New to Mac. Best workflow?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by GrantMeThePower, May 10, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    I just, today, bought my first mac. I've always been on a PC and hated my workflow. I figured that with changing OS i can start over with how i orgainze and finish my photos.

    Right now i typically shoot JPG, plug in my SD card, copy to a folder and then use picasa and gimp as they are free programs. I dont feel, however, like i'm getting much out of them or getting the quality that i ought to.

    I am open to investing into photoshop/lightroom/or aperture.

    Is there a workflow that a majority here consider superior for Mac work?
  2. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    When you put that SD card in your Mac, it should open iPhoto as the default photo app. It comes on the computer. It is a data base program and has it's own file system. Some users moving from Windows to the Mac find it a bit difficult to get used to. They seem compelled to set up the storage system themselves. Give it a try and see what you think. It will give you a basic editing app to start with.

    I use Aperture now and others use Lightroom. It's a personal choice. Almost all of the long time Mac users here started with iPhoto.

    ...And welcome to the Mac community...:)

  3. macrumors regular

    Thanks, Dale.

    Where does OSX save the images? Do i need to have a copy of them that are "unedited", or will iPhoto preserve the original? Does iPhoto read RAW format on its own?
  4. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Check back here tomorrow. I'll post some screenshots.

  5. macrumors 65816


    iPhoto saves images into a database that's hidden from the user. (It's stored in the iPhoto Library item in the you account's Pictures folder.) From within iPhoto, you can always select your files and choose the "Original" format from the Export options to get access to the originals, so you can always get back to the unaltered version. (iPhoto keeps two copies of images, the unaltered original, and a jpg version that includes any editing changes you've made.)

    iPhoto also supports RAW images.

    I used iPhoto for a while, but I found it a bit slow when working with RAW images, and I'm happier now that I've switched to Lightroom.

    I'd suggest using iPhoto for a while, then if you find it's editing/cataloging functionality lacking, try the free demos of Aperture and Lightroom.
  6. macrumors 601


    I don't think you'll find a consensus on workflow.

    Here's what I do most of the time:

    Copy the raw files to a primary and backup disk.
    Process the raw files into 16-bit Lab color space TIFFs using Raw Photo Processor (RPP) which is free for the base and "donationware" for the really cool film tonal curves ($20 suggested, well worth it!)
    Back up the TIFFs to the same backup directory that the raw files are in.
    Run any additional editing, cropping, panoramas, focus stacking, etc. Backup their output as well.
    Save to JPEG/sRGB for uploading/printing
    Import into photo management application (Aperture, Lightroom...)

    I save the raw so I can reprocess the original as software gets better, I save the TIFF as my base development usually after editing, and I often save the JPEG so I can reprint an image the same way again.

  7. macrumors 6502a

    To each his own, but I'm just curious why you would use JPEG as your final format to make prints from, since it's a lossy format.

    My workflow is pretty simplistic:

    1. Copy RAW/DNG or save TIFF files from film scans into the directory structure I set up on my MBP.

    2. Import files in place into LR3.

    3. Do my stuff to the images

    4. Make prints rendered within LR3 and use the LR3 web gallery function to create jpegs and the html. I have templates set up for both output types so it's pretty easy.

    I make backups using various means (rsync to server, two backups on the server, local TM) at times throughout when I'm doing my work.
  8. macrumors regular

    JPG clarification, my workflow, Quality, Apple's One to One.

    I believe that iPhoto keeps the original and a list of the changes that you have made to the photo, but it isn't actually made into a jpg until you export it. This is important: If you were to make a jpg in another program, say Photoshop or Photoshop Express, and then return several times to edit it, the quality of the image would degrade, because each time you save a jpg it compresses the image. (I know that this is how Aperture works -- original and list of changes, and would presume that iPhoto is the same way. I'm not familiar with Lightroom, but would guess that it operates the same way. But, then, I've been wrong before. :) )

    As far as workflow: Many of us work in iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom for file organization and simple editing. Photoshop is very expensive, and has a steep learning curve. Photoshop Express doesn't have all the bells and whistles. Years ago I used Photoshop, and loved it. Now I have PS Express ... it works for what I want it to do. (Note, however: I am not a professional photographer, and I'm new to (D)SLR's.)

