My Digital Workflow
So you want to know what happens between the time I pull the data card / or scan the negative and all that “Shtuff” that happens in between that and when I post it and you see the final photograph . . . . .
The Workflow . .
- UPLOAD: Create a file system and keep to it, you’ll appreciate it when someone says “hey I saw a photo you posted and wondered if it was for sale can I buy a copy?” I use folders and sub folders when I upload my files. Here is the Naming convention I use . . . C:/A-Jan, sub-folder 01-01-14, sub-folders, D7000-jpg, D7000-Nef, InWork-jpg, Output . . . So you see in the example I have 5 folders total for each day I shoot. But what if you have multiple cards from say the same camera, that’s fine just sequence the card names such as D7000-A-jpg, second card D7000-B-jpg and so on.
- SORT: Open your primary program for viewing your files (I use Corel) and do a general rating of your files. I do this sort of quick in the browser and Rate all the shots from three stars to none. I do this quick so I can judge sharpness, composition and if it is wildlife or one of those pesky “Uman Beans” I will also judge expression eyes open, closed . . . looking at the camera, action shot and so on. Those files that files that do not get rated will eventually get one more pass later before dumping them. Remember you cannot fix a fuzzy photo or turn that subject to face the camera so why clutter your hard drive with useless files. Once sorted and rated I will sometimes do a second rating pass of all files except those unrated ones, when finished I will resort.
- Sort Again: Now it’s time to take a good look at your group of rated files I group the 3’s and 2’s together. Now I will re-rate those files and pick the one’s I will work on first.
- Pick a File: Here is where the fun starts. All files sorted and rated I have a few selected for work. I pick one and make a working copy (Never use the original file), most editing programs like Lightroom, CS, will make a working copy automatically. I save this copy to my In-Work photo. It is at this point where I might also adjust white balance and color, I may also apply some cropping of the photo.
- Processing Begins: Now to the fun part, I open up the file into onOne Perfect photo Suite and began stylizing or adjusting the photo. This is done by layers much like in the darkroom of old by dodging and burning selectively (Sorry no magic one click bullet), building contrast selectively, playing with saturation or de-saturation, Seldom will I apply an effect or control layer to the whole file. If I have a set of files I will be presenting together I will create an action for say (White Balance) or (Color Correction) and apply these to all files in a group, this keeps them fairly even through the group. once done with the layering.
- Final processing: I will save the file as a PSD and import it back into LR or more likely Core Paint Shop Pro for final sizing, watermarking and outputting in the proper size and format for web, print or digital usage file.
- Posting: My usual sizing is about 900 x 700 pixel @ 72 dpi
Here is an example below of a shot that was made just for a Photography Club monthly themed shoots, yes it is highly manipulated in post with layers. The original was shot with a home made soft focus lens in less then 5 minutes and took perhaps 5 minutes to process (I used the jpg as I wanted low quality for atmosphere), the finished file actual will print up 20×30 after processing. Yes you pixel peepers would probably fall on the floor and wither in pain but at the normal viewing distance of a print 20×30 @ 120 ppi is about 5 to 6 feet from the print, not with your eyeball against the print! it’s all good and viewing distance is something for another post, just don’t worry and don’t pixel peep.
There you have it . . . this is MY general workflow. Usually this takes not as much time as you might think, it does depend on how many shots you are dealing with however. You shoot and upload megs & megs of files well it will take a bit, on average if I spend more then 10 minutes per file I might be spending to much time. I would rather be shooting pix than getting a flat bottom from riding my chair in front of my computer. With that said, there are times and files that require more time and you know when you have em. There are others that have different Workflows (processes and stresses that suit them) . . . no one methodology is wrong or right, do back up your files. I have had my losses as well and once you do gone is gone, so make backups.
You may notice I didn’t say what file type I process, you can use JPGs (if you use JPG files use the Fine Large) you will not have as much latitude to work with, RAW files allow the most adjustments to white balance, contrast etc . . . I have used JPGs. It really depends on what your final output will be . . . I always think like this “What if I want a 20×30 print for the wall”. So I shoot JPG fine & RAW . . . Hasn’t failed me yet.
Ok go have fun, shoot some film, shoot some digital . . . just have fun!