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01-16-2008, 03:11 PM   #1
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Workflow

Hey, first post ever, hope its not too noobyish.. off to a good start.

Anyway, I've been into photography for about 4 years now, shooting mainly with a Nikon N80. And now, my K10D, my first DSLR is supposed to arrive at my door tomorrow. So, not being able to actually take pictures, I've been reading and thinking about what to do with all the pictures I'm going to take.

I already have a large amount of pictures from scanning in slides and prints, but with digital I anticipate having waay more, as I won't have to take time to scan them in, I'll just send em all over at once from my card reader. That being said, how do you guys deal with it all? I've read some articles and did a search or two on this site and others, but still can't figure out what will be best. It seems like a lot of people use lightroom or something similar as a manager and general editor to do everything but major edits.

I try to mostly just do tonal adjustments on my current pictures, make em warmer, brighter blues, that sorta stuff. Having never used lightroom or a similar program, is this what it is used for?

I guess my question is, what software do you all use organize (tag, label, etc) your photos, and where do you do most of your adjustments? up until now I've used photoshop to do everything, and just put all my images into folders corresponding to the date the pictures were taken. I'd like to have something a bit more useable.


Edit: Also, being mostly new to the world of RAW, do you guys just save the RAW files, and then save as a JPEG for general use (web, printing, etc), or do you output the RAW to a TIFF, then JPEGs, saving a copy of all three?
Nick

01-16-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by elnero Quote
Hey, first post ever, hope its not too noobyish.. off to a good start.

Anyway, I've been into photography for about 4 years now, shooting mainly with a Nikon N80. And now, my K10D, my first DSLR is supposed to arrive at my door tomorrow. So, not being able to actually take pictures, I've been reading and thinking about what to do with all the pictures I'm going to take.

I already have a large amount of pictures from scanning in slides and prints, but with digital I anticipate having waay more, as I won't have to take time to scan them in, I'll just send em all over at once from my card reader. That being said, how do you guys deal with it all? I've read some articles and did a search or two on this site and others, but still can't figure out what will be best. It seems like a lot of people use lightroom or something similar as a manager and general editor to do everything but major edits.

I try to mostly just do tonal adjustments on my current pictures, make em warmer, brighter blues, that sorta stuff. Having never used lightroom or a similar program, is this what it is used for?

I guess my question is, what software do you all use organize (tag, label, etc) your photos, and where do you do most of your adjustments? up until now I've used photoshop to do everything, and just put all my images into folders corresponding to the date the pictures were taken. I'd like to have something a bit more useable.


Edit: Also, being mostly new to the world of RAW, do you guys just save the RAW files, and then save as a JPEG for general use (web, printing, etc), or do you output the RAW to a TIFF, then JPEGs, saving a copy of all three?
Nick
You made a good choice with your K10d.
Good, solid DSLR with more features than most other cams.

The question you've asked has been asked on this forum many times.
Answers in general differ depending upon what people have become comfortable with I guess. So my preference is also subjective I guess.

I've been using various software packages, including GIMP, Elements, Photoshop CS2&3, Picasa, Bibble Pro and Lightroom.

The last 3 (Picasa, Bibble and LR) I like the best. Picasa because it is free, good performance and good interface, webalbums in a second. It, however, doesn't come close to the functionality of the other two.
Elements is not good enough and GIMP is for complicated me.

Bibble Pro is a very good package. However it does not do workflow as well and it crashed often on my system. It takes more clicks, menus and time for me to process a picture in Bibble compared to Lightroom. I have all software sitting on my computer. Bibble I don't use and Photoshop I rarely use these days, just for special effects etc.

How do I save pictures?
- First I import everything in LR in RAW (I stopped shooting in JPEG)
- Process them in LR, all processing I do here. IQ is best of LR 1.3, also excellent i/f.
- Selective export in monthly folders in JPEG at 75% quality.
- Save only RAW in LR for the ones I like best.
- Save the rest in Picasa in JPEG for quick browsing, viewing etc.

Hope this helps you.
However you probably will have to

- Bert
01-16-2008, 03:44 PM   #3
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elnero, i'd consider myself a relative newcomer in the field... but here's some information for you...

