Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Workflow/File Management help

  1. #1
    Sponge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Madrid
    Posts
    155
    Real Name
    Patrick

    Workflow/File Management help

    I recently decided to get more serious about photography and that's included buying a more capable camera and taking the plunge into the world of PP. Now that I'm shooting in RAW I need some advice on workflow and how to be proficient with my file management since I really don't want to take away too much time from getting out and shooting.

    I just got back from the Algarve Coast in southern Portugal where it was a bit wet but not without some great photo opportunities and I've amassed quite a few shots that I plan on keeping. I shot everything in RAW + JPG (SF) since I know there will be a lot of shots I won't PP now, if ever, but are still worth being able to show family/friends.

    The problem is I'm now a little confused on the best way to manage/convert/backup all these files in a timely manner while utilizing space well. So far my usual process includes opening all pics in Preview (just the jpegs) then throwing out all the non-keepers/doubles before backing-up the rest. In this case before backing-up I'm thinking of converting all the RAW files using Adobe's DNG converter and then throwing out all the originals. Is that a bad idea? (I am debating on keeping the originals for the best of the best just in case I ever want to process with a program that doesn't support .dng). What I'm not sure about is whether to keep all the jpegs even though that takes up quite a bit of space as well. I'm hesitant to throw any of them out since the in-camera processing on many of the pics is great and allows me to have a shareable version of all the pics without any/minimal PP. I guess I'm just looking for other's experiences with this part of the process and what seems to work.

    As far as what apps I have for my workflow... I'm using an old Powerbook G4 so I'm limited on the software that is compatible with OS X 10.4. I have Adobe DNG Converter (last version to work with 10.4, which luckily is the first version that works with my camera =), ACR 4 and Photoshop CS3 (both recent upgrades to my CS1 setup), oh, and the Noise Ninja plug-in which is an older version so it only works with CS1. I also recently downloaded Gimp and UFRaw but still haven't tried that combination and don't know if it offers anything that my Adobe software doesn't cover. I also have Adobe Bridge CS3 but haven't ever used it. So I guess one of my main questions is about what things I should be doing in ACR rather than in Photoshop. I briefly used an older version of ACR and tried to do as much adjustments there before dealing with noise and sharpening in PS but I see in the newer version I just got that there are quite a few more controls. I haven't been touching sharpening in ACR since using Unsharp Mask is one of the few things I've had some experience with in PS and I like the results. I'm not sure what to do about noise since changing PS versions in order to use Noise Ninja is kind of a pain. Is there a comparable way to deal with noise in PS/ACR? I know there are a few noise controls in ACR and a noise filter in PS but I've never used either. Any advice on workflow with the tools I have is much appreciated.

    P.S. sorry about the long post
    Last edited by Sponge; 11th April 2012 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    170
    Real Name
    Mary

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Have you tried Bridge (photoshop)? You can then name the files however you like ie Portugal. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Sponge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Madrid
    Posts
    155
    Real Name
    Patrick

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Thanks for the reply. I'm able to rename my RAW files with DNG Converter but Bridge might be a good way to sort my jpegs. I've never used Bridge so I'll have to give it a look to see what it can offer.

  4. #4
    herbert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Sussex, UK
    Posts
    471
    Real Name
    Alex

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Hi Patrick,

    This appears to be a three part question:

    1. How to develop photos so they look great
    2. How to catalogue and store photos for later retrieval
    3. Back-up

    There are many solutions so I'll try and give you some options. I am sure people will provide you with more details on their preferred choice.

    1. Development

    You will need a good raw developer. You do not mention your camera brand but the Canon Digital Photo Professional is free and the Nikon software is low cost. There are also some other raw developers like DxO, PhaseOne and of course Photoshop ACR.

    Since you have ACR then it would be a good place to start to learn how to use that. A good way to learn is to try and make your raw file look the same as the JPEG. This will get you familiar with the little bit of processing added by the camera to the JPEG such as sharpening, contrast, saturation, colour shifts (picture styles), and the tone curve. You can then push it further to see how it affects the image. Since all editing of raw files is parametric (i.e. it saves instructions on what to do to the raw data) it is non-destructive. This is nice since you can just undo things and try out other options.

    2. Catalogue

    This is arguably more important. After all, why take photos if you cannot find them in 10 years time. You can always redevelop your images in 10 years time when you have more skills but not if you cannot find them.

    It is possible to organise all your photos using directories and file names. Using place names and dates can really help here. When you collect your files off your camera you need to save them into a suitable folder so you can find them in the future.

