Culling time

I have not been well for the last day or so. The very last thing I wanted to see was this;


My preference is to have at least 25-30%  free space. My pictures folder occupies 10% of the total drive space on it’s own.  This is like the closet that gets stuff thrown into it to the point of being dangerous to open the door. I’m not the tidiest person but this makes me uncomfortable.

To be honest I knew I was going to run out of space at some point. You can’t just keep dropping hundreds of image files on a drive  forever. The obvious solution is to upgrade to a larger hard drive but I feel that is like lending more money to someone already drowning in debt. Besides, if I don’t upgrade the drive I can spend that money elsewhere, like putting it towards a new computer. Moving the photos to an external drive is an option but my backup regime is complex enough with out having to make backups of another drive.

Instead, I need to explore how I got here to see if there are changes I can make, not just to fix the current situation but to be more sustainable over time. To do that, I will look at the recording, processing and output stages of my workflow individually and see what the options are.


One contributor to this situation was my decision to switch to RAW format last year. To make matters worse I used RAW+jpeg mode on the premise it would save me time converting RAW files to jpeg for use in this blog or uploading to others sites. That made sense before I got Lightroom but now I can stick to RAW alone. True, the jpegs are small but it’s a cumulative thing over time.


The decision to go exclusively with RAW means I can remove all the jpegs that have matching RAW files, so there is another quick win. The other issue with processing is workflow. The switch to Lightroom has simplified things but there was a transition from iPhoto and project images are spread across both applications. As part of the clean up of those duplicate jpeg files I will bring the RAW files over to Lightroom.

The bracketed images made for HDR processing are another opportunity. I have been retaining them on the premise I can go back to them as my skills improve but I’m coming to the conclusion that I can just make more images, so I will pick the best exposure out of the set and remove the rest.  I can recover from backups if I need to.

There are also plugins and apps that I have downloaded and not really used all that much, so removing these will recover some more space

The last change is the hardest one and that is to be more ruthless in editing and weeding out images. I don’t necessarily suck at this but I know there is room for improvement. Currently, I remove images with any obvious technical defects in camera. The rear screen is too small to pick up everything so there is a second round of deletions when I import, again, this is the obvious errors.

Where I need to focus is the final cut. The best way I have found to do this is to park the images and come back to them after a few months so I have largely forgotten what I saw that made me press the shutter button. That helps with objectivity and allows me to be more critical.


With all the changes above successfully applied I will only be recovering space temporarily. I need to think more about the purpose of this growing collection of images and perhaps in turn why I do this. That is a whole other conversation.

What I may look at is producing some photo books from collections of images that were of personal significance. At that point I probably don’t need the digital file anymore. Another option is uploading more to the web so that what I saw and recorded is shared with other people.


There are also all the other files I download in my day to day use that contribute to this situation and may benefit from similar scrutiny. Things like eBooks and podcasts on photography, music and video. It looks like my long weekend will become a 3 day purge of all this digital clutter. Since I don’t feel like getting outside, that is probably not a bad thing.


Time and weather

Time and weather

It was good to spend some time away but this week the clock and clouds have been working against me. My focus has been on writing a paper and I was looking forward to break at Kyneton Saturday morning but there was rain. Normally that does not discourage me from pulling a camera out but there was no light either. It was dark, flat, dull lighting and I think I was feeling the same way mentally after so much writing and reading.

Disappointed, I came home and continued working with an image I made after my last visit to Kyneton a few weeks ago. Like a lot of my images, I consider it a work in progress as I try different ways to break a subject down. This is what I have right now.

The old shearing shed Kyneton

You can find this building in the Botanic Gardens. It appears to have been an old stockyard building or shearing shed that must have been relocated and partially restored. I made this in the early morning with the light behind me but the building is surrounded by tall trees so it was in semi shade. The contrast range was extreme so I decided to do a five-stop, bracketed exposure to create a high dynamic range composite. Ironically, this would not have been a problem on dull, rainy day like Saturday.

I do initial processing in Photomatix, then make final changes in Lightroom. There are a lot of decision points along the way. With black and white there is a choice about when to drop colour. You can opt to do this in Photomatix but I prefer to bring colour images into Lightroom for more precise control of tones.

