Control Your Urge to Waste ‘Film’


One of digital photography’s most discussed benefits is the nearly unlimited “film”.  Especially if you came from the world of film – where you dropped a lot of money for every roll of 24 shots with developing costs – digital feels limitless.  It’s a renewable resource, a bottomless pit where you can store your photos.  But is this really a benefit?

If you’re learning photography or trying to build your experience, an endless supply of storage isn’t necessarily going to be a good thing.  Restraint and limitation is what helps us grow.  Knowing that a shot is going to cost you something makes you think a little harder about pressing the shutter.  So if you’re trying to gain experience and fit into your photographic groove, you need to learn to think about each shot.  Here’s a short list of tips that will help you do that:

  • Go Smaller – Memory cards are cheap, so it’s hard not to buy the largest ones available.  Instead, buy small 1 or two gigabyte cards.  You won’t be able to fit nearly as many images which means that when you’re out on location, you’ll have to think about each shot so that you don’t waste the space.
  • Shoot RAW – Aside from it’s many other benefits, RAW will help you to think about your shots in two ways.  First, they take up lots of room on your card which further limits your space on your smaller cards.  But additionally, shooting RAW requires more processing time – time to really think about each shot, time to realize why getting it right in-the-camera is a valuable goal.
  • Use Your Timer – I mentioned this little tip briefly before, and it’s one of my favorites as of late.  Use a tripod and set your camera to a 10 second delay.  Set up and shoot.  While the camera is ticking down, think your next shot through.
  • Review In The Field – Review your shots to make sure you get the shot you wanted.  Revise the composition and settings as necessary.  But don’t delete anything in the field.  Not only is this bad for your card, but you won’t be able to effectively evaluate your shots on a 2″ screen.
  • Take Breaks – Sit down, relax, drink or eat a snack and think.  Think about how you’re shots have panned out.  Think about how you’ll continue to shoot.  Keep your mind on task, and keep it rolling.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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