18 January 2015

I Zone Out with Too Many Photos

I realize I do this.  I tend to zone out when I have a lot of photos to process.   I feel a little overwhelmed with deciding on the wheat from the chaff.

I have run into this today.  I went to the Toronto International Boat Show and I took a lot of photos.  So far I have culled out the obvious bad ones, but I still have 82 left to do something with them.  So of course the big question is how to deal with these photos.  I know 82 photos is nothing compared to what a wedding photographer might have at the end of the day, but what I am going to discuss is scalable to however many photos you need to sort out.

I use Lightroom for most of my photo work.  I always import everything into Lightroom and use the tools in it to rate my photos.  The problem with this is deciding which method to use as Lightroom gives you several to choose from.

  • Colours
  • Stars 
  • Picks and Rejects (flags)

So to look at colours first.  I just do not get it myself.  How does rating a photo with a colour help decide the quality of the photo?  Is pink good?  Is blue bad?  This really forces you to develop your system and use the colours to label them.  

Next there are stars.  You can rate your photo with 1 to 5 stars.  At least this is a system for you ready to be used.   However it does have a few flaws as I see it.  Obviously you are going to keep all the 5 star photos, that is pretty straight forward, they are your best.  The same applies to getting rid of the 1 star photos, those are your worst and there is no need to keep them.   Back to the other end of the scale we have the 4 star photos.   So these are not your best photos but they are still pretty good so odds are you are going to keep them.   At the other end we have the 2 star photos which are going to be deleted.  That leaves the 3 star photos.  What are you to do with 3 stars?  I have thought that the granularity of 5 stars is not enough and it should be 1 to 10.  

Using a scale of 1 to 10 gives a little more flexibility.   Using this those 3 star photos become 6 star photos.   Does this help?  Well, not really.  Let's look at this another way.  If you were single and out and see someone who was a 6 would you go talk to them?   Probably not (assuming you are not drinking which then turns the 1 to 10 scale from a simple linear to a logarithmic scale).  What does this mean?  It means 3 stars should be deleted as well.

One more thing about rating with the stars.  You have to go through them all of the photos to rate them and then filter on the ones to be removed and delete them.  This is not so bad with 82 photos but what about 820, or more, from a wedding.   This is why I like Picks and Rejects.

Using Picks and Rejects (black and white flags) has several advantages.

  • It is fast.    
  • It gives you a very critical eye. 
  • Can be used with Stars (Colours can as well but since I find it useless I will ignore it)

Picks and Rejects really has three options with the third being no rating at all.  Sometimes I do this on photos I am not sure about, but I try not to.  However since no rating is not really part of the system we will skip it for now.   Picks and Rejects is the fasted rating system in Lightroom.  You just need to press P (pick) or X (reject) and Lightroom auto advances to the next photo.  You can go through photos in no time at all.   Once you are done you go to the Photo Menu and select Delete Rejected Photos.  Lightroom shows you all of the photos to be deleted and confirms that you want to do this.  

One thing you need to do to keep the system fast is decide if the photo is worth keeping or not.  Remember with the stars we really only ended up keeping the 4 and 5 star photos.   Keeping that in mind we should select our best and almost best photos and reject the rest.   

The trick here of course is being able to decide what is almost and best.  One problem is that we tended to be hardest and most critical on ourselves so as an exercise it may be helpful to have someone else take a look at your photos.  This can be very handy if you are just starting out with photography.  Even if you are more advanced it is interesting to see what others think.  

Once you have your "keepers" you can then grade them even further.  You could go through the Picks and Rejects process again if you like and be more critical than you were before.  You could also make use of stars at this point.  You could rate them a little more loosely since you know they are all pretty good photos and keep the 1, 2, and 3 stars this time. 

Now I should go through those 82 photos but since I wrote this I do not have time right now.  Onto photo of the day!