While I think this result is okay, there are some more things I can do to pull out detail in the shadow and to reign in the highlights. I used a graduated filter in Lightroom to darken the trees to the top left and middle of the frame but using a physical graduated neutral density filter on the lens would help more. The other thing I want to try next time is to place a cordless remote flash set on low power behind one of the posts to put some more light under the roof without being too obvious. These measures should reduce the overall contrast and hopefully I will get the opportunity to try them next time.

In fact this subject lends itself to a range of different approaches and I hope to eventually work through all of them. It will work as a subject for light painting. I want to see what it looks like on a foggy morning or later in the day during summer. It has a lot of potential for further exploration.

The rain started to ease up Saturday afternoon and I took a quick trip outside to the garden after I spotted some droplets on leaves of the plants. I may end up cropping this image to the bottom left of the frame as that has a lot more interest. I put this image up on 500px and it has been getting a really good response.



So this post has been a bit of a ramble but the point is this, you can make images in poor weather provided there is some light to work with, even if that means that sometimes you have to supply that light yourself.

The tree lined lane

The tree lined lane

I did not get to do anything this week with a camera, so I decided to play with this image I made last week at Gisborne, to see how it looked in black and white.

The light was flat with a lot of low-level cloud and light rain but that did not reduce the contrast difference between the shaded and lit areas.


The original plan was to use bracketed exposure to retain some detail in the highlights, the only problem was subject movement between the exposures. It is hard to pick this up until you start combining images in Photomatix to create the final HDR tonemapped image. It does have a certain dreamlike quality though…


Plan B was to use the RAW file for this image and see what I could do in Lightroom.


I am still playing with different renditions, mostly lighter greens and darker orange and yellow settings. I think it really needs a person in it though just next to the fourth tree on the right.

Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week

This week I have put a hold on reading other than for business or study until after my exam in November, so this post is a preview of what is in my reading pile.

Lightroom 4 unmasked by Piet Van den Eynde

Sharp Shooter by Martin Bailey

Up close by Andrew S. Gibson.

The long exposure by Flixelpix

I will focus on posting from my RSS feeds for the next few weeks. To give me some relief from looking at a computer I will still be making images like the one above whenever the opportunity arises.

It’s also difficult to study and listen to podcasts so I have resorted to relaxing jazz from Elixir and Kate Ceberano.


Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week


I have had to cut back on non essential reading to fit in my University readings.

I did start watching The complete picture with Julieanne Kost. It is all about Adobe applications and very easy to follow and learn shortcuts. They are also fairly brief with episodes running at an average of 15 minutes. I have been cherry picking the Lightroom 4 videos as I have not looked at upgrading to version 5 and they make a pleasant break from academic reading. Here’s a sample.

Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week

I am really enjoying Photography Q&A by Zack Arias. I should have finished it by now but I keep rereading sections. I don’t have aspirations of becoming a professional photographer but for anyone who does, this is a must read.

A new ebook published by Digital Photography School joined my reading pile this week. Portraits: Lighting the shot by Australian portrait photographer Gina Milicia. I have two other portraiture books written by Gina and they are well presented and full of good examples and advice.

Plus three more from ebooks from Craft and Vision. Lightroom 4 unmasked by Piet Van den Eynde. (Yes, thought I should learn Lightroom 4 before upgrading to 5!) Sharp Shooter by Martin Bailey and Up close by Andrew S. Gibson.

There are some new blogs I’m following too. Thank goodness for RSS and Feedly.

Guess the Lighting This is basically about pulling an image apart to see how it was lit.

Nythroughthelens New York based photographer Vivienne Gucwa.

For Listening I picked up the Craft and Vision podcast

This week’s title image comes from the front of a restaurant in Little Burke St Melbourne.

Same subject different light

Since seeing the Monet exhibition yesterday, I have been thinking about how Claude Monet revisited and reworked subjects in an environment he created.

I think the spanner is taking on that role for me as it keep cropping up in posts and in my photo library. I found it by the window this morning and noticed the difference the large diffused light made, so I made some more images of it including this one.


Compare it to one of the images using the two light set up from last week.


See the difference? Softer shadows and fewer highlight blowouts. There is also more detail in the shadows. The lighting direction and distance make a difference. In this case, the light was above and only 10 to 20 centimetres away. Being able to adjust the light direction and distance will produce harder shadows but not as pronounced as the images I made last week because the light source was much larger.

I also made some bracketed exposures that were blended and adjusted in Photomatix and Lightroom to arrive at this monochrome version.


At some point I shall put the spanner back in the shed or use it for it’s intended purpose. If you are getting tired of seeing it let me know!