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The Editing Process_Part 1

Aerial view of cultivated fields in Leh_Ladakh

Canon F1 camera and Canon 200mm f3.5 lens and Agfachrome CT100 film

This is the first of a series of three posts I plan to write over the next few weeks dealing with the concept of the editing process.

We all have images that, due to an emotional attachment, we find hard to delete. But if we surround ourselves with our worst images we will continue to produce more of the same. Deletion is an essential part of the editing process. It allows you to continually trim your image library down and spend a greater proportion of your time processing your best/most important images.

I have a theory that there are three reasons why most folks fail to delete enough of their least successful images. It can be summarized as follows:


  • A lack of confidence as to what images deserve deletion and, as a result, an inability to make a decision.


  • A lot of folks like to brag about the many thousands of images within their database. The more they have the better they feel about themselves. But how many of those have a library as well organized and functional as it is large?

Lack of Organization

  • Most of us suffer from a lack of organization. Sadly the more we shoot the less organized our database becomes. This approach denies us of one of the most powerful features associated with programs like Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture. The ability to locate a single image within a library of many thousand is a feature none of us should be denied. It’s essential to have all our files processed, rated (e.g. star rating) and with adequate keywords attached to facilitate good workflow, including the ability to easily locate images at a later date. Placing your favorite images into a series of collections (Christmas 2009, Smith/Singh wedding, Antarctica 2010, etc) is also very useful.
A dramatic black-and-white photograph of a Tibet Skyscape

Canon F1 camera and Canon 24mm lens and Agfachrome CT100 film

But, despite best intentions, we’re all human and it’s not unreasonable to end up holding onto some images longer than we should. I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past. Despite numerous clean ups (where I’ve thrown out huge quantities of negatives, slides and prints) I still have far more than I’m able to successfully deal with. I plan to have many of these images scanned and incorporate them into my digital database that will then be imported into my Adobe Lightroom Library. I’II then undertake initial image processing and apply keywords and ratings. From there I’II be able to delete many files, prior to organizing the best images into appropriate collections. It’s a huge job that I’m unlikely to be able to complete on my own. More than likely I’II send the files out for professional scanning.

Both images in this post are from my very first overseas adventure. I’ve written about the problems associated with that trip previously. The theft, the illness and the loss of most of my images due to camera-related and film processing problems. Only 13% of my images survived the lab’s processing mishap. Of those that did, most were spoiled by the camera-related problem that caused the lens to shoot at the widest possible aperture, regardless of the aperture I’d actually set the lens to. As a result most of the transparencies that survived were significantly over exposed and beyond use. Of the few dozen images that remained only a few were worth keeping. But, after such a loss, it was too hard a task to throw them out. I held onto them for many years until I had them scanned, a number of years ago, onto Kodak Photo CD’s. While poor quality scans by today’s standards I at least have the opportunity to breathe some life back into them through Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. As a result I feel almost cured of my need to have held onto them for so long.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography


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