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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My travel photography workflow 2

So now all my pictures are in Bridge. Why not Aperture or Lightroom you say? Well firstly I'll admit to being a PC guy so Aperture is out for me, and why not Lightroom will be revealed. Needless to say it has nothing to do with Lightroom being either a good or bad programme (I've never used it so wouldn't know) but more the fact that I'm happy where I am and if it ain't broke...

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post as my images get imported into Bridge they get renamed and have metadata added. I use a naming protocol suggested in Peter Krogh's great DAM book, which is now in its second edition.

When I was shooting transparencies I used to name my images according to subject matter. So mammals was M followed by a three digit number. So starting at M001 and going up. I then had a Microsoft Access database which required me putting all the details of every picture in by hand. As you can imagine it was pretty arduous.

Anyway the naming was pretty irrelevant in terms of finding specific images and only really useful for locating their physical position in the filing cabinet. Using slide sheets you used to get 20 slides per sheet so M82 was on sheet 5 in the Mammals folder. But sometimes I would have elephants in the mammals category (if they were wild) and sometimes in the transport category (when they were carrying people). It didn't really matter where the slides were physically because there was a description category in my database and if I just typed in elephant it would tell me where every single one of my elephant pictures was.

And I went with this principle for my digital cataloguing. I wanted a situation where I could find a picture no matter what hard drive, folder or disc it lived on. I also realised that the name of the file wasn't important in locating it. Searching for images required good keywording. So again I followed Peter Krogh's advice and went with a naming system of Surname_date taken_camera file number. Makes no sense at all to a client but it does the important task of telling them straight away who took the picture.

The other important metadata I put into every single file at the time of import is my contact and copyright information. I make sure that my name, address, website, email, phone number and contact details are attached to everything I shoot - even the stuff I delete. You never know where your pictures are going to end up sometime so you want to have that information embedded in all your pictures. This metadata plus the naming of the files makes it pretty easy for an honest client to find me if they want to license my pictures. Does it stop people stealing my stuff? Does anything?

Now my workflow is based around shooting Raw. I only shoot jpeg on my little point-and-shoot, everything that gets shot on my dSLR (whether it be personal or work) gets shot in Raw. I just like to know I have the best quality every time. So that means all my files are in the Canon CR2 format.

Now making changes to Raw files in Adobe is all fine and dandy when you're using Adobe products. Any changes you make to the file in Camera Raw are there to see, but as soon as you take that file out of the Adobe environment you hit a wall because other software can't read the changes you make to your file. Make lots of glorious changes to a file in Bridge and then try and open the file in your Canon software.

While your file might have been adjusted in Camera Raw to increase saturation, contrast, brightness - whatever it is you do - as soon as that file comes out of its nice little Adobe nest the other software just sees the boring Raw file that came out of your camera. So I don't stay with CR2 for long. All I do is make basic changes to my images - enough so that I can show them to a client for them to make a final selection.

But to show them to a client I have to take them out of the CR2 format into....more on that next time and what I use to catalogue my work.

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