Digital photo workflow

I’ve heard and read a lot about how important finding a good workflow is when processing digital images, so I thought I’d document mine here. No doubt it will change over time.

  • Capture RAW + JPEG in camera. Martin told me a scare story about once being unable to get RAW images from a CF card, hence shooting both.
  • Download all images to the iBook. Up until now I’ve been doing this direct from the camera, but now have a card reader. They go straight into Canon ImageBrowser.
  • Copy all the RAW files over to my network attached storage for safe keeping. The JPEGs get binned.
  • Give each RAW file an initial star rating of 1-3 in ImageBrowser.
  • Import all the 3 star images into Adobe Lightroom.
  • Do a more refined critique of the photos in Lightroom, assigning a star rating of 1-5. Filter only to show the 5-star photos.
  • Perform any RAW processing in Lightroom. Adjusting white balance, crops etc.
  • Export from Lightroom as JPEG with 99% quality into a new folder
  • Import the exported JPEGs into iPhoto for general cataloging, viewing and printing.
  • Use the excellent FlickrExport from Connected Flow to tag and upload to flickr.

If I have time I then go back and work on the 4-star and below images.

The most obvious missing step is the use of any image manipulation software such as PhotoShop. I’ve not yet got around to buying a recent copy of Elements. The one I currently have is 2.0.

3 thoughts on “Digital photo workflow

  1. Interesting.

    I have 2 or 3 issues with my workflow.

    The first is organising my library, which at the moment, isn’t really. I know that Lightroom lets me tag stuff, but I haven’t yet decided on a good way to store stuff, so I haven’t been through tagging extensively.

    At the moment I initially import to my R40 into dated folders; import and process with Lightroom and export JPEGs to a subfolder (which is a pain to do, since each time I change date, I have to tell Lightroom about it – RawShooter let me always write to a subfolder of whatever folder I was working in). As I run out of space on the R40 and finish working on my RAW files (which can take a while), I move the files to my Linux workstation, which has RAID mirror disks to guard against data loss. However, it is generally too slow to work on the RAW files via wireless to the network share.

    The other issue I have is that RawShooter used to store all the RAW settings in a hidden .RWSettings file in the directory where I worked on them. I think Lightroom stores them in the database, so if I move the directory to the network later, I lose the RAW processing settings (I think – I haven’t actually validated this yet).

    Yet another thing is that RawShooter used to let me see which photos had been processed, and allowed me to save multiple snapshots of settings per photo. In Lightroom I tend to assign a star rating after I’ve done my processing, so that I can see what is processed.

    So the upshot is that I’m not really happy with my workflow, partly caused by the transition to Lightroom.

    Incidentally I use The Gimp for post-processing (rare) and the excellent jUploadr to upload to Flickr or Zoomr (including assigning tags and sets).

  2. I was going to try Lightroom, and even downloaded the windows beta, and then discovered it wouldn’t install on 2K. bah.

  3. I can definitely recommend giving The GIMP a try. Not only does it have the obvious benefit of being free, it’s also far more capable and mature than it used to be – the interface is a little different from Photoshop, but personally, I find it more intuitive. The main feature it’s still lacking is CMYK support – not that important unless you’re doing a lot of professional-level printing work.

    You might find GIMPshop worthy of a try if you like the Photoshop way of doing things:

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