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Ranking images

OK, so you have been out taking pictures and come home with a STACK of images - how do you know where to focus your attention?

All image editing programs are slightly different, this article will generalise the principles, you will have to adapt to your specific program.  Most editors allow a “star” rating of 1 to 5 (5 conventionally is best). 
Some will auto-advance to the next image when you have made a choice, some need you to click on each image (such as Photoshops bridge).

Every photographer’s technique is slightly different, the trick is to pick something that works for you then STICK TO IT.

Firstly navigate down to the folder of interest and find the thumbnail size slider (centre bottom in Bridge) and have 3 or 4 images across the screen. For individual images (i.e. not part of a sequence) I use;

  • 5 Really good  About 10% of my images make this grade. 

  • 4 Fairly good  Hopefully, the bulk of images lie here 

  • 3 OK but ...  Not bad, but not great 

  • 2   More later about 2 

  • 1   Poor.  Out of focus, candid shots that miss feet, arms etc. Busy photo’s

At this stage sort by filename.  This will keep the images in the order they first appear. Work your way fairly quickly through the set, occasionally zooming in to check if the image deserves the rating planned.

Where you have a sequence of images - you have pressed the shutter on continuous, or have taken several shots in a few seconds - choose which of the images is best and rate that ONE 5, 4 or 3.  For all the rest in that batch rate them as 2.  I.e. in my system 2 is not poor, it could be a 5 quality image, but it’s a duplicate of another equally good image.

Once you have completed the batch change the sort order to ‘Sort by rating, descending’. Scroll to the top, zoom the thumbnails out a little 5 - 6 across and again run your eye down the images.  Have you correctly categorised them?  I usually change my mind on one or two images at this sort.

The sort order stays with the image and different editors can usually “see” the same sort order so the next step is not necessary, but I do it for large quantity of image shoots.

Knowledge Image 1

It is often helpful to have sub-folders under edited to help you find images quickly. File naming conventions and metadata mastery will also help find images. I might write an article on that later.

I create five folders (5, 4, 3, 2 and 1) under my “originals” folder and I transfer the images by rating into those folders - i.e. all 5-star images go into folder 5. I do not delete any images (even the 1’s) at this stage - you may have a 5-star image with one person with their eyes shut so you can look in folders 1 and 2 for a copy with open eyes and transfer them across.

Depending on the image size you camera takes (mine are about 60Mb/image) and the disc space you have spare once you have completed all the editing you want to do on that set you can consider deleting folders 1, 2 and possibly 3. Remember when they are gone they are gone forever.

Once you are ready to start editing select a file from (say) folder 5 and copy (not move) it into the ‘edited’ folder.  You can then edit to your heart’s content knowing you have a spare original saved in case the editing goes wrong.

Knowledge Image 2
Knowledge Image 3
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