approach that works for him. Doesn't appeal to you; probably wouldn't to me. Not his problem. Not ours, either. But you oughtn't pooh-pooh successful workflows just because they aren't to your taste.

pax / Ctein

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