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03-27-2007, 06:02 PM   #1
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Workflow for the beginner

After reading alot about workflow with RAW I'm intruiged. But I really know nothing about RAW, what to use, what programs are needed and frankly, the more I read about it the more I get confused. The old noggin isn't just what it used to be.
So, in short, for the real beginner, what is the basic software to get the feet wet with RAW, babysteps so to speak. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, did I mention easy??

03-27-2007, 06:06 PM   #2
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The best software, in my not so humble opinion, is Adobe Camera RAW with Bridge and Photoshop. Since the program is not exactly cheap, you might find out if Elements can use ACR, and start from there.
03-27-2007, 06:22 PM   #3
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Or if you do not wish to buy anything, you can use the software that came with your camera. It is not the most intuitive, but it will get you started.
03-27-2007, 06:46 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by roscot Quote
Or if you do not wish to buy anything, you can use the software that came with your camera. It is not the most intuitive, but it will get you started.
Yep.

Or use the software to do basic adjustments and convert to .tiff then use gimpshop to do the rest of your processing. Its free.

03-27-2007, 07:12 PM   #5
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Thanks all, I think at this point Photoshop is the heavyweight but definitely above my head and wallet.
The software from Pentax never came to mind. I think I will give it a whirl and maybe evolve from there. And the 'free' part doesn't hurt either.
I want to keep it simple for now, still so much to learn with the K10D..
03-27-2007, 07:40 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by detlef Quote
After reading alot about workflow with RAW I'm intruiged. But I really know nothing about RAW, what to use, what programs are needed and frankly, the more I read about it the more I get confused. The old noggin isn't just what it used to be.
So, in short, for the real beginner, what is the basic software to get the feet wet with RAW, babysteps so to speak. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, did I mention easy??
OK, first, let's talk about the "workflow" concept. My daughter has a little Nikon point & shoot. She takes pictures, plugs the camera into her Mac and moves the photos into iPhoto, crops a few of them and adds a caption or two, emails a few, and that's it. She doesn't need the word "workflow."

Now, not too long ago, if you wanted to shoot in Raw format, things were not that simple. Images had to be converted from Raw data format into something that you could edit or work with. So there was a Raw conversion process in there, BEFORE you edited the images. Plus, after you converted the files, you had to manage the files themselves. If you took a lot of photos, you could end up with a lot of files to manage: Raw format originals and JPEG copies that have been edited (or at least saved separately from the originals). You have to worry about backups; think about output to Web and/or printer and/or email; and so on. These steps often involved separate programs. It gets a bit hairy and it becomes really, really important to have a firmly defined process, something like this:
  1. Move Raw files on to hard disk
  2. Burn Raw files to CD
  3. Open Raw files in file management app, identify and delete the obvious losers
  4. Add keywords, captions, titles and other metadata
  5. Rate photos, select the best
  6. Edit the selected photos, possibly in a special editing program
  7. Export to JPEG
  8. Upload to Web and/or print
THAT is an example of a workflow. Other people do somewhat different things and perhaps do them in different orders, but everybody who's serious about his files does something LIKE this. If you don't follow that process carefully every time you finish a shoot, you'll end up throwing away pictures you wanted to keep, or you will fail to back up important photos and regret it when your hard disk fails, or you'll end up with multiple copies of the same photo and be unsure which to keep.

Now, things have fairly recently gotten a good bit easier. The increase in the last couple of years in the number of people using cameras producing Raw files has created a market for programs like Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom, that to a very great extent can "do it all." Lightroom can display my Raw images and I can edit them without an obvious conversion step. It is a pretty good "asset manager", meaning that it will allow me to tag my photos, rate them, sort the good ones and the bad ones out, find them, create groups or galleries, burn to CD or backup to external drive, etc. Lightroom can do all the editing I need very well. It handles just about every other aspect of my workflow, as well.

I do use another program - Google's Picasa - to manage my JPEGs, for two reasons. First, I want to distinguish clearly on my hard disk between my precious originals and the derivative files, so I put the JPEGs into a whole separate directory structure that Lightroom isn't aware of. Second, I use Picasa to upload my photos to Google's online photo sharing service, Picasa Web Albums. I don't use the Web output module of Lightroom.

So MY workflow looks like this:
  1. Copy files from card to external hard disk. Lightroom does the copying, then it imports these files into its library by reference only. And while I'm at it, I have Lightroom convert my PEF Raw originals to Adobe DNG format. I'm also able at this first step to add some metadata (keywords, copyright, etc.).
  2. I quickly review the imported photos in Lightroom, flag the obvious losers and delete them
  3. I backup the remaining files to a CD or CDs
  4. I review the photos and flag the ones I like the best. This often involves comparing four or five very similar shots and picking the best one (or rejecting them all). Usually at this point I'm also adding more metadata, like more keywords, captions, titles, location, etc.
  5. Now I edit the photos I've flagged as the best one, adjusting exposure, contrast, etc., and cropping and sharpening.
  6. I export the flagged photos as JPEGS into the Picasa "Processed Pix" directory. I export full-size, highest-quality JPEGs.
  7. I quit Lightroom, open Picasa, and create a Web album. I may also order prints at this point from within Picasa (another strength of Picasa).
NOTE that, while sometimes I move only five or ten photos off my card, it's quite common for me to import a shoot that has a couple hundred photos in it. Lightroom's management features (rating, flagging, labeling, using keywords, etc) are outstanding, and so are its comparison tools, so I can actually process 200 photos and pick the keepers in well under an hour. I should add also that, if I start with 200 photos, I might throw 30 or 40 of them out very quickly, and I might end up exporting only 30 or 40 over to Picasa to be uploaded to the Web or printed. In other words, about 20% are garbage; and about 20% are gold or the closest thing I get to gold. But I keep the other 60%, too, in Lightroom only.

