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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My travel photography workflow

Alrighty, so here I am back in the world of blogging after a week or so of running around like a headless chicken. Firstly let me preface this series of blog entries on my workflow by stressing that word MY.

I love learning new things but once I find a way of doing things that works for me I tend to stick with it until it doesn't suit my needs any more. Or until I see something that absolutely hands down beats the way I'm doing things at the moment. So if it seems a bit out of date - well you should see my wardrobe. :)

Secondly this is a workflow that is going to work better for those of you who don't do a lot of post-processing. I find that I hardly ever open up Photoshop any more. In fact working on the scans for my entry into the Travel Photographer of the Year awards was the first time I've had the programme open in quite a long time.

So here is my (possibly) ancient, straight out of the box (ie camera) workflow. Firstly I try and make sure I have enough CF cards to last me for at least a day's shooting. I carry a portable hard drive with me just in case, but in general terms I prefer to be able to shoot all day and back up at night. So this has meant going from 1GB to 4GB to 8GB and now 16GB cards! I never delete anything directly in the camera but keep absolutely everything so that I can go over it later with a fine tooth comb and make sure I don't throw anything out that I wanted to keep. Even shots you thought were terrible sometimes have their uses later down the track.

When I get back to the office if I've only shot one or two cards (which often happens on commercial shots where setting up takes more time than shooting!) I just upload them straight from the camera. Slow I know but I just let it do its thing while I'm in the shower or catching up with the kids or whatever. I'm a pretty relaxed kind of guy - no need to rush these things. :)

If it's a whole day of documentary travel shooting then there's usually a lot of full cards so I download them all to a portable card reader/ hard drive. I won't mention brands because then I'll be really dated. But I will say that I've had it for about 4 years, it's 80GB, downloads 1GB in about a minute, runs on rechargable AA's and has never let me down (touch wood). It doesn't have a screen but I never was the type to want to look at my pictures during the day. I think that comes from all those years of shooting slide film - sometimes you just know when you've got it and when you haven't.

When I have them in the portable hard drive I use a little script I got from Peter Krogh's site called Import from Camera. It's a bit old now and I believe Peter recommends a programme called Image Ingester. Anyway IFC is a great little script that when I point it to my hard drive will scan it and detect all the image files there.

It will then import them into a folder on my hard drive called "Unprocessed Raws" and I have the choice of keeping the original folder structure (as in separate all the pictures according to CF cards) or I can flatten the structure so they all appear together. I usually choose the latter. I can also rename all the files and add metadata. I can also choose to create a back-up copy of all my images in a different destination at the same time.

Tomorrow I'll talk a little bit about my re-naming structure, the importance of metadata and how I begin to work on my files.


Travel Photography said...

You must be pretty happy with this workflow to don't change it over the years. The first part is OK for me but I would update the second one, I use Apple Apperture for importing, shorting and organizing and I find it pretty useful.

Anyway, is interesting to know about your workflow and see how other people work.

Paul Dymond said...

Hi there Travel Photography, don't worry there is method to my madness! I'm a PC guy so can't use Aperture but will tell you why I don't use Lightroom in my upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Jon T said...

I think the important part of what you describe is to NOT use Aperture, or any other database for the import from the cards for the first time.

Much better to make a copy of the images straight to the hard disk and only then do the Aperture import. I know Aperture is great and reliable, I love it, but there is still a greater risk of corruption occurring at that point than any other.

Thanks Paul, look forward to reading the rest…!

Paul Dymond said...

Thanks for that Jon,

yeah definitely really important to copy your images on to your computer and not to move them.

I know a few people who have lost entire card's worth of images because the import went wrong and deleted pictures as it went. Copy first and then only delete the images once you have a couple of copies stored on your computer.

Anonymous said...

You are truly old-school. I'm still interested in your workflow, and thanks to you I'm embedding my contact data in my photographs from now on. But still, I think you use too much software while you could have an all-in-one solution. Anyway it's great if it works ;)

Paul Dymond said...

Wow, now I'm feeling old at only 37! :) But it's not really a lot of software Viajar, only Photoshop and iView Media Pro. So two programmes and I don't think there is any one programme (lightroom or aperture) that is as fully functional a database and cataloguing software as iView (or its current incarnation of Microsoft Expression Media).