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Foyn Harbour Weather Study #3, Antarctica 2020
Phase One XF 150MP, Schneider 110mm, f3.5@ 1/320 second, ISO 100

I should have pushed the ISO a stop higher. The shutter speed just isn't fast enough for shooting from a moving ship in low light and, out of five frames, only this one was sharp enough.

The problem was that I had processed and published a different frame for my book Late Season (you can see a flip-book in the online shop at Before, I was quite happy with the result, but then I was asked to make a print for a friend and suddenly the frame didn't look quite sharp enough. I also saw a colour difference that I hadn't noticed before.

Refine. Refine. Refine.

I'll never make a successful business person because I'm probably the only one who will ever notice. Nevertheless, I returned to the raw files, compared the five frames that were similar and chose the sharpest one. I then re-processed the photograph, made a new print and updated the book file as well, so the next time the book is published, it will have the refined file.

Is there something wrong with me? Don't answer that question - allow me! No, there's nothing wrong with refining our work. Photographs can always be improved and finessed with time. Not only do the processes we use improve, our own skills and outlook change and mature, hopefully for the better. Rather than being something wrong with me, I see it as a positive trait that I'm still critical of my work - and I mention it because I'm sure thousands of readers will feel the same way.

There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of perfection. This doesn't mean you should pursue it all the time, of course. I don't care if the windows at home have one or two smudges down the bottom where they weren't cleaned properly - one needs to be practical. But when it comes to things that matter, to photographs that you're going to send out in the world, then I think as much 'perfection' as is possible is a positive. 

You can check out the frame that I have now replaced below (or on my website, depending where you're reading this!)

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