    Most of us avoid jpgs for editing. Some offset printers require jpgs, and they do work well for use on the web. If we need a jpg, it's created as the final step, saving our raw and/or tiff files in case further editing is needed.

    Before I clear my chip, I copy the files to my harddrive. (1st copy.) Before I reformat my memory card, I copy them to a CD or DVD. (2nd copy) I have a time capsule, so they are backed up there. (3rd copy). Then I bring them into Aperture. (4th copy) I have a lot of photos (for a non-professional), and still have plenty of space on my harddrive. Eventually I'll change this process, but it works for now.

    There are many different ways to organize your photos. Some do it all by date. Some do it all by subject. I find a combination of broad topics then date works best for me. But, my method is always evolving.

    In Aperture, I have several main folders, and then subfolders within that. I was married not too long ago, so I have a folder for "His Family" and one for "Her Family." A folder for "Us" (which has non-specific events). A folder for "Special Days/Trips." And ones for "Misc." and "Working files."

    In the families folders, I have a subfolder for each year, and then a project for each event, usually a holiday. In "Us," I have some "everyday" photos: Walk at Waukewan Park, for example, in their own project. I also have two subfolders: one for each of us. In Special Days, I have a subfolder for our wedding, our honeymoon, and several vacations. "Misc." has subfolders for items I tend to photograph regularly: Landscapes (local, not part of special trips), Squirrels, Birds and Our House. (Our house is further broken down into various construction projects, snow storms and flowers in the yard.).

    ALL of my subfolders, and eventually all of my photos, are labeled with the date, in the format of YYMMDD +Period+description + index number. If I want a better description, it always goes after the index number.

    I organize my photos in the order I want them, (usually in the order they were shot), and then use Aperture to rename the versions with index as a Batch Change. Sometimes after that I will go in and manually add a description after the index number: "110321.Grand Cayman 28 - Sting Ray City" or "101225.Christmas 3 - Baby Bump!" (For sorting purposes, I never interfere with anything before the index number.)

    My hierarchy might look like this:
    1. Folder: "Special Days+Trips"
    2. Subfolder: "110318.Cruise"
    3. Project: "110321.Cruise.Monday -Grand Cayman"
    4. File: "110321.Grand Cayman 12" or
    4. File: "110321.Grand Cayman 28 - Sting Ray City"

    I organize my photos in the order I want them, (usually in the order they were shot), and then use Aperture to rename the versions with index as a Batch Change. Sometimes after that I will go in and manually add a description after the index number: "110321.Grand Cayman 58 - Sting Ray City" or "101225.Christmas 23 - Mary's Engagement Ring!"

    I haven't used Picasa or Gimp, but you probably get what you pay for! (Isn't Picasa mostly for sharing photos?) The secret to quality images, of course, isn't in the post-processing programs, it is, first and foremost, in the skill of the photographer, and then in the skill of the person doing the photo editing.

    One last piece of advice: If you bought your Mac from an Apple store, it's well worth the $99 to get Apple's One to One -- a year of personalized training on the OS as well as many of the Mac apps, which would make the transition to Mac's much easier. You go for an hour at a time, and can schedule several classes a week if you want. Work on what you want to work on, and at your own speed. (I've used a Mac since forever, and have even taught seminars at the local collage using them, so I thought I knew most of what there was to know. I purchased the One to One for my Dear Spouse -- and found, as I tagged along, that I learned a bunch of tricks, too!) (And for newbies to DSLR, they have a segment on using your camera, too!)

    I hope all this helps!
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Compared to the cost of Lightroom 3, Aperture is a steal if you buy it from the Mac app store.

    My Workflow is:

    Import to Aperture.
    back up to Time machine (weekly back ups to NAS drive, Quarterly back up to off site drive).

    I will then do most of my basic ediditing in Aperture, if it needs more I might go to Camera Raw or Photoshop.

    I did download the Lightroom trial but prefered aperture
  10. macrumors regular

    Wow, thank you all so much for putting in the time and effort to share your workflows with me. It is a big help.

    I am ashamed by my normal saving and sorting methods as they have been so far and I really look forward to getting things back in order.

    I'm also surprised to see how many copies most of you keep! I've never thought to keep more than 1 copy of the original and 1 copy of the final. I think i'm going to be ordering a stack of DVDs and an external hard drive.