You don't have to use Lightroom or Aperture. There are many excellent programs available, including: Silkypix; Bibble; Adobe Photoshop CS2 (which has different components doing different jobs); Lightcrafts' Lightzone; and many others. And of course, there's also the Pentax software that came with your camera. Different programs have different strengths and the only way to know what will suit you well is to download and try some of the free demos. I like Lightroom very much, but at $200 (soon to go up to $300) it's not the cheapest product available. I like individual features of particular programs very much - Bibble has awesome noise reduction, Lightzone has the fantastic zone editor - but every program has its weaknesses, too. You really have to check 'em out.

If you only take a few photos a month, then the whole workflow idea is not too urgent. But when you start taking a lot of photos, establishing a fixed procedure and following it will become imperative.

Good luck,

Will

Last edited by WMBP; 03-27-2007 at 08:11 PM. Reason: Added note about percentage of photos that I delete and percentage I keep
03-27-2007, 07:53 PM   #7
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Not my thread, I know, but Will, that is one heck of a helpful reply.
03-27-2007, 08:29 PM   #8
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Will, one of the best examples and explanation of workflow I have seen. It actually makes sense.
thanks
barondla

03-27-2007, 09:22 PM   #9
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playing devils advocate...

Yeah, what these two preceding people said--"not too bad".

But I'm a skeptic; add Color Management.
03-27-2007, 09:24 PM   #10
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Will, thanks
I can only repeat was was said before, this makes sense. I still don't understand all the processes but this gives me a very good guideline and I'm looking forward to dive into this. I will keep your note as reference, at this point it is invaluable.
03-27-2007, 09:50 PM   #11
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'detlef': When you say "you are a real beginner", what do you mean?
03-27-2007, 10:18 PM   #12
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I dislike the word "workflow", and don't want a workflow. But people use the word, and I guess have one, so OK :-)

I use Pentax Photo Lab for a couple reasons.

1. I got it with my K100D.
2. I like having to reboot my computer.

Truthfully, though it hangs up on occasion, once it cooperates it is pretty good for the basics, which is all I do.

Here's my (cough) workflow:

1. Photo Browser to view the images after I transfer them to the hard disk.
2. Delete the obvious losers.
3a. In Photo Laboratory, I tweak each image as needed and then save as a jpg. Tweaking consists of maybe adjusting the highlight slider, rarely the tone curve, and frequently straightening. That's about it.
3b. I recently started experimenting by processing the "keepers" in a batch at the default setting to see how much tweaking I might be in for. I can re-tweak as needed and save with an extra letter or something in the file name, then I can compare outputs for the one I like best. "Re-tweaks" might be 10-20% of them - depends.
4. Rename all the jpgs into my file-naming system of... "yymmdd-image#ShortDescription". I might even change a few image numbers to make the series flow better.
5. Weed out the near duplicates one more time.
6. Use Photo Browser to create the CSV of exif data. I then copy and paste that data into a master file of exif data in an Excel spreadsheet.
7. Photo Lab does not have a spotting tool, so I use the pay verison of Ember. (The last few weeks I have had amazingly little dust. I got the Rocket blower, pads and fluid. I do a "blow" and check-shot every Friday nite after charging batteries. I clean the sensor if needed.)
8. Stick the "done" images into a new directory named "yymmdd Location".
9. Copy that directory to my external HD.
10. Post a percentage of them to my photobucket collection.
11. Post some to applicable galleries on another forum as I have no (free) image space here - I used my 10 images on lens reviews, but you might see links now :-)
12. Every couple weeks, make a backup DVD.

Oh, I have PS 7 which I use to join 2 or more images into one (finally got "layers" mastered :-) for display or comparison-test purposes. I never think of using Photoshop the noun as Photoshop the verb, though.

Last edited by SpecialK; 03-27-2007 at 10:25 PM.
03-27-2007, 11:16 PM   #13
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Thanks Will and Special K. I definitely need to develop a 'workflow'. Currently it ges something like this:
1) copy files from SD card to hard disk.
2) do something with the files at some point.
3) backup files eventually
4) have trouble finding the files I want because my filing system (directories) make little to no sense. I am getting better with this one, but my older files are still a problem.

Regarding Raw processing. Is anyone aware of a online tutorial for Pentax Photo Lab / Photo Browser?

Chris
03-28-2007, 07:45 AM   #14
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Hello Chris,

I strongly suggest that you change the word "eventually" in number 3 to "immediately" or "today" or "tonight before midnight." Any one of those three choices is safer, and safer is a good thing.

Regards,
Lawrence
03-28-2007, 08:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfdavis58 Quote
'detlef': When you say "you are a real beginner", what do you mean?
Hi jfdavis58, the only software I have ever used was Microsoft PictureIt! to crop some Jpegs out of my P&S. Nothing more.
So now to take advantage of The K10D's capability I would like to move on to RAW processing in some form
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