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Image Processing: Darkroom / Lightroom / Film Discuss Image processing -- traditional darkoom or digital lightroom here. Notice there are subcategories to narrow down subject matter. .

View Poll Results: How many good frames do you need from a 36 frame roll to be happy?
1 125 23.58%
2 65 12.26%
3 81 15.28%
4 62 11.70%
5 43 8.11%
6+ 154 29.06%
Voters: 530. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-09-2008   #41
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I just don't think about it. Sometimes I have an entire roll of 'good shots', but none of them quite bring me to the enlarger because one gem on another roll somehow renders them pale in comparison. Sometimes, shots are good but variations on something done before and whilst technically good and aesthetically fine, they once again don't make it.

It all depends on what you are doing it for and your personal standards/goals. I really don't think it is productive to think about and I would go so far as to say I think it is counterproductive. The last roll of 120 (6x7) I shot had 3-4 printers on it. The previous 5 rolls had none and the 10 before that I still can't decide, but there are a few that I am sure will end up being printed. It is not always a fixed thing. When I am finally done here in Afghanistan I will undoubtedly explore negs I dismissed and find some good shots, equally there will be those that I go off. I will not be counting the number of rolls shot and am content to shoot as much as I can simply to further my vision and other skills (such as kit packing, interpersonal skills, technical fluidity with kit etc). Rolls of film are rarely wasted if you are trying to achieve something. I have many rolls of rubbish that helped me work thru something or allowed me to see that my way of seeing a particular subject was not 'working'. Keep shooting and do not worry about the number of keepers - the better I get, the more discerning I am with what I print, so I am discarding shots I would have printed with glee 5 years ago. Nothing is taken away from a great print on the wall when one remembers the twenty rolls before it that produced plenty of nice but ultimately forgettable images.

When I have a number of rolls that don't inspire me, it makes the urge to go out and stretch my legs all the more powerful. It can be a good thing. Every day is different as is every location. This place is a pain in the ***** to photograph in and I find it very tough indeed and so I have more useless rolls than ever before, but I am equally sure that it is helping me to improve what I do.
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Keepers, we are suppse to have keepers?
Old 09-27-2008   #42
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Unhappy Keepers, we are suppse to have keepers?

I voted for 3 because I read a long time ago that the Pro's were happy with 5 to 10 % keepers, but in reality I seldom get any that I really like. As some of the others have stated, technically, focus and exposure are my biggest issues and, well just forget composition, perspective, and timing.

Artistically, I am happy if I get one that others ooh and aah about. Mostly, the image that ends up on the negative is not the image that my mind saw the moment the shutter tripped! Is it possible to have dyslexic vision?

And fwiw, I prefer 24 exposure rolls, although at an event where I know that I will be shooting a lot, 36 Exp rolls mean fewer film changes.
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Old 09-27-2008   #43
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Keep at it!

>>I haven't been photographing terribly long and have only shot a couple hundred rolls of film, but I have yet to have one I'm truly satisfied with yet.
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Old 09-28-2008   #44
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I guess that I average between two and maybe six per roll. It depends on the subject matter, the lighting, and most of all my mood, how involved I'm feeling with what I'm photographing. Sometimes everything falls into place, and I FEEL it while it's happening!

Lately I've been going through my boxes of old negatives and contact sheets. I've had requests to come up with some "historical" photos of people and events here in North Miami going back to the 1960's, and another project involves my Seminole and Miccosukee Indian photos from the 1970's. Looking at the contact sheets from thirty and forty-plus years ago seems to reveal about the same percentage of good shots per roll as I get today. I can't even say that my style has changed very much. I still prefer shooting in B&W with Leica rangefinder cameras, 35mm is my standard focal length, and I love the effect of ultra-wide angle lenses ~ my 19mm Canon was the widest made in the late 1960's and I jumped on the 15mm Voigtlander Heliar when it first hit the market.

I think that if we just go with the flow, and don't try to immitate someone else's style, the percentage of good shots goes up. I've tried to shoot like H.C.B. and make prints like Gene Smith and Jerry Uelsmann, but I really don't "see" the way they do. I don't have their vision, their way of looking at the world. I can come up with a pretty good imitation but it becomes more work than pleasure and the prints never seem to have the "spark" that makes for a great photograph.
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Old 10-07-2008   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irq506 View Post
mmm.. interesting, it seems that exposure issues are a concern to quite a few of you, to me not so much, in fact as long as Im within two stops and focus is reasonably accurate, blur, grain, exposure just doesn't seem to bother me at all. Im very critical however of what is in those frames. Technically, everything is achievable, aesthetically- well thats a different matter... its much more critical, to me, to have an image that speaks, and if it speaks, then the language of technology is no barrier.
I dont know if this makes any sense to anyone other than me, but Im trying to convey a psychology that weighs toward the art and less the tech... Thats why i went back to film, because the cameras are implicitly simplicity!
To a point - and I agree that the content should be most important.

But, I'll speak for only myself: I think getting the "technicals" right should be a subconscious process, thus allowing me to concentrate on the subject matter. I also think that in some cases, it's important to get the technical issues right in order to create the image I want to create, in the way I intended. There are certainly places where technical deficiencies can be overcome by the content, but if I fail to communicate because I was too lax in making sure the exposure/focus was right, then I've failed entirely.

I understand this argument could be spun in the reverse, but that's why I want to always strive to make the basics a natural movement so my brain can focus completely on what's in the frame, and I don't have to have faith in the "fudge factor" of the medium. I see things like focus, exposure, etc. as fundamentals, like dribbling and passing the ball.

I hope I don't come off as dismissive of your ideas - that's not my intent. I think you have correctly pointed out that the thought process goes too far into the mechanics sometimes. Indeed, there are times when I get upset about letting the technical invade my thought process.

As for the question: whether film or digital, I want to be "on" (focus, exp, framing) 75% of the time, and 25% were "keepers" I'd be happy. If one or two were "portfolio worthy", then all the better, but having that great pic doesn't make the difference between a good shoot and bad one to me.

Last edited by Jason808 : 10-07-2008 at 14:20.
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Old 10-07-2008   #46
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For me, anything less than 4 keepers (shots that I'm willing to show other people) is a bad roll. Great shots come along a lot less often, perhaps once every two or three rolls. I find I shoot a bit more with digital as I do not yet have the same control over my camera as I do with my film bodies. I usually shoot only one shot of a scene in film, where are about 10% of the time I shot two or three shots. Mostly because of questions I have over exposure (including flash).

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Happiness is a Printable Frame
Old 10-20-2008   #47
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Happiness is a Printable Frame

I work on a 10% basis. If 10% are judged worth printing up to (say) 10x8 then I'm content. More, and I'm happy. Less and I have to try harder.
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Old 10-22-2008   #48
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I tend to shoot all the time - averaging 2 rolls a day. Once processed, i make an effort to find 5 shots/roll for scanning - maybe not because they are that good, but looking at them on the screen teaches me something.
It also depends on what I am doing, just a walk to the cafe or magazine store probably only would result in 1 shot worth looking twice at - but a conscious "expedition" would result in a better "keeper" rate.
There is "state of mind" that you occasionally get into - images pop up everywhere and you just shoot away and 1 or 2 rolls can result in 10-15 shots worth a darkroom session. I also use the camera as a notebook - buildings and places that I want to remember for some reason, and occasionally people, though i am not a portrait shooter.
I also find that you have to take pictures all the time - not necessarily with a camera, but in your mind to keep up the "flow"
We lived in Paris for a year in 1982/83 - the whole idea was to do only what we enjoyed (it was after several years of corporate work and a bit of a "burn out"). Tuulikki studied french 8-10 hours a day and I set out every morning with a couple of M's (usually 35f2 and 21/3,4) and wandered around rather aimlessly for a similar time. Maybe 1-2 rolls a day/average. Some days there were 30-40 shots that were interesting, other days none! Back home to our small studio apartment and process the films in D-76 in the bathtub. After having edited down the films quite "hard" - I ended up with about 150 rolls of TriX and all in all about 200 shots that I feel hold up, even 25 years later.
It was an immens feeling of luxury to a/have the time and b/ make the decision to do this and c/it firmly got me set to stop shooting industrial/commercial stuff and just shoot bl/w and 35. Had to come up something else to do, invented the Rapidwinder and as each winder that goes out is tested with at least one or two rolls - I keep shooting and the rate is still 4-5 shots per roll that might be interesting to me and maybe 1-2 that other people like!
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Old 10-22-2008   #49
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I honesty try to keep about 8 to 12 on each roll, sometimes more.......my kill ratio is about 65/70% I really can`t afford to lose shots doing what I do, 90% of the time it`s the models fault or my assistant missed something going on if there`s a messed up shot.....

