Deleting 1049 Files

Learning can come from a wide range of sources, and for me there were some lessons this morning after deleting 1049 files.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 220 mm, efov 594 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-250, cropped to 3546 pixels on the width

It was an interesting experience to go through some old files from a couple of years ago. These were some bird images that I had captured at LaSalle Park but I had forgotten (avoided?) to review them and to do any post processing.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 136 mm, efov 367 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-1000, cropped to 3616 pixels on the width

As soon as I opened up the folders and had a quick look at the disasters in front of me, I was going to delete all of the photographs and not waste my time going through them. I don’t know where my head was on the two days when I created these images… but my brain was clearly not engaged with the task at hand.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, cropped to 4952 pixels on the width

As I was about to delete all of the photographs in the folders, an old saying popped into my brain. “Anything worth doing… is worth doing poorly for a period of time.” So, I changed my mind and went through all of the old photographs. It was instructive to identify the litany of mistakes that I had made.

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1800, full frame capture

Photographing birds-in-flight that were too far away to be usable. Forgetting to use exposure compensation when needed. Missing entire AF-C runs because of bad focus acquisition. Capturing images of birds flying at inappropriate angles. Trying to photograph clusters of flying birds that created little more than visual confusion. Not framing subjects properly when panning with birds-in-flight. Failing to match up suitable subject matter with the poor lighting conditions. My errors were obvious and glaring. All I could do was laugh at myself and the photographic disasters that I had created.

I don’t remember ever taking this many bad photographs in a row. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t looked at these file folders for a couple of years. 🙂

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201 mm, efov 542.7 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1800, cropped to 4848 pixels on the width

When all was said and done I ended up keeping 6 photographs and deleting 1049 files. No doubt this was a record-setting failure rate. There were two benefits from the experience. One was freeing up some much needed hard drive space. 🙂

Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1400, cropped to 4682 pixels on the width

The other benefit was accepting and appreciating that we all have times when we simply screw up with what we’re doing. Its not important that we mess up big time on occasion. What’s important is learning from our mistakes. Even when they end up with us deleting 1049 files.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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4 thoughts on “Deleting 1049 Files”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts Thomas!
    I do hope that the images displayed above were the keepers, and weren’t deleted, as those are beautiful captures!

    With Instagram and other social media, photographers are constantly assuming that everyone other than them is always capturing something awesome without fail. This “best foot forward” approach of social media may very well be one of the reasons for budding photographers abandoning their art.

    Seeing the immense hard work and trial and error that went into the finished outcome is a necessary eye opener for all.

    1. You’re most welcome Tyler!

      The photographs in the article were the few keepers that I had captured on that particular day, which obviously was not one of my best outings. 🙂 I think it is important to acknowledge that no one is perfect, and that we all make mistakes with our photography. If we don’t make mistakes we simply aren’t trying to improve our craft sufficiently.


  2. Thank you for being brave enough to post this and let people know that even you are capable of making mistakes and sometimes a lot of them. Too many photographers make it look like they never miss a shot and all of them are frame-worthy and that just gets us, average people, down. Now we know you are as human as the rest of us and have bad times too. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your comment Joni… much appreciated!

      If we want to get better at anything… mistakes are inevitable. They are a natural part of growing and challenging ourselves.


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