#885. Culling 11 months of travel photos down to 25

By Dallas Thomas | How-To

Aug 02

I think we all know the feeling of getting back from a shoot or trip and starting the culling process.

Yellow Jersey – D4s – 80 – 400 zoom @400 f5.6

Over nearly 11 months of travel I had accumulated 14,346 shots. I was fortunate to be able to process and cull as I went.

Over this period I selected some 1,870 images to process and finally star rated only those with a rating of 4 or 5 made the final cut.

There were 253 images. I’m sure some of you are doing your maths for the % of keepers, if not, its about 13% which I find is about average for me.

I must add, the images I finally chose are those that resonated with me.

This collection is the final 25.

Canterbury Cathedral – D4s – Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 @5.6
Loch-Scavaig The Hebrides – D850 – Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 @5.6
Mont St Michel – D850 – Zeiss Milvus Z135/2 @f11
Normandy Cemetery – D850 – Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @3.5
The Camargue – D850 – Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 @f11
National Library of France | François-Mitterrand – D850 – Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 @3.2
The Louvre – D850 – Zeiss Milvus 35/1.4 @f5
Panthéon – Z7 – 70-200 zoom @165 f6.3
The Shattered Window – Z7 – Zeiss Milvus 21/2.8 @f2.8
Philharmonie de Paris – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 21/2.8 @ f2.8
The Fence – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f3.2
Sun Stars in the Dolomites – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 21/2.8 @ f22
Lone Tree in the Dolomites – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 135/2 @ f8
Morning sun rays under the Railway Bridge – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f5.6
The Night Light – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 135/2 @ f8
Cathedral Vienna – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f3.2
The Pyramid – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f6,3
July Column – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f5.6
Île Saint-Louis – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f8
Misty Day at Chantilly – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 25/1.4 @ f5.6
Angry afternoon in the Loire – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 25/1.4 @ f4.5
Poppies & Lavender – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 135/2 @ f5.6
Poppy Sunset – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 @ f5.6
Sunset over the fields – Z7, Zeiss Milvus 21/2.8 @ f11

If you are wondering which is my favourite image of these 25?

It’s the “Lone Tree”.

Why, just plain simplicity, and to borrow a fellow contributor’s, Philippe’s, term it’s a “Wilson”.

The above images are in date order. Apologies if you have seen some of these images before in previous articles.

BTW I’m selling my 21/2.8 if anyone is interested, I’ve gone wider to 18.


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  • Barb/New York says:

    Congrats Dallas on completing a task of Herculean proportion! The result is beyond stunning and evokes a deep emotional response for we who love travel in general, and France in particular. Bravo Mate!!!

  • JohnW says:

    Wonderful selection Mr.T. My favourites are the cyclists, the shattered window (Ohhh, there are so many possibilities in those two) and YES!; the lone tree (hauntingly beautiful; no end of metaphors that could be read into that one).

    • Thanks John, so many good one did miss the cut maybe if I revist again I would get a different result this is something I may do if a month or so, Hold That Thought, to quote HB.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    A beautiful selection – thanks for sharing.

  • Philberphoto says:

    Congratulations, MrD! An awesome set, which is an absolute, rather than “the best”, which would be relative. And I am proud of having been in a position to help some of these great images happen!

    • Mr P, you assistance and CC is always most welcome as are your comments.

      • Philberphoto says:

        Mr D, when I wrote « help some of these images happen », I meant contributed to the circumstances how, where and when they happened. Nothing more. All the rest is to our credit. Or, better, to your Credit!

  • Pascal B. says:

    This is an absolutely superb set of pictures, Dallas. Congratulations!
    From a technical standpoint, three notes I made: since the shots are in chronological order, it looks like you have shelved your D850 ^^.
    Of note, the full capability of your fast lenses, ie f1,4 is not shown as used even once in this set. Interesting.
    Finally a big thank you for the ingnoramus like me for showing the lens and opening under every shot.
    Again thank you and wholehearted congratulations.

    • Hi Pascal

      You got me thinking about how many of the first cut were shot wide open the count was 20 out of 253, agree its interesting. A couple did make the final cut the 21 @ 2.8. The D850 is still around and will remain so as its auto focus for action is much better than the Z7. If you found the shooting details of value maybe all the Susans should include it??

      Finally many thanks for you kind comments.


