About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

Started Aug 18, 2021 | Discussions
deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 14,525
About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
4

Lockdown here in New Zealand again. Level 4. That means a compulsory break from everything active, including work for most for the greater good.

Had a quick look at my photos folder and found that there are about 500K photos there, most of them RAW, but also the conversions.

Is that a lot? Dunno.

But whilst I was going through those folders I noticed that I had A LOT of unprocessed files there, earmarked for deletion. But for some reason, they were still there.

Which brings me to my "about": how do you cull and how would you know that in the future the images you took would not meet your standards? e.g. an OOF image could still be charming, should you see this in a different light.

Here are a couple of images I culled (but then forgot to, see above ):

Deliberately chose in order not to offend anyone. There are others ...

Regarding the culling process: at the time I must have thought that the images didn't have any merit. I would have to go far to see why I marked them, but today when I already had my finger on the left mouse button, I quickly re-processed those images, the hand in the first image still far from ideal, but for some reason the blur doesn't bother me anymore.

So is the solution to keep ALL images ever taken, just in case?

Deed

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Bing Chow Senior Member • Posts: 2,619
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
19

I cull ruthlessly. I don't waste time wondering if 8 years later, I might find something semi-interesting. If lose sleep over deleting the undiscovered gem, I just think about all the images I'm not making by not shooting more often. All the trips I could have been on but didn't make the effort.

OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 14,525
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
1

Bing Chow wrote:

I cull ruthlessly. I don't waste time wondering if 8 years later, I might find something semi-interesting. If lose sleep over deleting the undiscovered gem, I just think about all the images I'm not making by not shooting more often. All the trips I could have been on but didn't make the effort.

Me too. I cull like there is no tomorrow, but was still wondering: is hard drive space really as cheap as some people say, then why not have a second look.

Covid19 certainly has a role in all this ... less taking photos and more re-visits. Here is another "culled" image. Not bad as such but not good either ...

I guess deep down it is about people photography where technical details might not be as important.

Deed

Deed

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NickZ2016 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,351
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

I was looking yesterday. 18TB drives at about €500. Enterprise high quality latest HDD tech at that price.

The hand in the first one can be either a defect or a positive.  Motion blur is a negative only if you're trying to show a perfectly still image. Imagine a photo of a dancer spinning. Without motion blur it's a posed person and not a spin.

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 14,525
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

NickZ2016 wrote:

I was looking yesterday. 18TB drives at about €500. Enterprise high quality latest HDD tech at that price.

The hand in the first one can be either a defect or a positive. Motion blur is a negative only if you're trying to show a perfectly still image. Imagine a photo of a dancer spinning. Without motion blur it's a posed person and not a spin.

Hehe, right. I was talking about my example Re motion blur ... didn't like the position either if I remember correctly?

Deed

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kaphinga
kaphinga Veteran Member • Posts: 4,098
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
3

It depends on the situation.  For a once in a lifetime trip or event, I save everything except for egregious misfires. For everyday shoots, I cull heavily.

When I was stuck inside during Covid lockdowns last year, I really enjoyed pawing through the archives and discovering images I had overlooked when they were originally shot.

A few rescues from the trash heap:

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Marie

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D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 34,161
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
3

I generally keep everything.

Many images that I might have thrown out turn out to be much improved by some processing in later years, as my processing skills slowly improve.

This particularly applies to film.

Don Cox

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Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 23,454
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
3

I think that one factor to think about is whether culling/not culling will affect whether you or anybody else looks at images in the future.  If you have all 2000 images from a trip 20 years ago, are you, or your descendants  more or less likely to go through them than if you had left only 200 after culling?

What if you have 50,000 shots of common birds in flight, or 10,000 shots of your kids playing soccer?  On the other hand, what if you have 5,000 shots of rhino or other species threatened by extinction?  Or lots of shots from a trip to an area that has now totally changed?

I think that the answer for the BIF and soccer shots is easy - they are going to be highly repetitive, so cull them heavily now so that your descendants don't don't have to do so.  Keep shots if they might be of historic interest to you, your descendent or others, but document them so that people know what they are looking at.

Other decisions to keep all or cull are going to be more difficult.

