Skip to main content


Lesson 89 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

89. Culling


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Welcome to Photography


Camera Types Overview


Viewing Systems


Viewing Systems Q&A


Lens Systems


Shutter Systems


Shutter Speeds


Choosing a Shutter Speed


Shutter Speeds for Handholding


Shutter Speed Pop Quiz


Camera Settings


General Camera Q&A


Sensor Sizes: The Basics


Sensor Sizes: Compared






Sensor Q&A


Focal Length: Overview


Focal Length: Angle of View


Wide Angle Lenses


Telephoto Lenses


Angle of View Q&A


Fish Eye Lenses


Tilt & Shift Lenses


Subject Zone


Lens Speed


Aperture Basics


Depth of Field


Aperture Pop Quiz


Lens Quality


Photo Equipment Life Cycle


Light Meter Basics




Histogram Pop Quiz and Q&A


Dynamic Range


Exposure Modes


Manual Exposure


Sunny 16 Rule


Exposure Bracketing


Exposure Values


Exposure Pop Quiz


Focus Overview


Focusing Systems


Autofocus Controls


Focus Points


Autofocusing on Subjects


Manual Focus


Digital Focusing Assistance


Focus Options: DSLR and Mirrorless


Shutter Speeds for Sharpness and DoF


Depth of Field Pop Quiz


Depth of Field Camera Features


Lens Sharpness


Camera Movement


Handheld and Tripod Focusing


Advanced Techniques


Hyperfocal Distance


Hyperfocal Quiz and Focusing Formula


Micro adjust and AF Fine Tune


Focus Stacking and Post Sharpening


Focus Problem Pop Quiz


The Gadget Bag: Camera Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Lens Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Neutral Density Filter


The Gadget Bag: Lens Hood and Teleconverters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Adapters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Cleaning Supplies


The Gadget Bag: Macro Lenses and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Flash and Lighting


The Gadget Bag: Tripods and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Custom Cases


10 Thoughts on Being a Photographer


Direct Sunlight


Indirect Sunlight


Sunrise and Sunset


Cloud Light


Golden Hour


Light Pop Quiz


Light Management


Artificial Light




Off-Camera Flash


Advanced Flash Techniques


Editing Overview


Editing Set-up


Importing Images


Best Use of Files and Folders




Develop: Fixing in Lightroom


Develop: Treating Your Images


Develop: Optimizing in Lightroom


Art of Editing Q&A


Composition Overview


Photographic Intrusions


Mystery and Working the Scene


Point of View


Better Backgrounds


Unique Perspective


Angle of View


Subject Placement


Subject Placement Q&A




Multishot Techniques




Human Vision vs The Camera


Visual Perception


Visual Balance Test


Visual Drama


Elements of Design


The Photographic Process


Working the Shot


The Moment


One Hour Photo - Colby Brown


One Hour Photo - John Keatley


One Hour Photo - Art Wolfe


One Hour Photo - Rocco Ancora


One Hour Photo - Mike Hagen


One Hour Photo - Lisa Carney


One Hour Photo - Ian Shive


One Hour Photo - Sandra Coan


One Hour Photo - Daniel Gregory


One Hour Photo - Scott Robert Lim


Lesson Info


All right, so, the culling process. In some ways, it's one of my favorite processes, and it's one of my favorite things to think about. I would love to look over the shoulders and get in the brains of other photographers about how they choose one photo is better than the other, because this is really, in many ways, very much like the shooting process. 'Cause when you're out shooting, you're trying to decide is this a good photograph or is that a good photograph, and in post, you're looking at the different photos, trying to decide is this a better photograph and that a better photograph? And so, this is very much where your skills as a photographer are in great use right here, 'cause you now become the editor. And one of the things you need to be thinking about is what's good and what's bad. What is your level of satisfaction? How good does it need to be to keep or to rate up to two or three stars for you? And you need to be able to define that fairly quickly. So, you should have a nic...

