the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

SHOOT (AND THINK) BIG

A Forest Of Rebirth, 2015. Image cropped nearly two-thirds from original.

The Nexus Of Resurrection, 2015. Image cropped from 4928 x 3264 pixels to 3550 x 1477, leaving enough density for a printable enlargement.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

BY NOW MOST OF US PROBABLY REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO REAL ADVANTAGE to “budgeting” shots in digital media the way we used to do in film. Harking back to the time of 24-exposure limits on one’s photographic fun, shooters maintained a running total in their heads of shots taken versus shots remaining, a cautious way of allocating frames on the fly, the idea being to finish the film roll and your tour stops at about the same time. Some kept notebooks; some doled out shots on a priority basis (one image of the waterfall, three of the ruins, four of the kids on the rides), and some, I suppose, were tempted to count on their fingers and/or toes. You had to be careful not to run out of frames.

Jump to the digital now, where we realize that, in all but the rarest cases, our shutter finger will crack and fall off before we “run out” of shots on even the most meager memory card. However, I still run into people who believe they are being prudent and providential by taking images at lower resolutions to “save space”, a false economy that is not only needless, but actually limits your options in the later process of editing.

Big files mean image density (lots o’ pixels) and therefore higher resolution. High resolution, in turn, means that you can crop substantial parts of a photo as needed and still have enough density for the image to hang together, even when printed out. Now, if you look at your work solely on a computer screen, protecting the integrity of a cropped image is less crucial, but if you’re lucky enough to create something you want to enlarge and frame, then you should begin with the fattest file you can get.

Review a few of your images that were, let’s say, less than compositionally sublime coming right out of the camera. Look at the pixel count on the same images after they were cropped to your liking. You’ll arrive at your own preference on what minimum resolution you’ll accept from the cropped versions. Thing is, the bigger you start, the more wiggle room you’ll have in editing.

As I say, most people already shoot at the largest file size possible. I merely send along this note to remind us all that we do it because it makes sense, and affords us real flexibility. It’s one of the amazing by-products of digital; we can, generally, shoot as much as we want for as long as we want.

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3 responses

  1. Yes it is, and it takes time for paradigm shift to digital world and its best use.

    July 11, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    • True! Those who grew up solely in the digital domain don’t have any habits to unlearn and re-learn. And that’s both good and bad!

      July 11, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      • Yes, and it is important to know “that is both good and bad”.

        July 11, 2015 at 11:24 AM

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