Sorting/Culling Conundrum

Brownie

Top Veteran
I've been thinking lately about the amount of time spent on processing and have decided it REALLY needs to be cut down. The question is how to approach it.

First the background: 1500-2000 photos shared by two cameras. Some of these are single shots, most are short bursts. Let's say an average burst of five frames. Most times the subject is redundant, that is to say I have need to shoot the same subject several times, some as few as 2, but many as much as 5 or 6.

Second, normal workflow, or what I've been doing: I start by going through each burst and determining which of the frames is the one I want to process, then I delete the rest. I do this for each separate single shot or burst. Just for illustration, we'll say the single shots are 100 or so and the rest are bursts. So:

1750 frames/avg - 100 = 1650 burst frames, /5 on average = 330 keepers. (provided of course I don't screw up).

Of the 330 keepers many are redundant as described above. Call it an average of 4 redundancies per subject, so:

330/4 = 82 separate subjects, each with 4 keeper shots. Add the 100 single frame shots and I have 182 photos to process.

Many of the single shots could again be the same subject. The thing is I do not need 4-6 shots of the same subject, I only need the best one. In some cases maybe two are worth it, and in a very rare case three.

What I need to do is figure out a way to sort and cull these quickly. I use Darktable, so not a lot of file management. I would like to figure out a quick method to get all of the shots of each subject in a single place, then look through them and decide which one is the keeper. In other words, all 20+/- frames together before culling.

The only thing I have come up with so far is to create a folder for each subject, then dig through the shots and move each to it's respective folder. That would save me processing time but increase culling time to the extent it may not help.

I can't be the only one who has to sort through this number of shots, some of you have to be doing it efficiently. How do you tackle it?
 

wee-pics

Legend
Location
Germany
Name
Walter
My personal recipe: slow down. Taking photos without creating mass graves on the memory card, in a targeted and deliberate manner. Taking photos without creating mass graves on the memory card and on the PC. Shooting purposefully and deliberately. That already reduces the number. At home, trashing one third of them on the first go-through. Sort out another third (with a good dose of self-criticism). Chances are that the remaining are real keepers. And then the processing also cuts down.
The reason I've come to this procedure: looking at the photos from a distance (when I go through them some years later) I always realize that I still kept too many.
 
Last edited:

gryphon1911

Hall of Famer
Location
Central Ohio, USA
Name
Andrew
I use and like Lightroom for this. Not everyone’s cup of tea. I do hear that a lot of people love using photo mechanic for this.

I think you have a good workflow, which is similar to my own.

I use Lightroom to reject obvious duplicates or OOF or extremely whack exposures. I then only look at the “keepers “ and if there are bunch in the burst I look at which 1-2 tell the best story. Relegate the others in the burst to reject.

Once I get to my full on keepers, I process those. I write my stories/articles or share what I have then go back and delete the rejects. Back up the main drive to the backup, off machine HDD and then format memory cards and reset cameras for the next shoot.
 
Last edited:

Brownie

Top Veteran
My personal recipe: slow down. Taking photos without creating mass graves on the memory card, in a targeted and deliberate manner. Taking photos without creating mass graves on the memory card and on the PC. Shooting purposefully and deliberately. That already reduces the number. At home, trashing one third of them on the first go-through. Sort out another third (with a good dose of self-criticism). Chances are that the remaining are real keepers. And then the processing also cuts down.
The reason I've come to this procedure: looking at the photos from a distance (when I go through them some years later) I always realize that I still kept too many.
Shooting at the drag strip. Not much chance to slow down and take it easy. It's not about self-criticism or making tough decisions. It's about catching that one moment that the drivers and owners want to see. It's far less artistic than it is pragmatic.

52141908586_ac626d7db7_o.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC02343 by Shotglass Photo, on Flickr
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
Is this helpful?

Thanks, I've used DT's review features before, but that would really be the second step. What I need is the first step, which is how do I find shots of the same cars and group them together, so I can get to the next step? Looking at thousands of thumbnails, a red car is a red car. It's difficult to tell if you're looking at the same car or another one. I suppose I could dump all the red cars into a single folder then go through and further separate them, but that doesn't seem any faster than just doing what I do now.

There may not be a good alternative, but please keep suggestions coming. Maybe we'll figure something out!
 

Stu

Veteran
Location
Melb. Aus.
I sort of think all this culling is just the price we pay for the ability to shoot fast bursts, with continuous focus, and for applications like Oly's ProCapture.
We are expecting to find in 1000 'spray n pray' shots what would have been a million to one shot in the old film days.
All I could suggest is to shoot a bit less...and cull faster! :crying:
 
Last edited:

gryphon1911

Hall of Famer
Location
Central Ohio, USA
Name
Andrew
Shooting at the drag strip. Not much chance to slow down and take it easy. It's not about self-criticism or making tough decisions. It's about catching that one moment that the drivers and owners want to see. It's far less artistic than it is pragmatic.

View attachment 319729DSC02343 by Shotglass Photo, on Flickr
Agreed. Some times you just gotta put the throttle down all the way press that shutter down all the way and exhaust that buffer!!

It’s not an all the time thing, but a very subject dependent thing.

This subject definitely lends itself to the high speed, low drag way of shooting.
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
I sort of think all this culling is just the price we pay for the ability to shoot fast bursts, with continuous focus, and for applications like Oly's ProCapture.
We are expecting to find in a 1000 'spray n pray' shots what would have been a million to one shot in the old film days.
All I could suggest is to shoot a bit less...and cull faster! :crying:
I've done single frame shooting out there before with good success (and a lot fewer photos). What I've found though is that when my head is set on a single shot, I tend to take the photo and drop my arms. That has led to missed shots of something extraordinary, like a motorcycle going airborne, a car careening off the wall, etc. When I shoot burst my follow through is better, and I'll follow the subject through to the end. I know it's just a matter of changing my mindset but so far, no chance to try. Maybe what I should do is head out there on a test-n-tune night and practice when it's not so critical. I suppose I could try the 3 frames per second setting instead of 6 and see how many wheel stands get missed

This may be the best thing that comes out of the thread!
 