* shoot raw. it rocks. it's big, but if you have the space... keep 'em in raw.
* lightroom/aperture/iphoto/picasa all work very well for tweaking your photos... think of these applications as your digital dark-room
** you'll use them to adjust exposure, correct colors etc...
** you'll also be able to use any of them for tagging and categorizing your photos
** if you're on a budget, picasa and iphoto are your best bets (iphoto/aperture are mac only apps)

One thing that took me a while to figure out is colorspace. Personally, i leave my k10d set using sRGB colorspace, since that's what most photo printers use and it makes it easier to get my photos looking the same at print. If anyone else has input on this, I'd love to hear it... I'm a web developer by trade, so normally i'm used to using different color spaces, which didn't work out so well when i brought my photos to the printer and they came back all crazy looking !

Most of the apps listed above will allow you to manage your photos in albums or collections of some kind and allow for quick exporting out to a CD or folder for printing if need be.... hope that helped... maybe?
01-16-2008, 04:50 PM   #4
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One package I haven't seen mentioned...ImageMagick. Hard to beat it for batch processing.

ImageMagick Home

01-16-2008, 04:56 PM   #5
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Good question -- not nooby-ish at all.

The problem is, there's no one right answer. Will depend on how many photos you take, what you want to do with them, what software you use, what your hardware setup is, etc.

The one thing I CAN tell you with some conviction is, figure out a workflow -- that is, make some rules for yourself -- and then stick with those rules. If you don't, you'll regret it, and sooner rather than later.

Here is what I do.

My hardware: My laptop computer + a large capacity hard drive (300 GB, well, it was considered large capacity a couple years ago when I bought it). Oh, and a USB 2.0 card reader.

My software: I use three programs. I use Adobe Lightroom to organize and manage my raw files. (I shoot 99.8% of my photos in raw.) I also do some post-processing in Lightroom, although nowadays much of my processing (cropping, sharpening, adjusting colors, etc.) is done instead in Light Crafts LightZone. Finally, I use Google's free Picasa to manage the jpegs that I export either from Lightroom or LightZone. I keep the jpegs in Picasa only temporarily, so that I can upload 'em to my web sites, or get them printed, or whatever. But Picasa sees only derived files, that is, jpegs exported from the raw masters. So I don't actually need to keep the jpegs permanently and I generally do not.

