In the last couple of posts I have tried to suggest that less can be more to the benefit of your photography. In simple pleasure, practical and workflow terms. Post capture is one area of the process that is usually focused upon software. Captioning, correction and enhancement are all needed skills of the serious photographer.
But as with everything else, there are certain amounts of real-world experience that can take a slightly left-field approach and work quite well.
So one of the things I noticed many years ago, was that like everybody else, I could not wait to see what I created with digital. It just begs for instant appraisal. Although early digital cameras in many instances did not offer that. Even the Contax N Digital – the first full frame SLR – had no ‘play back’ of Raw files only Jpegs I recall.
But as a prelude to what I want to say, let me take you back to the days of shooting film professionally. I most often shot E6 slide film for reproduction in magazines. I tended to take films to the labs and then wait around for the 1.5- 2 hours to collect them afterwards. First step then was not to leave, but to take them over to a lightbox to have a quick scrutiny before heading off.
The reality and it is the same with digital, is that trying to make any meaningful edit so close to actually taking the shots is not easy.
And yes, there are some areas of work that make that a must I realise. So an example are some PR people want images at the end of an event, which is a bit of a nightmare for professional photographers as we might want to do some tweaking. f you are unlucky those are the rules of engagement today, but most are not faced with that.
So my real world tip for this post is simply to delay your post capture edit and selection for as long as is practical.
I am not going nuts and many will say understandably why? It can be very very tempting to start looking at the shots straight away, thats just human nature. But over the decades it has become very obvious to me that while sometimes you can not delay the edit, even just squeezing a day delay after the event can have benefits. And if you can take even longer then even better. But first thing first, back up as soon as you can. That has always been sound advice and remains so.
But how many times have you looked at images a while (days, weeks, months or years) after they were originally taken, to realise that the pictures you thought were really good may still be so, but not quite as good as your first thoughts?
Or those pictures you thought were just okay, actually in retrospect, now seem better?
The reality is that we have an emotional response to the images we create. I suspect this is part of our sub conscious responding. Maybe you drove for hours too get to a particular place at a particular time. Or stood out in the elements, patiently waiting for things to come together. Or simply, as often happens, you get on really well with your subject and enjoy great communication. All these things I have come to realise effect our perception of the shots we capture.
If you look at them too soon that emotion can ‘cloud’ our judgement. But if you leave it long enough, those emotions subside and we see things more as they really are. This may also be one reason that when you send images off and someone else makes the final call, you often think ‘I thought other images were better’.
Waiting weeks or months is simply impractical I realise. And the reality is most people will still want to have a quick look at first opportunity if nothing more to make sure they have got something. But unless you really need to use them now try this approach of delaying a detailed edit. You might be pleasantly surprised as to the effect on your post capture by reducing it and beneficial to your overall workflow from stepping back from the moment.
For my final point on this for now, goes back really to the last couple of posts and about being a ‘photographer.’ The best edit ultimately starts or fails with what we do at the taking stage. So if you are ‘slapdash’ then you are in for a much longer edit no matter. But if you take a little bit more care thought and time, this all starts to come together in a more productive and rewarding way.
Best wishes and good photography,