It's been 23 days since I returned from a month in Europe. The jet lag is long gone along with the doldrums of vacation withdrawal and general fatigue. The travel gear - luggage and backpacks, first aid kit and drug box, voltage converters, power supplies, umpteen chargers for the umpteen electronic devices (notebook, tablet, laptop, cell phones, 3 cameras), backup chargers, all the doodads and thingamajigs that have become travel essentials - all of these and the passports (sigh) have been tucked away to await the next adventure.
All that remains to be attended to are the photographs, all 6827 of them! Ye Gads! How can there possibly be that many? Two photographers and three cameras is the beginning of an answer, electronics is the rest of it.
The memories are priceless but are all those images, each and every one of them, essential to the story? The task of purging and cataloguing is daunting but already nearly 900 have been deleted and the recycle bin has been emptied, so no second thoughts are possible. These rejects were the easy edits; the blurred, the multiples occasioned by shooting in burst mode and the "feet-ures" captured when the shutter button was pressed while putting the camera away. There are still 5928 pictures and that's still an appalling number - especially to one who once worked with film.
I was so careful back in the day. Slide film was too expensive to waste, even if I was able to buy 6 rolls of 36 exposure with processing included. I took time to set up each shot peering through the viewfinder for wires coming out of a person's ears and poles growing out the top of heads, and I fiddled with the aperture and/or shutter speed. Then and only then, I held my breath and pressed the button. It might be a month or even longer before "36" appeared in the little exposure counter and I clicked off the last shot, then carefully rewound the film back into the canister. Three days, five, or even a whole week passed before I got to see the results of my judicious compositions. Often I was disappointed. On a good day there might be as many as 25 well exposed but otherwise ordinary pictures and maybe, just maybe 3 exceptional images. In 26 years of film, 6733 slides made it into the catalogue. Perhaps another 1500 got tossed.
The age of film ended for me on Christmas Day 2001 with the arrival of my first digital camera (Canon PowerShot A20), a gift from my beloved. In the twelve years since then, 47,000+ images have been amassed. I have no idea how many got tossed. It's mind boggling, truly mind boggling! But are the pictures any better? I'd like to think that over the years I have learnt a thing or two about photography and so yes, the pictures are better, or at least some of them are better. I still cling to the adage a venerable photographer, my Dad, once said to me, "If you can't take a good picture with a Brownie Box Camera, a Nikon isn't going to help you."
With all the high powered editing software now at my fingertips, it's entirely possible for me to engineer a perfectly acceptable image from a mediocre one. And therein lies the problem for me. While my finger hangs over the delete key I hear the 'hang on to everything' photo enthusiast say, "You know, with a little bit of work this picture can be stunning." It's trap! "A little bit of work" can amount to ten minutes; multiply that by 5928 images from our latest adventure and it adds up to four months of eight hour days - FOUR times longer than the vacation was!!!! YIKES.
Clearly the delete key is in for a workout. Best get at it.
I'll let you know how it goes, but in the mean time here's a taste of Europe 2013: