What's it all about?

This blog is about photography and photoediting. Its purpose is to provide hints and tips and links to interesting and useful resources for digital photographers, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. It is aimed at people who use digital SLR cameras and who process their images using the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

The author of this blog is Glenn Springer and you can read more about him at his web portal at faczen.com. Information on workshops, and links to everything is at photography.to. Glenn's original blog, which is an ongoing journal of his photographic meanderings goes back to 2006 and contains many additional hints and tips, as well as representative images that he has made. Gallery quality prints are available through his Smugmug gallery site. It is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of quality images, as well as an ongoing general journal of photos going back several years.

Photography workshops are scheduled every few weeks starting in the Spring. For an overview of what's happening, please visit the photography.to website.

The most recent blog post is below. Scroll down to the bottom to see the list of previous postings or search for any particular topic.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Workflow Tips

I thought I'd share a couple of workflow tips for my photographer friends.

I don't have to do high speed editing like a sports photographer might. I generally don't import thousands of images at a time, but I might do a couple of hundred. This is just a quick overview of my process and I've highlighted a few of the things I think about. This is not a detailed explanation, it takes too long to write that and I don't want to put anyone to sleep. Just some things to think about.

1. Import
I put the memory card in the reader and I have the computer set up to automatically open Lightroom. The import dialog appears, and I've written a preset called "D800 import" that automatically sets up some parameters: where the images are saved, where the second copy (backup) is saved (on a different drive), it adds my copyright info in the metadata, and some really basic settings like sharpening, clarity, vibrance, camera profile, lens correction, etc. I can always change those but most RAW files need something to make them look ok on import. Click "Go" and depending how many images, get a coffee.

2. Flag Status
The D800 gives you huge files. I don't necessarily want to keep them all and some of them are certainly worth prioritizing for the next step in the editing cycle. I blow them up to full size on the big monitor and go through the whole batch, hitting "X" for reject, "P" for pick or just skipping them if I'm not sure. Pictures I want to work on first, I'll hit "6" (puts an "Edit Now" flag on them) and really good ones I'll mark with a 3- or 4- or very rarely a 5-star rating.  I also use "7" on series' of bracketed pictures I will want to merge to HDR.

Next step is the hard-hearted click on ctrl-backspace to permanently delete all the rejected photos from disk. These are pictures you're NEVER EVER going to want to see again.

This whole thing is really a quick process, assuming I've taken that few minutes to let Lightroom generate the  previews before I start. 200 images, maybe 10 minutes.

3. Keywording
This is a good time to do it. These are all potential keepers, and if you ever want to find them again... you can do them quickly in batches and add more later.

4. Editing
I'm not going into detail here. Each picture needs a different treatment. Sometimes you want to do some common edits, especially if a number of pictures are going to be merged together, as an HDR for instance, or all themed to work together for some other reason. Lightroom lets you sync edits across a number of images.

I do everything I can in Lightroom, then export selected images to edit in Photoshop. I use plug-ins a lot: if nothing else they save orders-of-magnitude of time instead of working blindly in Photoshop. My go-to plugins are from Topaz and Nik. I have the full suites from both of those manufacturers. Here are the links:

Step 1 once an image is imported to Photoshop: Ctrl-J duplicates the layer so I have the original to fall back on any time I want to. Step 2 is usually a hi-pass sharpening layer (blend mode to overlay, radius 4px is my go-to setting). The rest varies from image to image. Step 3: Blow the image up onscreen to at least 100% and go around it to find whatever else needs fixing. There's always something!

Once I get back to Lightroom, that's when I crop and straighten (I may have done a preliminary crop before exporting to Photoshop). Final touchup, and as Ansel Adams used to say, a picture isn't finished until the edges are darkened a bit. A really useful tool is the new radial filter in Lightroom that you can use to really make the subject pop.

For display on my blog or on Social Media, I often like to build a shadow frame like the one below. I created an action to do that in Photoshop with one click, then I enter the caption, my signature and tweak it as I see fit before saving it as a separate file. I don't want to overwrite my original. Contact me if you want a copy of the action (works in CC or CS6)

5. Exporting
You do understand that everything I've done up to now is creating the source file, the "negative" as you will, that I archive. What I do with them next depends: are they for use on social media? My blog? For sale as a fine art print? Wallpaper? For the media (newspaper)? You need to export Jpegs for that. So that's what I do next, but only when I want to use them for something. There's no need to save the exported files back into Lightroom: I can always make them again from the source files. 

I set up a bunch of export presets that say where the file should be stored, what it's called, how big it is, whether there's a watermark, etc. Once you've made the preset, it's 'select the preset' then one click to export as many files as you want!

6. Backup
I have Lightroom set to make a backup of the catalog whenever I exit the program. The backup goes on a different drive from the original (you know why. If you need me to tell you why, sell your computer and buy a box of pencils). Do it religiously. 

In my workflow, I sync my external drive where the main images are, to one or two other external drives. The keepers also go on another one which is stored off-site. I do that every month, on the first. Only then do I delete the original backup images I made when I imported them. And I keep a month's worth anyway. You need a backup plan...

Is this the world's greatest workflow? No, of course not. Should you do it exactly like this? No. Did this give you some idea about how you might treat your own work? I hope so!

Be sure to visit my regular weekly blog, interesting images and ramblings from the Highlands! Click the "Newsletter" button (or here) for a weekly heads-up about what's on the newest posting.

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