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Sport Diver IMAGES column: workflow tips from the community

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Hello, guys! I'm working on a workflow article for our IMAGES column in Sport Diver Magazine, and would love to quote some of you in the "Tips from the Community" sidebar.

 

If you have some short tips on digital workflow, let 'em flow into this forum. Please be sure I have your full name and country in your tip.

 

Thanks again!

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I'm not sure it's specifically a 'workflow' comment, but I'd think it would be good to point out that whatever software you use, set your defaults to always save EXIF data with any photo! There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to track your settings and learn from them after the fact (for those of us who aren't pure manual savants yet, at least). After development it's not always easy to determine the original RAW file from which a given JPG or TIFF file was derived.

 

In Paint Shop Pro Photo (XI) for example (not everyone can afford PhotoShop and/or Elements!) there's a setting under File > Preferences > General Program Preferences on the 'Display and Caching' page to "Re-use last file type in Save-as dialog". This way once you've saved a JPG for example, the next time you do a save-as it remembers and as a result also remembers your last Option settings for the selected file format (e.g. compression levels, EXIF, progressive or not, etc.)

 

In Olympus Master on the other hand (comes with Olympus DSLR cameras, currently at version 2.04), there is no specific setting to 'remember' preferred RAW development format. When developing RAW images you have to intentionally select that you want to save to (for example) EXIF-TIFF vs. TIFF. Fortunately, even without a setting, it will also default to your last selection.

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I am very bad at digital workflow (I don´t even know how to work with layers but I promise some day I will dedicate it some time :) ) but I have found that:

 

I always shoot raw+jpg but was not able with ACR or PS (probably because of my lack of knowledge) to treat the raw file and get the colours of the jpg :P ...pictures looked washed out or "dead" out of the raws with ACR. So now I use Capture NX to adjust light, WB etc... and then PS for backscatter etc... and layers in the future!!!!

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I am 'newish' to underwater photography, and I find that I shoot LOTS of pictures, with the intention that I will get at least 1 (please!) good photo from each dive....

 

I try to remember settings, F stops etc etc.... but when you are a beginner there is so much other stuff to worry about... did I switch the flash on? Buoyancy....and where did my subject disappear to when I took my eyes of it for that fraction of a second....

 

Soooo when I finally get back to review my shots how do I manage them?

 

I firstly review in the nice little programme that Microsoft provides with my computer, and delete everything that I know I don't want....(I can always go and rummage thru the trash can later if I get rid of something I later need :P ). The quick review, and fast delete function are much easier to use than Photoshop or Paintshop Pro.

 

By the way - love the Paint Shop Pro! It's inexpensive, it does not 'blind you with science' like Photoshop, and the smart enhance picture function is a great way for beginners to start playing with contrast, colour etc.... The presets are cool too. Great product - I have both Paintshop Pro and Photoshop, and I much prefer Paintshop.

 

 

I then make sure that I use a naming convention for my files that will help me find them later - I use the date to start with. Year, month, day, followed by title, Wide Angle or Macro then title . 080229 - 01 WA - The Wall so on and so forth, and then if i want to really edit I stick a version number on the end 080229 - 01 WA - The Wall v01 Lastly I back up my files to my 180 gig back up drive......

 

....well OK in a perfect world this is what I would do! I try to keep to this method, but I work between a number of computers, and I have a business to run too!

 

I would also recommend finding a place to show off your work, I like the Sport Diver community pages! So even if you did have a major computer melt down at least you have a lasting reminder of your photographic triumphs!

 

Loosing a picture can be heart breaking, especially if you have a low res copy that someone else wants a hi res version of! So use a filing system for your photos that you can easily remember, get rid of unwanted images (or keep a separate folder for images that are too good to dump but not good enough to show off yet!), and finally keep a back up!

 

Kay Wilson,

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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How about something Kurt Amsler said to me when I first changed from shooting film - "If you're not shooting RAW files and converting them, you are missing the point of digital photography."

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How about something Kurt Amsler said to me when I first changed from shooting film - "If you're not shooting RAW files and converting them, you are missing the point of digital photography."

 

John, I think this might be one of those cryptic comments that leave Wetpixel newbies feeling left out. It doesn't really help anyone not shooting in RAW understand why they should, it just leaves them wondering what point they're missing. For folks just starting, or people who want snapshots to share with friends, the point of digital is it's easy and quick; from camera to sharing photos in no time. I just don't see much value in RAW for those folks, since it essentially adds a layer of complexity they don't need. Different discussion for another thread, I guess.

 

For the newbies, my workflow tip: get a decent photo organizing tool, like Picasa, Photoshop Elements, etc. It'll help you import, organize, and review your photos, and export them to email or the web. Most have some basic editing and presentation functions (crop, rotate, slide show, etc.) as well.

