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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.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Kids Hanging Around_Lhasa_Tibet

Canon F1 camera and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome CT100 precisa film

Today’s image is from the archive. Made on my very first overseas trip in 1988, this image from Tibet features a near candid of 4 likely lads.

The original transparency (slide) has not had an easy life. Adversely affected by poor processing and then scanned with, by today’s standards, the quite average Kodak Photo CD workstation, it’s one image that I never could throw out. So, while far from portfolio standard, its fun to finally get it out into the world thanks to Photoshop.

In the process of preparing this image for posting I couldn’t help but wish I’d made more of my opportunity and photographed the boys individually. They’ve all got such interesting faces. To think they’d all be in there 30’s now. Assuming they’ve survived. I wonder how their faces have changed and if they’re still in contact with each other.

The circumstances surrounding the making of the original image are very vague now. The positioning of the boys with their fly’s down or belts out adds both a sense of humor and an important design element to the image which, I think, is why I made the shot in the first place.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Glenn at Kodak PCD workstation

Glenn at Kodak PCD workstation

Here’s a blast from the past. I worked at Kodak (Australasia) Pty. Ltd. for 8 years from the beginning of 1990 until the end of 1997. During that time I held a number of positions commencing with an on-line testing role as part of the manufacture of Kodak film and paper, a customer service job, a photo correspondent and technical hotline specialist and, finally, Product Manager for Professional Imaging for Australia and New Zealand.

The above image was made around 1994 during my time within the Kodak Information Centre working within the Photo Information Department and Pro Passport team. During that time Kodak introduced the KODAK Photo CD format and workstation into the Australian marketplace. I remember that, just after installation of the workstation into the Coburg (Melbourne) headquarters, the lass who was responsible for processing the very first batch of orders from Professional labs, involving scanning original film images and authoring Kodak Photo CD’s, went on leave.

I saw an opportunity and offered myself as a temporary replacement to get the work out on time and at the appropriate standard. So, for the next two weeks, I worked my usual 9am to 5:30pm job then headed down the hallway to scan original film images and author Pro Photo CD disks until between midnight and 1am the following morning. I kept this up for 2 weeks until my colleague returned from leave and was able to take up her role. I undertook this work with no desire for extra remuneration or benefits. My motivation was based on loyalty, an opportunity to help and to learn, first hand, about new technology. I was glad of the opportunity to learn and help.

The above image shows me at the Kodak Photo CD workstation. One of many memories from my days working for ‘ol yellow. It was a great company. When I started in 1990 I believe there were over 3,000 employees Australia wide. I understand there are only about 200 these days. Yet billions of images are made every year. The trouble for traditional companies like Kodak is that the vast majority of those images are made with digital rather than film-based cameras. And of those billions of images made every year, only a relatively small percentage are printed, many through inkjet printers utilizing products made by companies other than Kodak. The times they really are a’ changing.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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