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Post-processing workflows...

M38A1

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Nov 28, 2006
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19,397
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North of Weird
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Scott
A few members have asked "Hey M - What's your workflow look like"? Well, generally it follows this. Plenty of ways to skin this cat, so - what's YOUR workflow look like?

Workflow according to M38A1 using a standalone version of Lightroom (not CC)

1. Shoot images – I determine whether or not I’ll shoot RAW or .jpg or a dual RAW/.jpg. Much of this is based on the intended purpose of the shoot. If it’s a client or spec work where I know I’ll have 3500+ images, I’ll shoot .jpg only as the algorithms in the camera do a really good job giving me a result which rarely needs any tweaking. If it’s less than 3500, I’ll shoot RAW which gives me a ‘flat’ image out of the box, but tons of data to bring it to life in LightRoom.

2. When done with the shoot, I create a sub-directory on my MacbookPro for the event. I’m reasonably organized in my file structure and catalog shoots by date_event format. For example, I’ll have a directory called “Photography” and within that I’ll have a sub-directory called “2016”. Within that, I create sub-directories for each event I shoot based on the format YYYYMMDD_EventName. An example for today’s Pic-A-Day shoot would be 20161228_Threadgills. This does two things. First, they will display in sequential order on my machine when I use Finder to look for images. Second, this naming convention stays consistent across all my work so it’s reasonably easy to locate files if needed.

3. Off-load my images from the memory card in my camera to the newly created sub-directory in #2 above. This is done by removing the card (XQD or CF in my case) and inserting it in a USB card reader. When the card is recognized by my computer, I copy all the files from the card to the newly created directory. When the files are transferred, I remove the card from the reader and put it back in my camera. I don’t format the card at this point as I want to ensure I actually have them ON my computer for processing.

4. I’ll open up Lightroom (V5.6/non-cc version) in the Library mode and locate the newly created sub-directory 20161228_Threadgills. I’ll select that sub-directory. On the right panel, I’ll ensure my Preset is “2016 Copyright Scott” to put all the image ownership information in the file (which is in addition to what the camera lays down on the image when captured). I’ll move down to the Keywords section and type in pertinent keywords for the shoot, then I’ll select IMPORT.

5. The files will be imported at this point at which time I’ll move to the Develop mode and verify they are all in fact there. This is when I typically FORMAT my memory card IN the camera. I know the images are on my computer and LR successfully imported them.

6. Once in LR and in the Develop mode, I’ll go to the first image in the series and select it from the bottom strip. Then, on the right side I’ll scroll down to the box “Lens Corrections” and select the checkbox “Enable Profile Corrections”. This is a nice feature that reads the EXIF information in the file and applies the proper camera lens correction to that file. In most cases it ‘flattens’ the image and looks markedly better immediately. Next, I’ll select the entire strip of files and then hit the SYNC button at the bottom. A pop-up will appear and I’ll hit the “Check None” box to clear everything, thing select the “Lens Correction” box, and then hit “Synchronize”. This will then apply the lens correction attribute across all the images in the strip.

7. Culling – There’s a lot of different ways to do this so here’s how I do it. I will simply use my arrow keys to move through the image strip and tag them with a “1” if I deem them worthy of keeping for potential processing. It’s a quick process for the most part where my right hand is on the arrow keys and my left is on the number one key. If I see an image I think worthy, I give it a “1” and move on. If there’s a series of shots of the same subject (say at 11 frames per second) I’ll spend time going back and forth through the strip while applying a 1 to keep or if I’ve already given it a 1 and want to ditch it, I’ll give it a zero. I do this for the entire strip of images. When done, I go to the bottom right and select the filter “Rated”. I’ll take a quick look through those and determine if I’ve got my shot(s) or not. Then I’ll select the filter “UnRated” and tag the first through last image to select them all. I’ll hit the Library mode, then the delete button. It will ask to confirm deletion of the files. I ALWAYS “remove from disc” as opposed to “remove from catalog”. This is to save space on my computer. I don’t want those files for processing so why would I want them remaining on my computer? I don’t so they are hard deleted at that point. Next I’ll go to the filter and select “Filters Off”. At this point, everything is rated a 1 in my strip view. I’ll again begin the cull process being a little bit more choosy. Ones I want to retain keep their “1” designation. Super special ones get a "2". The images I want deleted I hit Delete and it asks for confirmation where I again say Delete from Disc. In the end I’ve got what I want to work.

8. Post Processing – This is 100% subjective in how you want to present your work. I won’t go into detail on this but generally shooting RAW I will hit White Balance, Shadows, Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation – all in very minor adjustments. I’ll also play with Noise Reduction and Sharpening as well as a host of others tools when needed and the image requires it.

9. Once the images are done with post, it’s time to export. I select the images I want to export (could be a single one up to all of them). I go to File, Export and can go a couple of ways here. For the majority of my work, I will make sure the export location box is “Same as originals”. I’ll select the “dpi” I want the images exported to (either 100dpi or 300dpi depending on the client or use), then I’ll select my choice of “Watermark”. At that point I’ll hit Export.

