How Much Did I Shoot in Beijing?

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Well, I just got done copying the files from my trusty 17″ MackBook Pro and 3 External Hard Drives over to my server overnight… and here are the facts:

In Beijing, with a total of 6 cameras, I shot: 28,444 files for a total of a whopping 480 Gigabytes of Images!  That’s INSANE!  Even I am shocked.

So I looked into at what Sports Illustrated shot during the Olympics with their ten staff photographers there – SI shot over 300,000 images of which their staff kept 17,000.   One of their editors took that down to 1046 “super selects” and then their director of photography Steve Fine, edited his selection down to 135 images.  That means their “best of” turned out to be 0.045% of what they shot.

These numbers may – and should – look crazy to most of you.  But truth be told – it’s what happens when you have cameras that now shoot bursts at 10 frames per second – and when you’re likely firing not one – but two or three cameras at once (via remotes.)  In fact mon ami Bill Frakes had more than 18 cameras firing at once each time someone crossed the finish line at the Athletics (Track & Field) venue for example-  so imagine the volume coming out of the track venue.  Hallucinating.

With simple arithmetic, it looks like I shot just a little under what the SI shooters did – but there is one important distinction:  I saw many of them editing their images live on the back of their cameras.  In other words – they would look at every series of images after they’d shot them (either during events or in between each rotation for example) and delete the poor or out of focus images – this to make sure that a “bad” one didn’t make it into the magazine – as someone else would end up editing their images.  I on the other hand – never deleted a single frame – and that’s because I would be the only one editing my take each day (and not have to explain myself for missing a key frame to any editor.)  I don’t believe in deleting images on the back of the camera myself – I’ve deleted quite a few keepers out of “sleep deprivation” or just by rushing in the past, and in fact missed more moments that happened right in front of me because I was “chimping” (term used for looking at back of one’s camera, and jumping up and down and howling like an ape, when one finds a good image, often showing it off to the person to the left or right of you.)  So I keep everything.  Given that those guys tended to mount a few more remote cameras thanI did – I’m sure it evens out things a bit further.

My next step will be to open my Aperture library from the Olympics back up here in New York – and start to select thousands of “rejects” from these takes – all of the duplicate remote files, out of focus frames,  files that have no potential for future re-use.  And purge those.  I assume I’ll get rid of more than 50% of the volume.

So out of the 28.444 frames that I shot, how many of them had “one star or better?” 1,509.   Of those how many were transmitted?  273 – that’s just under 1%.  Yikes…

Finally – just to give you perspective, shooting this much volume equates to shooting 790 rolls of 35mm 36 exposure rolls of film.  If you assume that while we commonly had 15-18 hour days in Beijing, we generally got to shoot only for 6-10 hours on average (let’s say 7 hours of total shooting on average) that means we pressed the shutter: 1,777 times per day, 253 frames per hour, or 4.23 images per minute – which sundenly makes this seem a tad bit more reasonable – that with the goal of the Newsweek crew to produce 4-10 good frames per day.

My ultimate goal will be to put every image with one star of better into one project in my Olympics Aperture library – I will then export that project and re-import it into my main library.  That way I can always have access to the important images – without having to bog down my large main library with images I’ll likely never go back to.  If a strange request comes down the line – I can always go back to my Olympics library and see everything there – that Aperture library is 36.31 GB by the way – as each image has a large preview generated within it for example.  Having these large previews embedded within the library would allow me to travel to future speaking engagements/workshops and show people raw takes of each shoot for example – without needing to travel with the close to 500GB of RAW images.

So there it is – we’ve veered far off of the path of shooting one sheet of film at a time haven’t we?