    I will be shooting in RAW from here on out. I hadn't been because my PC was windows XP and there was no raw support for my camera (pentax k10d) natively.

    I have bookmarked this thread, and again, thank you all for your time and insight.
  11. macrumors 65816


    iPhoto generates a modified jpg when you finish editing the photo. When you make further edits, it re-renders a new image from the original based on the list of changes you made. So, no image degradation, but jpgs always available.
  12. macrumors 601


    1. Loss only occurs on a re-save- since my JPEG step is the final one, there's no loss- even though the loss on a single save from a max-size JPEG is minimal, I avoid editing JPEGs other than cropping online prior to printing on a Frontier.

    2. All of my potential output devices are 8-bit sRGB (current inkjets and Fuji Frontiers,) there's no benefit at all from using a different encoding or color space. If my output were a 12-bit inkjet, I'd have to test to see if there was a miniscule difference- but really I think the output color space would have to be Lab or a better subset of Lab for any differences to be worth changing to accommodate a single output path.

    3. JPEGs take up the least amount of space- so they're good for online galleries, photo printing accounts and the like in terms of space and transfer time. I use LZW compression for my TIFFs, and there's a huge difference in size.

    4. Most output devices are optimized to handle JPEGs if the have any differences. If I were printing off my own RIP, then I'd probably use TIFF, though it'd be after testing and peeping.

  13. macrumors 601


    I use USB/SATA drive docks so I can slot in a bare (cheap) drive and use it, then replace it easily for off-site backups. I have a USB/SATA combo for my desktop, which is connected to an eSATA card (necessary IMO.) I have a USB-only one for my laptop, but I'm about to go SATA there too with a card for the laptop. The only PITA is the desktop drive requires a kernel module, so major version upgrades require updates- I'll probably replace it soon with something that goes native once Lion is out just to make things simpler. The desktop is dual-drive so backups and cloning is easy and the drives are hot-swapable.

  14. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    The idea behind so many different drives and locations is to protect against different classes of loss or damage, mainly:

    User error
    On site damage (fire, flood, etc.)
    Theft - This is the "off site storage" some refer to. Keep it out of the house/office.

    My workflow is simple.:

    Import to Aperture3 and backup to external drive 1
    Sort using a star system I found on-line. Junkers are 1 star, subsequent passes through the import whittle it down to 4 and 5 stars
    Edit the best and post to Flickr. Save an 8 bit tiff to the external if I want to print in the future.
    A seperate Time Machine drive backs up the main drive.

    Three drives in one location, which is bad. If I travel, another drive will go with me.

  15. macrumors 6502a

    Oh, ok. Thanks for the explanation. I thought that JPEG was inherently a lossy compression method, even from when it's first created.

    Current inkjets are 8 bit devices? The 3800 I have has a driver setting to switch to 16 bit. Is that a placebo control like the door close buttons in elevators?
  16. macrumors 68020


    Price doesn't always mean it's better. Lightroom does cost more, but when it comes to choosing software often the price is irrelevant.
  17. macrumors 603

    Waybo has one way of sorting their images, and I have another. I am not saying either of us is wrong or right, just that we use methods that suit us, and you need to find the system that suits you best.

    I use LR3, and let it sort the images into the default folders.... which is by year, and then subfolders for each day in yyymmdd format. Occasionally I may combine 2 or more days into one... but 99.9% of the time I never even look at the folder structure. However, I use keywords extensively, to the point of having some keywords nested, and using synonyms in some cases (though rarely). And I use collections and collections sets (which can be thought of as albums and folders of albums). I do all of my image "finding" by filtering on keywords, or looking at the collections. In Waybo's example, I would just search on "Sting Ray City" and find all those images... regardless of what year or day I was there. The reason I like keywords is that often I can't remember when I took the image, or that I have similar images from several visits.

    Just a different way to doing things.

