Tuesday, October 23, 2007

our trip by the numbers

In lieu of posting pictures from our trip around Death Valley, Yosemite and Las Vegas, I'll post some numbers instead. I managed to get them downloaded, backed up and sorted last night. Just haven't had time to finish off or upload any images. Hopefully some time this week!
Between us we took two cameras, my 1dII with a 50mm lens and and 85mm lens and also a Panasonic DMC-LX1 point and shoot. The point and shoot has the nice advantage of being wider than average and also shooting in 16:9 widescreen ratio - good for scenics particularly as I was deliberately limiting myself to a fairly narrow set of prime lenses. Across the two cameras we shot 1563 images in a week. 1351 with the 1DII, 212 with the point and shoot. Out of those, 778 were exclusively of Amanda for the previously mentioned project! About 80 of them are just the two of us, mostly 'long arm' self portrait shots or set up on a mini tripod. Of the lenses I took, 1207 (89%) of the shots were with the 50mm and 144 were with the 85mm. That's entirely different from my normal shooting which is usually almost exclusively with the 85mm - so it gave me a bit of a different perspective on things which was fun. 700 of the shots were taken in Death Valley, 680 in Yosemite, 183 of the shots were in Las Vegas. But we only spent 1 day in Death Valley, 4 days in Yosemite and 2 days in Las Vegas (and 2 days driving between), so I think we peaked early! Truth is we hiked a lot more in Yosemite so time was spent in less photographically intense ways. What do all these numbers mean ? Other than I'm still an engineer at heart ? Well it means that Lightroom has good metadata analysis capabilities and will let you see a lot of information about how you shoot. Being able to call up which lenses were used most often was particularly interesting given that I was aiming to push myself towards using the 50mm for a week. I can quickly see I was successful at sticking with it at least. I can break these numbers down further and see how many shots were taken at f8 (480) or how many were taken at a higher aperture than f8 (124) leaving a huge number taken at a fairly wide open aperture. Doesn't sound like a whole lot of traditional landscape views in there! A combination of not taking a wide angle lens and no tripod pushed me away from that sort of very stopped down view of the world. Metadata in a good browser (like Lightroom) can give you quite a bit of insight in to how you shoot - perhaps exposing areas that you are weak on or deliberately avoiding. I've used it in the past when I moved from a point and shoot to a DSLR to take a look at which sorts of focal lengths I use the most - in part to help me decide which lenses to buy. It can also point towards focal lengths you never use - something maybe to explore in the future. My clear preference for shallow depth of field can be seen in the metadata from this trip, for example. Now - is this all just useless measurebating ? Or can it provide worthwhile insights ? Shouldn't I know all of this already ? Probably - and mostly I do - but it can be interesting to confirm your suspicions - you might be surprised. Digital capture and EXIF data gives access to all of this information in an easily digestible form - do you ever use it to improve or inspect your process ?


Karen said...

Gordon, I'm just getting started with Lightroom so this info will help me pay better attention to what's going on. I'm sure I have a tendancy to shoot the same in most circumstances, although that has changed quite a bit since the Next Step. Before then, I seldom shot wide open. I appreciate you pointing all this out so I will be more conscious of it.

iamcolby said...

Gordon, Great idea. I've read about technically looking at your shooting style in this way but though that it might be too much work. I'll be checking out how to find this info in lightroom. Take care, buddy

Holly Sisson said...

Good point, and why it's sometimes interesting just to go out with only one lens, and enjoy shooting exclusively with that view point. With five lenses now (one being the lensbaby G3) I sometimes find that I end up neglecting one lens now and then...right now it's the 70-200 f2.8L IS lens, though I should make up for that at my son's final soccer match of the season tomorrow night!