Keep The Bad Ones

By Michel Gilbert& Danielle Alary

The final image begins before jumping in the water: preset your camera and strobes for the image you’re hoping to capture. Photos: Alary-Gilbert/ SUB-IMAGES

After returning from a dive, many photographers upload their images and quickly delete all the bad ones. They may be missing something in the process.A We work as a couple and divide undertakings. For instance, Danielle keeps the photobank, edits images, and catalogues them. After a long trip this is a huge task.A Michel works on the write-ups, articles, projects, correspondence, and a host of other things. He rarely gets a chance to review all the images we make.

When I review the images, I carefully store the best onesathe keepersaand also create a special file for the bad ones. The latter become an essential learning tool.

Understanding your missteps is key to making any progress in life, including in photography. If you merely look at your best images and do not take time to review the bad ones, you compromise your evolution as a photographer.A In order to analyze those images, you must work in a methodical way and take notes along the way.

PriorA toA aA Dive

Before a dive, defined your goals and preset the camera for a astandarda image based on your camera setup. This will save time once you find a subject.A Think: macro, wide-angle, fish, portrait, close-up wide-angle, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, strobe power level/ placement.

DuringA aA Dive

During the dive, take mental notes about anything beyond the EXchangeable Image Format( EXIF) data. This information, which is part of your image file, includes such things as date, scene number, focusing distance, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, among other things.

In the case of an underwater wide-angle image, the focusing distance behind a dome port is not useful, but every image file includes a host of other useful data that you donat have to remember. As for the rest of the information, try to memorize the general setup you are using in terms of strobe positioning, power levels, the presence/ is a lack of diffusers, etc.

When you alter strobe stances or make another important modification to your setup, take a ablanka image( we photograph our hand) as a reminder. This may help bring back those mental notes.

A bad picture helps you learn. We have a focus as well as a lighting problem. We can look at the EXIF data to see what kind of exposure defines we utilized. Photo: Alary-Gilbert/ SUB-IMAGES

AfterA aA Dive

After your dive, upload the images to your computer. Create folders for the good AND the bad images.A When you have time, look at your good images and, if necessary, scribble some observations in a notebook. Review the latter prior to a similar dive. Include some key EXIF data in your notes.A When you have more hour, study the bad images. You can build folders to categorize them according to the nature of the problem: composition, exposure, focus/ blur, strobe placement/ power, and others.A Think about a solution and take notes. You may elect to jump in a pond, prepare a cheat sheet for future dives, enroll in a class, or schedule further readings to sharpen your skills.A Mistakes happen all the time. What differentiates those who learn from those who donat is adoing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different resultsa( a definition of insanity, often attributed to Albert Einstein ).

Below: Keep the good and bad pics in separate folders. Review to determine what went wrong and how you can improve. Photos: Alary-Gilbert/ SUB-IMAGES

InA GoodA Company

When we look at the great photographs of top pros, we tend to think that all their images are perfect. What you do not see is what goes on to make a picture. For a single gorgeous image there may be hundreds of not-so-good ones that we never get to aappreciatea.A

As underwater photographers, we deal with a lot of moving portions. For instance, nature is never the same. Water alterations constantly, ambient lighting is highly variable, our subjects live in an aeat or be eatena world, which constructs them wary.

Then comes the human factor. We have bad days and good day. Michel vividly remembers a dive when he thought he had the perfect exposure parameters in his intellect( this was film days ). When we came back home, ALL the images were bad. His exposure was off and “hes having” omitted to bracket.

Under the stress of the divealimited time, impatient dive buddies, and the likeayou may forget to make a specific adjustment. Even looking at the camera LCD may not bring a solution to your problem. Reviewing the images in a quiet room sometimes make an instant answer.

LessonA Learned

You do not need to keep all your bad images forever. Storage space is limited, and we doubt you will look at them repeatedly.A Having said that, reviewing your blunders can only help. It may become the most effective learning tool in your gear bag. It may even bring a good giggle, especially after a few drinks with friends! A

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