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Photo-Based Art Emulating natural-media painting techniques

Don't delete it!

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  #1  
Old 01-10-2013, 04:59 PM
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Don't delete it!

I'm working on a redo of my "Don't Delete It!" tutorial (published in issue #21 of my ezine) for Photoshop Projects magazine. The premise of the tutorial is that even lousy shots that should have been immediately deleted have a lot of potential in post-processing.

Here is the original image (a badly-composed long-range zoom grab shot on a windy day by the ocean) plus two versions of it after treatment with PostworkShop and Mister Retro's Machine Wash and Retrographer. Each treatment was on its own layer in PS and I used blending modes to massage them together.

I like these results much better than the ones I originally did, even though I used the same basic process.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:42 AM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: Don't delete it!

I used to subscribe to that theory for a long time. Read it in a Scott Kelby article early on. And it does have its merits.

Then I read an article by Katrin Eismann recommending to delete the losers and focus on the winners. The losers take up valuable disk space but even worse, they make it harder to find the winners amongst all the digital file noise. I didn't feel I was advanced enough to follow her advice at that time but I always kept her article in mind.

Once I felt more confident I ended up purging 1000s of photos. And now that my hard drive is filling up and I have 20,000+ photos even after those purgings, and my new Nikon D800E's files are 40 MB each, I'm absolutely seeing the wisdom in Katrin's advice even more. I have more purging to do.

My advice is, unless you don't shoot much, purge the losers and keep only those you see at least *some* reasonable potential in if you don't have the Photoshop skills right now to bring that potential out.

If you shoot reasonably often and don't keep the losers and you do purge them, believe me, you'll always have plenty more "photos with potential" to work with down the road.

Not to mention that a losing image with any amount of post-processing will seldom match a winning image with the same or even less post-processing. In order to make an image really work there has to be something valuable there to start with.

Last edited by RobertAsh; 01-11-2013 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:59 AM
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Re: Don't delete it!

Thanks for your feedback Robert!

It all depends upon the type of shooting one does. Sports and wedding photographers, for instance, would be better off taking your advice. Fine art photographers and digital artists especially are always looking for textures and image fragments to composite, so the more the merrier.

My personal "focus" is on post-processing techniques as opposed to shooting tips, so I really enjoyed creating "something out of nothing". IMO the examples above would make a great T-shirt for environmentalists or NWO conspiracy types! :-)
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:57 PM
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Re: Don't delete it!

I like your idea, Mike...it can lead to areas of untapped creativity quite surprisingly. As an example, I'd tried for a self shot with my hand over the flash to prevent a light spot on the glass door...and got... trash! I think it may have been sometime after reading your tut that I decided, what the heck, it's a lousy shot anyway, and came up with Heartlight, the much manipulated revised version. After Topazing it and texturizing it, I like it a whole lot more.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:05 PM
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Re: Don't delete it!

There you go! Artsy covers a multitude of sins...
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:21 PM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: Don't delete it!

Plugs,

I agree. And as I shared, early on I was new enough to digital and had few enough images that it didn't matter quite as much. Overall, though, you're going to improve more by focusing on working with your best images instead of the not-so-good ones.

Another important exception is "image rescue", where there's an image that has some kind of problem (e.g. severe underexposure) but is otherwise solid. Or is an image you have to deliver - or else. Like the ring exchange during a wedding......

Vera,

That brings up another great point. There are some images I keep where I just try stuff and keep the resulting images as an idea library. Some ideas work better than others, some would work in the right circumstances.

Also, some unsuccessful images have the seed of something better in them so I keep those as well as food for thought on how to improve or be more successful next time.

Finally, I do keep a library of "mistakes to avoid next time" images.

All 3 of those libraries are small compared to my entire image base, but they're useful.

Overall, though, I'm getting more ruthless as an editor, and that's doing much more good than harm.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:07 PM
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Re: Don't delete it!

Robert, I should have you help edit my "Clouds" collection-! This is but a small portion of them... I also have Stone, Trees, Wood, etc. etc.

I see I have images in groups as I shot them going back to 2006 I still need to go through, moving them into folders by subject to more efficiently access and yes, I do delete a lot of them in the process ;-).
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:12 AM
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Re: Don't delete it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by plugsnpixels View Post
Robert, I should have you help edit my "Clouds" collection-! This is but a small portion of them... I also have Stone, Trees, Wood, etc. etc.

I see I have images in groups as I shot them going back to 2006 I still need to go through, moving them into folders by subject to more efficiently access and yes, I do delete a lot of them in the process ;-).
Somebody else shoots from the windows of an airplane! I've some amazing images that came from those shots...but not until after a lot of processing. Windows in a plane are tinted and combined with a lot of other bad things, like dirty, scratchy windows often produce garbage. However, they are worth keeping not only for memories but for color, texture, and patterns. So there you go, a "plug" for plugsnpixels.

Janet

P.S. I also have stones, trees, wood, and all the other stuff. Combined with other pictures, they make great grunge pics.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:35 PM
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Re: Don't delete it!

Janet, this was taken from a prototype cement aircraft that never quite got "off the ground". Kidding! It's an architectural feature on the ground.

Here are a couple examples of color-correcting and enhancing actual airplane window shots. Whenever I fly, I spend 90% of the time shooting out the window! Love it.
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:26 PM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: Don't delete it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by plugsnpixels View Post
Robert, I should have you help edit my "Clouds" collection-! This is but a small portion of them... I also have Stone, Trees, Wood, etc. etc.

I see I have images in groups as I shot them going back to 2006 I still need to go through, moving them into folders by subject to more efficiently access and yes, I do delete a lot of them in the process ;-).
That's quite a few images Editing is harder than shooting at time - in fact, sometimes I get dizzy doing it

One thing I did was go through the All Photos section in Lightroom and just started at the beginning. Didn't finish but I got rid of 6000 or so photos. Now I need another round of that, plus stricter editing along the way. I'm also hunting down multiple copies of any processed file (processed files can be much bigger than raws) so I can get rid of duplicate TIFs, PSDs, etc. That saves a lot more space than deleting raw files, but deleting raw files is much better at reducing the overall clutter and distraction......
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