A Great Shot by Udo Luetze

What makes a shot great.

What is the difference between an OK shot and a great shot?  There are certainly many different answers available and most of them are relevant but let me focus on only one:  The right moment in time.

P 51 and Corsair

The right moment

Think about it, facial muscles are constantly moving and expressions change from one split second to another.  We all know how hard it is to take a family portrait with everyone smiling and their eyes open.  It is even challenging when you take a portrait of a single person.  Sure you can snap a couple of pictures and one of them will be OK but to get a great shot, you have to work with your subject and your timing must be spot on.

The same is true for sports photography and action packed events.  You can take a thousand pictures but if you miss the peak of the action, you just get an OK picture.

Luckily technology is on our side.  DSLRs are capable of shooting an insane amount of pictures and our cards eat them all up.  Plus the higher megapixel cameras give us all the detail we want.  Sometimes it's spray and pray and other times, it's working a scene and taking pictures until you can hardly hold the camera.

I found myself in this situation during an air show in North Carolina.  I was shooting ground to air and you could not let go of the trigger and risk missing the peak of the action.

In this shot, the solo plane is performing a barrel roll around the diamond formation.  I wanted to catch the plane in the right position.

To capture this moment, I had to take about 50 shots on one pass alone.  Using two cameras, a D4s and a D810, creates thousands of pictures at an event like this.

Having powerful gear is great but it also has a downside.  You produce a ton of data and more pictures than you want to review when you are back at the studio.

I use Lightroom to find the keepers but when you have thousands of pictures, LR is too slow.  Waiting a second or two for a preview to build may not sound like much but trust me, it's a long time when you have to find the winning shot among 50 to 100 pictures.  Luckily there is technology to help you with this technological challenge.  Meet Photo Mechanic from camera bits at CameraBits.com.  The fastest software for reviewing images on the market (hey, if you find something faster, call me).

When I come home from shooting a sporting event or any other event with hundreds or thousands of pictures, I start my workflow with Photo Mechanic

Workflow with Photo Mechanic

The first thing you have to do when returning from the field is to copy your images from your camera to your computer.  Photo Mechanic shines at this.  The process is called ingest.  During ingest, you copy your pictures and create a contact sheet.  But this is not all.  You can also automatically update your metadata to include copyright and location information or any other metadata for this matter.  You can choose to make one copy at one destination or you can add a  second copy at a backup location.  When I travel, I typically cary my MacBook Air and 2 external hard drives.  After shooting, I ingest all my pictures and make a safety backup at the same time.  The result is a contact sheet that shows me all the pictures.

Now the fun really begins and this is where Photo Mechanic really shines.  I zoom in on the first image to fill the screen.  I used the left and right arrow keys to scroll through my images.  The previews build lighting fast and you can identify keepers which are sharp and in frame very quickly.  A picked image gets marked with a number or star just like you would do in LR.

Photo Mechanic is the fastest way to edit the images from my shoot.  This is something I can do on location while the ingest process is still taking place.  Once this is done, I identified my keepers and my trash.  I then import my keepers into LR at my studio where I manage and archive all my pictures.  The "trash" files go to my server where I maintain a special folder for unwanted images.  I keep them there for about 3 months before I delete them for good.

Getting the right shot is all about pointing the camera in the right direction at the right time.  It is also important to be able to find your keepers fast amongst the thousands of pictures you take.

The difference between a good and a bad photographer is simple.  A good photographers only shows his best images.  

Hope you enjoyed this post.  Please follow me on social media and contact me with any questions or comments.