Don't live your life zoomed-in at 100 percent

This isn't a post about health and taking your day-to-day life to the max, it's about the process a photographer goes through when they get back from a shoot, download their cards and need to decide what stays and what goes.

I commonly stack sequences of shots in Lightroom (or Aperture previously) and then painstakingly eyeball each shot in the stack at 100% zoom and then narrow things down with the compare view to decide which ones stay.  Unfortunately, more often than not, I would later skim through the shots in grid view and find that I'd rejected some gems and sometimes missed the best shot of the bunch.  I'd missed seeing a special moment not visible at full zoom or even zoomed out at full screen.

Photography's a continual learning process and I've learn to avoid deciding the fate of pics constantly at 100% - meaning constantly zooming in to 100% (and beyond) to check focus BEFORE deciding whether the shot has that 'zing'.  Now I'm not saying to never reject photos that are slightly out of focus, but if the shot tells a story or the softness of the focus adds something (or even adds some mystery), it could well be a keeper. Some of my favourite personal photos of my daughter are the ones that aren't so perfect and look a bit more homemade (if you know what I mean).

My daughter Charlotte on her 2nd birthday.  She was grinning because she knew Grandma was having trouble chasing her.

Photography is indeed where science meets art.  It's sometimes hard to quieten down the inner nerd and reject a shot because it's not technically perfect.  Some shots demand perfection, but many don't and the perfection may be the movement, the action, the surprise and the fact it's out of focus.

Harry the mini dachshund racing around the yard with excitement.  Our friend had brought his dog around to play.

All this said, I still can't understand how I ever got away with large prints from my 6MP Nikon D70 let alone the D3 at 12.1MP.  There's so many more pixels to peep at with 36MP now.  Will someone please spare a moment to think of those poor medium format guys with the Phase One or Hasselblad digital backs.  Think of the stress and the eye strain! :-)

Written in response to Dan Bailey's great article, "Are you a photographer or a pixel peeper?"