10. The files will be generated and placed in the same sub-directory as the originals. This is where I’ll typically have created either a folder or gallery in my host Smugmug to upload the images to. Once uploaded, I’m done with the image post-processing.

Setting up LightRoom and it’s use is a totally different discussion from this post-processing discussion.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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:tab Nice.

:tab I import straight off the USB reader and let it do the copying to my hard drive at the same time. I also apply keywords. I will also use the facial recognition feature. It is really cool and amazingly effective! That just makes searching for pics of specific people MUCH easier. I do my file structure almost identical to yours for the same reasons. One difference is that when I export, I send the files to a subfolder instead of mixing them with the originals. I don't always use LR when browsing and it just makes it easier to keep them in different directories. As the files are copied from the memory card to my hard drive, they are also automatically backed up to a networked data drive box with several mirrored drives. Only after that is complete do I format the cards, in camera like you do. Also, my camera has two SD slots. I run them in mirror mode so I have a backup of everything. I rarely even pull the second one out of the camera body, using only the number 1 slot for importing. There have been a few occasions where that saved my bacon when a USB reader went bad and nuked the images on the number 1 card.

:tab I think the culling step is where I really need to focus my efforts, both in terms of speed and in terms of "letting go" of images. I just have this thing about deleting an image forever unless it is just horrible, hehe. Of course, most of what I am doing is personal stuff of family, friends, kids, etc,... Doing it for a client is a whole other game!

:tab I really try to minimize the amount of post processing I do so I am not spending a lot of time on each image. The exception is when I have a particular image or a few that I REALLY want to look a certain way and be really good. I do the lens profile sync thing as well, right off the bat. I'll also use sync wherever possible if I have multiple images that are very similar in light conditions, like studio shots with different folks in each shot but with the same setup. After syncing I might tweak individual shots if needed. I REALLY need to work on using presets. I never do :doh:

:tab I kind of burned out on post processing a while back and as a result I am shooting less and am WAY behind on processing what I have been shooting. I think I might switch back to doing more JPG shooting and save the RAW for the special stuff, or at least doing the JPG/RAW combo thing.

:tab One thing you did not mention but which I found out the hard way actually matters is keeping the monitor color calibrated. I tried printing some stuff and it did not come out on the print the way it looked on the screen. After getting a SpyderPro, I got MUCH better results! The prints looked almost identical to what I had on my screen. Mine has the ambient light monitor.

:tab What color background do you use in LR? I use the neutral grey,
 

WoodButcher

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Rusty
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My movement from camera to computer is very simple. I organize based on camera body, then year, then month, then MMDDYYY. So a deep file structure, but adding the month layer was necessary this year due to doing a picture a day. I may remove that for next year.

Next is that I have an import preset in Lightroom for each camera body. I fire up Lightroom, insert the card from the camera into the reader, the import dialog automatically pops up. I select the import preset for the camera I used and the preset puts it in the right folder, adds copyright info, and applies the camera profile I use. In my case, Canon Faithful. That way my previews look like what I saw on the camera since that is what I set them too. In other words, I don't do much in camera and don't want LR applying the Adobe Standard.

I select the collection called Last Import and start culling. I use the X key to mark for deletion if they are bad. If they look good, I hit B, which puts them in the Quick Collection for editing. After one pass, I Deleted Rejected Photos and select the Remove from Disk option. They are now gone. I'll make one more pass getting rid of the ones that are really similar to others I'm going to keep. Delete Rejected again. That can kill over half the images I've shot.

So now I've got the ones I want to develop in the quick collection and the ones that are worth saving, but not worth editing yet get left alone. Now they are all still in the real folder for the Camera/Year/Month/date structure. The collections are just a LR way to organize. Then I edit.

The last step is getting them to where they need to be. If I shoot an event with Scott, I'll create a Lightroom collection for the event. Either a Smart collection that uses keywords or just a regular collection. If it is for sharing with Family or posting on the internet then it goes into a Publish Collection. I have a SmugMug Publish collection set up matching my SmugMug galleries. So I will either add to an existing gallery/folder or created a new one. Then I click the publish button and it applies my watermark and uploads to SmugMug.

If they are going to be put on a CD or USB stick then I export to a Lightroom Exports folder on my hard drive into a subfolder. Then I move them in the operating system to the final location. Files in that export directory are temporary and get removed whenever I need space.

Oh, and for instagram, I either pull from my phone Smugmug app and share to instagram or I use a LR plugin to post directly. The latter is kind of slick and makes keywording so much easier.

Oh, and I do one more fun thing. Master Lightroom catalog in on a desktop computer, but I do at least half of my importing and edition on my laptop. So I have to keep those in sync. If anybody is interested in that process, let me know and I'll do a separate thread on it.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
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Dry side of the PNW
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Mike
Woodbutcher, I'd be interested in how you are keeping the desktop and laptop catalogs in sync. I'm still learning Lightroom and trying different things to see what works.
 
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