Summertime rejects



I mentioned previously that while at the beach I figured I would shake things up a bit by shooting differently to the way I usually shoot.

When I go out to make photos, I take one camera, one lens (sometimes 24mm, sometimes kit zoom) and that’s it. I even leave the lens cap at home. When I go on vacation I take the lens cap. I don’t even have a camera case. This time when we went to the beach for a week, I decided I would do it the way I used to do it once upon a time. I took my camera, four lenses, a Benbo tripod, a remote shutter release and a camera bag. I even took all the lens caps. I also decided to shake things up with the actual number of shots I would take. Usually, during a one-week holiday I would be lucky to take 40 shots or so. This time I took ten times that number. It got so that a lot of the time I was just shooting randomly just to get the numbers.

After the first outing I immediately remembered why I no longer go out shooting with all the gear. It’s heavy, cumbersome and not exactly conducive to contemplative photography. But I kept at it for most of the times I went out. When I got home I also remembered why I only shoot 40 shots or so per week: post-processing 400 shots is a bitch. However I did find an easy way around that little problem in the form of the delete button though that takes a fair bit of time too.

Anyway in the end I probably ended up with as many keepers as I would have had, had I shot at my usual rate. The photos in the montage above are, for the most part, the rejects. This isn’t to say that I dislike these images, in fact they look ok as a montage I guess but I see this sort of photography (the story telling type) done so much better by others that I prefer to leave it to them.

More importantly it was the process that I didn’t enjoy so much. Always shooting something made me feel like I was actually missing out on something.

Anyway, this trial is over. Never to be repeated. From now on it’s back to one camera and one lens. Sometimes, I’ll take a  lens cap too.

11 thoughts on “Summertime rejects

  1. I think that there are more than a few of your “rejects” that I would consider keepers. Maybe I’m not as discerning, too easily pleased or just don’t know the difference between a reject and a keeper. But I like to believe I know the difference between a good photo and a bad photo. I also believe the good/bad photo was a ratio, or percentage of the total days shoot. So, with that belief, the more you shoot the more good photos you end up with. That’s why I always carried extra rolls of film. If I shot my one roll of film on my way to a location I might miss an interesting shot on my way back. I also sometimes wonder why I too some photos. There must have been something that made me want to photograph it. Was it an idea for a future project? I don’t know but since digital, unlike film, is already paid for, you might as well take the shot,even if it turns out to be nothing. You don’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.


    • Cheers Ken. I think I should have defined “reject”. Or perhaps define keeper. These photos are not bad photos as such. Some would even be considered good I guess since such things are a matter of taste and therefore totally subjective. In each case there is probably a positive such as nice light or contrast or colours or composition. Or even nice subject matter. But in every case there is something missing. What’s missing is that thing that is difficult to define because it is often so subtle and at times all too personal to make sense to anyone else. It’s that “thing”, that inner meaning, that memory trigger that I look for. Sometimes I see it clearly and other times I only sense it. Either way I make the shot. In the instance where it wasn’t obvious at first I usually see it later when I sit at my computer. But that doesn’t happen often on an outing so I don’t usually make many photos. I’ve taken as few as two photos on a six hour walk so that should give you some indication.
      I don’t doubt for a minute that the more photos we make the better our odds of making good photos become but I’m not after good photos. For me it’s about the process of seeing that meaning hidden in a scene. As for defining “keeper”, well, technically since the photo is not the goal for me I don’t tend to feel the need to “keep” any of them so I guess that for me “keeper” means worth sharing.
      I hope that makes some sense.


  2. Since I’ve never considered myself as any sort of “professional” photographer I’ve never felt the need to produce a certain number of keeper photos — although I wouldn’t agree there does seem to be a general ratio rule of keepers/non-keepers. Of course I enjoy “finding” I’ve made some acceptable images at the end of the day.

    Not to make more of it then it is, but photography for me has become more about the process of learning how I view things and documenting those things/scenes I find interesting, attractive and/or appealing. I don’t always know at the time of taking the shot the why and even after the fact I often will still not completely understand what motivated me when I pressed the shutter release. I often just go with my gut. I suspect many non-keepers were not because there was nothing worthy of a photograph at the time but because I either failed technically getting shot I wanted or my efforts to understand the essence of my vision were not up to the task. Also I understand if an image is a keeper it may not meet anyone else’s standards and I may toss out some others would keep — hey, I shoot for me.

    Hauling a lot of gear around, just in case I might need it, is as you stated:

    “…cumbersome and not exactly conducive to contemplative photography.”