e work environment. And so, clean up your desk. You know, have things orderly, don't have too many distractions out there. You need to get to work on this. Let's, maybe, put the kids outside. You know, you wanna be able to concentrate on what you're doing. When you import your images, at least into Lightroom, Lightroom needs to build previews. And so, a lot of times, what I'll do is I'll get everything imported, and I'll have it start building previews, and then I'll go take a shower and have lunch, and then come back when everything is fully set up. Don't try to fight with Lightroom, or whatever program, as it's trying to load. Computers are incredible devices that will just work on their own. If you tell it to build previews, it'll build previews while you're takin' a hot bath, okay? And so, let it work while you're doing something else that you want to do. And so, get your images preloaded in there. Now, I don't have a specific time that is the right time to edit and look at your images. I know, some times, I need to go out and shoot, and I need to come back, and I need to immediately edit because there was something specific happened and it's fresh in my mind, and I wanna make sure I either delete that photo or set that photo aside, or mark that photo, because I knew that photo was better for some reason. And so, sometimes, it's good to get in there right away and make a few quick picks. But then sometimes, you need to just kinda let a little time pass, because when you come back right away, you're all emotionally charged up about what was goin' on. And sometimes, you need to back off and pretend you're a different person, and this is why professional photographers will sometimes have separate editors that look at their work, who weren't there when they shot it, and they're gonna look at it with a cool cold-hearted opinion about how good that photo is. And sometimes, you're a little too close to the situation, and time will separate you from that. And so, I will sometimes do a quick edit right away, and then I will do a more meaningful edit at some point later, maybe a week, maybe two weeks later. And then quite frequently, I'll step back a little bit further, and a year later, I'll go back to something I shot, and I'll say, "Oh, okay, I see a whole new thing here." There's some ones in here that are garbage, but there's a little gem in there that I never noticed, 'cause I was too close to the situation. A plan, what are you trying to do as you go through your images? You're gonna be promoting images, you're gonna be deleting images, what exactly are you trying to do? The way I think of it is there's this big glob of images and I am trying to trim off the best of these images, and I'm trying to get rid of the worst of the images. So, how much are you trying to get rid of? When I shoot sports, I end up shooting a lot of photos that are gonna get deleted, and I know that I'm gonna be getting rid of about half of them, and it depends on the type of shoot that you do as to how many you're gonna be getting away. So, think about how many images do I want to end up with as my real keepers? How many do I want to throw away? How much time do I want to spend doing this? 'Cause if you just say, "I'm gonna do this "and just go at whatever pace I want to," you could be there all day editing 100 photos. Or you could say, "You know what? "I'm gonna do the best job I can in 10 minutes." And so, you work through and you get it done in 10 minutes, and that's what you can. If you wanna go back and edit it again for 10 minutes, you can do that. Where are you gonna be putting your images? Are you throwing them away? I don't throw my images away right away. I set 'em for the garbage, but I don't take the garbage outside, all right? I just kinda set it aside, you know? When I have clothes that I don't wear anymore, I take 'em down to the garage, and they sit down in the garage for a few months. And I look at 'em every once in a while, and every once in a while, oh, I'm sorry, it goes back in the closet, but it gives me a moment to think about whether I really want to get rid of that subject. We're gonna eliminate and elevate, so we're just looking to figure out what makes 'em better and what makes 'em worse. And so, I take most of my images, rate 'em as one star. I'm lookin' to delete or make two-stars. That's the goal as I go through the whole process. So, there's some good reasons why you should throw pictures away. Number one, you've messed up the focus. If the focus is notably off, you need to get rid of it because there's nothing that's gonna save it. Now, there's a little part of me that says the Star Trek future will be here and we'll be able to have magnificent devices which will sharpen all unfocused pictures. I just don't see it happening. I just don't see it happening. And so, if it's notably out of focus, I would probably get rid of it, unless there's something else about that photograph that you really wanna keep. I have a few personal photos from my childhood that are out of focus that I have kept because they are just enough to trigger a memory. Oh, yes, I remember that when I was 10 years old. But for the most part, it's not gonna cut it. So, things that go wrong in the focusing. We went through this in the focusing section. Lens focusing, depth of field, subject