OK.. massive workflow overhaul: Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DrDoug, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. DrDoug macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    OK. I am a keen amateur and the amount that I shoot is going up up up.

    Until now, I have been using my Canon 500D in JPEG mode most of the time (casual shots etc) and JPEG+RAW for special occasions (on safari etc).
    I use iPhoto for organising, and PS CS5/Bridge if I want to play with a RAW image (not often). Library is expanding, so have decided to change things up and get more serious.

    1. Will change to lightroom or aperture. (prob Aperture, so iPhoto library import is easier)
    2. Will start to use RAW as a default.

    so my questions are:

    1. If I just shoot in RAW and import into Aperture, will I have to convert all photos to JPEG in order to be able to easily browse through folders etc, or do I only need to convert for exporting etc.
    2. Is there any advantage to JPEG+RAW mode? could I use this mode, importing everything in JPEG, but only selected RAW images (the ones I know I will want to tinker with - perhaps one in five)

    overall, just an Idea of how people in similar positions handle their images would be much appreciated. Dont really know the practical implications (downsides) of RAW shooting.

    Many thanks

    (sorry for any naivety here, I am looking for advice, not sarcasm)
  2. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    I am no pro but I can share the workflow that I currently use.

    I shoot on a 600d always in RAW mode.

    I have both Aperture and Lightroom but at the moment I am using lightroom for my digital photos.

    In both Aperture and Lightroom I believe they create thumbnail previews for each photo so it's not loading the RAW file all the time. This negates the need to have a JPEG & RAW of the same files.

    I would say the only advantage to JPEG+RAW is the one you have stated whereby it will save you on hard drive space as I do a similar thing to you and probably only edit 1 in 5 photo's however, for me the other 4 are still RAWs cluttering up my Hard drive.

    I think you will find Aperture or Lightroom and nice step up from iPhoto and you will probably find that you don't need to go into Photoshop as much as there are some really powerful controls within Aperture and Lightroom.

    Add the moment I import all the photos on the camera. I then go through (this is lightroom by the way) and reject any photos that I can tell instantly are no good using the x key. After this first wave I go through again and 'colour' the better photos (aka the ones that I am going to do some fine tuning on) this is done using the 6-9 keys and after pushing there will be a coloured border around the photo. You can then sort your photo's so you only see the ones with a green colour border for example and these will be all the ones that I edit.

    Hope that makes sense!
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Only convert your images to a file format that you need too. That is, keep them in RAW until such time that JPG/PNG/TIFF is needed. When browsing the images, OSX can render RAW images for you, in fact OSX is what is doing the RAW conversion for Aperture.

    Not to my knowledge, why create a file that has both JPEG and RAW images? I shoot in straight RAW and never had the desire to change over to JPEG+RAW. Waste of space imo.

    I'm no professional, though I have done some events. I'm more of a prosumer and here's my work flow.

    Import images from the camera
    Initial tagging/flagging and keywording. Quick rejection of images that won't make the cut
    Go through and mark/rate the images that are the best
    Edit those images
    Back up my images in vault for aperture or an external drive for LightRoom.

    For Prosumer needs, especially for those folks who are well immersed in the apple ecosystem Aperture is a good decision. I prefer Lightroom, I like the controls and UI better imo, and I prefer ACR over apple's, i.e., its a personal preference thing :)
  4. fcortese macrumors demi-god


    Apr 3, 2010
    Big Sky country
    I have a similar workflow. I import my pictures via a CF card reader and do a quick run through and decide which pictures I do not want to import. The rest of the flow is as outlined by maflynn. I use Aperture for my library management, my preference. The only need I can see for doing JPEG + RAW is for professional shooters on a deadline that have to get pictures into their editor, like those shooting a sporting event or for newspapers, etc. A# or LR is definitely a step above iPhoto and as already mentioned, you can do an awful lot of correction in either and only use PS for special treatments. There are plenty of how-tos to help you with either A3 or LR on the internet.
  5. OreoCookie, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011

    OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Unless specifically stated otherwise, everything I say holds for Aperture and Lightroom.
    IMHO you should try both apps before committing yourself to one. Beware: both are complex apps with lots of bells and whistles.
    Any recognized image format will be treated alike: if you make changes, they are not written into the file itself, but Aperture/Lightroom add a small file that contains a description how the original file is edited. The original is never ever altered. This means you can add many versions of one file which contain different tweaks (e. g. slightly different crops or image adjustments) without cluttering your hard drive with almost identical copies of an original. One consequence is that when you edit a a photo, you need to export it if you want to share it with others.* But you can immediately see the results of your edits on screen.

    RAW files offer the big benefit that they contain more data so that you have more latitude during your edits. Note, however, that the best way to ensure optimal image quality is to start with a `properly exposed' photo.

