Workflow – my way

Let me clarify that I’m only talking about digital working.  Let me also add that it isn’t the right way but my way – to my mind anyone’s workflow will be dependant upon

  • Hardware – camera, monitor, printer,
  • Software – camera software, image manipulation software
  • Knowledge – each of us has a level of knowledge that we tend to enhance when we can or when we can be bothered.
  • Output – what is the purpose of our photograph, i.e. workflow will probably be different depending on what you want to do with the photograph and why you took it in the first place.

Let me reiterate, this is what I do, it is based on the list above.

  • I only shoot in RAW (in my case with a Canon flavour)
  • I do minimal pruning during the shoot (whatever that is).  I am not trigger happy and only ever use a 2Gbit/s card in my camera.  If I’m on my hols/vacation I usually take my Epson viewer/drive thing and download to that.
  • (I always have a spare 1 G/bit card that lives in my camera back – you only have to arrive at site once and find you’ve left your usual card back in the pc to appreciate the value of this!)
  • I use the histogram facility of my camera, I recommend anyone to do the same if they have it.  I ‘chimp’ (what they seem to call the take shot look at the back routine many DSLR users adopt) – but only a quick look at the histogram and only when I’m changing view/location and there potential light changes.
  • I shoot on the lowest ISO I can.  If I use a tripod this is invariably ISO 100.
  • I have recently started to shoot for the right of the histogram.
  • I do not routinely use negative compensation – I use the histogram
  • My camera is set for Adobe RGB with no sharpening.
  • Most of my shooting is done with Aperture priority

Back at base

  • I make a cup of tea – coffee comes once a day at 11 o’clock if I’m at home.
  • I download all my RAW files to a ‘Transferfrom’ folder (or subfolder, depending upon how much time I have been able to spend doing the post shoot work).
  • I use a CALIBRATED monitor (I use a Spyder 3, but there are other tools for the job.
  • I will then run through all the RAW files, either with Bridge or FastStone or File Manager (I’ve downloaded a driver from Canon that makes it possible to view RAW files in FileManager though this only really works for unedited RAW files).  Files that are obviously flawed – blurred, camera shake get deleted without a second thought – no point in keeping them.  I then run through again and weed out all the ones where the exposure is such that whites are burnt out where white is not specular highlights. pooof Gone.
  • Of course, what I’m left with are all brilliant images, classics, masterpieces and each one needs care and attention.  Yeah right! 😉
  • I go through each of the RAW shots I have left making adjustments for exposure, colour temperature, brightness, cropping and ‘straightness’ (vertical or horizontal) and open it into Photoshop
  • In photoshop I then use Curves, Levels (seldom as this was sorted in the RAW conversion process), drop it to B&W (a number of ways available). I nearly always use Layers.
  • Size it –
    • this may mean using Save for Web if it’s for use here or another website (Powerpoint presentations too)
    • Checking DPI/PPI and physical size of canvas
  • Save it as a PSD (I used to use .tif but seems no point in my current workflow) to using the same file name as the RAW serial number of the shot.  I’ve been round the numbers already but it’s easy enough to find which duplicate number I want.
  • Intially I file it in the same folder as the RAW file (TransferFrom).
  • When I’ve finished the folder, I refile everything to the right folder.  My folders have generic headings like ‘Architecture, Landscape, etc. and these have sub folders and even sub sub folders.
  • Holiday/vacation pics I usually keep seperate in their own set of subfolders based on dates/year/location.

Sharpening?  I hear you ask.  Before I print, I sharpen.  I don’t always sharpen for the web.



15 thoughts on “Workflow – my way

  1. I guess there are as many workflows as there are people… But one thing seems to be common for those who like to deliver good photos – we seem to be skipping from one software to the the other 🙂 I usually start with Lightroom, hop over to a slideshow in Picasa to see what else has to go and end up in Photoshop… the short version 😉
    Your results show that yours is working for you 🙂

    • Absolutely, I’d never try to persuade anyone my way is THE way. We adapt to what we have, what we feel comfortable with, what we understand, etc. I’m sure if I could afford some of the specialist photographic imaging software I’d be working that into my workflow somewhere.! You know how it is. 😉

    • 🙂 – I haven’t yet. My use of PS is simply down to opportunity and subsequent ‘fit for purpose’ – I know a few photographers who use LR, they are clearly content with their results. Should I need to change/upgrade my current software I’ll be looking at LR more closely.

    • Thank you.
      I’ve just taken the photoshop/lightroom offer from adobe. I know a lot of people favour lightroom for their provisional editing but I’m struggling with see what advantage it gives at the moment, but I will persevere.
      I think a regular workflow that works for you is important – we can always break away from it if we want too.

  2. I admire your workflow, that takes some dedication.
    For myself, I download to a desktop as it comes out of the camera, mostly a compact, and into Lightroom, cropping out anything unnecessary, never sharpen and then title and date it.
    Put it into an appropriately named folder then on to a backup drive.
    I agree about small picture cards, I hate ‘Machine gun’ photography.
    Make a cup of tea. Happy new year. Mike

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comments.
      I have used Lightroom a few times, but that was after was reasonably familiar with the tools I tended to use most in Photoshop – so Photoshop is where I tend to go most of the time.
      Your comments on my workflow are a useful reminder of what I said then – my workflow has changed a little since so I will update my notes when I get a few moments. I tend towards using Camera Raw as a first (and sometimes only) step before committing to sizing for screensaver size images.
      I also use much bigger memory cards now – not that I’m any more ‘trigger happy’ – more that I have bigger file sizes and I find it easier than having to remember to download to a portable hard drive. One large card usually does me for a week away.
      I’ve just filled my backup drive (I use a continual backup option which means a cumulative requirement) and so I’ve deleted the whole lot and performed a fresh backup. Takes a few hours doing it but cheaper than having to buy a new hard drive backup.
      Over the last couple of years I’ve had considerable calls on my time with family matters so I’m afraid my blogging has been very sporadic. During the coming weeks I’m hoping things will ease a bit.
      As you suggest time for a cup of tea – though that’s going to be an 11 o’clock coffee today!
      Happy New Year to you too.

      • Stephen,
        I agree about file sizes and picture cards.
        One point about picture cards sizes.
        Even though I have never had a picture card fail, there is a view that if you are on holiday, for example, and you have three hundred photos on a card and it fails you have lost everything. However, if you have those photos on three cards and one fails, you still have the other two cards.
        Enjoy your photography. Time to feed the dog.

      • Aye, I acknowledge the good sense in sharing liability across different cards – but I need to be ‘bitten in the arse’ for the message to ram home. It took two or three wasted trips – where I’d left the memory card in the pc and arrived on site with none – before I forced myself to leave a card in my camera bag all the time! Of course, I’ve never used that card as I haven’t forgotten to load the camera since!!

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