New to Mac and Photo Editing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Stockcroft, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Stockcroft macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2013
    Sussex, UK
    I have recently made the big leap from Windows to an iMac - still learning the delights and foibles! I'm a reasonably keen (but definitely novice) amateur photographer and trying to figure out the best hardware, software and workflow setup for my needs. Would very much welcome thoughts and advice on approach.

    On the hardware side I have bought the 21" iMac, a 2TB Timecapsule for backup, an Optical Drive and I have a pre-existing 400GB external HDD plugged into the new Mac (as opposed to the Timecapsule network). My preference and working assumption is that I should keep my expanding library of photos on the external hard drive so as not to gum up the Mac.

    I have recently bought Photoshop Elements and undertook a 1 day introductory course - I like it as an editing tool, especially for RAW format. But I previously used Picassa as the day to day final viewing repository (ie after editing and saving as JPEG) and think I might continue to do so as it seems to offer the easiest way to upload and share photos with friends and family - ie by simply sending a link. It may be my unfamiliarity but iPhoto and Elements Organiser don't seem to offer the opportunity to share as easily.

    So I am envisaging a workflow that initially dowloads images from camera (Nikon D90) to a temporary folder in Pictures on the main HDD where I can edit them in Elements before saving the finished articles to a new folder in the chronological architecture on the External HDD. I can then add that folder to Picassa. So when viewing in Picassa the computer will reading from the external HDD so I want it to be quick - it also needs to be able to backup to Timecapsule. The current external HDD was used previously on the Windows machine and is formatted in an MS-DOS - Timemachine doesn't currently back that up but I understand I need to reformat to Mac to do so.

    My two specific issues are:

    (i) whether I should invest in a new, larger capacity External HDD at this stage - and specifically one with a Thunderbolt connectivity? Will I notice the difference?

    (ii) Does the workflow I outline seem reasonable, sensible and efficient - or am I making a lot of work for myself and there are better ways of doing things.
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I'm an amateur myself but have a similar set up. I keep all my photos on the iMac hard drive, which are backed up externally to the TimeCapsule. This runs in the background every hour or so. I then back up my pictures (and other important stuff to an external USB 2 drive every few weeks or so. That way I have 3 copies, one of which can be kept offsite etc.
    The benefit of a Thunderbolt drive is negligible for the price if all your going to do is store pictures on it. Get a cheaper USB 3 drive and with the money you save you can put it towards some other photography equipment (cause there is always something!).

    In terms of workflow, I found iPhoto a bit frustrating so went with LR 5. As well as being great for basic editing, it is also a data management system. So you can assign pictures keywords and sort them that way. So for example if you take a picture of some fireworks and years later want to find that shot, as long as you assigned the keyword firework, just type it in and up it comes. You can of course assign as many keywords as you like (firework, November 5th party,Catherine wheel etc).
    This way you dong have to remember the when and where you stored it. Personally as I shoot RAW you can always retrieve your original data, so there is not a lot of point in saving multiple copies. I do some external editing with plugins like Nik software and Onone. However everything gets saved back in LR. Finally (mostly for this forum) upload to Flickr so I can share online. These are exported from LR as J-pegs.
    Hope that had helped, but I'm sure others will have different opinions on workflow. I guess it's finding what works for you, and making sure it's scalable for a future growing image library.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I think you put a bit of considerable thought into your work flow and processes which is a great start.

    AppleFanBoy gave you great advice on some of the hardware and software facets to think about.

    The reality is that many people who become serious about their workflow may end up with more than one piece of software to experiment with before settling down to a primary or favourite that become an anchor of workflow.

    I will admit I am not a fan of Adobe's Elements though it is not at all a bad software. I think going over to something like Lightroom or Aperture is a better bet for getting your files onto your computer, managing them and doing the typical "corrections and edits." As mentioned, there are plug-ins/filters that you might want to check out by makers such as Nik, OnOne and a few others.

    When it comes to the hardware you might be best served to get USB3 external drive. Not all USB drives or for that matter Thunderbolt are created equal. You may want to explore the Internet for reviews on external USB3 drives and also enclosures that you populate with a drive of your choice. When I say not equal I am referring to speed and durability. Speed of course being number one in everyone's book so to speak.

    The Nikon you have is an excellent tool to learn digital photography and get some good images if you are willing to practice and understand a moderate level of post image processing.

    Again - Consider Aperture or Lightroom as your starting point on your computer for your image files. They are decent for organizing, typical edits, usable with 3rd party plug-ins/filters, and more. Items like Adobe Elements and Pixelmator are great if you need to take it a step further. My only caveat with Elements (unless things have changed) is related to bit limitations when saving/converting.

