Musings on Photography

More editing

Posted in Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on April 23, 2008

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More editing today, as I work on winnowing down the (roughly) 800 exposures down to the 35-40 I’m aiming to end up with. In my mind this has always been a smaller book, not so much expansive as much as more narrowly focused. So although there are threads running through those 800 exposures that look interesting (and might be things I explore in the future) for right now and for this book I’m cutting those out and just staying with one theme, which is the experience of exploring the landscape with the dog – just being there. All of the images I made which are of details I noticed while I was out with the dog (for example, a bunch of shallow DOF botanical images) have been cut out. All of the images of Kodak and Tucker playing together are cut. Some quite nice landscapes without the dog in are cut.

My process is completely different from what I’ve tried before. In the past I ranked the images and keyworded the images and viewed various cuts through the set using the filtering in Bridge, or I made prints and put them on the wall. 35-40 images is a lot to do on the wall, and I was not looking forward to a multi-day Bridge experience, so I’ve shamlessly stolen a page from Amy Sakurai and generated the jpgs I needed to plop into the book (the right resolution, etc.) and plopped them all into a folder. This was my starting set. I made three passes through the entire set of images, making sure I had reasonable first blush photoshop treatments of all of the promising images. I ended up with a folder with slightly fewer than 100 images in it.

Then I fired up Fotomagico – a slideshow program. In the past I was not a fan of slideshows, but some time back I fell in love with one done by Dave Beckerman, and when I got back from China I bought Fotomagico to do a slideshow presentation of all of the photos I took in China. I’m sure other slideshow apps would work just as well – iPhoto would probably work fine, for instance, as would various slideshow apps for Windows. But as it happens, I have Fotomagico, I know how to use it with some fluency, it’s what Amy used, so I just went ahead and fired it up, and pointed it the folder holding all the jpegs I generated in the first step above.

And then, I just selected all of them, and dragged them into a slideshow – kapow. Since then, I’ve run through that slideshow a bunch of times. I’ve made a bunch of passes looking for weak images, which I’ve just dragged out of the slideshow. If I change my mind, I can drag them back in, although I haven’t done that once. If I notice two similar images, I either put them next to one another, run through them, and pick the best one, or if I want to keep more than one, I spread them out so they’re not close together.

As the size of the set of images still in gets closer and closer to the size target I have in mind, I’ve been starting to fiddle with the sequence. I know that in a book, people just dip in at random. But a PDF book is more like a slide show – you can page forward and backward, but people usually don’t use it as random access they way they do with a book. So the sequencing is slowly coming together, too. Some images have been shuffled toward the start, some have been shuffled toward the end. If your book has some linear narrative, this would be a great way to proceed. Mine doesn’t, but it’s still a good way to go, I think.

It’s all very organic and not like the sort of linear/rational thought methods I’ve used before, and as a result the editing has been a bit more fun than I thought it would be. It’s not fun relative to, say, going for a walk with the dog and camera. But it’s more fun than, say, slamming my hand in the car door or getting serious dental work done.

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  1. Robert Hoehne said, on April 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I slammed my finger in the car door last week. This week while doing renovations to the toilet I hit the same (black and bruised) finger with the hammer. My finger kind of split open, not much fun either time.
    Editing beats finger damage hands down (pun intended)


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