Now, here's my procedure, cleaned up a bit for public consumption.
  1. Copy Pentax raw (PEF) files from SD card to dated folder on the big external drive. I organize folders there by year, month, and date of capture -- not by subject.
  2. After copying the SD card, I set it aside in a special bag for cards that have been copied but not yet okayed for re-formatting and re-use.
  3. Open Adobe Lightroom, import new folder at its existing location. While importing, I add a copyright notice and will sometimes (but not always) add keywords.
  4. Lightroom now displays the imported photo files in a "last import" virtual folder. I select 'em all and convert 'em immediately to DNG. [I shoot PEF on the K10D because it's smaller. I convert to DNG because the resulting DNG files are even smaller and because I believe that in the long run DNG is better.]
  5. At this point, especially if the shoot is for a client rather than personal, I burn the files to a CD or DVD. Note that I have not erased the SD card yet, so at this point, the files are in three places, which is exactly what I want.
  6. Now I make a couple quick passes through the files in Lightroom, to accomplish several distinct tasks. I want to identify the real losers and mark 'em for deletion. I also want to flag the photos that I think are better than average. My new method is to give all the imported photos 2 stars (out of a possible 5). I remove 2 star for photos that are below average but still good enough to keep. I mark photos that suck (completely out of focus, lens cap was on, etc.) with a Lightroom "x" for deletion and delete 'em in a group or individually. I also mark a few photos as 3 (or higher -- but I'm pretty strict and I don't have very many 4s or 5s).
  7. Around the same time, I will also add keywords. And as I go through the individual images to rate them, I will write captions if I feel that it's valuable or useful. NOTE that with DNG files, these values will get written into the file itself, not stored in a meta-data file.
  8. Now, I start editing. If it was a simple shoot, the photos are generally very well exposed and present few difficult or interesting processing challenges, I may do most or all of the editing there in Lightroom. I may use Lightroom also if I'm in a big hurry.
  9. However, if I have time or the inclination, I do as much of the editing now in Light Crafts LightZone as I can. I start by picking a file that's rated 2 or 3 stars. I use the "Show in Explorer" command to view the file in Windows Explorer, then I right-click the file and tell Windows to open it in LightZone. When I'm done editing the file in LightZone, I save my edits in a lzn.jpg file, which is how LightZone saves its edit instructions (similar to an xml sidecar, but better for my purposes as it provides a jpeg preview that I can import into Lightroom).
  10. When I am done editing the image in LightZone, I usually will use LightZone's "convert" (= export) command to export a high-res copy of the edited image to a folder on my computer's internal hard drive, where I temporarily store jpegs for review in Picasa.
  11. Now I go back to Lightroom, and pick the next image I want to edit and repeat steps 8-10.
  12. When I'm done editing (or sometimes several times during the process of editing) I use the "synchronize folder" command in Lightroom to import the lzn.jpg files that LightZone creates. I give these files a "Lightzone" label when I import them with a distinctive color. This allows me to identify at a glance the photos that have been edited in LightZone.
  13. Eventually I end up with a folder of jpegs on my computer's internal hard drive, in a parent folder named "PICASA TEMP for upload." When I'm done with all the preceding steps, I quit both LightZone and Lightroom and launch Picasa.
  14. Upon launch, Picasa automatically imports the newly created jpegs. I review them quickly in Picasa. Occasionally I will use Picasa's editing tools for a final tweak. Most of the time (maybe 80% of the time), what comes out of Lightroom or LightZone is as close to perfect as I can make it. But occasionally, Picasa's contrast or even its "I feel lucky" button will tweak the image usefully. I'm not above taking advantage of this when it's useful.
  15. The final step for me is to use Picasa to upload the files either (a) to my Picasa Web Albums galleries, where I put my personal photos; (b) to my photographic web site, where I mostly put photos shot for clients; or (c) to a printing service. I use Picasa for this purpose mainly because it works very well as an uploaded for both SmugMug (which hosts william-porter.net) and for Google's own Picasa Web Albums service.
I use Carbonite for backup, so that's more or less automatic for me. I do keep the CDs or DVDs and I mark 'em very carefully, but these are usually storing raw image files, not edited images. But note that I upload as high-res images as possible to my various web sites, and there are backups there, too, not of the raw files, but if I lost the raw files, it wouldn't be the end of the world, since I have reasonably high-res jpegs stored online.

I fear this may seem very complicated. It's not, really. I'm not the world's most organized person in other areas of my life, but about this, I'm pretty strict about following these procedures sequentially.

Quick note about my combined use of LightZone and Lightroom. There is an "Edit in LightZone" command in Lightroom, since I've identified LightZone as my external editor. If I were working with Photoshop, the same command would say "edit in Photoshop." But when I use this command, Lightroom creates a HUGE HUGE tiff file and then opens that in LightZone. This tiff file is much bigger than the original DNG file. On the LightZone forums, I picked up a tip that has worked very well for me. Since LightZone does non-destructive editing, too, I simply open the raw file directly in LightZone and edit it, saving those edits in LightZone's metafile (the filename-lzn.jpg file, which is very small). This ends up working really really nicely, as I can import those jpegs into Lightroom and see which files have in fact been edited externally and which have not. If I didn't use LightZone -- and I didn't until a couple months ago -- my workflow would be nearly identical, except that I'd skip the steps above (9 and 10) that involve LightZone. If you want to know why I use both LightZone and Lightroom, the answer is that LightZone is a better editor, but Lightroom is a much, much better photo management app. And they work well together.

Others will have quite different approaches. I don't think it matters terribly, so long as you have a procedure and follow it carefully.

Which brings me to a final note. I do make little changes to my workflow, in fact, some little aspect of my workflow or another is almost always being reconsidered. Right now, I'm rethinking my use of labels and stars in Lightroom. But the general procedure has been fairly constant for over a year now.

Will
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