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How many pictures to get a great shot?
Hi all,.

I had a question that I wanted to ask. (Especially to the regulars here who always have such amazing shots)..

How many pictures do you take to get such great shots? I find that when I'm out taking pictures (of scenery or whatever), I end up taking, for example, 100 pictures. Of those 5 or 10 are ones I really like. I good 60%~70% are so-so, and about 20% are bad/out of focus/etc..

Is this just because of lack of experience, or does every one else do it the same way?..

Comments (20)

I think it was Ansel Adams who said if that if a photographer got one good shot a month, he/she was doing well....

What you describe is common (normal, even): many people treat digital as an excuse to shoot everything ('cos storage is cheap') on the off chance that one or two will be good; which means that the idea of thoughtfully composing a shot and taking care to get everything right as far as you can - composition, exposure focus etc. - goes out of the window.

With more experience and practice the number of times you press the button goes down and the proportion of 'keepers' goes up. If you go out for a walk and take 100 shots, ask yourself as you are taking each one, 'am I going to be impressed by this and look at it again in a year's time?'.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #1

Salgado, when he did his famous photo essay on the oil field fires after the first Gulf war, took 6 rolls of film a day (ie, 300 odd shots), and of those he printed about 30 each day for a closer look, and in the end after 3 weeks work (maybe 7000 shots) he sent 50 prints for publication...

Comment #2

Thanks a lot for the responses. I knew that part of it was experience, but definitely was wondering if it was "just me" (when it came to #s of photos per good one). I feel a lot better now ^^..

Comment #3

One. All the rest are practice..

Seriously, it doesn't matter how many you take as long as you can get what you think is a great shot. Edit ruthlessly and don't show anyone the rejects..

Mike Duncan wrote:.

How many pictures do you take to get such great shots? I find thatwhen I'm out taking pictures (of scenery or whatever), I end uptaking, for example, 100 pictures. Of those 5 or 10 are ones Ireally like. I good 60%~70% are so-so, and about 20% are bad/out offocus/etc..

Larry Bermanhttp://BermanGraphics.com..

Comment #4

'Great' shots? If you get 1 in 2000 you'll be lucky. But you can increase the number of 'keepers' by developing a style and fittiing in the necessary compositional features on that old Rule of Thirds grid. Crop extra tight to isolate a main subject, add a genuinely complementary secondary subject to a landscape, seek out repetitive patterns, think soft and subtle instead of always sharp and contrasty etc..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #5

I do a lot of Birds in Flight and other wildlife shots. I put the camera in 6 frames per second mode and let her rip. At that rate, I might fill an 8 gig flash card with 12 bit RAWS in a day. I might end up with 5 nice shots and 2 real keepers..

That said, in the studio and doing macro work, I end up taking very few shots and will often end up with a couple of keepers in 5 or 10 captures, but I've taken the time to set up the composition and lighting the way I want it. I've also changed to 14 bit RAW where the camera won't burst fast enough, anyway..

The D300 has a hair-trigger shutter release and when set on high, it's sometimes hard not to take 2 or 3 images with one quick press, even using a shutter release cable. I can't tell you how many times that's actually been a blessing, though. That split second later has often meant the difference between a so-so shot and a "Kodak Moment.".

In the old days, many sports photographers would have bulk film packs and high speed motordrives. That's how they caught some of those amazing shots with the runner sliding into home between the catcher's legs and the ball suspended in mid-air 12 inches from the glove. It was a lot of wasted film, but the magazine was paying. Today we don't have to worry about the cost..

The point is, let her rip, memory is cheap...

Comment #6

I believe Gordon Parks said that if he go 1 in 20 that he was satisfied with and actually got 1 in 36 published he was hitting the expected percentages...

Comment #7

I have taken thousands of photos, both conventionally and digitally. I have never taken a great shot yet..

I have a dozen that other people have said are great, but I think I could have done better. I have even made them a little more acceptable in the (digital) darkroom..

When I take shots I ask myself 'would I put this on the wall in my home?'. Most the time it's a definate NO!.

It is very frustrating, and even demorilising when you look at other peoples shots using the same equipment as you have. I can guarentee that for them to get that one great shot, they have hundreds or thousands that weren't too good at all..

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Comment #8

People that started out with film photography needed a bit more knowledge and training, had less automated (slower) cameras, and per picture costs were much higher so they tended to put more work into each shot and take fewer shots. The result was a higher percentage of keepers..

People that started with digital photography have cheaper, faster cameras thay are much more automated and have a much much lower per shot cost. So they tend to work less on each shot and take far more shots. The percentage of keepers tends to be lower..

The actual number of keepers might be a wash. Its just two different styles driven by different costs and equipment..

I'm kind of old fashioned and take far fewer pictures than most folks seem to. My subjects are usually relatively stationary so I can put the prep time in to get a very high percentage of keepers. I figure if I don't keep significantly more than I discard I need better technique or equipment. But if your main subject matter are fast moving, unpredictable, small objects, your expectations should be different..

"Great" shots are a whole other animal. Shots I think about printing, matteing, framing, and hanging are maybe 5%.

RegardsJim..

