Taking a Better Picture Tips #4 and #5

Today’s photography tips come in a pair. Don’t do one without doing the other!

Tip #4: TAKE lots of pictures & Tip #5: DELETE lots of pictures.

This is a picture of my iPhoto trashcan. When you saw the pictures of the chicks last week, you didn’t see the folder full of 130 outtakes. This might seem like a lot, but imagine how much better picture #80 was than picture #1.Well, you don’t actually have to imagine, I’ll show you.

 

The very fist picture taken? This.

80 pictures later? This:

Way better, right?

So, Tip #4: Take lots of pictures

As you move beyond the first shot, a few things happen: the subject often relaxes and might even start looking comfortable, the light changes, you have a chance to adjust the settings properly, you can experiment moving the camera and zooming in and out for a better composition, and you start noticing things in the picture that you can fix (as I noticed a little pile of chicken poop that mysteriously appeared in the frame). Even if you don’t have time to take 150 pictures, you can probably get at least 2 or 3, and the third picture, I’ve found, is almost always better than the first.

BUT, tip number #4 ALWAYS has to be accompanied by tip #5:

Tip #5: Delete lots of pictures

After reviewing the pictures from the chick photo shoot above, I quickly deleted 130 and saved the 20 best. Make a habit of unloading your camera regularly onto your computer, reviewing, and committing to delete at least 80% of them. What I mean is, if you took 4 pictures of the same thing, there’s probably one best one and it really is ok to erase the other three. You will appreciate five incredible pictures much more than 50 that make you say “meh…”

The next time you pull your camera out to document something, don’t assume that on the very first shot you got the absolute best picture possible. Keep going and see what happens, you’ll be surprised at what you capture! Then, without any guilt, delete any that didn’t turn out great.

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4 responses to “Taking a Better Picture Tips #4 and #5

  1. this is so true. you have to take lots of pictures, especially if your subject is moving. generally this means you’ll have to delete a whole lot more (80% or more!) to get the few that really stand out. i like to take photos of butterflies and bees and out of a hundred i may keep about ten that are sharp and detailed enough for my liking. another good tip that goes along with #5 is: don’t delete in the field! there may be salvageable aspects of some photos that may only be seen once the image is downloaded onto a computer. 🙂

    • YES, that’s a great point about not deleting in the field, thanks for mentioning it! There are lots of times I thought something looked great in the tiny display of the camera, but turned out to be fuzzy once I saw it full-size on the computer (and vice versa).

  2. As a novice who barely knows how to use our digital camera, I appreciated your tips. We all went broke before digital–and that’s why some of the baby pictures of our kids were so lame. We couldn’t afford to take so many pictures, develop them and throw away the bad ones, unfocused ones, or blurry ones… (deep sigh, eyes rolling towards the heavens!)

  3. (the great) Auntie Stacy

    yes… I need to remember #5

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