I’m exhausted. For the last four nights I’ve been up late Lightroom’ing the pictures I took on my little Arizona annular eclipse trip. I’m a new Lightroom user and I’m not entirely impressed with the program. It’s a first class general RAW developer but I don’t think it’s as good as Capture NX when working with Nikon NEF files. For the nonce I will keep Lightroom’ing away; you have to master something before you can have a valid opinion about it!
As annoyed as I am about Lightroom I know, from bitter experience, that when I first process images I only see problems. The composition sucks. The colors are off. Things are too dark or to light. After a few dozen disappointments the mood darkens and I wonder just who the fuck took all this shit? But I solider on, waging relentless pixel warfare, because in few years, when I’ve forgotten about light curves, sharpening parameters, edge masks, color spaces and all the technical hoo-hah that goes into digital image making, I start seeing the pictures not the flaws. I sometimes catch myself looking at my old pictures and wondering just who took all these great shots. You change your mind about pictures!
This is why I don’t use “star” ratings. Most image management systems have ratings. Lightroom has a five-star system, Thumbsplus does something similar and every image management tool I’ve looked at has a comparable feature. Obviously the masses expect and demand ratings. Too bad the masses are wrong. In the long run ratings are meaningless. You really see this with restoration projects. I’ve spent days restoring pictures that what I would rate as total crap if I had just shot them. Yet here I am spending long hours on yesterday’s crap.
Restoration work also changes your attitude about duds. In my film days I ruthlessly pruned my slides and negatives trashing exposures that didn’t meet my standards of the time. Now I curse that delusional jackass for throwing away my precious originals. It’s surprising how useful duds are; they fill in missing details and remind you of your ever-changing opinions. Save your duds I guarantee you will feel differently about them in a few years and, of course, others will have completely different takes.