movement, camera movement, noise. Now, as we go through this list of things as to why you might wanna delete a photograph, I'm gonna put an asterisk by the ones, well, don't delete it too quick here, because there are some adjustments we can make with post-production software, like Lightroom, to fix that problem or to mitigate it in some manner of speaking. Okay, so here's a moment that I kinda liked, okay? But the problem is I messed up, all right? I screwed up, I did not get sharp focus in this photo, and there is nothing that is going to fix this. Now, if I had this image really small, it might be okay, you might not notice it, but this is terrible focusing. That's a good reason to delete that type of photo. It just isn't sharp. That is beyond the level of being fixed. Another reason to eliminate a photograph is you have messed up on the exposure. Now, as I've mentioned before, there's a lot of latitude here. And so, be very careful about throwing things out because this is one area where technology may change and may be able to help you even more, especially if you shoot raw. But things we're looking for, things that are overexposed, underexposed, and we're looking at those highlights and shadows as well. All right, so, this photo is underexposed. This does not look good, all right? Now, we can take this into Lightroom, or any other program, we can go over to the exposure slider, and we can brighten up this image, and we can say, ah, it's better now, all right? We have quite a bit of latitude that we can work with for fixing underexposed or overexposed photos. But what about just shooting it right out in the field? If we had got it right in the field, does it look the same? You know what? It looks pretty much the same. But you know what? Let's take a look at the detail. So, let's zoom in on a common area. Now do you see a difference? You see a lot more noise. We've underexposed this image and we're trying to crank it up. And so, when we crank up the brightness in Lightroom, it's very much like cranking up the noise level by changing our ISO on our camera. And so, this is why it's better to get the right exposure out in the field than try to fix it later. You can fix it later, but with some repercussion. And so, you're always trying to do the best you can in the field. However, there are some little areas that you can correct for problems afterwards. Another good reason to throw your pictures in the garbage is for composition reasons. There's a number of things you can look at there. You just didn't compose it right. You got too much empty space that you're not using, you've cropped off important elements in the photograph. Now, some of these, you're gonna be able to work with by re-framing, by re-cropping the image, and having a new frame for it. Are there distractions in your photograph? Secondary subjects that maybe you didn't realize, when you were actually shooting, that there's somebody behind your subject with the rabbit ears behind 'em, okay? Are there some unusual elements that just don't make sense, that maybe you just overlooked at the moment that you were shooting? Something we'll talk about more in the composition section is the background, how important the background is. And so, if you have a bad background, that could really ruin a good subject, whether there's distractions, or there's something, just conflict of thought, or interest in the photograph. Bright elements are gonna attract your attention, and if they're not part of the photograph, that's gonna be distracting. Another reason to eliminate is just awkwardness, and this goes for a lot of people photography. There's a lot of unnatural poses. One of the things is that people look generally pretty bad if you photograph them while they are talking, you get these unusual mouths. And so, it's very hard to photograph people who are speaking constantly and don't stop for a moment. With their eyes closed, missing body parts. And so, you know, for instance, if you crop off the arm right at the elbow, that looks kinda weird, and so, you gotta be very careful. And there's whole classes on posing and getting these things properly, but there's a lot of things, and it's not a science. You're gonna look at that photo and something just looks wrong there. And so, in this case, got an unusual crop on the arm. So, the photo on the left, not so good. The one on the right, much better. We don't like cropping off a body part like that. That's just unusual. Another reason to eliminate is a duplicate image. Why would you take exactly the same image? Back in the days of film, photographers might shoot a whole roll of film on the same subject because they're worried about a scratch at that place on that film. And still from that era, every once in a while, I feel like I wanna take another photo, just in case. And if I don't change anything, there's no reason to take another photo, unless something has changed, the lighting has changed, the pose has changed, some element has changed. There's no reason to take another exact photo because we can just duplicate things so easily. So, if it's exactly the same, you probably don't need it. So, those are all good reasons to think about this is why I'm gonna delete this photo. Now, why are you gonna make one photo better than the other? What are the elements that