Practice Makes Ferpect

Practice Makes Ferpect

I sometimes re-read my own blog entries, in strict violation of the rule that says that a blogger should concentrate on producing more entries about current events. One disturbing insight that re-reading my own output has given me is that I'm no longer surprised that people tend to ignore my advice - after all, I ignore my own advice. Generalizing from oneself is generally a bad idea, but just as a stopped clock that is right twice a day, the method occasionally hits one out of the park.

What has caused me to bring this topic up is some reflection on the fact that I've spent an inordinate amount of time and effort attempting to re-shoot old photos. Or, old and old: The Moonrise, Granholmstoppen was old. But I've also spent about 500 shots on these flowers at Barnhusbron. This, despite my own warnings that doing something like this is a total waste of time and effort.

In particular, the problems are:

  • Wasted camera life. 500 shots may not sound much in this film-free digital age, but that's a full percent of the shutter's rated life. The D40 shutter is rated at 50,000 cycles, and if I were to do 500 shots for every subject, I'd burn through the camera's life after 100 subjects. Think about that. One camera, 100 photos after selecting the best one of every bunch.

  • The perfect is the enemy of the good. Having so many photos to choose between is paralyzing, and I find myself both pixel-peeping and being very quick to find faults. Nothing wrong with being critical of your own work, but let's face it: There's always something that one can get hung up on. I'd look at a photo and think "I should have framed it differently - that's 16 pixels at the bottom that are superfluous; this photo isn't perfect, it's therefore junk".

  • The huge opportunity cost. Spending a lot of time getting a photo "just right" isn't free. While you're busy over here, something photo-worthy is happening over there. This is fatal for an art that is about capturing the moment.

Repetition can improve the quality of your works, but just repeating the same thing over and over just leads you round in circles.