Next Step: Web Galleries

Ever since this post I’ve been spending 4-5 hours a week looking through my images: rating, adding metadata, organizing, cataloging and deleting the less interesting ones. This is a difficult, tedious and exciting job, all at the same time. It’s tedious because you have to compare dozens and dozens of similar images — zooming in, zooming out, looking for the image that’s best composed and has the best focus. It’s difficult because you have to rate images consistently, assign keywords consistently and sometimes make a tough decision to delete images which are good, but simply not good enough. And finally it’s exciting because you rediscover your good images from the past.

I’m now almost through with this process, and I’ve erased about 50% of my images. I know that sounds radical, especially when many people say that since disk space is so cheap, you shouldn’t delete any images. Well, I couldn’t disagree more! Keeping all your images not only fills up your hard drive — it also prolongs your back-ups, slows down your browsing software and makes it difficult to find the great image that you are just looking for. But most importantly, keeping most images that you make leads to a decreased self-esteem.

Take my trip to India for example. Even though I’d been deleting flawed and multiple images all along the trip, I came back with about 1200 images. I knew that I’d taken some very good photographs and some average ones, and my first thought was that all images have something special in them, so I should keep them all. As time passed and I showed the images to friends and relatives, I started thinking that they are not really that great. The really good ones were still there, but having to look at 30 average photos in order to see one good one makes for a very low success-ratio. Only about 400 photographs survived my radical clean-up, but when I now open an image directory, I see only interesting, colorful and sharp images. It’s a real pleasure now to point Bridge to a sub-directory and look through the 30-40 thumbnails that it contains. And through my star-ratings I can always filter out the 25 or so top images.

But actually I wanted to write about something else today. Having sorted, grouped and rated my images, I think the next logical step is to update my Web galleries. What you see after that link is, technically speaking, my second attempt. The first one was built purely by hand in HTML, and it was a tedious and error-prone job. The current pages are built around a Flash-plugin called SimpleViewer, which looks quite chic. If I had to name any disadvantages, I’d have to say that it’s flash-based (I cannot modify it and not everyone around the world has Flash installed) and that it loads all large images immediately, even if the viewer never looks at them. But SimpleViewer is small, fast and easy to use, so I could stay with it without any problems.

Recently I saw an exquisite Web gallery, and I’d like to have something similar. This one was generated by Lightroom (which I don’t have), but it’s based on Slimbox and mootools, both of which are free JavaScript scripts, so I could build my own galleries.

So now I’m torn between SimpleViewer and Slimbox. What do you think, which one looks nicer?

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