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Chris R

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Mark B.
Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 30,178
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
6

deednets wrote:

Bing Chow wrote:

I cull ruthlessly. I don't waste time wondering if 8 years later, I might find something semi-interesting. If lose sleep over deleting the undiscovered gem, I just think about all the images I'm not making by not shooting more often. All the trips I could have been on but didn't make the effort.

Me too. I cull like there is no tomorrow, but was still wondering: is hard drive space really as cheap as some people say, then why not have a second look.

Because my time is worth something too.  If I didn't process something or at least flag it for editing when I first go through the images, chances are slim to none I'm ever going to do something with it.  Having it there taking up space also takes time to scroll past it, and having all those unprocessed images makes backing up take longer.

Howard V
Howard V Veteran Member • Posts: 5,348
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
4

"Just in case" what? If history proves those subjects valuable? If you become famous as a photographer, post mortem? What will be of value to you now, and then to those whom you leave behind?

I'm a happy part of around twenty old people in a local camera club. We unanimously agree that no one will probably care about our photos left behind from travels, or scenic and artsy subjects. But family members might see value in photos of family and friends. So we're making sure they know how and where to find them.

The world is awash in billions of images now. I'm doing myself and others a favor, and lightening the load on this little corner. My computer is running faster and cleaner now. I say, cull away.

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Chris Noble
Chris Noble Veteran Member • Posts: 5,627
I'd cull those two
6

deednets wrote:

Lockdown here in New Zealand again. Level 4. That means a compulsory break from everything active, including work for most for the greater good.

Had a quick look at my photos folder and found that there are about 500K photos there, most of them RAW, but also the conversions.

Is that a lot? Dunno.

But whilst I was going through those folders I noticed that I had A LOT of unprocessed files there, earmarked for deletion. But for some reason, they were still there.

Which brings me to my "about": how do you cull and how would you know that in the future the images you took would not meet your standards? e.g. an OOF image could still be charming, should you see this in a different light.

Here are a couple of images I culled (but then forgot to, see above ):

Deliberately chose in order not to offend anyone. There are others ...

Regarding the culling process: at the time I must have thought that the images didn't have any merit. I would have to go far to see why I marked them, but today when I already had my finger on the left mouse button, I quickly re-processed those images, the hand in the first image still far from ideal, but for some reason the blur doesn't bother me anymore.

So is the solution to keep ALL images ever taken, just in case?

Deed

Examples of well-taken photos with an attractive subject, but the photos themselves are not worth keeping.

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Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,627
Covid Cull
2

I've spent the last year plus doing a long-overdue culling of my LR catalog. I had 90K+ photos taken over the last almost-20 years. In my case, my catalog has a lot of mediocre family snapshots that have value despite not being great photos. It's a mix of photos taken as the family photographer and photos taken as a photography hobbyist, where the majority is the former. I've shot many events like concerts, plays, dance rehearsals and recitals, robotics competitions, softball games and so on, in which my daughter took part. At the time, I often uploaded quick conversions of everything and shared them with parents of other kids. But now that time has gone by, I'm left with anywhere from a few dozen to a couple hundred photos from each of these events that I just don't want to look through when I scroll through my catalog.

So for those events, I picked the best few and exported the rest to catalogs that I'll archive, "just in case". Unfortunately, LR's export to catalog resulted in me having many small catalogs (School001, School 002, etc) that I need to combine at some point and only then will I have a good idea how many photos I archived.

Beyond those, I deleted a bunch. Photos taken in museums that were fun to take at the time, but hold no interest for me now. The technically bad shots (though I typically delete those on import - and, of course, I do keep some that are worth it anyway). And then just the shots that aren't so interesting in hindsight, particularly when I have multiple shots to pick from.

End result is that my primary catalog is down from 90K+ to around 22K. And now I'm about 30% of the way done tagging those photos (a much less daunting task than tagging 90K!). When that's done, I plan to start making books and DVD slide shows.

- Dennis
--

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Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 3,442
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
1

I cull the obvious duds (bad exposure, subject moved, etc) and keep the rest for "someday". HD space is cheap and my next-of-kin can delete 'em when I'm dead.

Aaron

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Svein Eriksen Senior Member • Posts: 2,526
What's least expensive - your time or disk space?
2

I'll often pick and process one or two images I want to use immediately. The rest stays more or less unevaluated on my disk. Waste of space? Probably for most of them, but it cost next to nothing to keep them.

