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Thread: Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Baton Rouge, LA
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    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    Fred Picker strongly recommended throwing away all of your not very good images at least once a year. The rationale was that it was better to keep moving forward to make better images than to get caught up in trying to make a bad image better. I am horrified by the tendency of digital photographers to keep adding hard drives to archive an unlimited number of crappy images, but now that I am back to 4x5 the same issue is coming up. For example, I have a lot of images that did not work - not quite enough shadow detail, the wind came up, I forgot to untilt the lens, etc. Out of the first 100 sheets of doing this after a long absence, I probably have 3 that I think are good enough to keep and keep working on printing. My inclination is to toss the rest and not look back, but I am curious what others do.

  2. #2

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I save pretty much everything. Every once in a while I'll look through the files. Somtimes I find something to print that I hadn't before, or perhaps I see an image in a different way after time has passed. Mostly the old failures are reminders to think a bit more carefully before I trip the shutter.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    The "Live Free or Die" state
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    632

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I keep them. I look back on them as learning tools. I will study images that didn't work and see if I can come up with a way to retake the picture, analyze why I thought it would work but didn't, or just to see if I am improving over time. They don't take up much space so why chuck them? I have been thinking of moving all the keepers to one folder, but it would be a very short folder. I agree not to spend much time trying to make a failure into a good print.

  4. #4

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I throw them away, both the print and the negative. No sense on keeping trash around. OTOH sometimes I get a "gut" feeling that I might be able to do something with the negative/print but I just need to work at it or maybe become more acomplished with the printing. Then I save them and revist them a year or 2 later. Out of hundreds of negative only about 3 or 4 I have kept for later review.

  5. #5
    Old School Wayne
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    840

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    when I get to be as good as Brett Weston, then I'll start throwing my inferior stuff away.

    Seriously, I actually find the idea of throwing away photographs/negatives rather disturbing. If you dont want them to be associated with the best of your creative genius after you die, label them such. You never know what value someone else may find in them. My father burned several decades worth of his professional work late in his life, when he thought it was worthless, and I really wish he hadnt done that. I never even got to see most of it. Recently I have found a few of his photos on the web that a historical society apparently has the negatives for, but many thousands more are gone forever.

  6. #6
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    939

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I sort through the work prints and if it something with potential, I'll keep one. If not, I cut them up into note size pieces of paper and make grocery lists on them or write letters (remember that?). Drives the wife nuts. The negatives I keep. Keep all people negs. Some of these I might have thrown, but they have since become most valuable. Other negs I've learned to print or see new ideas in them. I did toss some negatives years ago from when I worked for the student newspaper. I was shooting over 10, 000 frames a year of 'news'. Boring.
    my picture blog
    ejwoodbury.blogspot.com

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    537

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    It probably depends upon how much film you expose as time goes by. For a full-time working pro, saving everything can become quite a burden in later life. Like having to rent a warehouse. And much of the negatives in question were often exposed at the command of some tightwad artistically-ignorant MBA client who did not have time to wait for good light nor for me to properly finish the prep work.

    All the zero-budget "student-quality" work I did in art school was thankfully discarded shortly after graduation. Not sufficiently "professional" for my portfolio.

    A fire which burned the studio to the ground, destroyed twenty 4-drawer file cabinets of negatives in 1979. But who cares about the 1972 Columbia Bicycle catalogue, complete with embarrassingly-amateur models wearing white go-go boots and original hip-huggers? All unpaid relatives of the client.

    Even with all that "editing" I still had over 10,000 rolls and sheets to send to the dump when I retired a few years ago. Just kept about a thousand which contained family memories. They will follow a week after my death.

    Now, officially an amateur, the idea is to shoot exactly what I want, exactly when I want, exactly the way I want, during these my golden years. Every negative absolutely perfect and definitely worth archival processing.

    And yet, on many days the La-Z-Boy looks awfully inviting...

  8. #8
    Resident Heretic
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    Sep 2003
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    USA, North Carolina
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    2,947

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I'm with Jorge on this one. Toss 'em.

    Learn what you can from them and incorporate that into your future work. But if you aren't going to print them, what's the point in keeping them around? Really, who wants to see that photograph where half the background is out of focus because I forgot to zero that tiny bit of swing out of the front standard?

    Toss 'em. Use the space for new and hopefully better work.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9
    Old School Wayne
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    840

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I was shooting over 10, 000 frames a year of 'news'. Boring.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To you. Actually the photos my father shot that I found on the web were just that-photos he took for news in the 40's and 50's. They are extremely boring, even to me, but they apparently have enough value to someone to put them on the web 50 years later.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Orange, CA
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    867

    Editing by woodstove - what do you throw out?

    I too throw out part of my negatives than I consider "non-keepers", but I also keep some for the following reasons:

    - Shots I consider close to being keepers may get reevaluated at a later date. I've had a fair number of images which I initially considered rejects, only to marvel at them in later years and say to myself "What was I thinking?" Also, family and friends frequently have very different opinions of my work, and may think a "rejected" image to be brilliant.

    - A "failed" shot of an otherwise good composition can be used as a reference for making another attempt at capturing the image (better analyze the timing and lighting requirements to best capture the shot, try a different shooting position or focal length, etc.).

    - I sometimes keep the bracketed images (typically one or more stops over or under nominal exposure) of any otherwise successful high contrast chrome image, just in the off chance that down-the-road I'll want to digitally combine exposures into a single image with improved dynamic range

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