    As for hardware - best to go to the Internet and do some research on various USB3 drives (and enclosures) to find which ones reviewed by pros or consumers offers speed, consistency and durabiity.

    ADD to your list - consider learning about monitor calibration. There are a number of tools out there that will help you calibrate your screen and everyone has their favourites so you will need to investigate which one may work well with your iMac.

    Investigate Lightroom and Aperture
    Investigate Nik and OnOne plugins/filters
    Investigate screen calibration and 3rd party offerings (Spyder, Munki etc.)
    Consider Elements as an addition rather than starting/central software
    USB3 should more than suffice for now - get a decent performer
    Enjoy the adventure.
  4. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I second using Aperture or Lightroom as your starting point. Either of these has the functions for building a huge library of photo that you can sort many different ways. Both apps also give you tools for serious non-destructive editing. You can then add plugins from Nik, Topaz, Ononesoftware, or even Adobe Elements as additional editors.

    Personally I use Lightroom as I had it for years in the Windows world. So it was a easy transition from LR for Win to LR for Mac. Right now LR 5 has more features/capabilities that Aperture 3.5. But Apple has hinted that a new Aperture release, Aperture 4, may be in the works. So the competition between Aperture and LR is far from over. The good gives us choices.

    You can always start with the light duty iPhoto and then spend $75 for Aperture. Those two apps share the same library. LR will cost around $150 depending on the discounts you can find.
  5. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    I agree with everything apart from this. Most macs come with pretty good calibration out of the box.

    If the main use is online and not high end printing (talking magazine spreads with calibrated printers) then I see little point in the expense of calibrating.

    You can calibrate and have the perfect colour that you know is right but as soon as you upload it everyone is looking at the image through their own phones, monitors, tvs, etc. and there is no way to colour control all of that.

    Even printing there is little point in spending all the money and time calibrating the screen and the printer to work together for a few 6x4s.
  6. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    To me, even though it's more work, RPP is the primary value in owning a Mac for digital photography. Pay the $20 for the real-life film curves, set the default interpolation to AHDMF, read the help file and process away. Unlike PS and all the rest, RPP does floating point math on the images, so graduations are smoother. Local contrast and sharpening algorithms are great and other than having to hit "Apply" for most changes, the results are intuitive.

  7. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    If your image library can easily fit and grow on your internal drive, I think that's the best place for it. I sized my drive in order to make that happen. Since I work on a MBP I want everything with me without worrying about external drives.

    I started with iPhoto but outgrew it. Recently switched to Aperture because I preferred the UI over Abode. I think Lightroom offers more features but I'm happy with Aperture. I like the management features of iPhoto and Aperture but my wife gets frustrated by them. Sometimes you have to find what fits with your style.
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Candidly, the exercise is to have consistency. A "profile" might be good at one time and weeks down the line the monitor shifts. The point of calibration is not only to be optimized but consistent. The latter cannot be achieved by doing nothing. However, I do appreciate your points about what the files would be used for and to what degree calibration may play a role.
  9. macmesser macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2012
    Long Island, NY USA
    I have a large image database on a few external drive enclosures. The only image files I keep on my Mac Pro are unprocessed RAW files or files awaiting further processing in Photoshop. Keeping many images on the Mac would gum it up and waste space, and possibly important files might be more at risk if something happens to the Mac. I have SSD boot and scratch drives which makes image processing a lot faster. The OP might want to consider investing in an SSD boot drive as they have come down a bit in price lately. You will probably notice a difference in speed if you try to work with files on an external drive. One of my enclosures is eSATA and it is not as fast as my internal HDs. If you use the externals as near-line storage and copy things to your internal HD/s when you are working on them you will have the best of both worlds.
  10. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Totally agree but I calibrate by eye through the tools in OSX and have yet to have had a problem.

    If it was me I would spend the money on extra film rather than worrying about being 99.9% accurate!
  11. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    The easiest way for you to share is to shoot RAW and jpeg at the same time. That way you don't have to do any editing unless you really want to.
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You have excellent taste in choice of RAW converters. I happen to use Capture One Pro but RPP in some ways is superior. I may in a couple of months give RPP a go and see how well it holds up to the Fuji X sensor based RAW files (Lightroom, Aperture, DXO, ACR all fall way behind on handling the RAF files). RPP, Capture One, Ninja and Silky Pro do a much better job.

    However, for someone just trying to get a workflow going, I would still recommend starting with Lightroom or Aperture based on file management and the additional plug-in/filters. Some of the issues that may show up can often be a learning lesson on how to "shoot to avoid sensor and lens limitations."

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