The Grand Marais Photographer Newsletter March 2012
489 pictures out of about 1,500. That’s the number of pictures that I kept in February. Out of those 489, I had 70 that I considered worth flagging for adjustment. Out of those 70, I really love about 5 or 6 of them. Getting 5 or 6 photos that I love in one month is a great month for a landscape photography. I recently read that Ansel Adams thought getting 12 to 15 a year was great.
Why did I get so many good ones this year?
I think a couple of reasons: 1. I shot every sunrise and sunset that I could. I missed out on a week when I was under the weather, 2. This year is different. Usually, February gives us lots of ice and clouds, but we had no ice and clear days. That left the basalt on Lake Superior exposed, and 3. The sun rises and sets over Lake Superior during the entire month.
How to Organize Your Photos
Those of you that attend my Lake Superior Photography Workshops know that I use and love Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 for about 99% of everything that I do. The reason that I use it is because it’s an organizational tool and an image processor in one program. It simplifies computer work for the photographer, because it includes almost everything that you’d need, and, in many ways, it works just like the old chemical black and white darkroom worked — you can dodge and burn and make any kind of mask that you can think of.
Here’s what I do to organize my photos.
- Import all my photos into Lightroom and rename them as I import. I rename the YYMMDD-XXX, so the 17th picture that I took on March 1, 2012 would look like 120301-17. If I shoot a sunrise and sunset on the same day, I start the sequence for the sunset at 250 to 500 depending on how many sunrise pictures I took. I also assign general keywords to the entire import, so from sunrise on Lake Superior in March it might look like: sunrise, Lake Superior, winter, ice, waves, yellow, Cascade River State Park, etc…
- I sort through all the images looking for images that I can delete and I flag all those with an “X.” I usually delete at least 5 out of 10 photos and sometimes 7 out of 10 photos. I shoots lots of the same composition with different waves until I get the wave that I love, and then delete those that I don’t like. On a commercial shoot, I usually only delete 1 in 10.
- I then sort through all the photos and flag those that I want to work on. This sometimes occurs with step 2.
- I also work on rating the images with this scheme: No rating for images that I want to keep but I don’t think will ever earn money. One star for images that might make me $25. When bulk requests for images come in, these are often what goes out. They’re good, but I don’t care if my name is on them. Three stars for stock images that I would like to have my name associated with. Five stars for those signature images and top quality. I use two and four stars as a placeholder until I can decide exactly where they belong. Two stars means I’m waffling between one and three stars, and four means I’m waffling between three and five stars. I basically use the same method as Galen Rowell via Thom Hogan. (If you shoot Nikon you should follow Thom’s website.)
- I keyword individual photos with more specific keywords as needed. For example, if I used the general keywords in step one, I may refine them with: river mouth, running water, long exposure, blurred water, dreamy, cold, etc…
- Then I work on those flagged photos and export any five star images to put on my website or Facebook. I sometimes add three star images to my website or Facebook as well.
And that’s it. I can generally get one morning of shooting done in about one to two hours of computer work. So, a sunrise photo shoot usually ends up being about four or five hours of work. That includes the driving, the shooting and the image processing.
Shameless Self Promotion Section
Wherein I shamelessly self promote:
- I still have space in my Spring Waterfall Photography Workshop at Lutsen Resort.
- I made a new Flickr group for people that have taken my photography workshops. If you’ve been on one of my workshops, just join and I’ll approve you. If you have an unusual user name on Flickr send me a note on who you are and which workshop you took. Then feel free to add pictures from the workshop or pictures that were influenced by the workshop. If you haven’t been on a workshop, you can see a few pictures of me doing embarrassing things.
Speaking of Galen Rowell, you should own one of his books if you’re an outdoor photographer. I was lucky and after he passed away I found many of these books on sale at a book store, so I think I got all three for $15. They’re not that cheap anymore. While some of the info is related to film in these books, most of it is about inspiration, technique and vision.
- Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography
- Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape
- Galen Rowell’s Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography
Hope you had a good photography month and a better one in March.