Digital Workflow 2014

Digital work-flow and why it matters and why it has to be tunned and improved

Taking pictures with a digital camera is really fun. But there is that big monster/hell waiting back home called the PC for all the post processing.

Some argue get everything right in Camera and the files are ready to be sent of friends/clients.

This assumes that everything is shot in JPEG and the camera makes the right guesses all the time.

I know that not everything will be right all the time. Just a few things that will go wrong every now and then :

Wrong White balance

Over/under exposed

Composition

Very big exposure difference between the subject and background,

All these things should be avoided when ever possible when taking the picture but they will happen (and can take for ever to fix)

I have been taking pictures for just 4 year and I moved from a few 100 per month to around 1,000 or more for a single event  and that is with a much better keeper rate than before.

All this made it important to review my work-flow to keep up and to be able to actually take pictures instead of managing them You can see my older work flow consideration in the historic work flow.

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Linux:

Dikigam

Gimp

Windows 64-bit(inside a vmware):

Capture One Pro V8

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 (this is running on my laptop due to some opengl issues)

Portrait Professional Studio

 

This is my current work flow, check out the historic work flow if you are interested on how I got to this work flow. For me there are only 2 considerations : quality and speed

 

Pre-shooting:

if possible adjust fix lighting ( avoid high differences,….) (2014 update I now added a light meter and color checker passport, it is not possible for all shots like events or outdoors. but when possible it makes my life easier

Fix white balance (to correct color using expodisk or specific for a style)

Have a clean sensor and lenses

Here my clear shoot sequence :

1. check the memory card is empty

2. the batteries are fully charged

3. Set the white balance (either with the expdisk or color checker, for my common venues I know the kelvin settings) hardly ever do I set it to Auto. Having a fixed white balance makes it easier to copy adjustments

 

Post shooting

disable crashplan

Import to PC using digikam and 2 USB3 Sandisk card readers to my SSD work drive

In the background Crashplan will take a copy to my local SAN pretty much real time(including bad pictures, there is also a cloud backup but that takes somewhat longer to complete, up to a few day’s). I restart it once the import is complete and I don’t work on the files. I found that the backup had too much of an impact on the performance of my editing and selecting

My file structure is \lab folder\year\date_event on an SSD drive for performance

Preview in digikam or with Capture one, today I would say that 80% of the review and selection process is done with Capture one

1 delete out of focus or bursts(only keep the best)

Rank images with starts (5 portfolio potential, 4 Really good, 3 Good picture, 2 Good for non photographers, 1 what was I thinking here, let’s try to recover it or shoot that could not be missing for the client.

Review the Stars and remove redundant pictures

Review by 3rd party (not for events, except wedding or formal engagements)

Move to folder to be processed (either all or by orientation and processing target, …)

 

Capture One Pro

All my editing is done with Capture one.

1. I set the meta-data for my files : My details and details of the shot, location, … I am not very specific I won’t specify every player of a game or exact monument

2. select all the images with 1* or more and apply the default recipe. I have one for my own work and different assignments I shoot regularly . These are there for consistency in style and look. They include things like :

– saturation

– contrast

– highlights

– shadow

– clarity

– saturation

– sharpening

I then review every picture sorted by rating I start from the right side and then work backwards, that way I know what is left to work on.

For events I spend maybe 2-4 seconds for every image on the edits

this includes

– exposure adjustment

– shadow / highlight

– straighten

– crop

move on the the next. Obviously for landscapes this will typically include layers and a lot more adjustments and corrections and take longer. with time off between edits to make it look the way I want it

Export Recipe based on what has to happen tot he pictures. For customers this may depend on their usage, category, special request or different resolutions based on the usage for internal use or web publishing

 

Print Post Processing

I get more and more requests where the result is printed : Posters, photos, books, … In all these cases there is more post processing involved

Photoshop Elements 13

I recently bought Elements and use it for some advanced cloning, healing, processing. Maybe I am just new to this but I find the effects to be very visible, I use it very lightly

Nik Colection

I use Silver FX and Color FX a little, my experience is that on both of my machines the software is very prone to crashes

OnOne Perfect Photosuite

Most of my printed work will go through OnOne, I love the smart eraser, Clone tool and presets, also on the presets they tend to be a little heavy handed. Agan on my hardware it will crash after every save and will need a restart. the results are however so good that it is work the extra effort to restart the software

 

Portrait Professional

This is a software I try not to use but at times it is very convenient. Fixing skin issues up to electronic surgery this software does it all with version 13 the results are a lot more natural. Again another software where the word heavy handed retouching comes to mind. It is very easy to tone it down

 


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