The Pain of sorting Images


Show 1, Post 2: Sorting images

If you have any time shooting airshows, you know just how fast you can shoot a 1000 images. After I shoot a two day show, I can easily have shoot over 8000 images.It can be a bit overwhelming trying to sort though thousands of pictures. After years of shooting, sorting, and uploading images I have come up with a system of sorting image that helps me find the images I want to show and share. They are no right or wrong way to sort your images. This is just what I have learned that works well for me. It may or may not work for you. With that being said, this is how I sort my images I want to share.

To start, it would good to know what you are trying to show and for what? Me, I want to show the over all feeling of the TICO show on my web site . I limit myself to 50 images per show. Images I can call my own in my style of photography. Clear, full frame, amazing images. The first thing I do to start my sorting process, is to copy all the images from the show I am sorting and work with them. I never play/sort/edit… with the originals files. In this system of mine, I look at every image from the show. Yes, I have seen every photo I shot. Over 240,000 images! You do not know what you got until to see it. It’s cool went you find something unexpected. Some may say that is going to take forever. You got to understand that this process happens over a couple day and not in one sitting. I could not imagine taking images and not looking at them. What would the point of making images and not looking at them?

open show folder

So, basically my system is looking at all my images from a show and in a series of rounds deleting what I do not want to show until I get to my set number of images. I am a Window user, so I used Window image viewer to view and delete unwanted photos. I find the copied folder(s) and open the first image and start sorting. Hitting the next image button if it is a keeper and, the delete button if it is junk.

window image viewer

So, the first round of images I delete are out of focus and soft images. Painly and clearly out of focus. Along with images that the aircraft is  blocked by something. Hats, heads, antenna, speaker, airshow smoke, other aircraft…Gone! Along with images that part(s) of the aircraft is cut off.Missing noses, tails, wings, horizontal stabilizer…. got to go!

Rules can be broken. It can make for an interesting image.

For the TICO show, I shot just over 7,900 image over 3 days on 2 bodies(7DMKII and 70D) Kind of light but expain that later. After round 1, down to about 3500 images. For the next round of deletions, I delete images where the subject(s) are tiny or not as full in the frame as I like it. I love showing aircraft as large as possible with little to no negative space around it.

Also in this round of deletions, if the sky the day of show had some clouds(not overcast but a few here and there) like Tico did on Friday and Saturday, the images with just an aircraft and a clear blue background they go too. Aircraft live in the sky and went I think about the sky I see the blue of the sky as well the shades of gray and white of clouds. For me, it’s pretty boring seeing an aircraft perfectly centered in a clear blue sky.

With no clouds

And with clouds!

I love showing clouds but my new thing is bluring the clouds. It is difficult to do but it make your subject really stand out. Some photographers use image stabilisation, I am not a fan of it and so I cut it off. That works for me, it may work great for you. Here is a few cloud blur shots.

Another type of image I delete in this round, are belly shots, shots where the wing is covering the canopy also with going away shots. Image where you looking at the ass end of a aircraft and nothing cool happening. But some going away shots with afterburner blazing and or vapor of some sort are cool. In general, I do not like belly shots but if there is a reason like the Hornet shot above(cloud blur/sense of motion) then I will show it. Just looking the belly of an aircraft and nothing else,makes for a boring photo. My whole propose for sorting this way is to show the most visual pleasing image possible.

Now, I am down to about 250 images. In the next round, it’s time to get rid of the multiples or duplicate images that looks the same but shot in different days. For Tico, Sunday the weather crapped out and few Sunday images made to cut. Here is two sets of duplicate shots, the first one is from Friday’s show and the second is from Sunday’s show. The friday image is much better. After this round, my image count is in the 100-120 range.


Round 4. Now, the hard part starts. Weeding it down to 50! This is where it is important to know just what your trying to show. To pick the right image(for you). To help me here, I start to ask myself “What makes this image better than the others?” Is it some sort of design element? Line, color, composition, symmetry… Which image has the cleaner background? Does it take away too much attention from the subject? Which image has the better exposure? Because after this it is Photoshop time! The less time in Photoshop, the sooner I can upload and post my images. After this most of the time I am down 50 but some shows 50 images is not enough. Take Chino’s Planes of Fame show, I weeded that show down to 82 I think. Just due to number of aircraft there and flying. Here’s a link to last years

Chino show…

Because of the way I sort my photos, when I am out shooting an airshow or some other aviation event I am a little more aware of what I am shooting and when. I will hold the lense and body a little more still, wait for my subject to be fuller in the view finder and being aware of my surrounding. I continue to push myself to try to do thig different from the last show along with the other photographers are doing.I hope this can help you with your sorting. Tell me how you sort your image in the comments. And again, this is just what I have learn that works well for me.

Until next post,

One thought on “The Pain of sorting Images

  1. There is also old and good rule of thumb I’m trying to follow to have less photos to sort: “shoot when you can see the pilot’s eyeballs” 🙂 but in “combat conditions” usually I’m “spraying and praying” 😉


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