5-Magic Words that will HELP You Edit Your Photos!

Several times a year, I run into the proverbial problem of:  “Damn!  Where did all my hard drive space go?”

Well, when the disks are full, instead of spending more money too soon, and going out to buy yet another external hard drive that will also become filled in a few months, there is a more economical solution!

After very careful review of the contents of my hard drives, I soon realized that I have filled up my drives with every single blasted photograph I’ve taken over the last few months.  I mean, EVERY BLASTED PHOTOGRAPH!

I’m keeping way too many photographs when considering what Ansel Adams said:

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
Ansel Adams

Here’s how I end up with so many photographs sitting on my hard drives:  Let me do the count.

I have the “original” photograph from the camera; however, it may not just be one “original”, I usually take several photos of the same scene just to make sure I have a good mix to work with.  Let us say at least 7-“originals” of a subject are shot using various aperture settings and shutter speeds.

After reviewing these “originals” on the computer screen, I immediately save the best “original” as a tiff file with Adobe RGB (1998) color spacing:  This tiff file is the one I work with.

Now, we have at least 8 photos of one scene.

Then, “the best” image goes through an editing phase:  Each major editing of “the best” image will be saved as a new tiff file, which could be 3-edits on average.

The count is now up to 11.

At this point, I may work with this file and convert it to B&W to see if it is successful as a B&W photograph, and this image is kept on file as a tiff.

Once I’m happy with the final edit and any conversions, then the images are saved as JPEG files at 100% Quality (both the color and the B&W versions):  14.

At that point, I resize the image for publishing to my Flickr and/or Facebook Galleries.  I may use the same resized image for both; but occasionally, I design two unique photographs at the smaller size for publication on the Internet:  If I make two resized and designed smaller images, then the photo count is up to 16.

Of course, these are just estimated figures for the number of photographs I end up with on my hard drive, per unique scene.   Nevertheless, I believe that 16-photos per scene seems very probable.

How many photographs would I comfortably be happy with saving per good image?

1:  The “Original” best image, for the EXIF data.
2:  The “FINAL” edited tiff files (the color and B&W versions).
3:  The resized and designed Flickr version.
* I may not need to save the big, edited jpeg version at this point because I still have the tiff files.  However, many online vendors prefer large jpeg images for uploading purposes.

In all honesty, and with a mind geared toward the physical law of “Conservation of Space,” (LOLOL), I could merrily live with four (4) images per unique subject.

So How Do I Clean Up My Hard Drives of Unnecessary Space Bloating Images?

First:  Get yourself a good Image Viewing – Management Software.  My favorite is XnView.

Second:  Teach yourself how to quickly identify the “best” original image of a scene.  This skill may be a matter of personal preference, eye-balling the digital image to scrutinize it for composition, color, focus, interest, etc.  Perhaps you simply like to go by the quality of the histogram…whatever works for you!

And Then…

As you view each image, you repeat to yourself,

The 5-Magic Words Question…

…this is the question that is essential for all Photographers to Effectively Edit their Photos:

“Is . This . a . CRAP . Photo?”

And, zippidy-do-da-day!  With this magic phrase, the answer will become clear to you if a photo is a keeper, or if it needs to be “flushed”, so to speak!

REMEMBER:  If you are NOT totally ruthless in the editing of your work, someone else will be!  Thus, put it in BERSERKER MODE and flush out all the stinkers!  Did I really just write that?

This method is very effective for me.  Please feel free to use my method if you see fit.

Best of Luck!