Editing is Crucial

Finally, a confession that I am sure will surprise nobody. I take lots of average photos and I take plenty of photos that look just like everyone else's. The key is to edit your work carefully and only show the images you want people to see: the types of images that you want to represent you as a photographer.

The Flicker age has swamped us in mediocrity and posting 1000s of images on the Internet and leaving the browser to find the good ones goes against this basic facet of photography. As a photographer you are judged on your best work, not the average quality of your favourite millennium of images.

Editing your work effectively is a difficult skill and I do not get it right all the time. But I am certain that a lot of photographers, whose work I am familiar with, would have more success in competitions and publishing if they selected the correct images from those they have taken. Emotional attachment to certain shots is always part of the problem, but it is also important to have a clear vision of how you want your portfolio to look.

FIG. 11.10 Having done my play dives with backlighting, I decided that the crinoids were the most suitable subjects and looked at their best against a black background, which was the most dramatic way of showing the lighting effect. To give the image more depth I asked our dive guide to pose with a torch against the sun at the top of the frame. I don't use torches much with models, but here I was hoping that the (non-photographer) viewer might think that the backlighting effect came from the torch, making the image seem less contrived. I think a stronger torch would have helped, but this was already a complex shot to put together! Nikon D2X + 10-17 mm. 3x Subtonic Alphas, one behind the subject. F14 at 1/250th sec.

I edit my images both for quality and, importantly, for style, only showing images that fit with my vision for how I want to communicate the underwater world.

Editing also teaches us to identify the aspects of an image that differentiates the stand out shot from the average one. If we learn to spot this at the editing stage, we will be able to make the same choices when looking through the viewfinder. This undoubtedly improves our photography.

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