In this, the final exercise before the first assignment in Digital Photographic Practice, I was asked to edit a large set of images. The object was to use a workflow within the software I was going to use (Aperture in this case) to edit from a set of many down to just two final images. I chose to edit a set of images from Thaipusam, a Hindu event staged each year to demonstrate their faith. It was a good set to choose as there were many images and a lot of similar ones, each trying to capture the flavour of the event and not always (usually?) succeeding! This meant I had to weed out the images that I wanted to be the final two. I started with 60 images in the series so some editing was needed. This was the sequence I took;

Ready for edit

This is the ‘ready for edit’ selection, which I have imported in to new folder in Aperture. I have called it by the name of the exercise – ‘Editing’. I created ‘smart albums‘ within this folder to help me easily identify and tag the images and what I wanted to do with them. The star ratings from 3-5 or ‘rejected’ helped me delineate what stage of editing each image would reach. ‘Rejected’ (i.e. over/under exposed), meant they would go no further in the process. 5 stars meant they would be the final two images. I could have done this on a non-linear basis and put them all in their respective albums straight from the ‘ready to edit’ folder. However, 1) I don’t think I’m experienced enough to do this and 2) I suspect that doing it in a linear/organic fashion gives a much more satisfactory outcome.

Technical Edit

Above is the technical edit. This was the easy part. Somewhat surprisingly the album is not as full as I would expect. I took out the over/under exposed photographs along with any that were too blurred to go through to the next stage of editing. This left me with 53 photos to pore over.

The selects

Above are the ten selections I made from the remaining 53 images. They consist of the images I found I liked and felt were technically good enough to be put through. Not easy choices to make as there were a lot of images I liked but was mindful that I was really trying to capture the flavour of the event. This is what I worked towards.

1st selects

These are my ‘first selects’. This is where the editing process got difficult for me. I am sometimes a ‘more-is-more’ kind of person and in instances where I have a selection of images I like I have difficulty in whittling them down sufficiently (so this exercise really made me work). I suspect there may be an element of laziness in this too. It is, of course, much easier to be less critical about your work and therefore end up with more (and quite possibly the quality suffers for this). In the back of my mind I know this, but time is always a factor when editing and having that luxury at your disposal is not always one that I have. Having said that, exercises like this are what I need to streamline my workflow and critical approach to my photographs.
I chose these ‘first selects’ on the basis that they all said something about the event I was surrounded by. The other images, I felt, could have been taken at almost any time without needing the festival going on. They demonstrated the colour and nature of what was around me at the time. I was also technically happy with them although I was more interested in what they communicated.

After a cup of tea and a break I went back to the images and reviewed them. I made a couple of changes based on my criteria of selection and was happy with the final ‘first selects’. Now the final choice of two images. That was tough. I genuinely liked all the images in the ‘first selects’ and was going to have to work hard to weed two of them out. In the end the final two came down to simliar reasons;

Kavadi men

‘Kadavi men’ was chosen for the content. I am drawn to the man in the foreground who looks totally focussed and calm while the others around him look around in every direction, slightly unsure of themselves. Indeed one or two of the Kavadi carriers appear to be looking in his direction, maybe for direction (both physically and spiritually). The yellow and orange of their attire is striking and represents the vibrance of the occasion.

Candle hands

Similarly, ‘candle hands’ invokes the spiritual journey that these devotees are taking. The two different hands lighting the candle represent (to me) the communal nature of the celebrations. I also really enjoy the deep purple being worn which again represents the vibrant spirit of Thaipusam. The candle flame reflecting in the hand and the brass gives the impression of lighting the whole scene.

As I said previously in this and my first Workflow exercise, I have never really put that much effort in to my workflow and editing. Most of what I knew prior to the start of this module was self taught or done out of necessity. I have found Aperture to be an excellent tool for workflow and, as a recent convertee, will have much more to learn about it as a photographic tool before I am 100% confident with it. I can see it will be invaluable to take me forward not only in this module but in my photographic endeavours in the future.

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