    Doing so draws my attention to the equipment…which lens should I use…do I need a tripod for this shot…would a filter work well here…etc…and away from spending time observing and understanding what the image of the moment should be. If it’s a first visit, a walkabout or a scouting trip I will only have one camera and one lens…less lens cap. If there’s something I wish to return and photograph, given the opportunity, I’ll bring the additional equipment I think I’ll need. In some cases this may only mean having to return to my car.

    You rejects did make a nice montage. :-)


    • Thanks Earl. Yes, the process is where it’s at for me too. And yes, I did find myself thinking about the gear a lot more when I was carrying it all with me. I do find the process much more relaxing when I only have the camera with me but as you say, sometimes there is a scene I see that I go back to at a later date with a tripod or different lens. In my case though it means going back home so a lot of the times it means that I just miss out on the shot. It’s no big deal for me since I already “saw” what I wanted to see. It just means that I won’t be able to share it and that’s only downside.


  3. “You don’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket”.

    I don’t mean to pick on Ken – he is, after all, enduring the same freakin’ miserable cold-as-hell winter that I am here in good old Webster – but that sentiment is just plain wrong. Just ask my wife (who buys the damn things religiously). Winning the lottery has just about the same odds as standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting hit by a small (or large) asteroid. For 99.99% of us, it ain’t going to happen. It’s not a thing you need to buy insurance for or worry about.

    The same is true (unfortunately) for photography. Taking more images (or buying more lottery tickets) does little to insure that you’re going to get a “winner”. As you and Earl suggest, the opposite is more likely the case. At least for most of us. If you happen to be standing nearby (with your camera) when the asteroid hits and are able to get it working quickly enough (preferably at 10 fps or so) then you can count yourself among the other 0.1%. If you survive the hit. In this case, more pictures are better than no pictures. Not because they’re “artful” but because somebody might pay big money for them.

    In all seriousness, though, you’re absolutely right Cedric. The “thing” is the thing. And you’ll know the “thing” when you see it – even if it doesn’t register consciously. So why not spend your time looking for it? And keep the camera idle until you do see it. As they say, less is more.



    • Yeah, I’m not a big fan of lotteries either Paul. I don’t know if they are State run over in the U.S. but here it’s run by the government and to me it seems that they use tax to fleece the middle class and lotteries to fleece the poor. If governments were really for the people they should get rid of lotteries. Anyway, that’s way too much politics from me.

      With photography, I think under certain circumstances, taking more shots should improve the odds, especially if the extra shots come from bracketing exposure. There’s a better chance of getting good quality photos by doing that. But when you’re after that “thing”, that elusive feeling, then it doesn’t help at all. At least not for me. The reality is that I’m not a photographer as such. I am not all that concerned with the final image. I just use the process of photography as an attempt to develop my brain into seeing beyond the superficial. The jury is still out on whether I’m succeeding.

      By the way Paul, if you see a meteor, don’t go for the 10fps, just go straight to video ;)


  4. Both Ken and Paul are right – if you’re in a great spot in the first place more shots will equal more keepers, if not then Paul’s right. But frankly, you’re supposed to be out enjoying photography, not worrying about keepers/rejects and ratios. As the saying goes, “go with the flow”. For me, that means sometimes I’ll shoot a lot sometimes not so much.

    I like your montage – and I see quite a few images in it that I’d consider keepers!


    • Cheers John. Your comment did show after all :) And quite right, to each their own. It all depends on what we hope to gain from being out shooting. The surfer who’s after that perfect wave has more chance of catching it the longer he spends out on the water unless the sea is flat. In which case he may as well stay home. Sorry, I used a surfer analogy since, you know, this is a “summer” post. I’m just not after the perfect wave.


  5. Well, I thought I had posted a comment, but now I see it didn’t show up, so here goes again. Ken and Paul are both right. Blah blah blah something something.

    I really like your montage – there’s quite a few rejects I see that I’d keep!


  6. I take the lens cap but it usually is somewhere in the bottom of my pant pocket, gathering dust. :-) The simplicity of one lens and one camera is something many street photographers seem to follow while nature and landscapes photographers lug the glass around. My body prefers a small backpack with my journal, kindle, rain jacket, spare battery and memory card. Camera is hung around my neck or over my shoulder and sometimes just held in my hand. I like how Earl said it, “the process of learning how I view things and documenting those things/scenes I find interesting, attractive and/or appealing” is what it’s about. Venturing into photography has helped me to see myself and the world around me with new eyes. Most probably seeing more with my heart than with my head. By the way I do like the montage!!!!


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