you can look for as a reason to choose one as being better? And there's good moments, there's best expressions, good gestures, good light. Sometimes, you'll just get the composition just right. And sometimes, it's the balance of these. Sometimes, it's kind of a combination. Well, it's not quite the best light, but it's the best combination of two or three of those features that are really important to you. Sometimes, I'll have an image that is three stars that is not a three-star image. What happens is there's a whole bunch of two-star images, and one's just a little bit better than the others, and it ends up being a three-star image. So, sometimes, it ends up being a higher ranked image by default systems. So, some make or break points, in my mind, for different types of photography. With landscapes, one of the things you wanna be looking at there is is there sufficient depth of field? Is everything in focus the way it should be? If it's not, might wanna be deleting that one. Are there distractions in there? Did you not notice that there was a piece of trash right there in the foreground that's very distracting? If it has great light, that might be a great reason to be promoting that particular image. For portraits, you want to be paying very close attention to the eyes. Do you see the eyes? Are the eyes sharply in focus? What about the gestures? How is the head tilted? Where are the hands? Do things look normal? Do they look awkward in any way? When it comes to sports, looking for those peak moments, whether it's the ball kicking the foot, or crossing the finish line. And like portraits, we're looking at the eyes as well. And for sports that do have a ball in 'em, really helps to show exactly what sport they're playing, whether it's volleyball or basketball. A sports shot where they are an athlete that uses some sort of ball, or other contraption, you really kinda wanna see that in the frame. If it's not in the frame, it just doesn't hold as much interest for the viewer. In the background, what's going on in the background? Is there confusing, is it cluttered, is it overly bright? What's going on in the background? So, those are things that I'm really looking at for those different types of photography. Now, there's a number of things that you're gonna need to go into the develop section, where you're actually starting to work on your images to really figure out how you can rank them. And so, one of the things that I just can't do right is when I get my images in, I'm supposed to, you are supposed to rate your images and get done with the culling process before you go over and start having fun cropping and lightening and darkening and playing around with 'em. I have the problem of coming up to an image and I see so much potential, but it's not there yet. And I'm thinking this little baby might make a three-star image, but I gotta take it over to develop and I gotta work on it and crop it and lighten and darken it, and I don't know if it's gonna make it or not until I actually do that work. And so, I have a hard time doing one, setting it down, going to the next one. I will, oftentimes, take an image and quickly take it over to develop to see if it really can fulfill its potential that I think it has. And so, as I say, in theory, you should do your editing process and then do your developing process. I'm still alive so I've survived going back and forth between the two. I don't know that it's the best system, but I am guilty of that myself. This is a question we do get a lot about uploading images and importing them into Lightroom, kind of going back to when we were importing things. This person regularly uses two bodies, one with a short lens, one with a long lens, changing back and forth, yada, yada. Is there a way to upload images from two cameras so that you see them all in order? Right, right. Is it only between getting the clocks accurate? It is a matter of getting the clocks accurate. And so, what you need to do, ideally, before the event you're shooting on, is take your two cameras, set 'em up side by side, go into the time and date, and make sure they're all set for exactly the same time. Now, if you forgot to do that, and let's just say camera B is a minute off, what you can do is you can go into Lightroom, select all the images shot by camera B, go into the time adjust, and I forget exactly where that is on the menu system, I think it's in the metadata, edit time settings. And you can go in and you can adjust all the photos shot by camera B forward or backward, a minute or whatever period of time you need to do that, so that you can get that linked up. Now, one thing, in Lightroom, that frustrates me greatly, I'll ask the audience here if you can help me out with this one, but some of you may have had this problem, is that if you have a camera that shoots very quickly for sports photography, and you shoot eight photos in one second, the camera does not record the tenth of a second that you shot the photo. They're all considered taken at the same time. And they sometimes get brought in in haphazard manner, and they're out of order because they were all taken in the same second, and Lightroom has not gone to the tenth or the hundredth of a second, which would help eliminate that problem. So, it's quite possible, if you shoot a group of pictures