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Proxy falls

I missed Iron Man for this. No seriously I did. Kind of an odd thing to say, at least to start off this post, but is true. Anyway, I was supposed to see Iron Man Sunday with my boss and friend, Jake from Blue Moon Camera. I was actually looking forward to it too. I have not been to the movies in a very long time. Just has not been much of quality I have cared to pay the money for. Especially since I can wait a few months and get them for free from the library and watch them at home. ;-) But I had decided to give Iron Man a try, it looked decent at least.


Instead I ended up on a five mile round trip hike through the snow (without snowshoes either) with Manyfires to reach this secluded, but amazing waterfall. It really is an amazing spot too. This photo captures a bit of its beauty but does nothing for imparting its size or grandeur.


Anyway, I took a number of photos of this. Some were digital infrared, a few of which turned out quite interesting and I plan on posting at least one of them in the short term. I also put together a multiple shot Holga panoramic that I have not scanned and assembled just yet. But I liked this shot best at the moment in terms of posting.


Which leads me into what I have promised to write about in terms of editing. Editing is an often over-looked skill when it comes to photography. I would even go as far as to say it is the most important often-overlooked skill. I heard a good quote once that sort of sums up how important editing can be, "A big difference between a professional and an amateur is that you only see the professional's best work". Think about that for a moment. No photography is perfect and snaps contest winners with every shot. We all get bum ones. Some of us more than others. But even if you are at the ratio of one good shot for every 1000 bad ones, if you edit properly you can make your portfolio look as nice, if not better than someone who has even a much higher degree of success but does a poorer job editing.


But see, editing is subjective business. That is what makes it so tricky. We are all tied into our photos on a personal nature, often easily able to over look their flaws or come roaring to their defense when the quality of one of our photos is brought into question. But I get ahead of myself.


The first suggestion I would make for those wishing to get better at this is to have a clear goal. You need to have a goal. You will edit a different selection of images for different purposes. If you are applying for publishing in a landscape magazine, you will send along a different portfolio than you will for contemporary fine art magazine. You will also pull together a different selection of images than you might say post to Flickr. It all comes down to who you wish to speak to and what you want those photos to say. Be clear on this and concise.


My second suggestion is to try and set aside your personal attachments to whatever degree you can. Hard to do, easy to say. Actually, impossible to do completely. Get help. Have friends and family help you cull your images down. I guarantee you will lose images you don't want to, but find ones you had not noticed.


Be concise. This is a case where less is more. At the moment I am sort of sticking with the idea of a porfolio, which generally is well rounded at about a dozen images. A dozen strong images will always speak much better than 40 images, even if they are all strong. It is just too much. It overloads the viewer.


To hop away from the idea of a portfolio and over to Flickr, the same holds true. I have a fairly clear goal for my Flickr stream. Loosely it is maintain variety, to show new perspectives that might help inspire others in their photography. To not just show the "pretty" images but ones that I find stimulating intellectually. Most of the time, this happens to be my successes, sometimes though they are not, not if the image in its failure (in my opinion at least) has something valuable to offer. I see Flickr as an amazing learning tool, and that is how I post to it. I have said before that I have no interest in impressing others on here, I would much rather inspire them. And that is my modus operandi when it comes to selecting what I post. That gives you all a bit of a personal look into how my logic operates in terms of what I select.


But I also try to limit my posts. Usually no more than one a day, often one only every couple of days. This is partly because of my lack of time to post a lot. It also affects how much I am able to browse and comment as well. But I also limit my posts because I want to give every image a chance to be enjoyed, for what it has to offer to be absorbed by those viewing it. If I posted twenty images a day, I would dilute that. I am not saying that posting so many images is always wrong though. I know some very prolific photographers whose goal is to post a million images, literally. Their goals for their Flickr stream then are quite different from mine but equally valid. In the same vein though I know some photographers who just post and post and post. They post whatever they have with little apparent thought to editing down and cutting out similar shots. I tend to miss most of their stuff because I don't want to sift through 38 images looking for the best one. I don't have that much time.


I want to say though too, that this is not required. In the case of Flickr, it is your own personal stream. If you want to not edit images at all, just throw them all up there for everyone to see, there is really nothing wrong with that. That is the beauty of this particular site. You can model your stream however you please.


But I do know some photographers who wish to get better at this, and I know some who don't realize they should. Like I said, the ability to pare one's collection of images down, to condense it to the most meaningful and moving images, to give those images as much concentrated power as possible without diluting them, is really a tricky ability to master... I mean to get good at. I really dislike the word "master". Nobody masters anything, they just falsely believe they do. But that is another rant.


Anyway, I think the ability to do so, to cull and select and edit, is nearly as important as the ability to take a good photo in the first place. Is nearly as important as the ability to effectively and properly post-process. Because how your images are seen, has a bearing on what in your images IS seen. You ken?


Well, not sure how much of help this will be. It is a tough topic to adequately describe, but I have laid out my thoughts, as well as I have them formed. And I don't proclaim to be a master at this either (see the above paragraph on the use of that word). I have practiced at this a while and I have seen other photographers who have been both good and poor at it, and learned through their experience. But it is something that has to have attention paid to it. That has to be consciously taken into consideration. It never hurts to try and ask yourself what purpose a particular photo is going to serve, if it would be better served by being left out or replaced?


Hmm I have to wrap this up now and head off to work. I will think on this a bit more and perhaps add to it later. If anyone else out there has tips or advice, wants to fill in areas I left out, feel free to do so. Share and share alike. :-)


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Taken on May 6, 2008