CRUMBLING AWAY IN A VERDANT state park, the ruins of the old Castlewood Canyon Dam hardly looks like the remains of a sturdy industrial water wall that released a torrential flood on the surrounding area when it finally broke. Built in 1890 and leaking for years after that, the Castlewood Canyon dam collapsed on August 3, 1933. A storm raged on that day, filling the dam’s reservoir to bursting. When the crumbling stone barrier finally failed, over a billion gallons of water were released, traveling over 40 miles of surrounding wilderness before eventually flooding Denver. Huge logs were floated through train stations, bridges were washed away, and by the end of the torrent, the whole city was sitting in four feet of water. Luckily (and tragically) only one person was killed, but the property damage of the catastrophe was immeasurable. While it was likely just age and a lack of maintenance that caused the dam to give way, some residents who still remember the disaster claim that it could have been the local muskrat population effecting the integrity of the dam. No matter the cause, the ruins of the dam remain in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Either side of the structure still remains and the track through which the water broke through is now a dry, grassy thoroughfare. Source: Atlas Obscura
500px is running a quest this month with the theme of “Portraits without Faces”. This is an interesting quest, and I just happened to have this picture available from a recent photo shoot we did in Denver. The quest brief is described as, “Not all portraits need faces! Not focusing on the face can open up a new dimension of interpretation while still allowing the view to capture the personality or mood of the subject.” The quest goes until January 8, 2021. One winner will receive a prize of $200.
Choosing the right wedding photographer is important. After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos. With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.
For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer. I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked. There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:
1. Can I see a full wedding’s photos?
Photographers post only their best work online. A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing. Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event. It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding. This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios. Will your wedding be at night? Ask to see a night wedding. Can this photographer handle low light situations? Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light. Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?
2. Are you insured?
You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured. Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen. Ask them about their contingency plans. What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding? Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.
3. How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?
Experience is important. A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter. This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter. The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side. A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive. If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go. I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.
4. What are your deliverables?
You want to know what you are paying for. Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both? Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer? Will the package include an engagement session? These deliverables generally drive the price.
5. What is the turnaround time on a final product?
You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos. A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos. Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days. You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example. If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.
6. Do you have backup equipment?
Backup equipment is required. Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases. Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards. Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?
I love my photos. All of them. I must have had some purpose in mind to pull my camera out, point it at a subject, and shoot a photo. These pictures were meant to capture a moment in time, so someday I could go back and relive the experiences. However, what I have found is that they are mostly sitting on a hard drive, taking up space. As someone that practices minimalism, I’m very good at keeping only a minimal set of clothing, kitchen gadgets, books, and limiting all other “stuff” as well. Adopting this lifestyle has made life a lot simpler.
The one area that I haven’t yet applied this practice of minimalism to is my collection of photographs. I have been collecting a set of photos for over 10 years. I rarely have the need to go back and look at photos that were taken at a random party in college, however I don’t really want to delete “irreplaceable” photos. I have always thought of photographs as irreplaceable, since it’s impossible to go back and capture each image and guarantee that it looks exactly like the one lost. This is especially true when it comes to capturing moments related to people and pets. Are they really ALL irreplaceable though? Will I care if I lose my uninteresting shots?
Since 2003, when I purchased my first digital camera, I have put together a cluttered top level folder of 88,192 photographs which are currently taking up 391GB of drive space. This amounts to 22 photos per day over the years. A large portion of these are either out of focus, uninteresting, duplicates or test shots. I have photos from old cell phones, and even exact duplicate files from when I bought my first DSLR and set it to save in both raw and jpg. Why keep everything? My rationale has always been that drive space is cheap and nearly unlimited.
I want to reduce clutter and keep only a minimal set of photos. I believe that less is more, and I’ll appreciate a smaller set of good photos over the full set of mediocre ones. It will also be a lot easier to backup a smaller set of photos as opposed to backing up a larger set. It’s nearly impossible to protect nearly 400GB of data without incurring a large cost for stuff that I mostly don’t care about. It will also be easier to access and find photos that I care about.
Criteria for a photo to be deleted(one or more must be true):
- The subject of the photo is out of focus
- The photo is not interesting
- The photo is poorly exposed (and not correctable)
- The photo is of a person that is unflattering (goofy looking, has their eyes closed, etc)
- The photo is of/or related to an ex girlfriend (or someone that I equally dislike)
- The photo is a duplicate or looks identical to a photo that I plan to keep
It took a long time to go through each individual file, a very long time. The process was completed, and I have successfully deleted a very large number of photos. I applied the criteria to each and every file and came up with a startling discovery. Most of my photos fit the criteria needed for deletion. I was able to reduce my total number of photos to just over 8,000, a reduction of 90%.
I’d guess that around 15% of the photos had the subject out of focus, 30% were as interesting as a pile of rocks, and the other 45% were duplicates of another image that looked better. I’m very happy with my resulting set of photos. This exercise also provided me a chance to go back and relive the last 10 years. Each photo told a story, and now I just have a clearer and more usable picture of the events. As an added bonus, I only have to backup around 50GB, when a 400GB backup was required before.
This is a repost of something I wrote a few years ago. Today, I still use this method to remove clutter in my library of photos. I can say, three years later, that I do not regret my decision to delete photos.