Fake it until you make it...

I have some 25,000 images sitting on an external hard drive whirring away next to my computer. There's a soft blue light flowing forth from the front panel of the drive that lets me know that everything is all right, at least mechanically because aesthetically it's a nightmarish morass.

Not having to pay for film, or pay for development is both a blessing and a curse. It's certainly informed the way I approach photography, which bears more relationship to a strategic bombing campaign than an actual photoshoot.

That is to say that with minimal tinkering, I generally flick things over into apeture priority kick it open as wide as I can and then start shooting. In military parlance this is the method known as "spray and pray" and it chews through memory cards and batteries like an army of termites through a toothpick.

It's been more than a year since I first picked up a DSLR and began fumbling with the controls. For the first few months it was on automatic, the camera taking care of all the little things while I attempted to do the rest of my job. Gradually, faced with situations a little too difficult for the Rebel to handle, I started to play with the other toggles.

It was a short slide down that slippery slope to buying lenses and looking up the ladder at all of the glorious gadgetry that makes photography so appealing to geeks. It's not that it would make me a better photographer, no that would have to come from self-discipline, it would just give me more of an excuse to go out and take photos.

The real problem with the spray-and-pray school of photography isn't in capturing those little moments just right (though there is a little of that). It's sorting through everything in post.

First is the cost as you upload. All those images take a long time to show up on your computer screen, and they take an even longer time to go through. As I've learned the main advantage to taking your time and being a little more conservative in the field is that you don't run out of space on your card as quickly, and you don't spend nearly as much time waiting for files to upload.

How do you decide what image to pick when several of them are essentially the same, shot only a few hundreths of a second later? I have hundreds of such conflicts within my photo library, most of the photos I've kept just in case I need to have fun with minute differences or if I ever want to print out a flipbook of someone sitting and making faces.

But the temptation is always there to just press and hold the shutter button until the buffer is full and the camera stubbornly refuses to carry on. After having spent so much time toying around with low-end point and shoot digital cameras that have a dragging shutter delay and even longer lag between photos, there's still a little twinge of glee when the camera fires rapidly.