I have a Confession to make… I have never filled a Memory Card

In my entire Photography career I have never once filled a memory card.  I don’t even know what kind of error message my camera would give me if I did fill one.  Beyond that, I really haven’t taken that many photographs in my 5 year blogging career.  I have seen so many posts in my Facebook and G+ feed of all these photographers with 10-15 Terabytes worth of stuff and it baffles me.

Let me rephrase that, it doesn’t baffle me, in some ways it makes me feel inferior.  These questions run through my head:

  • Do I take enough Photos when I am on the scene?
  • I am a pro… right… Should Pro’s have 15 terabytes worth of photos?
  • Do I need to go shoot more? I only took 140 Gigs worth of photos last year.

After seeing some posts about the amount of terabytes of photos several photographers (amateur and pro) have stated, I had to have a look at my own numbers.

Below is a chart of all of the photos I have taken from 2006 – 2014.  This also includes processed photos, PSDs, and Tone Mapped TIFF’s, well beyond just what I shot for the years.

Chart for Photos

*** HD Space in Gigabytes ***


So after looking at the chart above you can see how much more serious I became about photography from 2009 to 2010.  Just a side not, I started EverydayHDR in 2010.  I also had my first born in 2011, hence the large drop in photos the years after!

The end result; 29,847 photos and only 504 Gb on my hard drive.  I don’t even have remotely close to a terabyte, but the big question remains… Do I still feel inferior?

No, not at all!

ecola state park

On Knowing how I Shoot

There are several reasons why I do not feel inferior.  The main reason being, I don’t know what everyone else shoots.  I know I am a landscape guy who very rarely shoots an event or a wedding.  Events and weddings can be trigger happy events, because a split second could result in a lost shot of a memory never captured.  It is different in the landscape world.

Beyond that, I know how I shoot.  This is incredibly important to understand in yourself.

I was recently out shooting with Leon, a friend of mine who has an awesome eye for photography, also a fellow Insider.  We were on the way back to his place to look at some photos and I mentioned the concepts in this post to him, the subtle feelings of inferiority due to my lack of photos taken throughout the years.  I posed these questions to him, they went something like this:

I see all these people filling memory cards and I can honestly say I have never done that.  I battle with these questions.  Do you think that is because I don’t take enough time to analyze a scene while shooting?  Or do you think it has something to do with innate composition skills that have been adopted over time that tell me not to take a certain shot?

Through our discussion we came to the latter.  It is not because I don’t take enough time to shoot, it is the way in which I shoot that limits my exposures.  After analyzing how I shoot I came to the conclusion that I will look into my viewfinder at the composition I have and say, “nope, I would never post process that, why bother shoot it”.  From there I will recompose until I find a shot I will post process and snap.

Leon added to the conversation.  He mentioned imagining you were sitting in front of your computer looking at the images.  If it is one you would delete then don’t take it in the first place.  I thought that was another great tip.


9 Tips to becoming a better Photographer with a Composition Focused Eye

Obviously there are a ton of variables in the equation.  But in general we came to 2 great tips for limiting the amount of exposures that we take on the scene.

Look at the composition and ask:

  1. “Would I post process this, is it really worth bringing through my entire workflow?”  If no, don’t shoot!
  2. “If I were sitting at my computer going through the days shots, is this one I would delete? “  If yes, don’t shoot… recompose and re-attack!

Sure that is much easier said that done!  A lot of it has to do with knowing about composition in the first place.  Here are 7 more tips:

  1. Read up on the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Ratio, The Golden Spiral, etc… heck… here is the first Chapter of my book the DSLR Survival Guide so you can read about it for free.
  2. Consider your camera angle in relation to the subject.  I have noticed that my camera is below my knees most of the time.  This helps me include a great deal of foreground in the image which helps the viewer obtain a sense of place within the image.  It is easier to imagine themselves there when they have a place for their feet.
  3. Start Drawing… what?!?! I can’t draw?!?!  How is that going to help?  Well, in college in my drawing class I would go to a location and have to draw it for 3 hours… 3 full hours of drawing a scene.  With our eyes we can see a very wide angle of view, but I had to fit that on paper with pencil.  If the composition I chose to start with sucked, then I just wasted 3 hours of my life trying to polish a turd.  Sure, with a photo it may only take 3 seconds to frame a shot instead of 3 hours.  What I learned through drawing a landscape was invaluable as I am now able to walk up to a scene and already see the composition in my head as if I were to pull out a pencil and paper and draw it.
  4. View Finder Fingers are your best friend!  You know, when you turn your thumb and fore finger into L shapes and invert them on each other to form a square.  This lets you see the composition broken down without the clunky camera in your face.  More often than not your fingers will be lighter than your camera anyway.
  5. Compose within the Viewfinder as you shoot.  When I am tripod mounted I will rest my eye on the viewfinder and slowly move the ball head around until the composition is perfect.  If I can’t get it right, I don’t take the picture for the sake of taking a picture.  I will realign the legs, move my angle, and re-attack.  Sometimes I will even pick up my tripod while walking and looking through the viewfinder, this is probably not the safest thing in the world, right up there with walking through the mall with your face glued to your cell phone!
  6. Use the guides on your LCD viewfinder as references for a good composition.  While I was on the scene I paid particular attention to how the diagonal lines on my LCD lined up perfectly with the tips of the building.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III Viewfinder Mockup Tool

    Notice how all of the leading lines converge to the center for a successful symmetrical piece. The lines of the stairs follow the same diagonals as the points on the roof.

  7. It is all about Quality Not Quantity!  I recently went to Cannon Beach to do some filming and Long Exposure work.  It rained the entire trip… all 5 days, all day, every day.  I had 6 good hours to shoot, that’s it!  I was able to get some very solid shots.  However, I didn’t shoot much.  440 frames for a 5 day 4 night trip.  Mind you, most of those were bracketed so I was lucky to walk away with 125 or so photos.Out of that 125, I would say 30 were good, 12 were great, and 3 were awesome!  Because I focus primarily on quality shots before I press the button, I was not hurt by the quantity of images taken.  To say I could walk away with almost half of my images in the green zone is something to be proud of, especially with that small window of opportunity to shoot.

So, my questions to you are:

How do you shoot?  

What plays in your head when your face meets the viewfinder?

Do you have any helpful tips you’ve learned over the years?



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Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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