Comment #9

It's not just you. I tend to find that the ratio of "keepers" to "rubbish" for me at least has stayed pretty constant over the years. The reason isn't that I haven't gotten better, it's just that as I get better I also EXPECT more from my photos, and so even though I take better shots overall, I am also more harsh when I judge which ones are good and which ones aren't. Looking back at photos I took years ago and at the time thought they were awesome, now a lot of them look "OK" at best, and I can think of a bunch of ways the shot could have been improved..

Theres still something to be said for experimental/random shots... I don't think every shot needs to be thought about and the composition contemplated... Often the shots I spend the most time setting up end up being "good but a bit boring" whereas I often get my best shots from a spur of the moment shot that I didn't really think about, just saw an opportunity and pressed the shutter...

Comment #10

If I am shooting film of an event or other planned shoot, then I will like and keep more than half the photos. If I am shooting random digital images, then I have shot an entire card, and thrown them all in the trash on occasion. I like to average 1 in 10 overall, but it ain't easy! I don't take far more shots than I take, just to keep the average up. Good luck with your personal learning curve!.

Read my blog -> http://radio.weblogs.com/0101365/..

Comment #11

Depends on the project..

If you want a picture of the old lawnmower to put up on an E-Bay ad, all you need is one shot. Take a second just in case you lose the first..

Grade eight basketball game? You could shoot 100 and not get a good shot..

BAK..

Comment #12

Wow. Great responses from everyone. I really appreciate all your thoughts and opinions...

Comment #13

It varies greatly. An extreme example was Jim Brandenburg spending 90 days in the north woods of Minnesota. He set himself the task of taking one, and only one, photo each day. The results were published in the book "Chased by the Light." You caan see them athttp://www.jimbrandenburg.com/flash/index_flash.htmlHold the mouse over GALLERY and then click on CHASED BY the LIGHT.Joel Orlinsky.

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Comment #14

My friend and I once calculated our averages, I get about 7% keepers and he gets about 15% keepers, but we have vastly different levels of experience, and as someone else said as you get more experienced you do get better shots, but you're also more picky about those shots. Most of the photos that my 15% friend considers keepers, I'd probobly keep about 1 out of every 10 of them..

I've gone out on photo shoots for three days straight and got hundreds of shots and not liked any. Its all about how picky you are.Justin DiPierroFort Ann, New York - 12827Nikon D50,Nikon SB-600 + SC-17 & StroboframeNikkor 50mm f/1.8Vivitar1 28-105 f/3.5-5.6Sigma 15mm f/2.8 FisheyeQuantaray 70-300 f/4.5-5.6All in my beautiful new Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW-http://www.JDiPierro.com..

Comment #15

Matt, I'm guessing that you've taken a number of great shots, but you're too hard on yourself..

What do others think of your work?.

Oh, and to the OP...how many pictures? You never know. Sometimes it's the first. Sometimes it's the last. Sometimes it doesn't happen...

Comment #16

Getting a great shot is a harmony of opportunity, conceptualization, patience and timing..

Opportunity: being at the right place when the event occurs you wish to capture.

Conceptualization: having the forethought to know how you want the end result to look..

Patience: Not only waiting for the right light or other element you wish to see in your image, but your attitude while you wait.Timing: Having the ability to know when to squeeze the shutter..

Start doing a bit more of that and your "keeper" rate will definitely increase..

Knowing everything about the tools of your skill/trade doesn't hurt either.TANK.

'Why is it everytime I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?' - Dr. Venturehttp://www.myspace.com/servantoflove..

Comment #17

Matt simpson wrote:.

I have taken thousands of photos, both conventionally and digitally.I have never taken a great shot yet..

You probably have......

I have a dozen that other people have said are great, but I think icould have done better. I have even made them a little moreacceptable in the (digital) darkroom.When I take shots I ask myself 'would I put this on the wall in myhome?'. Most the time it's a definate NO!.

THAT for most people is the better question! I was brought up with film and from a 36 exposure roll I was lucky to get one that I would even think of printing. Digital probably makes it a bit easier 'cos it was more difficult to adjust too much when printing from a negative/slide..

It is very frustrating, and even demorilising when you look at otherpeoples shots using the same equipment as you have. I can guarenteethat for them to get that one great shot, they have hundreds orthousands that weren't too good at all..

Totally agree! It's easy to waste 'film' with a digital camera. I take more images with a digital camera and STILL don't get many that I want to print! Yep, I'll keep them on a hard drive but for reference only.....

Comment #18

....and you get lucky. My one shot lucky one!.

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Taken at a zoo and apparently at mating time.....

Other times it might take many shots to get just one good one. Best advice I can give is look at your background when you frame your shots..

LucyE- 510, 40- 150, 14- 54 and ZD 35 Macro lensesU ZI owner!Olympus C30-20Zhttp://www.pbase.com/lucyFCAS Member #98, Oly Division'Photography is the art of seeing what others do not.'.

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Comment #19

I have a lucky shot I took of a Buddha in Japan in 1969 that is sheer luck... face came out great, flash was just at the edge and the background faded to black. Great picture. I have not had one that great since. HOWEVER, the overall quality of my shots improves constantly as I master the hardware, composition and visualize what the picture will look like when it is out of the camera... like paying attention to the background and using depth of field to control the background..

So the simple answer is anywhere from the first shot to infinity! So keep learning!ave..

Comment #20

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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