Purging the Past

Purging the past can be a daunting task when we start to review old photography files in an attempt to free up hard drive space. For the past number of months I’ve been spending a lot of time on my office computer system going back through old files looking for images that I can consider for some eBooks that I have under development.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.

NIKON 1 V3 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/640, f/5.6

After producing well over one thousand photography articles for this website (and others) for over ten years, and doing numerous client video assignments… it amazes me how quickly hard drive space can disappear!

Nikon 1 V3 + Nikon 1 CX 70-300, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-1600, 278mm, efov 750mm

Including back up drives, my office system has 52 TB of storage… and there is precious little left open.  As we all know, video files can be extremely heavy when it comes to hard drive space. Nonetheless, a very serious purging of the past is definitely needed!

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 129.4mm, ISO 1600, 1/100, f/5.6

One of the eBooks that I’ve been working on covers various aspects of bird photography. As photographers we sometimes transition from one camera system to another. When we do… it is easy to forget about some of our older images.

NIKON D800 + TAMRON 150-600mm f/5-6.3 @ 600mm, ISO 6400, 1/80, f/6.3

If you’re like me, I tend to utilize the latest technology that is available to me with my current camera gear. This can skew the types of images that I create.

NIKON 1 V3 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 3200, 1/60, f/5.6

As I’ve been going through older bird images it became very obvious to me that I haven’t photographed very many perched birds during the past 4 years or so.

NIKON 1 V2 + NIKKOR 70-200 f/4 with FT-1 adapter and 1.7X teleconverter @ 340mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/6.7

This is a direct result of the Pro Capture technology that is resident in my E-M1X cameras. It is so easy for me to capture images of birds taking flight, landing, or in-flight, that I regularly overlook creating images of perched birds.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800, 300mm, efov 810mm

While purging the past is woefully needed in terms of cleaning up my hard drive space of old, unneeded images… it shouldn’t also include me narrowing the range of images that I create.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800, 241mm, efov 649mm

One of the benefits of going back through old photographs is getting re-energized with some of the subject matter that inspired us in the past. And, to be reminded of compositional approaches that we may be overlooking today.

NIKON D800 + TAMRON 150-600mm f/5-6.3 @ 250mm, ISO 1600, 1/4000, f/8.0

Photographs have a way of activating our memories. Most of us can remember exactly where we were when we created a specific image. We may even recall how older equipment performed and how it felt in hand when we used it.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 800, 1/500, f/5.6

It is hard to accurately estimate how long it would take for me to do a thorough purging of the past with my entire office computer system. I’m sure I could spend eight hours a day for at least 3 months doing nothing else, and I still wouldn’t have the task completed.

NIKON 1 V2 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/5.6

Of course some purging of the past can be fairly easy to do. As I’ve been going through older images I’ve asked myself countless times, “Why the heck have I been I saving these images?” Typically these have been older photographs of birds-in-flight.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1000

So, I’ve decided on a compromise solution. As I’m going through my older files searching for photographs for current eBook projects, I’m going to spend one hour a day dedicated to deleting unneeded, old files from my system.

NIKON 1 V2 + NIKON 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/5.6

To get the biggest bang for my buck for my time investment, I’m going to start with my oldest files first. I’m assuming that large selections of those files can be deleted with some reasonable speed.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6, 100mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-5000

I did a quick estimate of the number of photographic folders and the files therein, that need some serious purging of the past. It looks like I have at least 1,539,131 images in total to review. This number didn’t surprise me in the slightest as I typically create at least a couple of hundred thousand images per year.

NIKON D800 + TAMRON 150-600mm f/5-6.3 @ 600mm, ISO 800, 1/1000, f/8.0

I’ve been much more diligent with my Olympus files in terms of purging, but it appears that I still have 380,171 photographs to review and purge. The sooner this purging project takes flight in earnest, the better!

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6

We will be publishing a new eBook (Finding Visual Expression II) in early January. After that project is completed our bird photography eBook will be the next project to be published in early 2024.

 Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files. This is the 1,340 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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