    A more advanced choice is to use metadata. This is data that describes other data. For photos you can add keywords that describe the place, person, object, etc. in the photo. You can then use a search tool to look for photos using keywords. For this to work you need to be committed to keywording. If you slip behind then it can be hard to catch up adding keywords to all your photos. I'm not familiar with the Mac but the Finder application should allow searching for keywords in files natively. So you can just find you photos using the Macs built-in tools.

    Photoshop Bridge will support adding keywords and searching for photos. It would be a good place to start trying out some file organisation. I do not use Bridge so cannot provide help. There are experienced users of Bridge on here so you can find help if you ask. (Note: I use Lightroom which is a merging of Bridge and ACR. However all the development and cataloguing functionality is the same. It is just packaged up within one place in a different interface. Plus it means spending more money when you don't have to.)

    Keywords are essential to my photo management. Prior to using them I simply used folder names and dates. However keywords and other metadata have the advantage that they work across a set directory structure. For example you can search for photos in June-2010, or Red flowers, or macro shots, or combinations of these.

    3. Back-up

    Converting to DNG is a personal choice. It is an open format and supports smaller files so will save some space. It also supports keywording inside the file and with Photoshop all the ACR development settings too. However if you ever need to use your file with the original manufacturer software then you will need the original file. Some people convert to DNG for processing and archive the original to have the best of both. But then that takes a lot more space.

    A good choice for backup is to store all your files within a single folder. You can then easily mirror this to another drive (or more) such as a portable external disk. If you spread your files out then it becomes harder to track them all and back them up.

    When you back-up it is important to back-up not just the images but also any processing information. For example when you use ACR it can write any raw developments into a sidecar file (named .XMP) next to the original image. You must backup this too. If you use the DNG format then the ACR settings are written into the DNG file and this is not a problem.

    I would not recommend DVDs for back-up. The longevity of DVDs is poor compared to hard drives. They may not be useable in 5-10 years time. Hard drives are similarly priced for the same amount of storage and are easier to manage since you plug them in and just use them. Leave the DVDs for the movies.

    Alex

  5. #5
    FrankMi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    6,294
    Real Name
    Frank Miller

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Hi Partick. There are a number of ways to accomplish this and everyone's workflow can be a bit different. The one I've found most useful is to use Lightroom for most of my image file management:

    1. Shoot just RAW - the camera shoots faster and less memory/hard drive space is used.

    2. Copy the files from the CF card to the hard drive using Lightroom - it not only makes the copy (and backup copy if you want) but it can convert the Camera RAW files to DNG, rename the files, catalog the images, and provides a way to display the images so that the duplicate JPEG is not needed.

    3. Delete the duplicates and technically unacceptable images - Lightroom can automatically sort the images and find the duplicates regardless of shoot sequence.

    4. Make JPEG copies (export), if desired, of the selected images.

    5. Apply any needed Adobe Camera Raw settings - the ACR engine is built into Lightroom.

    6. I can then open the selected image(s) directly into Photoshop for further processing.

    If you don't need to use Layers and Masking many folks don't bother using anything more.

    Lightroom is also an image management and storage system.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Sponge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Madrid
    Posts
    155
    Real Name
    Patrick

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Hi Alex, thank you for your advice. I found a lot of the information helpful with creating a good workflow. I think you're right about using keywords and I'm gonna try to get in the habit of doing that. I've always used folders with dates and names but as you said it's hard to eventually go through years of information to find what you're looking for. The camera I bought is an Olympus E-PL2 and the software that came with it doesn't work on my OS so that's not an option but from the limited work I've done with ACR I'm happy with it and the newer version that I have now adds some great new options.
    I'm still not sure whether or not to throw out most of the original RAW files after converting to DNG though I think I'm leaning towards doing so to most since space is an issue. About half a year ago I tried looking for an extra external drive and couldn't find a newer model that worked with my Mac/OS. I'm sure there's something out there but until then I'm trying to manage what space I have as best as I can.
    Last edited by Sponge; 11th April 2012 at 04:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Sponge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Madrid
    Posts
    155
    Real Name
    Patrick

    Re: Workflow/File Management help

    Hi Frank, thank you for your recommendations. I've only heard good things about Lightroom and it sounds like it would be the easiest all-in-one (or close to it) solution for someone like me without being too complicated like PS can be. I think when I finally invest in a new computer I'll probably look into it since as of now the latest version I could use on my system is Lightroom 2 and from what I've seen it's gotten quite a bit better since then. For now I think I'm going to try to manage with ACR4 and CS3 for the most part.
    I went back and forth on whether to shoot only RAW but before this last trip decided to do both even though I knew I'd sacrifice a little on speed and space. In part I wanted to see if the Olympus JPEG images lived up to the fame and from what I've seen they do come out really nice. Maybe once I get a better hang on PP I'll switch to just RAW but to save myself some time on the good but not great images I think I'll deal with the hassle for now.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •