Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/04/23

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Subject: RE: [Leica] OT - National Geographic film usage
From: Allen Graves <>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 18:13:33 -0500
References: <004201c309b2$535c9170$0316fea9@ccasony01>

A friend of mine was a "prop" -holding a turtle shell in an article 
on endangered species- in a very nice, strikingly back lit photo that 
was published in NG a few years back. He said that with all the 
bracketing, in-camera dupes, and changes in fill flash setups that 
were done, 4 or 5 36-exposure were burned to get that one "perfect" 
photo. It's a different mind set when someone else is paying for the 
film and processing, I guess.


>In the days of the real LIFE magazine it used to be said that one should
>expect to get about two 'keepers' per 36 exposure roll - two frames that
>meant something special to the photographer.
>I've always heard that the NatGeo photographers consume tons of
>film...But don't forget that they are often involved in assignments that
>extend for months, and involve travel to difficult and distant places,
>places where you can't easily return - or can't return at all - to get
>the one shot you missed. I would assume that if you are doing a piece
>on, say, endangered gorillas in the mist, you are going to shoot all the
>film you can get your hands on.
>-----Original Message-----
>[] On Behalf Of Kit
>McChesney | acmefoto
>Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 11:41 AM
>Subject: RE: [Leica] OT - National Geographic film usage
>Maybe this will make you feel better, but there is probably a greater
>percentage of pictures that are "successful" than the few that are
>published in any magazine or newspaper. Those photographers, as well as
>many others, have larger portfolios of work than the material you see in
>print. And it may be that some of those pictures are even "better" than
>the ones that are published. Editors may not always select the most edgy
>pictures, aesthetically speaking, or even subject-matter speaking
>(especially in National Geographic, whose politics are pretty
>conservative compared to some other pubs), and so what many
>photographers produce may never be seen by a mass-market audience like
>the subscription base of National Geographic.
>So take heart. Your "success" rate could and should be better than
>0.05%. If not, something is terribly wrong.
>I would also venture to say that if it takes 20,000 shots per story,
>someone is wasting lots of film, and maybe the photographers aren't that
>good after all. I'm sure if I took 20,000 shots (and I don't consider
>myself a half-bad
>photographer) I could get five or six pictures, or even a dozen (most
>National Geographic stories don't have much more than that) that would
>pass muster for just about any publication! Even National Geographic!
>Kit (who at age 15 wrote a letter to the editor of National Geographic
>asking "what do I have to do to become a National Geographic
>photographer?" and who later found out that there were many other
>equally or even more interesting things to do in the world!)
>-----Original Message-----
>[]On Behalf Of Gerry
>Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 6:30 AM
>To: LUG
>Subject: [Leica] OT - National Geographic film usage
>I notice in this months National Geographic that they reckon to use 550
>rolls of film per story. Assuming they use 36 exposure rolls, that means
>they shoot close 19,800 frames per story. Based on using about 10 frames
>per story for publication, this is a success rate of roughly 0.05%. I
>think even I could make that, as could most of us on this board. So are
>the NatGeo guys that good or do we just see the very best? Just a
>passing thought!
>Gerry Walden LRPS
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In reply to: Message from "bdcolen" <> (RE: [Leica] OT - National Geographic film usage)