Also when I use LTM`s I have to allow for mechanical failure, once I had a IIIC K that was sometime`s capping, sometime`s not and I still have about 6 cameras that need to go to repairs

I`m currently using a M6, two 45' IIIC K`s and a 1970`s Canon F-1 for all my film work. (I need a M3 or another M6 to take up the slack) I also thow in the Canon IIF2 which is a really great camera to work with as well and for those who know me, I work mainly with fast 50`s so focusing is an issue sometimes, depending on how fast we are getting something done etc.

The worst thing really is proofing shot work, I try to do it together with all my gals, right after a shoot, that way they pick at least 5 pics per look and I pick 5 pics per look and somewhere inbetween there`s where I get the finished product and the number we use in the meanwhile it`s just very time consuming - (that`s the part I hate the most)

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Old 10-28-2008   #50
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For me it depends on the subject. Some situations you are in mean that there are very rich opportunities presented, so your expectation of a good hit rate are high. Other times, I'd be happy with just one good shot per roll.
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Old 10-28-2008   #51
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six plus, but then, i am never happy with myself.
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Old 11-10-2008   #52
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When I started taking pictures, 50% were keepers.
But as I grew into photography this number went down.
Currently, I'm happy with 3-4 nice frames in a roll.

I'm sure that as time passes, this number will continue to drop.
(I hope so )
It is a simple equation:
The more pictures you take, the better you know what good pictures are.
The better you know what good pictures are, less pictures are considered by your self as "good ones", hence - less "keepers" on your rolls.
Add to this the fact that you want to keep on improving your photography and you get "progress".
I'm in progress, at the moment.
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Old 11-10-2008   #53
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I guess one or two good shots per roll is what I reasonably expect, although many times all 36 slides are digitally manipulated between my left index and middle fingers with a deft flick of the wrist into the blue Recycling Bin I keep beside the projector.
And I agree that as one gains experience, expertise, and become more discerning, the fewer images are considered to be worth keeping. That has been my experience over the thirty years I've been shooting.
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Old 11-16-2008   #54
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Well for me the activity of scanning, post-processing & hand spotting (which is the killer) makes me think twice about whether or not I want to keep it. Typically I'd maintain 25% - 50% per roll these days...
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Old 11-16-2008   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Borger View Post
Ansel Adams was satisfied with one realy good picture a year.
Winogrand shot several 100.000 frames while the iconic pictures we know from all those years of hard labour is probably less than 0.001% he shot.
How many Kertesz pictures do we know about 200-300 -400 ....... from 50 years photography!
If you really think about it, this sort of success rate suggests you arent a photographer, your just playing statistics. Shoot enough and eventually something great will turn up
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Old 04-25-2009   #56
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when i'm shooting for myself, I usually expect one or two photos that I really like, and five or six that I am happy to upload to flickr. when i'm doing weddings, I expect 20 to 25 shots per roll that I can give to the b&g.
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Old 05-07-2009   #57
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happy? 37 keepers from 36exp roll
one (or couple at best) keepers from roll make me believing I can continue with my hobby. It happens often that whole roll is trash.

I've heard that good metric is 1 keeper per meter of film. So from 36exp roll good photographer has to have about 3 keepers.

Then we have to define keeper. Not ashamed to post online or to take at exhibition?
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Old 05-18-2009   #58
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Generally I work on the basis of 1/3rd of the roll of good/acceptable frames is thumbs up, but from that I do like to have about 5 or 6 real goodies.

Especially at the moment as I am shooting for a book.