  • The anonymous admirer says:

    Dear Dallas,

    great pics. I also thought of swapping my Milvus 21 to an 18 mm version. Did you do comparisons, especially regarding corner sharpness (I never found any real world issues with the 21 mm as opposed to ‘photo website/magazine tests’. I guess it’s just field curvature in the 21 mm). Furthermore the rendering in the out-of-focus zones would be interesting (though bokeh in super wide angles is a difficult issue – actually the 21 is quite good at it).

    Thanks !

    • Hi, thanks for your kind comments. The only reason I’m selling the 21 is I wanted something a little wider. I find the rendering of both 21 & 18 to be excellent to my eye. I acquired the magnificent Milvus 25 some months ago and found the 21 to close focal length wise so the 18 was a must.


  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Hi Dallas

    Stunning photos – but I refuse to be told that a photographer as keen & sharp as you can possibly take over 14,000 photos, with only two dozen keepers. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, see! So there!

  • Adrian says:

    Hi Dallas,
    Firstly, congratulations on managing to make such a small selection, and on the quality of the pictures featured. I’m a sucker for architectural photographs, so I particularly like Philharmonie de Paris, Morning sun rays under the Railway Bridge, and the national museum of France. Alas the latter creates enormous tension in me, as I love symmetry but it drives me crazy when it’s slightly “off” (and know how hard it can be to get it right, especially when the building being photographed isn’t perfectly symmetrical in the first place!). The tonality of the B&W conversion of “The Lourve” is love, and the colour in The Camargue is stunning, being both quite vivid and also very subtle. May I ask if you post process you photos, and if so, which software you use?

    I had a year off a few years ago, and accumulated probably more photographs that you did as it included a large number of physique sports competitions, which often result in thousands of images. I never really got to deal with them properly afterwards as family illness took my attention away and then other commitments meant I never went back. You’ve inspired me to go through my archive for that year and make a selection!

    • Hi Art, many tunas for your kind comments. Ah symmetry I’m a sucker for it sometimes I manage to get it spot and others well….. next time.

      I use LR & PS and sometimes Macphun Plugin Intensify for colour a preset in Tonality for B&W, I hope this helps happy to expand if you want more.


  • Frank says:

    Simply stunning, each and every image. An enormous amount of work to sort through 14k images and even more to pick the best of the best from the processed 1.8k images. Challenges the term “labor of love” but the reward is a portfolio that you must be truly proud to share.

    • Hi Frank, yes I did spend a “few” hours selecting and processing, it something I enjoy and keeps the mind activity.

      Your comments are appreciated.


  • Percy Seaton Smythe says:

    A lovely set of images taken with some fine lenses. Most enjoyable, thank you!

  • A difficult task, but a task well accomplished, Dallas! The variety of subjects is simply wonderful, making it hard to choose favorites…but, choose favorites I will (I seem to be imitating Yoda’s speech pattern!). Your favorite image is also my choice. Lone Tree is lovely and evocative in its simplicity – well done! I’m also drawn to Shattered Window, Misty Day at Chantilly, Mont Saint-Michel….I could go on, but you get the idea – I’m a big fan of your style and skill.

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Hi Dallas,
    The comment I published days ago from my iPhone never made it, so I re-write from my laptop as usual 🙂

    Lovely pics, and nice curation… I don’t know for you, but personally if I keep all my pics, each time I curate I end up with a few changes 🙂
    Me too, the tree and shattered glass… great pics!

    • Thanks Pascal, modern technology can let us down sometimes.

      • Anthony Vidler says:

        Dear Dallas, If I may, I’m a continual, and faithful reader, and a Leica/Nikon shooter. I hav sometimes replied to Pascal. Your photos with the Z7 are simply gorgeous. They have inspired me to experiment with more than my Leica and the standard lenses for my Z7 – if your 21 Milvus is still for sale then I would be happy to take it off your hands. I’m a British architect, architectural historian, teaching in the Us at Yale and Princeton, but with a family home in Paris and Burgundy – the 20 seems just right for these contexts.
        all best wishes
        Anthony Vidler
        Professor of Architecture
        New York, NY.

  • Anthony Vidler says:

    Apologies — of course I meant the 21/2.8 in the last line

  • Mike says:

    A lovely set of photos, not an easy process to cull so many pictures. I think I like ‘Misty Day at Chantilly’ best of all.
    all the best

    • Mike, thanks for your kind words. I love your website and agree with your statement only show those shot that you would be prepared to put on your own wall. I must admit sometimes I don’t follow that rule and regret it later, due to impulse.


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