    * You can drag and drop in Aperture, but this only copies the lower-res preview jpg. I'm not sure what the behavior in Lightroom is.
    In some very select circumstances yes, but in most, no. If you intend to shoot RAW + jpg, then you have the added benefit of being able to send a rendered copy of your RAW (that's all in-camera developed jpgs are!) directly to someone else. This may be helpful if you don't have access to a RAW converter.

    In most other circumstances, there are no benefits, in terms of camera operation, you get all of the drawbacks of shooting RAW and none of the benefits of shooting jpg: operation is as slow or slower than if you were shooting RAW (e. g. buffer size and max fps may be affected). Processing times increase as well and each photo takes up much more space.

    If these forums are anything to judge by, most people who use RAW + jpg are people who are unsure about shooting RAW in the first place.
    Although you could do it that way, IMHO it doesn't make much sense: either you shoot RAW all the way or you don't. Hard drive space is cheap, so there is no excuse. Plus, RAWs and jpgs are handled identically, i. e. you need to export photos.
  6. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    Oreo has some good advice: namely about choosing Ap vs LR. Don't pigeonhole yourself into one application just because of a one-time library import operation, at least without giving both a fair shakedown.

    Also, as Oreo said, be very wary about erasing photos, especially RAW ones. We're at a point in technology where storage space is more affordable than ever, and the output of most (non-pro) photographers can easily be absorbed by a very few inexpensive hard drives. It's easy to buy another 1TB-2TB HDD every 2-3 years if you shoot that much (and even that is quite a lot- in 4 years of owning my camera I have only accumulated around 120GB of photos, and that is without erasing most of them, and shooting in RAW). It's not easy to re-take that trip to Africa to re-shoot the photo you erased but later decided you really wanted. Or to re-stage your daughter's wedding because you erased some key pics, or go back to the mountaintop when the sun was just breaking through the clouds, etc. Hopefully you get the point- the photos themselves are by far and away the most valuable and irreplaceable part of the workflow. And what you may like on the first pass through your photos may not be what you later decide was the best pick. Also, as RAW processing technology improves- shots you may consider unusable today may become usable later (a good example of this is noise reduction. I had some old shots taken at ISO1600 that I deemed unusable, but with LR3 and its improved noise-reduction, those ISO1600 shots all of a sudden got a lot better).

    Another not-often-recognized aspect of RAW is that every RAW file has a JPEG embedded in it already! At least for the case of Nikons, this embedded JPEG is equivalent to taking a full-resolution JPEG set on "Basic" quality. This preview JPEG is what is displayed on the camera LCD after you shoot a RAW image, and can be extracted with 3rd party programs (for example photo mechanic). So, shooting RAW+JPEG is literally writing duplicate data that you most likely don't need.

  7. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    hi Doug,

    Also an amateur here. I used to shoot jpeg, then jpeg + RAW then I put a jpeg and raw of the same image in a side by side preview window and yikes, I could see the difference (being that jpeg was lacking as much colour and exposure) so now it's only RAW.

    My workflow:

    I go through each photo in preview through a finder window and delete the obvious ones I don't like.

    then i rename using Adobe's bridge. I prefer to rename the actual file in Bridge because I ran into past issues with Aperture (screwing up a library file and losing some of my metadata info). Plus, for whatever reason b/c i'm not anal retentive about much else, but I like having my photos organized by year - month - day in folders and sequentially named (ie. 2011-09-04_01). I do the same for videos as well although i'm not nearly as organized between camcorder and digital cameras. I need to sort that section out.

    I then import into Aperture and keyword (although I'm waaaaaaaaaaaay behind on the last part). I've used both LR and Aperture, but stuck with Aperture just b/c I started with it and am a touch more familiar with it. LR's great though.

    My process isn't perfect, but it works for now. I might revisit the direct import and rename from within Aperture. Right now it's an extra step or 2, but i'm quick at it so I can manage (well that and i'm not always shooting a few hundred photos like a pro would :)

    Good luck,
  8. skinnfell macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2011

    Hello there

    I am a professional photojournalist, and for both my work and my personal photography I have been using this workflow for the past five years, so its worked excellently for me.

    I use Lightroom (and sometimes photoshop) mainly.

    So here is my recipe:

    1. If it isn't worth shooting in RAW, it isn't worth shooting at all. Period.
    Jpg in addition only if you are in the most dire time constraint.

    2. After each job I download the card contents into a designated catalog on the mac. No raw files go anywhere else on the mac, nor do any files other than raw go in that catalog. (I count video files as raw, jpg not). Any exports I make from LR go in other catalogs, which is usually not backed up. Keep the RAW files safe and you can always cook up another jpg or tif.