If I was shooting for just any old thing (which is usually what I do!) I'm not hard on myself.
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Old 08-14-2009   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom A View Post
I also find that you have to take pictures all the time - not necessarily with a camera, but in your mind to keep up the "flow"
I'm glad you said that. I don't make a practice of always carrying a camera, but I do try to frame possible images as I go, even if I'm treading back and forth on familiar ground.

To the question: I'm happy with 2-3 I'm willing to show others. I'm annoyed when I botch focus or exposure, and I'm really annoyed when a shot I worked hard at and that I thought would be a winner turns out to be a flop.
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Old 08-14-2009   #60
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If you mean satisfied in terms of technically right and with good composition I would say I get 2-3 per roll. If we are talking about pictures I would print and/or put it on a web-site then it would be ONE for about 5-6 rolls. I am trying to be more "efficient" with a slide film, but in this case my pictures come out to be still and lifeless. It's all about luck anyway, sometimes you're lucky to get 2 exceptional pictures on one roll, and sometimes the whole roll goes to a garbage bin.

Interesting thread, btw! I always wanted to know how other folks do...
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Old 08-18-2009   #61
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It can take me weeks to go through a roll of film (36) as I'm very selective and slow in my shooting, so I hope I get about 10 keeps in a roll of 36. However, If I get one really outstanding shot per roll, I'd consider myself lucky. There's a big difference between Keeper vs. Great. And, technically right my percentage is very high, but that doesn't make it a keeper or great.
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Old 09-07-2009   #62
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Generally, I keep about 1/3 to 2/3 of a roll, with 2-4 standout frames that I am really happy with.

Overall though, I get many many more keepers with film than I did with digital. And my best film shots are, to me, leaps and bounds better than my best digital shots ever were.
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Old 10-23-2009   #63
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Not sure if this has been asked before but any ideas why the majority of people either choose 1 or 6+?
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Old 11-01-2009   #65
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Couldn't vote... In my case it's usual that I'm not happy with any of the shots. That's the pure truth... Not always, but many times.

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Old 11-01-2009   #66
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I'm Pathetic....
I consider myself LUCKY if I get 3 to 4....
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Old 11-25-2009   #67
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I'm easy. I'll usually keep and print a quarter of all my film. Of course I get the "Why did you take a picture of that?" thing all the time.
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Old 11-27-2009   #68
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I guess what the roll is... If I'm shooting on the street, me expectations are different then if I'm shooting an assignment or just a night out with friends. But overall, i expect the following per roll: 1 portfolio quality, 3 print worthy shots and a dozen shots I'll share online with friends.
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Old 11-27-2009   #69
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I came across a good Winogrand quote the other day.
(His appetite for shooting a lot of film is well known).

When asked how many pictures he takes to get 1 good one, he replied,
"Art isn't judged in terms of industrial efficiency".

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Old 12-02-2009   #70
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IMHO this is a pointless debate, because 'keepers per roll' has such a number of variables that what will plucking a number tell us? Variable include:

Type of shooting
Quality threshold required
Experience
Whether you are having a good day
What you pick today compared to two years in the future

Once in a blue moon I get half a dozen that I would print for exhibition on one roll. Sometimes I shoot 30 rolls and don't feel any make it past 'quite nice.'

Then there is the question of 'how many is enough.' This also varies and changes over time, it depends on budgets, time constraints, purpose etc. Obviously a two day short holiday needs to have moer keepers than a two year project delivers in two days...
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Old 12-02-2009   #71
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After decades, i expect 75%. Know what it takes to make a good shot and do not push the button if all is not correct. Spray and pray may work with a machine gun, rearely with photography.
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Old 12-02-2009   #72
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Quote:
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After decades, i expect 75%. Know what it takes to make a good shot and do not push the button if all is not correct. Spray and pray may work with a machine gun, rearely with photography.
Are you serious? Such a percentage is about 100x too optimistic for most forms of RF photography (e.g. documentary/street) at the top end of the quality scale. Sounds like you are playing it waaaaay too safe. Do you no longer experiment or try new things?

