It's been a couple of weeks since my last post .... for one of those weeks I was traveling in areas without any sort of power or communications. For the other I've been slammed with actual paying work, thank heavens.
When I got back from my travels, I had the challenge of culling the photos. I managed, and you can see them here . You can even buy prints!
This problem of winnowing out the best from the merely very good is one we all face. In my case, I had it pounded into me at an impressionable age to NEVER THROW AWAY ORGINAL DATA. That conditioning makes it very hard for me to ruthlessly toss stuff, and is one reason I shoot in RAW 90% of the time.
But in the age of digital photography, you'd better throw out about 90% or invest heavily in terrabyte size storage. So assuming you're going to sort it all out, how do you do it? I sort for technical competence (no blurry pix live on in my computer). I sort for story telling, impact, and personal relevance, in that order. All of this is actually very holistic.
What I actually do is use Adobe Bridge (but there are lots of other choices) to run a slide show of that day's work. Then I assign 0, 3, 4, or 5 stars. Once I've done that, I throw out the no-stars and 3-stars. I look again at the 5-star pix, and this time give them color-coded labels based on quality.
At this point if there's an image that's questionable, or that I think could readily be improved, I look at it in Camera Raw, poke it a bit, and if I like it, it gets the coveted colored label.
If this is a portrait shoot, or an event, I stop here. If it's my own art work, I put the whole thing away for a day or two and visit the pix again. I also review the 4-stars, seeing if any should move up or out.
The time lapse is important in editing prose or photos. Things can look very different when a little cool air gets between you and your fevered ego.
The final step is to identify the very best, then edit them and run test prints if necessary.
Now here are a few numbers. When I started shooting seriously, I became a dedicated overshooter. I took way too many duplicated pictures, and I do mean duplicated. That's not the same thing as re-framing, moving a step, or bracketing exposures. It's what they call "chimping" --- after the theory that an infinity of chimps can eventually type out "Hamlet" to perfection.
(Actually they probably get as far as "angels sing thee to thy djkfj8upewrpoipnanfpou8p" but that's another story.)
When I first started digital shooting I was lucky to get a 3% keeper rate. Now it's 10-12%, but I don't shoot as many frames unless I'm trying to solve some technical problem or other. But I wonder if that's too high, and I'm just going soft in my old age.
When photos are very good, each one may vary in small details from the others, but wind up telling a different or better story. For me, it becomes harder and harder to choose that best one or two from 8 really good ones. In fact, it becomes a more subjective process. But I lack confidence ... don't want to misjudge and risk throwing out a baby when I meant to toss the bathwater. So I tend to keep too many of the merely good.
The important thing is to make sure that the merely good ARE good and absolutely to pitch anything that isn't. The star-and-label system seems to work pretty well for this.
How do you go about it? Let me know.