DSLR Newbie - Workflow Advice Needed...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wngraham, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. wngraham macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    #1
    I bought a Nikon D40 a couple of months ago, and while I've primarily used at as a nicer point-and-shoot to take photos of my 4 month old son, lately I've been getting a more "serious photography" bug. I had my first published photos over the summer, and coming from someone used to using a crappy 7 year old Fuji, it was quite the accomplishment.

    Anyway, when dealing with photos of my son or just regular snapshots, I simply import the JPEG files into iPhoto and let it do it's thing. It's the more advanced stuff I'm having questions about.

    I've been shooting in RAW (.NEF), importing the images with Image Capture into my own folder structure on an external HD, then browsing/tagging/adding metadata with Adobe Bridge. From there I open the files I want to further edit in Adobe Lightroom and adjust contrast/white balance/shading/sharpness/etc. Once I'm happy with the results I'll export a JPEG onto my desktop, and then import that into iPhoto for uploading and sharing. Occasionally with a few pics I'll edit them further with Photoshop CS4, save them back into Lightroom, and then do the JPEG export for iPhoto use.

    It seems like I might be taking too many steps to get the finished result. Any advice? Any steps I could cut out or condense?

    Any help will be much appreciated.
     
  2. stagi macrumors 65816

    stagi

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    #2
    Your workflow actually sounds pretty decent to me, if it is working for you I would say keep it the same. You only really have 3 steps which are all really needed (import/tagging, post production & sharing) You might be able to do them a little bit different (like tagging in lightroom instead of bridge, but these little tweeks might not save you a lot of time.
     
  3. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #3
    I would eliminate Bridge entirely. It's not specifically designed for photos like Lr is and it gets "temporary amnesia" when an external drive with your photos is unplugged. Lr can handle all the importing and tagging that you are doing with Bridge, plus its also part photo database that still knows all about your tagged image files even when the drives where the raw files are located are offline.

    Nate Coalson has a Lightroom book that is actually very heavy on designing a livable Lr workflow. My workflow isn't exactly like his, but I learned quite a bit about using Lr workflows from reading his book. Highly recommended: Lightroom 2: Streamlining your Digital Photography Process

    Edit:
    One other thing I do is to copy the raw files directly from my CF cards to a scratch drive on my Mac using a FireWire card reader, then import from there in Lr (or DxO) to a more permanent directory structure. It should be easy to find a USB card reader for SD/SDHC cards like your D40 (and the new MacBook Pros have SD card readers built-in). Image Capture is fine, but it takes too long IMO if you have gigabytes and gigabytes of photos to download.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    Yes, far to many steps. Why not use iPhoto to adjust the raw images? If there are exposed properly not much adjustment should be needed. If more work is required then double click from within iPhoto and they will appear inside any photo editor you specify.

    I use Aperture. I import them directly in to Aperture's library then add meta data, rate ans select them and organize them into "stacks". Then I adjust and crop them. For most this is eenough. SOme get more work in Photoshop. I can transfer to photoshop from within Aperture. I think this uses the minimum number of steps.

    iPhoto and Adobe Elements can work a lot like Aperture/Photoshop and at much lower cost.
     
  5. Cory5412 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona
    #5
    I took a digital imaging class, and while it doesn't make me an expert, here were my notes on approximately what we did: http://www.stenoweb.net/wiki/index.php?title=Photo_Workflow

    In short, almost exactly what you're doing!

    We'd start by putting everything into a common folder, batch renaming everything lastname_YYYYMMDD_[imagesequencenumberfromyourcamera].extension and then we would use DNG converter or Bridge+Camera RAW to convert everything to DNG files. From there, we put the images into 4-gig buckets for super easy archival onto DVDs, and there were other parts of the file structure for JPEG and PSD files that you created as a result of your daily work.

    Before I took the class, my personal version of this workflow involved foldering the images in groups of 30, so I could print 5x6 frame contact sheets on my laser printer, which wasn't necessarily my best idea ever, however at that time it worked out very well because I had been using an extremely slow old G3 PowerBook (It was pretty much a miracle that CS2 even ran on it), so I just had it do a bunch of batch processing overnight, and I used the contact sheets to actually locate images to work on, instead of bothering with browsing in the computer.

    When you have a pretty fast intel or really fast powerpc mac, it's not too big of a problem to use iphoto or aperture or lightroom as a management system though.

    Another advantage of a manual management system using Bridge is that you can dump your entire folder structure onto a FAT32 disk or onto DVDs and re-build it on a PC with Windows or (if there's ever a good bridge/photoshop killer for it) Linux.
     
  6. wngraham thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    #6
    I'd thought about eliminating Bridge, but have gotten fairly used to it, and set up a workspace layout I'm comfortable with - but I may try tagging in Lightroom just to see how much easier it is. I appreciate the suggestion.

    I only open Bridge after the files are imported onto the external HD, so I've not run into the issue with an unplugged drive yet. I really only use Bridge on new photos as soon as i start my workflow, so I never use it to go back and view older photos already stored. Nice tip though - thank you.

    I've used iPhoto to process NEF files in the past, and didn't really like it's adjustments. I guess I just want a little finer control. I've tried using an external editor from within iPhoto as well, but would really rather store only the final JPEG in iPhoto as opposed to multiple copies and edits. I may try it again though and see how i like it now...it would definitely cut down the number of steps and programs used. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

    THANK YOU! That link is excellent. I've bookmarked it and plan on passing it on to any other newbies who are needing workflow advice.
     
  7. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #7
    You seem to be creating more work for yourself

    As for me....

    I import using the Canon software. This places them in a Year/Month/Day/filename folder structure. (either import from camera, memory card or a watched folder*)

    Then import the images into Lightroom and Keyword, process and then export.

    Only using Photoshop for more serious edits (I tend to edit the exported JPEG).

    *depends how many memory cards I'm importing.
     
  8. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #8
    You originally asked if you were taking too many steps. If you are working through a couple dozen shots then it probably doesn't matter, but what you described probably wouldn't hold up to a thousand shots per event stored on separate external drives.

    OTOH, it's not like a religious thing where only one workflow can be "right". Some people want to sort through all the shots as quickly as possible, tag the keepers, do PP on the shots that need it, and be done with it. Other people want to use all the software on their computer because it makes them feel like they got their money's worth. ;)
     
  9. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #9
    I keep going back to this iPhoto/Elements combo myself. Mostly I use Elements for the perspective control. I just haven't seen that my photos are better for having gone through the more complex post-production processes.

    I switch back and forth between raw and jpeg. JPEGS are pretty darn good, really, and less trouble. I should just settle on raw as it can't hurt.
     
  10. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Holocene Epoch
    #10
    If you can get the exposure and white balance right or at least pretty close at the time you take the shot, JPEGs are pretty darn good!
     
  11. JoshBoy macrumors 6502

    JoshBoy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #11
    my advise

    My best advise to you is if you love photography spend the extra money and get the better programs. I use Aperture (I use to use LR) I touch things up, manage my shoots (over 15,000 shots) I then have a plug in that alows me to export the photo dirct into Photoshop CS4 for any major work. I also use photomatrix for HRD shots when needed.
    I also tend to tag and rate my shots so I can go back to the top ones later.
    Good luck with it, photography is a wonderful art.
    If you have any specific questions of please feel free to PM me.

    Cheers

    Josh
     
  12. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #12
    The OP already has Lightroom and CS4 what better programs does he need?
     

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