When working various styles under certain circumstances, one needs to work in a very intuitive, fluid manner and that means not getting the right shot a lot of the time, but it does mean that you have to keep moving, shooting, engaging, shifting, shooting, re-engaging etc. Its not a question of pray and spray necessarily but accepting that there are so many things to bring together in space and time and your ability to monitor them all, in detail and perfectly, is limited. I know that if i waited for everything to be clearly perfect in the frame I would miss far more than I would gain by being somewhat more relaxed and instinctive. I get a fair few shots by anticipating or simply going with the flow. And this does demand skill of the photographer!

Your exceptionally methodological approach could be considered equally unconducive to the best results as 'spray and pray' and I think we would struggle to find even a BTZS LF worker that could come even close to this sort of success rate. If, however, a person is using a RF to take very safe landscape shots or static objects, such as steam locomotives, the success rate is going to be much higher for the intended goal, but that does not mean the shot is 'any good' only that you produced a correctly exposed shot with the composition as intended and with very easy goals. If I counted all my keepers as 'well exposed and looking sensible' my percentage would be a lot higher, but I am not sure this is what a keeper is to most people. I think they are talking about something you would put in a portfolio that you would show, or perhaps put in front of a critical eye, or consider a shot you feel represents your high standards and best level of achievement.

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Old 12-02-2009   #73
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When I look over contact sheets from the sixties or seventies it seems that I had a much higher percentage of keepers than I thought at the time. I don't get that high a percentage now with my current work. Perhaps it's just too soon to make that call.
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Old 12-03-2009   #74
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I'm astonished that some are able to get so many quality photographs from each roll of film they put through the camera. If I could get a picture from each roll that I felt was good enough for my portfolio I'd be expecting to either make an awful lot of money or be hailed a 'genius' photographer.


I suppose as Turtle debates above, there are many factors involved including the types of photographs you are making that may affect the 'quality turnover.' Those that make very fast exposures due to trying to capture a specific moment will always have a higher failure rate. Those that are able to consider what is before them and how they wish to capture its image should have a higher success ratio. However I still struggle with the idea that so many people really believe that they have so many top quality images from a 36 exposure roll.


With the exception of my work website this is the only place I post images online and the images I post here are always just pictures of things that I'm attracted to ( not street, just pictures taken on streets.) As such I should be happy to post pretty much anything even if the quality isn't great, yet I haven't posted a picture to the gallery in months - I'm still taking pictures but if I think its crap then it goes nowhere and far too much of what I take is crap. I may know this when I'm shooting but take it anyway to keep a rhythm or because I trust the instinct that made me lift the camera or, indeed as Al said above, I may find that there's more to them after revisiting them some years later. Yet there is a very simple fact that remains, in my case at least; the majority of the frames I shoot with my rangefinders don't work to my satisfaction and this means I can shoot several films before I find an image that genuinely hits the mark in my eyes.

So, I'm unable to vote as I can't honestly say that I get as many as one per film
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Old 02-14-2010   #75
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Quote:
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i know that feeling!
I do too, but I wish it was a more frequent occurrence!
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There are two kinds of photographers:
those who are interested in what a particular camera can't do,
and those who are interested in what it can do.

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Old 02-14-2010   #76
semilog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbsinto View Post
Nor would I want them to be. I think we had just exactly the right number of Jan Vermeers. And most other great artists I can think of as well.
Nicely put.

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There are two kinds of photographers:
those who are interested in what a particular camera can't do,
and those who are interested in what it can do.

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Old 02-14-2010   #77
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From a 24 exposure roll nowadays, I expect anywhere from 4-6 that I keep around, maybe print, and put together as a part of a project.
However, average of 1 or less per roll that I would print large and display as a standalone image.

From a roll of 120, probably 2 or 3 shots.
I'm pretty happy with my hitrate considering I bracket both ways for some of my shots.
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Old 04-29-2010   #78
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"Good" for me at this stage is if it's in focus and not totally under exposed - a much lower standard than most of you here.
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Old 04-29-2010   #79
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Well it depends. If I have a lot of time to prep, such as a landscape/citiscape shot on vacation when my wife is in the gift shop, I expect a higher rate of good photos. However, if I am trying to capture a photo of my daughter moving around, I have to worry about:

1. Focus
2. Lighting
3. Timing of action
4. Frame

So one in 10 is a good rate of success there.
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Old 04-29-2010   #80
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(I don't need ANY good shots to be happy.)
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