Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weeding out the Weak

A follow-up on the post, "Evolving"

       I was wondering how people store their multitude RAW files.  I personally haven't decided which photo-sharing sites best suit my needs for storage.  I'm currently a paying customer for flickr but I fear my photos won't be accessible once I get back to being a regular "free" user.  I once thought my photobucket would be a nice place to store all my images, thinking it'll be a nice basis to look back and see how my progress look like.  Even though I'm just a free user, photobucket doesn't seem to restrict how much I upload there.  The problem is it's means of saving space.  All my photos look decent enough but they're all resized so small, I might as well just make it a scrapbook.  I don't know if uploading photos on my facebook has limits.  What made me sway from making it a storage is how it reduces the quality of my images.  I don't really care if people see all my bad pictures there.  It's not meant to be a portfolio and I'm not promoting myself there as a photographer.  Just merely to update my friends what I've been doing.

       Having only a humble HDD on all my computers, I started to get worried when I saw my raw files fill up my hard drive space up to 40%.  That's huge!  CDs and DVDs can only handle so much Gigabytes and I can not rely on its longevity.  Online storage might be a good idea but I fear they'd shut down anytime without warning (I might look more into it, though.  Feel free to suggest any).  I could get myself an external hard drive dedicated for this.  But for now, I just finally decided to start weeding out what I think shouldn't be kept.
       You see, I kept almost all the images I've taken, thinking it'll be a nice way to look back and see how I've been.  Some days passed by and I decided, I'd just keep whatever I find acceptable that day, and the images I think I could work more into.  Sufficed to say, I had everything including all the junk.  Weeding out wasn't physically hard.  Mostly, a whole folder is just filled with 100% crap  so I could just trash it as a whole.  What surprised me much is how far I've come.  I remember some photos that I was really proud of during those days.  Looking at them now, I could only remember the feeling of it but can not agree with the quality of the image.  Indeed, I have evolved.

       I remember I started out cocky yet clueless.  Thinking photography is something I can just learn by winging it.  I had all the signs of a beginner.  Talking about things I don't even fully understand.  Things like DOF and ISO.  I remember whenever I think about shooting stuff, I thought about breaking out of the mainstream and just make things as complex as I can.  It wasn't so long ago when I braved the forums and asked around like I knew what I was talking about.

Number 3

"I plan to capture uninteresting subjects and make them interesting."  Looking back, that statement alone is a sign of a cocky beginner.  One who wouldn't want to listen to "start with the basics" advice.  Right now, I thought, that shouldn't even be a topic.  It's a well understood fact to do that as a normalcy already, when in the field of photography.  It's not just shooting randomly.  To me, every photograph should be executed with thought. 

       It was when I started reading critique sections that gave me a wake-up call.  A picture I found pretty was called a snap-shot.  Things I thought was an added effect to the image, was noted negligence (it's the white balance).  People nitpicking on little things like "cropping" and "sky is all blown out".  Or even the basic guidelines that I don't even know exists.  It made me wonder how they see these things.  It's true, it's there.  The flaws became obvious when they were mentioned.  But how come I don't see them before?  So I started doubting my pictures.  I tried to be careful with my shots.  The problem is, I knew not what to be careful of.

       Facebook was useless.  Most of my friends simply patronize if ever.  Or maybe they just don't know.  All they know is I finally have a DSLR.  So I must be taking good pictures now.  I bet every photographer reading this is outraged with that underlined statement.  It's an insult when the camera gets commended instead of the photographer.  It's a greater insult if a photographer using manual settings is called to use automatic settings... but that's another story.

       It was when I asked a friend to take a look particularly on one of the pictures I've taken.  I was troubled by the heavy red cast on the image but if that were fixed, it would have been my favorite.  Little did I know, white balance was just a minute problem with the image.  When I got my criitique, I was torn and confused and actually almost given up on my DSLR:


"The 'red thing' you're talking about isn't your only problem here.  To be honest, it's not an interesting shot.  It's either your focus is on a strange place, or you're using wide apertures.  No matter how steady your hands are, you're not a tripod, so get one.  Your background is so busy, it distracts from your subject... but with this composition, which one is your subject anyway?  You're fighting with too many different lights.  And your choice of scene, with the Asian  architecture combined with concrete, it just doesn't look right.  Do I need to continue?"
-- a friend.
Talk about a punch in the stomach.  But he's right.

       When DPS assignments went back to basics, I immediately joined in.  Read some about the required technicalities and went out shooting.  My ego may have been hurt but not my curiosity.  I was determined to learn how to see the way they see things.  This time, I wanted to learn.
"Rule of thirds"
"Horizontal lines or Horizon"
"Diagonal lines"
It was basic after basic after basic.  But having each of them drilled in my mind whenever I go out to shoot, I didn't even realize I'm constantly seeing them already.  I believe this was the real start of my education.  Time passed as I slowly improve, I get to post pictures on the forums and get better responses than before.


From this:  A starter picture I made that I want to improve.

Final image.

To this:  The final result after taking suggestions and critiques. 
Perhaps they see potential now.  Or at least a good start.  Rather than what I had before and with the questions I ask, that sound nothing but just another brat with a new toy.  Thanks to these kind people, I improved a lot.

       So what does this have to do with weeds?  It means, from then up to now, I have improved a lot.  My skills, my eyes, and my taste has come to a higher level.  Much that when I started weeding out what I think won't have much worth, I ended up keeping just a portion of them all.  From 40GB down to 12GB RAW files, has something to say.  And perhaps in the future, when I improve more, and I get myself to an even higher level, then maybe these current files will be weeded out down to 1GB.  Maybe.  For now, I am glad.  My computer can relax a bit.

       I'm not saying I'm taking great pictures now from shot to shot.  No, definitely not.  In a whole session, I think I can only keep 20% of what I shoot.  What I'm saying is how lesser amateurish my frames are right now.  And perhaps with total devotion, I'd be able to improve them even more.


  1. What about snapfish? Its free and you can send someone an invite to view your photos, unlimited storage space as well. Also, there is cloud you pay 15 cents per gig a month and pay for only what you use.

  2. Thanks for suggesting. I've heard of that but I thought it's meant for printing. I'll go check it out.