in one second, they may not be in the right order. And the only other way that I can think of to order them is to let Lightroom order them by camera number, and then rename the whole sequence. But that's unfortunate because I usually like to rename things as they're coming in. And so, if you do a lot of sports photography, you probably shouldn't rename as you're bringing things in. I would try to get them in order and then rename them so you don't have that problem. It's really frustrating looking at a series of things jumping, but they're not in chronological order. All right, great. Can you talk a little bit about what you do out in the field, with regard to managing your images, versus just when you come home? So, the question was, so, when you're out there, are you carrying around a hard drive, a backup? Are you taking notes so that you can put those into Lightroom for yourself? What's your kind of thinking when you're out in the field and you're not gonna be home for a while, I guess? Right, it all depends on the style of that journey that you're on, and a lot of times, I'm gonna be gone for a week or so, and I would prefer to have a computer with me. One option is just don't take a computer, just take a bunch of memory cards. That's the lightest, simplest option. Unfortunately, I like to look at my work each night if I have the time, and I like to back it up on hard drives. And so, if I'm on a professional shoot, I'm serious about what I'm doing, I'm gonna have my camera, my backup camera, I'm gonna have my computer, and maybe one or two extra hard drives to put all the images. So, I've gone out, I've shot for the day. I download to my computer, I store it all on my hard drive, I take a look at it, and the whole point of me being out away from my home is to shoot photos. And so, I'm not gonna stay up till two o'clock in the morning editing and working on my photos. I'm gonna look at my photos, I'm gonna make sure they're backed up, I'm gonna rate 'em all as one-star images. I might go through and pick out a few obvious ones that I think are two-star or better, and just do a really light edit, 'cause I don't like to have to sit down for hours editing at night when I should be sleeping, getting ready for my next great day of photography. And so, I try to do that quick edit, and then I'll do a full edit when I get home. And so, maximize your time out in the field. Great, that's super helpful to hear how you do it. One more question before break. Do you know any way to be, sort of, cloning SD cards without having that laptop or PC out in the field? So, this has been a complaint that I've had for many, many years, and there is a solution. The complaint that I've had is if I have a little memory card and I would like to back it up on another little memory card, what is the smallest device in the world that'll do it? And up until a short time ago, it's been a laptop computer, and I really wish there was just a little device where I could copy it, and I have never really seen anything brought to market that does that. And so, the solution these days are the cameras that take two cards at the same time, and where you can shoot from one card and have a duplicate on the other card. And I know, on a lot of the cameras, what you can do is you can shoot with one card in the camera. Some time later, you can add in a second card, copy everything from the first card to the second card. So, cameras that have two slots, I haven't checked all of 'em, but I believe most 'em will be able to just copy everything from the first card to the second card, or you can shoot to two cards simultaneously as you go along the way. But next to that and a computer, there have been some portable hard drives that will download the images, but I don't know that they've been able to go to another card. Probably so, but they're not very common.

Class Materials

Free Download

Fundamentals of Photography Outline

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Learning Project Videos
Learning Projects PDF
Slides for The Camera Lessons 1-13
Slides for The Sensor Lessons 14-18
Slides for The Lens Lessons 19-31
Slides for The Exposure Lessons 32-42
Slides for Focus Lessons 43-62
Slides for The Gadget Bag Lessons 63-72
Slides for Light Lesson 73-84
Slides for the Art of Edit Lessons 85-93
Slides for Composition Lesson 94-105
Slides for Photographic Vision Lessons 106-113

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!

Vlad Chiriacescu

Wow! John is THE best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of learning from, and this is the most comprehensive, eloquent and fun course I have ever taken (online or off). If you're even / / interested in photography, take this course as soon as possible! You might find out that taking great photos requires much more work than you're willing to invest, or you might get so excited learning from John that you'll start taking your camera with you EVERYWHERE. At the very least, you'll learn the fundamental inner workings and techniques that WILL help you get a better photo. Worried about the cost? Well, I've taken courses that are twice as expensive that offer less than maybe a tenth of the value. You'll be much better off investing in this course than a new camera or a new lens. I cannot reccomend John and this course enough!

Student Work