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Author Topic: Evidence-based photography  (Read 1313 times)

Offline chris@seary.com

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Evidence-based photography
« on: June 12, 2010, 12:00:39 AM »
Being a fan of Ben Goldacre (I have a signed copy of ‘Bad Science’), I thought I’d look into the numbers behind my photography. What could I deduce from my photographs on a statistical basis? Probably a bit of a naff idea to judge something artistic empirically, but I thought it would be a laugh.

Anyway, I had a look through the AppGarden on flickr. This is a place where individuals have written software that can extract data from your photographs using the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that flickr provide.

The one I used is called Exif statistics:
http://www.flickr.com/services/apps/72157603013068573/

I used it to analyze my photos according to:
Aperture
Focal length
ISO

I did a little bit of pairing down of the results to make them meaningful, and then looked deeper at the numbers.

Aperture-wise, it seems that most of my shots are in the middle of the aperture range (f4 to f8), which kind of indicates that I use auto-exposure a lot for my street photographs. Almost as many were at wide apertures (f2.8 and above).  I don’t own any fast zooms, so this makes it clear that I use primes a great deal of the time, mainly in low light.

Focal length is very interesting. The most popular (by far) focal lengths are as follows:
35   114
50   58
85   49
18   43
12   16

Obviously, my APS-C standard prime (Nikkor 35mm 1.8 DX) is virtually glued to the camera. The next two are my fast primes (50mm and 85mm).

What is very apparent next is the way I use my two favourite zooms (12-24 and 18-70) – mostly at the short end. I’ve not had the 12-24 very long, so that’s why the number is so low.

What does this tell me? Well, perhaps I’ve bought too much kit (haven’t we all?)?

For ISO, it seems that I use the slower sensitivity settings more, again showing that I mainly use fairly fast primes.

I can see from the output that I take street photographs, often in low light. Primes are fast and small, which is important. But I seem to like the wider the better.

What perhaps comes from this is that, if I were to buy another lens, it would be something very fast and very wide, perhaps the 20mm 1.8 Sigma?
Has anyone else analyzed the EXIF data from their photos in any way? What have you learnt from it?



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Re: Evidence-based photography
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2010, 08:16:23 AM »
Novel exercise Chris.

Remember though, statistics are designed to present an argument that supports an agenda.
Example - those with the greatest following on Flickr must be the best photographers  :-X

I have looked at the statistics in Flickr but concluded i was side tracking myself from the main things which is taking and processing photographs.
Lightroom can supply me with all of those statistics as well using the filter tool.

I already know that most of my pictures are taken with a 24-105 lens (because that's the one bolted to the front of my camera most of the time) with ISO staying as near to 100 as possible. When i go to low light i am often found using ISO 6400 because i like the grainy effect it can produce. As for shutter and aperture settings - because i like to shoot such a variety of subjects at varying times of day - i don't have any particular favourites, though when using flash Shutter is mainly set to 1/200th sec.

So, that's me sorted - i know i need a second body for comfort and a 100-400mm lens to finish off my focal range with maybe another flash and some flash gels to complete the kit that i would be happy with.
And as a real bonus i'd like to trade my 100mm macro in for the 100mm Macro IS L.


Offline anglefire

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Re: Evidence-based photography
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2010, 09:44:04 AM »
Quote
And as a real bonus i'd like to trade my 100mm macro in for the 100mm Macro IS L.

I love mine - both for portraits and macro - 4stop IS at normal distances and 2 stops IS at macro is very easy to get.
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Re: Evidence-based photography
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2010, 09:50:59 AM »
christmas can't come soon enough  :'(

Offline anglefire

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Re: Evidence-based photography
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2010, 09:56:50 AM »
But back to the topic, I haven't analysed my shots.

But I can tell you it will depend on the subject matter.

Motorsports - Mallory Park - 200-400mm (And some at 24mm)
Mira - 70-200 lens used - complete range used.
Sporting Trial - 24-105 and 70-200. Full range.

People.
85mm f1.8 and 100mm 2.8 75% of the time the rest between the 24-105 and 70-200.

Landscapes - 17-40

Work 17-40 mostly 17mm and the 5D.

In otherwords, every lens I own is used depending on what I'm doing. I'd like the 120-300mm Sigma to fill the gap between the 70-200 and 400mm. But that will have to wait.
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* A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE - THE SHORT STORY* 'Hydrogen is a light, odourless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people.'

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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Evidence-based photography
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2010, 10:30:38 AM »
Blimey. Ben Goldacre would choke on his cornflakes if he read that.

Most of your shots are wide angle - so you need another wide angle? Well that may be true. Or it may be that you shoot wide angle because you have wide angle. So you could use it as evidence that you "need" a decent longer lens. Or maybe you shoot a lot with one lens because it's rubbish so you get a lot of discards. Or maybe it's the lens that will fit in your pocket so you always have it. Or maybe you're just back from a trip where the rest of your kit got lost in checked baggage......

I know I use my 24-70 more than anything else. Because that's the done that's falling apart ;)
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