    3. I rename the catalog (DCIM or whatever) to this format: "

    YYMMDD jobname

    For example "110904 macrumors". (If you are american you need to get your head around this as soon as possible.)
    This way, the catalogs will sort out neat and nicely in chronological order. Relying solely on the file created date is NOT going to work out.
    Obviously, if you are the kind of photographer that have three christmases and four weddings in one card, this is not going to work out. For the whole thing to work you need to download as often as possible.

    4. Import the catalog into lightroom, using the "add files" mode not moving or copying.

    5a) If its a shoot where you know you will be deleting substantial amounts of raw files, use lightroom to select, mark and delete these first.

    5b) As often as possible (at least after every important job), copy the raw file catalogs onto two identical external drives. When these are full, migrate or move on to two more disks.
    Personally I keep one of the full disks at my office and the other at home. Both for access reasons but also if my office or house get burned flooded or bur glared, I still have all my pictures.
    Can never be paranoid enough on this subject.

    6) After backup you are free to delete older files off your Mac whenever you need space. With a 128GB SSd that means pretty often.

    7) Happy shooting!
  9. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    skinnfell. That is excellent advice. Thanks.
    Few comments/questions for you and perhaps some Aperture aficionados.

    This is most definitely the consensus. RAW it is then.
    If I end up in Aperture, would CATALOG equate to PROJECT and would I be best served to keep that in the Aperture Library, or in its own folder?
    I am very British.
    Again, If I do this in Aperture, can I backup part of the library, or just rely on timemachine to do the whole library?
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    An Aperture Library* (which I assume is what you mean by catalog) contains many projects. Each photos is contained in exactly one project, but it can be in arbitrarily many books, albums, light tables and web pages. By default, Aperture manages your files and they will be copied or imported into your library. If you want, you can also manage the image folders manually. Since you're coming from iPhoto, I would discourage that. You can always change your mind later (Aperture allows you to choose on a per-picture basis if you wish).

    BTW, a library is just a so-called package, i. e. a folder which the Finder displays as a single file. This is to prevent users from manually manipulating images in the Finder.

    * You can have many libraries.
  11. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    If you have any work that predates 2000... then I recommend:

    YYYYMMDD jobname

  12. flynz4, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I just switched DSLRs (from Nikon D100 to Nikon D7000). I have been shooting in RAW+JPEG(fine). When examining both of the unedited versions side by side, usually prefer the JPEGs.

    As a result, I have been importing JPEG+RAW into Aperture 3 with "JPEG" set as the default. A3 binds the two masters together as a pair... and you can choose which of the two are used by default at import. I find that this works best for my casual viewing etc as long as no edits occur.

    However... a wonderful aspect of A3 is that it is trivial to switch the master on a file by file basis... so if I want to edit a file, I'll just switch the master to RAW first... and then edit. The RAW becomes the master for that image going forward.

    I find that storage space is so inexpensive now that there is no reason not to shoot in JPEG+RAW.

    Here are a couple of links to Robert Boyer articles that explains it better than I can. I generally enjoy reading articles on his site:


  13. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    Thanks Flynz and everyone else.

    I guess the overwhelming majority of people are suggesting the RAW only is the way to go.

    It seems for me the decision is between slightly more complicated workflow involving RAW+JPEG (ass suggested by Flynz) and the increased time involved in importing lots of RAW files.

    I will stick to RAW only for the time being I expect.

    Am really loving Aperture, and as its price is pretty good on MAS, I will probably go for it.
    Would be interesting to hear from others, and to get some more advice on how to organise projects/albums/backups in A3.

  14. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think this is one of Aperture's strengths and works well with Aperture's backup mechanism - Vault.

    As for deleting images, I agree with others, that storage is cheap enough that I never do unless my image is completely blown, i.e., out of focus or beyond "repair"
  15. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    That's supposed to be that way: if you use in-camera conversion, then you can tweak what kind of output you want (more or less vivid, for instance). RAW converters on the other hand, usually start with a relatively neutral conversion so you can edit it the way you want.
    Again, IMHO that doesn't make much sense. Instead of picking whether you prefer the neutral conversion of your RAW file or the jazzed up in-camera converted jpg, you should start using editing presets when importing your photos.

    If you bother shooting RAW, you should use the RAW file.
  16. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    1. Apertures GUI makes browsing through different "events" or projects VERY easy. You CAN use a "referenced library" that would create a standard OS folder hierarchy with the actual images stored in them, but I prefer to use managed libraries, which contain all the images into one neat little "library" file.

    My workflow- When I am pleasure shooting, I import into my base "Library". I break it down by events, then projects. When I am shooting a client or wedding, I create a new library for them and then break it down by "day 1, day 1" or "engagement, wedding, reception" etc. I am normally very gun-ho about having my files easily accessible through the finder, but I find the managed library easy enough to use.