(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 462
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

I normally cull photos when I copy them from the sd card to my computer.

Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Forum Pro • Posts: 10,755
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
2

Storage is cheap. Keep what you want. At the very least, the more photos you keep from a shoot, the more complete the record is of how that day progressed. The photos leading up to a keeper and those thay follow have a story to tell.

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gptwins
gptwins Forum Member • Posts: 55
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

I use a star system to rate my images.  I go through all of my images once I get them to computer and add a star for all of the certain keepers.  I then man reiterative passes adding stars to the higher quality images and, sometimes, adding a star to something that I may not have in a previous run.  I usually wind up with about four passes through my images; just not all in the same day.  Anything left without a ranking may be deleted. I say "may" because I don't always, well, not right away.

I photographed a birds of pray event where the hawks would sweep the crowd.  I got a few images that were crisp, some that were slightly out of focus but were keepers just the same.  One photo I was about to delete struck me.  The hawk was moving so fast just above the seated crowd head that it was almost just a big blur.  But it struck me as a good image that shows motion.  I wound up keeping the image.

There are some images that are definite deletes but don't be so fast to send them to the bit-bucket.  There may be qualities you missed before.

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drynn Senior Member • Posts: 1,205
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
2

deednets wrote:

...

So is the solution to keep ALL images ever taken, just in case?

Deed

No.

The reality is that the more images you keep, the less likely you are to review them (professional requirements aside).

I couldn't even begin to guess how long it would take to review (say) 100,000 images simply because some software package now has 'ingredient x' and it MIGHT help improve an otherwise dull shot.

I have learned to cull and now never worry about any kind of 'what if'.

However, I do agree that some genuine once-in-a-lifetime shots may be an exception to my culling process.

In my mind, the fact that storage is cheap is irrelevant.

robgendreau Forum Pro • Posts: 11,692
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??
1

My tastes have changed over time, so some images I didn't like but didn't cull have been reworked successfully.

Some images become useful not in themselves, but for other purposes. A good example are skies; might want to use one in another image. Or textures. I know some who deliberately amass and catalog stuff like that, but I don't. So some I've found were happy accidents, say landscapes with too much sky that wouldn't work alone.

And some images provide context. I have building shots that are crap, but the details I also shot are fine. I keep the building so I know where things were. I use GPS, but it often isn't enough.

Another context-driven reason for keeping them is seeing time pass. I always have my camera on local hikes, and I've got image progressions of subjects like trees, urban development, and so on that weren't intended, but that are now interesting as sequences. I just lucked into that.

But yeah, I do need to get rid of more. That's because in looking around for images like those about, some absolutely worthless ones get in the way. I'm conservative about it, but still.

OTOH, and this is fuel for the hoarding fire, there's software now that gives life to images one might have thought were hopelessly low res. Aside from doing creative things with old images (and it's sad to note I'm so old lots of my own shots are now antiques  ), there's stuff like Topaz software. I've been able to upscale good old images to printable quality with say Gigapixel, and the results are better than the prints I originally made.

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OP deednets Forum Pro • Posts: 14,525
Re: About the issue of culling: keep everything, just in case??

Papa48 wrote:

"Just in case" what? If history proves those subjects valuable? If you become famous as a photographer, post mortem? What will be of value to you now, and then to those whom you leave behind?

I'm a happy part of around twenty old people in a local camera club. We unanimously agree that no one will probably care about our photos left behind from travels, or scenic and artsy subjects. But family members might see value in photos of family and friends. So we're making sure they know how and where to find them.

The world is awash in billions of images now. I'm doing myself and others a favor, and lightening the load on this little corner. My computer is running faster and cleaner now. I say, cull away.

Was just thinking of those photo series of Marilyn Monroe where those images marked for deletion showed a different woman, not fitting the image she had as ever smiling etc. A silly example possibly, but your views could change.  You originally kept those technically excellent shots of the Eiffel Tower, but then revisited that shot where a woman with some heavy lipstick photo-bombed your shot.

Have mentioned this before but I think the covid extra time has got something to do with it. My post and my pondering some archives.

On the issue of numbers: when I travel, I print high-gloss photo books typically containing 50 or so shots. Sometimes 54, but never less than 50. So totally get what you are saying regarding high numbers.

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