Last edited:

John King

Member of SOFA
Location
Beaumaris, Melbourne, Australia
Name
John ...
Agree with other suggestions about reducing burst rates and lengths. However, not always appropriate or possible.

Adobe Bridge is a free download, and has exquisite category and sorting features. Display thumbnails by keyword, and/or category (and/or almost anything else in the EXIF data ...). 100% side by side for multiple images. Etc. It's a very powerful program.

"Real World Adobe Camera Raw" by Schewe and Fraser devotes about 65 pages just to Bridge, and a further 51 pages to workflow.
 

Stu

Veteran
Location
Melb. Aus.
I know from my experience, with Olympus, that shooting fast [high] bursts on electronic shutter can end up with a ginormous stack of shots.
I now almost always use Sequential Low [mechanical shutter] with the shutter sound letting me know how much I'm recording.
 

Knikki

Regular
I dump all my images in to a folder, arange them in Date Taken then chnage the viewing slider so that the images can be seen at max size for the folder.

Then all the burst shots are togther and I make the first pass using that, bin those that look out of focus, not inthe frame properly etc, any not to sure about (on the Mac I can hit the space bar to open the image) mark them and look later and decide.

This is all before I have opened any editing software.
 

kae1

Top Veteran
Location
West Yorkshire
Name
Ken
I'm in a similar position but because of technique/equipment/w.h.y. end up with way more than your 2,000 images per outing. I plug the card into the PC then I use XnView MP to do an initial view of each image usually zoomed in. Deleting rubbish as I go. This usually gets me down to about 15/20% of what I've taken. This isn't a quick process but it keeps me off the streets and lets me relive my day!
Step1.JPG

Then XnView MP allows me to compare up to four images and I'm then able to choose the best and delete the rest. At this point I usually import the pictures to the hard drive, before processing.
Step2.JPG

I've attempted to reduce my burst speed and try single frame but this technique compensates for my inadequacies.
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
I'm in a similar position but because of technique/equipment/w.h.y. end up with way more than your 2,000 images per outing. I plug the card into the PC then I use XnView MP to do an initial view of each image usually zoomed in. Deleting rubbish as I go. This usually gets me down to about 15/20% of what I've taken. This isn't a quick process but it keeps me off the streets and lets me relive my day!
View attachment 319768
Then XnView MP allows me to compare up to four images and I'm then able to choose the best and delete the rest. At this point I usually import the pictures to the hard drive, before processing.
View attachment 319769
I've attempted to reduce my burst speed and try single frame but this technique compensates for my inadequacies.
I thought maybe you and @robstar1963 might chime in. My workflow is similar to yours, the problem I'm trying to solve is how to 'quickly' get all of the shots of the same vehicle in the same spot at the same time. I know you run into the same thing. Car goes by you 100 times, the bursts are spread all through the folder.
  • So maybe you cull 8 shots out of a burst and end up with 1.
  • Then later in the folder you find the same car, cull another burst, and end up with another 1 or 2.
  • Then later in the folder you find more bursts of the same car, go through the same process, and end up with more.
  • Ok, now the folder culled, and you have a half dozen keepers of each car, but they're still spread out in a folder with hundreds of other shots.
What I'd like to do is figure out a way to pull these all together quickly to decide which are the one or two best of the best. This could happen before the process described above, or after. Tagging, rankings, colors etc. don't work, they take more time than what I'm doing now.
 
Last edited:

Brownie

Top Veteran
I know from my experience, with Olympus, that shooting fast [high] bursts on electronic shutter can end up with a ginormous stack of shots.
I now almost always use Sequential Low [mechanical shutter] with the shutter sound letting me know how much I'm recording.
Yeah, my camera will only do 6FPS shooting uncompressed RAW on mechanical shutter, which is all I use. I used to shoot 7FPS on my G9. I may try reducing the bursts to 3FPS but these races only last seconds to begin with. I reckon I could try it for a few shots and do some chimping to see if that's enough frames to catch the peak moment or if I'm missing them.
 

Irene McC

Hall of Famer
While we are all different in our approaches, I delete very little; only obvious doo-doo's that are out of focus or cropped poorly with bits cut off.
Especially during the lock-down period I've valued going back through old stuff and re-processing with newer editing tools and more experience.

My workflow is to download everything (RAW) currently using Capture One but it was the same in my LR days.

Skip through all images one at a time and star / colour code the BEST ones. Delete the bad apples (as per my opening comment) and then spend
time editing those selected ones and do your report / story / publication whatever. Leave the rest be. There might come a day that you'll be glad
you kept them. (Storage is no big problem these days.)
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
Here's an example of a screen. This was from 2019 with the G9. This is seven cars. Now make it 100 cars, then duplicate the screen over and over for each round of time trials and eliminations. These same cars would show up over and over. That orange Camaro may show up in a dozen bursts. The only way to find it is to scroll and scroll, first finding, then looking at each burst and culling. Then, I need to decide which of the 'keepers' from each burst are going to be processed. Maybe I have 8-10 good shots, but really only need to process and post one or two.

What if I could find a way to pull them all together so I can view as a group, and cull down to those one or two shots in one step?

That's my quest!

Screenshot 2022-06-29 075401.jpg
 
Top