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Here's my tips:

  • Have a "backup" source available on your dive trip. This could be a laptop, iPod, flash stick, extra memory cards, whatever - just make sure you have a copy of all your shots
  • If using a Point & Shoot, use the highest quality JPEG setting. Don't bother using RAW if it takes 4 seconds to write the file.
  • If using DSLR, Use RAW because of all the good tools for post-manipulation
  • If using DSLR/RAW and you are on a PC, download Microsoft's "free" RAW image thumbnail viewer. Very handy!
  • (An old tip, but a good one) If it's a shot you REALLY want, bracket exposures, alter flash settings on successive shots.
  • Always keep the orginal. Enhance with photo software and save to a different file name.
  • Don't delete until you get home. You never know what you may find.
  • Use the destination name and date in your filenames. Windows allows you do set this when copying from your memory card to the computer.
  • Name your folders to make it easy to find your photos. I use the Date, then the destination so clicking on the "Name" tab in Explorer will sort your folders nicely -- Example: 20080303_GrandCayman for a folder name.
  • For casual software enhancement, use Picasa (free picasa.com)
  • For a bit more advanced use and *excellent* workflow, use Helicon Filter (cheap - helicon.com)
  • For FULL control over every nuance of your images, invest the time and money into Adobe Photoshop (pricey, but worth it - adobe.com)
  • If you buy a laptop for travel, get one of the tiny 3 pound ones with a 12" screen and no CD drive.
  • Buy a USB harddrive to back up your photos. 250gb ones are around $100 now.
  • Sign up for one of the various "free" sites to show your photos like Picasaweb, Flicker, Snapfish, etc. Show all your friends!
  • When I first process a photo I will A) crop it if needed, B) adjust contrast/brightness/saturation and C) sharpen - in that order. Crop first because the options you choose for sharpening or exposure control will be a bit different depending on the size of the photo.
  • If you use Photoshop, use Google to find the various "action" files out there for correcting backscatter and blue or green cast on your photos - it is amazing how good some of these tools are for saving photos you would have "trashed" in the past.

John Pierce

Denver, CO USA

Edited by johnspierce

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My tips are to learn how to apply optimised settings from one file to multiple files. I do this in Photoshop and it can save an awful lot of time especially if you have shot a lot of images under similar conditions and have adjusted one, raw file so that it looks good. You can open multiple raw files and 'synchronise' the settings very easily in Photoshop. I assume that many other different types of image handling software can also allow multiple files to have similar settings applied to them. Another tip is to learn how to use Photoshop's "actions' and 'batch processing' - which can be used to produce files using a pre-determined set of parameters. Its not always very intuitive but the help system supplies the information if you are prepared to use it. Either tip can save enormous amounts of time.

 

Paul Kay

 

UK

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Don't delete photos. Underwater you should not be worrying about whether a photo is a keeper or not. Check to see if adjustments are needed and get ready for the next shot. There is time for editing later.

 

Get the photos onto a proper computer (and make a back up before working on them) then flag the definate keepers. Store the non-keepers - they provide guidance as to what you need to do next time. EXIF data and and image are more valuable than notes and you may go back and find a non-keeper is a keeper at some point.

 

And if you are on a Mac, get Aperture 2 :P

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These are GREAT, guys. Keep them coming. :P

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Using Aperture has greatly simplified my workflow and Lightroom works in similar fashion:

1. Create new Project or Folder within an existing project, and download RAW (JPEG also OK for those not sure about this) onto laptop with cardreader

2. Enter all appropriate IPTC data and keywords before hitting download button.

3. Sort all photographs and rate from top rank (5 star) to Rejected.

4. Stack photographs as appropriate and choose favorite pick of stack, close stacks so that only the favorite pick is seen on top of the stack.

5. Enter any additional keywords or IPTC data for favorites or keepers.

6. Do any adjustments needed to favorites in Aperture. (Can do batch adjustments if needed)

7. Open Rejected folder, review quickly, and delete all those you definitely do not want.

8. Update Aperture's Vault (Backup Library) on an external drive. Card can now be reformatted in the camera.

9. I am now done unless I want to do any further more complex adjustments in an external photo editor. ( I use Photoshop CS3) Any adjustments done in an external editor are saved in Aperture as a new version.

Edited by loftus

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Here's another:

 

Getting it as near right in the camera saves a lot of time later, but getting it wrong doesn't mean that the shot is lost!

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Safety stops are ideal for deleting bad shots. That way all your buddies think you only take great shots when they see your pictures. Plus the more bad photos you take the safer your profile will be!

 

Alex

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I realized you probably want one-liner tips, so to summarize my previous post:

' Using an all-in-one program like Aperture or Lightroom, streamlines and simplifies the workflow process.'

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Make sure you use unique, consistent filenames across all your images to prevent accidentally overwriting previous images. This should be one of the first steps in your post-shoot workflow. I use my initials, the date, and a camera generated number: CB_20080202_6765.NEF. Never name your images after something inside the image like 'shark.jpg' as it's never unique and is a recipe for disaster. Almost every program out there can help you rename.

 

Take advantage of a new breed of application that integrates almost all of the workflow steps into one program. Examples are Aperture and Lightroom.

 

Cor

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Post-capture digital flow:

 

1) I do a transfer to a hard drive which converts the file name to a unique number. I can add a suffix or prefix to this number, which I do by location. The number portion remains unique regardless of suffix or prefix.

 

2) I backup this hard drive to another.

 

3) If shooting raw I do a raw conversion using ACR. I do not up-sample the resolution in the converter, nor do I overly crop the image.

 

4) When editing in Photoshop I immediately create an adjustment layer in order to preserve the raw conversion. When the Photoshop processing is complete, the file is saved as a multi-layer PSD file. This file becomes the source file for the output.

 

5) The PSD can then be cropped, changed in size, converted to 8-bit, up-sampled or down-sampled, final sharpening for either printing or web presentation. By waiting until this stage to up-sample the image, I limit the extent of the resampling to that which is minimum necessary for a particular print size. Some of these steps can be automated via Actions, including the addition of a copyright symbol.

 

6) The image created from the source PSD is then saved as a JPG; highest quality for printing and medium quality for web presentation. I do not edit file once it has been reduced to 8-bit and saved as a JPG. The resulting JPG file is then saved in a new project or trip folder where the whole folder can be uploaded to the web or sent for printing.

 

7) Repeat step 2.

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