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From Bytes to Terabytes

Every thursday I go to the Museum of Science and Technology in Manchester to volunteer as a demonstator on the SSEM replica, also known as the “Manchester Baby” – the world’s first stored program computer. In 1948 this machine has only 128 bytes of non-permanent storage. Soon after they added a hard drive that had about 10 kilobytes of storage, a useful amount in 1948.

My current laptop, on which I’m writing this and which I use for all my photo processing and storage, has a total capacity of about 700 gigabytes and I find I need to start removing things to make space. So I’ve been going through my Lightroom catalogue and deleting hundreds of unwanted shots.

The process has been instructive. I’ve found it quite easy to remove very large swathes of files without any close look at them. A lot of them of course are exposure brackets or slightly different versions of other, better shots, so are redundant. But many are simply bad shots, usually taken in bad light. What’s been interesting is what this tells me about the kind of shots I should be taking and the kind I shouldn’t bother with.

I should know this already of course. I tell workshop clients all about it. But I still find myself taking plenty of shots that will never make it. Removing hundreds of files of dross has made me remember this, fairly obvious, lesson. Hopefully next time I go out shooting I’ll be a little more selective.

Shooting carefully isn’t just about the cost of disk space. It costs creative energy. Every shot you take takes mental and creative energy to take, then much more to select and process. It also makes you feel bad about yourself when you get back from a shoot with a large number of duff shots as well as the good ones. You’ll feel much better if you only take the good ones.

So, lesson learned – I hope!


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