    I shoot RAW, and import into LR3. If I can I don't format the memory card until the next day (that way I've got the nightly backup) but sometimes I have to clear the card and use it again. I'll get more cards soon. Important projects I put into a Collection and burn a DVD. Every few weeks I back up to an (physically) small external that gets swapped into safety deposit box - and that one comes home.
  18. macrumors 601


    Save a full-resolution TIFF and print it, then save a full-resolution JPEG and print it- if you can see the difference, let me know. My images are 24.5 MP on my primary FX body and 12.4 on my secondary DX one- so I've got full-on resolution and a very, very small pixel pitch to deal with-- the file format doesn't appear to make any difference to me in 13x19 prints. Keep in mind that this is from a guy who noticed the one to two pixel differences in raw converters back when he tested Aperture 1.5 against RPP, Bibble and ACR back in the day.

    Not a complete placebo- newer printers can be capable of 16-bit printing, but your camera is likely to only do 12-bit output- so unless your edits are detailed, you're likely to not see a difference at all, but even if you do it's going to be miniscule- however, if my printer printed at 16-bit and I regularly sold prints I did myself, I'd probably print prior to JPEG conversion for Frontiers. The reason is that there's less-likely to be an artifact due to the conversion- but I'd just be making myself happy by being picky- I don't fool myself into thinking it'd make any real difference in my prints.

    Here's an example of why things are sometimes counter-intuitive when printing and why you really need to print and peep to see- and you honestly need to print and peep lots of images with lots of color palates to really know what's going to happen...

    Your 3800 has a setting to print at 720dpi instead of 360dpi (the default)-- on the face of it, you'd think "Hey, that's twice the detail!" right?

    Here's what the 3800 FAQ says on the "print finest detail" checkbox:

    Personally- that'd make me worry what the driver might do to a raster image- could it make my image worse?

    Here's a very good article on 16-bit printers:

    Here's one part you should pay attention to in particular:

    That just goes to show that (a) color space is really, really important and (b) the driver is going to do things to your image-- which is why professional printers still use known-good RIPs. If I printed more myself, I'd spend good money on a good RIP before I'd worry*about 8 vs 16-bits.

  19. macrumors 601


    I haven't had the time to do a full-on Aperture test drive with the latest version, but I'll say that cost may be different, but value is more important than cost when you talk about a tool you're using often. I own Aperture 2, and frankly, Apple will have to do a great deal to stop me from going to LR or something else the next time I get time to evaluate the choices.

    When the betas were out, I spent a little time playing and decided if I was going to buy into one again, it'd be LR-- but I really need the time to test, and other things have taken priority.

  20. macrumors 6502a

    I'm sure you're right. My workflow isn't like that, though. I don't save rendered files and then output from them. I keep everything in Lightroom and render for print on demand. You're right about my cameras, though. The digitals are pretty crappy compared to what most people can get from Best Buy these days. The Leica M8 is only 10mp and the Canon 1DsMkII is only 16.7. Hard to believe that when they were new that's $13k worth of camera. At least my other 6 film Leicas maintain a constant level of obsolesce :)

    My 3800 print driver only has 1440 and 2880 available. Anything lower is grayed out. Not sure why. You are definitely way ahead of me, and judging by your website I'm guessing you make a living selling your prints. I just mess around with this stuff for fun. Sounds like you should be writing articles!
  21. macrumors 601


    Heh, "only 16.7!" Once we got past 6MP we got "good enough for most stuff," if I didn't need to crop heavily shooting birds, I wouldn't own a D3x!

    I probably hit an old version of the FAQ- but the principles are the same-- I think all of us obsess over things that don't make much difference! I'd love to write some photography articles, I've done a fair bit of information security stuff in the past, but never really done any photo articles.

    If you see anything you like, PM me and I'll send you a coupon code for a healthy discount! (That goes for anyone on the forum.)

  22. macrumors 6502

    I've been using Aperture for the past few months and have been pretty happy with it. It's kind of like iPhoto on steroids. If you try iPhoto and find it lacking, you may want to consider Aperture. It is sold through the App Store for $80 (compared to $200 when purchased with a Mac or on a DVD). There is also a 30-day trial version available on Apple's website.

    My workflow consists of importing RAW photos to Aperture, and then creating smart albums for all of my various needs (e.g. "show me all photos taken with lens x at shutter speed y during month z"). Then there are numerous configurable export options using JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, etc. Aperture does keep the master (which it can also export). I sometimes find Digital Photo Professional to render better, especially if there are specular highlights or chromatic aberration present in the image. In that case, I save the DPP version to TIFF and import it into Aperture.

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