Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Workflow

First, let me apologize for the formatting. I tried to copy/paste, but just couldn't figure out how to get the formatting right for the outline, without recreating the whole thing.

A while back, Paul Pulley presented a workshop to the Boise Camera Club on photo workflow. As a result of the information he gave us, I decided I should clarify - for myself mostly - the workflow I use. I usually do about the same thing every time, but not exactly. And I think the variations come from not having defined for myself what needs to happen.

So here’s my workflow (post picture taking):

1. Import into Lightroom

a. Photos are sorted by Date: Year-Month-Day (e.g., 2012-05-20)
i. I don’t add names to the file folders, preferring to use Smart Collections
b. I’m still considering whether converting to DNG is worthwhile or not. I’m hesitating for now figuring I can always convert in the future, but going back to CR2 is more difficult.

2. Rate Photos

a. Rate “1” for any photo I like
i. I go through the day’s photos as quickly as possible. Anything I like, even if the photo isn’t                   good, gets a rating of 1.
b. “X” for rejected photos (blurry, severely over/under exposed), then delete
c. Rename to Date_# (e.g., 20120520_00005)
i. Continuous numbering for the year. Before 2012 I used 4 digits because no year has 10,000+ photos
ii. Starting in 2012, I’m using 5 digits because I will probably take more than 10,000.
d. Keyword remaining photos
i. I like Smart Collections because they update automatically. I have a smart collection for each star rating, and a smart collection for BCC submissions.
e. When I have time, I review all the 1s, choosing those photos that I think are worth doing some work to. These get rated “2”.
f. After I work on a photo, the rating gets moved to “3”.
i. When I process photos, it’s mostly focused on 4 things:
1. Crop - experimenting with different formats to see if I can improve the photo
2. Exposure - hopefully just fine tuning because I got it right in the camera
3. Contrast - SOOC the photos often seem flat, so I bump up the white and highlights, drop down the blacks and shadows, and work to improve the histogram
4. Clarity - bump it down on portraits, or dreamy scenes, bump it up on others than need sharpening, but whichever direction I move, it’s usually subtle
5. There are other things I really like in LR4: vignettes (the subtle ones for me), gradient filters, spot removal (when I’ve neglected my sensor), and more and more I’m working with B&W. Some photos that I envisioned in color take on a new character in B&W. I’m learning to try every photo in color and monochrome just to see which works best.
g. The best of the photos I’ve worked on get rated “4”.
h. The best of the best, get rated “5”.
i. Currently I have about 15,000 photos in my catalog.
ii. 1 Star: 1680 photos (about 12%)
iii. 2 Stars: 136 (about 1%)
iv. 3 Stars: 184 (about 1%)
v. 4 Stars: 28 (about 0.2%)
vi. 5 Stars: 2 (about 0.01%, a photo has to be really good to get 5 stars)

3. Export if needed

a. I export JPG files only when necessary, for example when I’m creating photos to upload, or send in for BCC projection night.
b. Once I’ve taken the appropriate action (uploaded, submitted, or burned a cd for someone), I delete the JPGs, keeping only the raw files.

4. Backup

a. I backup the whole catalog every couple of weeks. My collection of photos isn’t very big, so my 1TB external HD will hold a lot of backups. When it gets full, I’ll get a new one, because by then external storage will be really inexpensive.
b. The external HD is stored in a fireproof safe.
c. I also upload the best photos to my google drive, and include them in my other cloud-based backups, as space permits.

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