Before I write anything for this exercise, I want to point out that I am using Adobe Bridge as my image browser. I have never used this programme before so I am making it all up as I go along and I am sure mistakes will ensue, until I at least get a hang of things!
For this exercise you need to start with a set of recently shot images. Try to work with a reasonably large set of images, at least 50, all covering the same theme or location.
Once the images have been downloaded, follow these steps in time sequence: –
I am going to give this exercise the title ‘In Search of Temples’; the photos were taken whilst I was away last week. Although I live in a country when Buddhism is the predominant faith, it is not always easy to find temples to photograph, so it is currently my mission to hunt some down and get some interesting photos. Anyway, for this exercise, over the period of one-hour, I shot 51 Temple inspired images. As always, I used my Nikon D800 with a 28-300mm Nikkor lens. During my outing I was looking to capture some architectural photographs, images of statues and anything else I could find of interest within the temple grounds. A contact sheet of the original photos is blow:
Step one – the technical edit
Take out of the set any images that are obviously faulty, such as out of focus or with camera shake or grossly over/under exposed.
For this first step in the process, I have rejected 11 images. You can see from the sheet below that these eleven are either exposed incorrectly, designed poorly or just did not feel right.
Step two – the selects
Among the remaining images, all technically fine, make an initial selection of the images that satisfy you creatively.
After the initial technical edit, my first round of real editing has produced a contact sheet of 23 images. These have been labeled with one star and can be seen below.
Looking at this batch of photos as a contact sheet, I can see that the images, as expected, fall under three categories; the first is ‘Architecture’ or the structure of the actual temple, secondly we have ‘Motifs’ or general temple sculpture found within the grounds of the building and thirdly there are the miscellaneous items, again found within the temple grounds. I should point out that I have not taken any photos inside the actual temple, as these are seen as sacred places and not all curators are happy for you to start snapping away revealing their hidden treasure, to venture inside should be by invitation only.
Not wanting to jump to conclusions, but I can already see that it could be difficult for me to come up with only two images from this batch, but lets see what happens after I follow the whole process through.
Step three – the first selects
Next, work within these selects to choose the several best. These will be your ‘first selects’. Make a brief note for each to explain why you prefer it to those in the larger group.
Working through the 23 images, I have come up with two batches of photos. The first batch, marked in red, is my choice of ‘first selects’ or those images that stand out a little more; there are 10 images in this batch. The second batch, marked in yellow, is my choice of ‘second selects’ of which there are 13 images.
Of the original 51 photos I took, this final batch of 23 is obviously the crop that I liked the best. It is often difficult to explain why you have chosen one image over another and it can be even more difficult to critique the photos you have taken, especially in situations such as this, as you are only ever going to pick those images you like over those you do not like so much, but of course your preference is never going to be the same as the next persons!
My choice of ‘first selects’ have been picked as they seem more pleasing to me, according to my photographic eye, lighting and/or the design of each stands out a little more than the 13 I have decided to ‘leave behind’.
Step four – group and review
Take a break from the process in order to return to it with a refreshed eye. Using the browser software, put just the first selects together and review your choice. Go back to the other images left out and confirm that you have made your preferred choice.
It got to a point where I was not able to look at the photos anymore and needed to walk away from my choices. I could not think straight and everything seemed to be blurring into one, I therefore returned with refreshed eyes after about 18-hours and immediately reduced my list of 10 images down to just five – I think I had been subconsciously thinking about this in the night – so I knew that I had already made my preferred choices.
I was unable to justify my choices as easily yesterday, but today I can comment more freely on these five images.
I have always been fascinated by the structure of the roofing here in Korea, what you can see in this image is not just afforded to temples or buildings of importance, but most of the old buildings and houses have roofs of this kind.
Of all the structural images I took, I feel that this one best depicts the shape and flow of the temple’s roof. The narrow depth of field highlights the corner stone of the building and the shadows help to enhance the shapes more. The blue of the winter sky feels quiet washed out here, but that is okay as it makes the man-made structure more prominent in the frame.
I was quiet drawn to these head stones, and looking at my original contact sheet realized that I took quiet a few photographs of them. Of the batch, this one appeals more as the sun and shadows cast by it makes the carvings ‘pop’ on the page. The tight crop and angle of the lines draw you into the back of the image, but your eyes keep coming back to the front stone, just to look and see if you have missed any detail. The one thing I do not like about this shot is the over exposed sky in the back of the frame as unfortunately this is where the lines in the shot lead your vision.
Something you do not see often in temple grounds are temple bells, so I was really pleased to make the most of my find and capture some images of this one. The carved headstones in the previous image were placed around the base of this belfry. The other images I took of the bell were quiet ordinary, but this one stood out as it has been taken from a different angle, taking in both the pattern and the wooden pole that strikes it. The light is also nice in this shot as not only does it pick out the carved detail on the bell, but it also highlights some of the background information that is nicely out of focus so as not to distract the viewer from the main object, that being the bell.
I have a thing for taking photos of the backside of things and although I had taken a very nice image of this Buddha previously, I like this one a little more as there are more details within the frame. The down side of this though is that the statue is a little lost in the shrubbery, but again the light falling on the statue enhances the carving creating just the right amount of shadow on the stone and this is why I chose to include it in my final group for review.
Finally, I have chosen to include this funny little guy, I like the way he is positioned in the frame (no additional cropping done here). Light played a big part in this photography outing, and again the lighting in this image has made it stand out from the rest. I like the way the crevasse seem to be deep and the expression on his face, especially the tight lips, seem to say that he knows everything that goes on here, but will not tell a soul.
Step five – a final choice
If you began with at least 50 images, you should have refined your editing selection to several by now. At this point, however, imagine that there is the possibility of just two being selected for publication somewhere. You would, of course, prefer to show more, but this is beyond your control. Choose only two from the first selects, and write down your reasons for choosing them.
I think I knew back at stage three what my final choice of two images would be, which is surprising for me, as I always want to pick more. My final choices of images are:
These are actually a little different from the usual photos I take, especially the photo of the bell, which turns out to be my favorite photo from the initial batch of 51. I cannot quiet put my finger on why I like this this best, as I like the colours, the lighting and even the subject matter, it just all seems to work well together. I know that the image of the headstones is not perfect as there is an exposure issue in the top right hand corner of the frame, but of the dozen images I took of these headstones, this one stood out more than the rest, perhaps it is for the same reasons that I like the bell, everything just seems to tie in right together.
At first I though this would be a long, laborious task, going through a batch of images and picking out just two. Having never used a browser package for reviewing and editing my work, I have always used iPhoto, I have been dubious about making the plunge into Photoshop and its associates, but I can see the attraction as Adobe Bridge really made this an easy task, and it was much easier to use than I thought it would be.
Having the ability to lay all of your images out together and to mark them off one at a time really made this an easy exercise to undertake, and the best thing is that I learnt a new procedure, which with a little more study and understanding should help me no end in the future.