    You should not run into any problems unless you fail to have a backup solution just in case the library gets corrupted somehow. I have been using aperture with managed libraries for the past 3 years and have never had any problems, FWIW/YMMV

    2. There is no reason to shoot JPG+RAW, unless you are looking to 1)Fill your cards faster 2)Fill your memory buffer faster 3)Fill your hard drives faster 4)Want the option to NOT change white balance and exposure effectively after the fact.

    Shoot RAW, learn to enjoy what it offers in terms of processing (Try changing a JPGs W/B from Tungsten to Shade and upping the exposure by one and a half stops)

    Forget about JPEG. JPEG has been reduced to an image container, mostly to be used for the web.
  17. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    shoot only in RAW

    import to new folder in hard drive

    backup new folder onto physically different hardrive (I have a USB drive for this)

    If I put onto hard drive directly then I now open up my editor (was lightroom, now its aperture) and import into there and keyword accordingly.

    sort thru and rate

    edit the rated files

    export as JPEG

    I only shoot Nikon or Canon. I expect those formats to last a good long time. Otherwise I use Adobe's DNG file format to convert non-typical RAW files.
  18. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Other than storage space, all of your arguments apply to JPEG+RAW as well as RAW only. With dual masters bound together... JPEG+RAW gives you the choice to use OoC JPEG (which often looks great)... or full control using RAW.

    Storage space is so cheap now that it really doesn't matter anymore. If you have a 350 GB A3 library in RAW... it might be 500GB in RAW+JPEG. The difference in storage cost is maybe $10.

    You pay a very small time penalty at import, but not enough to worry about. It is the RAW that dominates the import time.

    With my D100, I only was shooting RAW... but since I got my D7000 I've been shooting RAW+JPEG and I think it is an improvement. I never even considered RAW+JPEG until I was reading RB's ebooks and I found his arguments compelling.


  19. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    I recently did an experiment, and its worth doing if your looking at LR/bridge/apperture

    Open a raw picture in LR/Bridge (they are identical as far as I can tell) and export as a tiff with NO adjustments.

    Do the same with aperture, with the same photo

    Open up PS and open both the tiff files and stack them on top of each other, then toggle between them, there are definatly differences between the way they convert raw files..

    You may prefer one over the other
  20. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    Hi DrDoug,

    As I read the other responses, I realize I forgot to include my backing up step, which I have set using Carbon Copy Cloner. Fantastic application which will allow you to choose specific folders to copy. ie. I have mine set so my Photos folder, to which I add the new photos in folders, gets backed up every morning to an external. Then I back that external up weekly to another another one. I burn DVDs for each previous year in January. Aperture library is also backed up using that same script as it resides in my photos folder.

    CCC is freeware although I donated b/c it is very robust and easy to use. One of my most fav apps to be honest. I use it to back up my itunes folder as well.

    Then I use Time Machine to back up my entire HD.


  21. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I would add that with the very low cost of cloud based storage... it is something that people should consider.

    The key thing is that it is automatic... I have mine set to incrementally back up my entire machine every 15 minutes. It also give you full version control... so you can go back to the beginning of time to recover any files that were damaged or deleted. Of course, it gives you off-site disaster recovery.

    I've used both Mozy and Crashplan+. Other popular sites are Carbonite and Amazon S3. I am currently using Crashplan+.

  22. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    Your strategy Keebler is very similar to how I had imagined things will work out for me.

    My Backup strategy (for iPhoto) at the moment is.
    1. Single iPhoto Library
    2. Timemachine backup (2TB FW800 ext drive) daily.
    3. Monthly Backup of library file to USB drive.

    I may add to this by
    3. Weekly backup of library file to USB drive
    4. Monthly backup to 3rd external drive kept at another location.

    I may look at that.
    Perhaps this could replace one of the backup steps.
    Particularly as I am finding it v hard to find a FW800 HDD enclosure at the moment in the UK.

    Does one need to use vaults as well as, or instead of Timemachine?
    Or if I use Vaults, should I disable the library folder from TM?
  23. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    RAW + JPEG is the mode I use when I'm too lazy to sift through all my already "good" pictures that don't really need touching up and just don't feel like opening up and converting. It really does waste space...though I guess it doesn't matter too much for me since I'm no pro and when I do get a chance to sort I just delete the bad photos anyways. It is pretty bad though if you shoot ONE RAW photo and its like 30MB's then you look at the JPEG and its like 8MB's lmao...

    About the firewire HDD enclosures though...wtf is going on with that being scarce?!! USB 2.0 sucks a massive one for speed and video editing with it is just tedious.....I know I know just partition your internal drive but I can't do that now.

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