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Advice on making your workflow system work

Advice on making your workflow system work - In part three of Edward Byrne's overview of the digital photo management process he looks at post-processing.

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General Photography

Words and images by Edward Byrne - www.tedbyrne.com 




Advanced photo editors also give you the choice to leave originals in their location on the computer and simply keep track of any edits non-destructively from within the software. I choose this method because it keeps my file organisation simple yet also saves space on the hard drive by not creating duplicates.

The first thing within my image editor is to quickly rate the images that are keepers. I have a simple system:
  • 0 or no ranking - discard
  • 3 - not bad, worth reviewing in detail later
  • 2 - good, worth publishing
  • 1 - excellent

On a second pass, I review only the twos and threes and upgrade or downgrade if necessary. My criterion is that to give a two to images that I would consider publishing. Threes are kept but not publishable. The majority of my pics are threes or twos. I have very few ones - mainly because I’m my harshest critic and I think it forces me to be more selective. Having a reduced set of ones and twos also reduced my time in front of the computer as well. Remember also that I discard obvious non-keepers in-camera.

I’ll also add GPS data or relative keywords to images at this point as well, facilitating future searches. The amount of metadata and keywords you add depend on your own inclination and need for details.

Editing and Exporting

Raw converting, digital image editing and exporting are very vast subjects that merit many dedicated articles. For this reason I won’t go into any detail here. Furthermore, the ease of exporting images from photo editors has gotten much easier over the years. Indeed, many different presets and templates are usually included to make the photographer’s workflow easier, whether the destination is professional-looking web galleries, books, prints, or even direct uploading to on-line sharing services and communities. If you’re serious about prints then it helps to be informed about details such as minimal image resolution (how big does my photo have to be to print an x by y inch photo?), and, of course, colour spaces - two topics that have been omitted here for brevity. Monitor calibration is another topic that would merit discussion as well.

Finishing up

Once I’m sure that I’ve transferred at least two copies of my originals to different hard drives, I will go ahead and reformat the card(s) for the next use. I never allow the image transfer software to do this, preferring always to choose the “format card” option in the camera’s menu. By doing so you create a new, clean file system that the camera will recognize natively. Formatting cards on a computer may change the format or file structure of the card and may even leave invisible files that can deter proper functioning in the camera.
Lastly, I also check/recharge my batteries at this time so it’s at 100% for the next day or shoot.

Of course, professional photographers can and often always add details to each of the basic steps outlined in this article. Hopefully, a few of the hints here will be useful to you for saving time and optimising your own personal workflow. Ideally, you’ll make more time for what we all prefer to do anyway – shooting!

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Words and images by Edward Byrne - www.tedbyrne.com

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