Digital Photography workflow


(Above) Music & photography jamming at Casablanca Studio, Real St, Tacloban City, Dec 28, 2008

Many were either given gifts or gifted themselves with digital cameras this season and whether they are entry level or advanced Point ‘n Shoot (PnS) ones or the bigger DSLR’s, having a digital cam involves adopting a systematic approach on how you work on the photos taken. There are various technical steps involved; nevertheless, it’s important for one to follow a general workflow and to stick to it closely for uncluttered, direction-driven post-processing of the photos.

As my simple New Year’s present to those with new cameras (and to the photography newbies as well), let me share the general workflow I follow after I am done shooting photos (please note these are not hard & fast rules – one eventually develops his/her own way – think of it as a general guide):

1. Transfer Photos from Camera to Computer I move my photos to my Mac using Adobe Lightroom 2 and a card reader.

* When downloading my photos, the following tasks are also done: a) creation of new folder in the proper location in my photo library;  b) renaming the photos; and c) adding keywords and tags for easier retrieval of files.

2. Selecting/Filtering & Discarding Rejects Once downloading is done, I use Lightroom’s flagging option to browse thru the photos, flag the rejects, rate some photos if needed, etc. Then I sort/filter and delete the rejects leaving behind the keepers and some other good ones.

* After deleting the rejects, I also do file renaming and adding/editing new keywords & tags to specific photos, if needed.

3. Back ups Optional at this point (may be done later after editing although not advisable): I do my back-ups by copying these files to an external hard disk using simple copy-paste (in Mac) or using SyncBack (in Windows).

4. Photo Editing Although Lightroom has its own editing tools, I have not had the time to study and use them as I am more comfortable using Photoshop CS3. Directly from Lightroom, I right-click on a particular photo I want to work on, then choose Edit Original in Photoshop. This opens up Photoshop and I start actual editing.

a) Cropping – If necessary, I first crop the photo to my desired size and composition before doing any adjustments.

b) Levels adjustments – here is where I do the initial color & white balance corrections, contrasts, saturation, etc.

c) Main editing tasks – I then do the main editing tasks of removing unwanted sensor/lens dirt spots, distractions, blemishes, etc. Other edits & adjustments depend on what the image needs and what I wish to achieve with the photograph. This could include saturation adjustments, dodging and burning, cloning and healing.

d) Noise removal & other Photoshop plug-ins – it’s at this point where I run Photoshop plug-ins I want for the specific photo being edited.

e) Sharpening – as a final editing task, I sharpen using the Unsharp Mask tool.

d) Bordering & watermark – I then apply my borders & watermark, if needed, using prerecorded actions in Photoshop.

e) Saving – I don’t hit Save it, though, to protect the original file; I use either “Save as” (for high resolution photos) or “Save for web” (for web posting & email.)

* So that the newly-edited photo files are brought back into the Lightroom library, I save the edited photos to a “Watched” folder one can create beforehand in Lightroom – these photos are automatically imported to a folder (mine is called “Auto-imported” folder) inside Lightroom. I then move these auto-imported photos to either an “edits” or “web” sub-folder I create inside the mother folder where the original photos reside.

5. Post/Burn Depending on my project objectives, I either burn to CD/DVD, copy to a USB flashdrive, post photos in the web, email them or I create a webgallery/slideshow (again, using Lightroom) for web posting.

6. Sync Back-ups Since new files are created after editing, I synchronize my back-ups using SyncBack.

I hope this helps. Happy New Year everyone!!!

~ by gerryruiz on 31 December 2008.

8 Responses to “Digital Photography workflow”

  1. Hi Gerry,

    Happy new year! Thanks for the tips… I think this is very helpful especially for people like me who is starting to take photography as a serious craft. By the way, have you ever tried using the GIMP photo editing tool? Licensed copies of Lightroom and Photoshop are quite expensive so I’m trying open source programs at the moment for my post processing.


  2. Thanks. I’ll have a try. Although GIMP is doing well on the reviews. Keep posting your marvelous pics. It serves as an inspiration to aspiring photographers like me.

  3. I wonder how long it will take for me to get a grasp of the digital camera… i have been using the Canon or Minolta manual thing – those heavy and solid body and zoom lens thats super heavy too. But change is good since the old camera is over 40yrs old and the gears just gave up….so it is locked in my cabinet. I haven’t decided which digital-manual cameras to buy. I have a great love of nature and the outdoors. So, any suggestion for hobby which camera? Nikkon d80? d90? or canon digital rebel? I already missed a lot of great shots in the islands of Camiguin, Bohol, CDO. PLs. advise. Thanks!

    • There’s indeed a lot of DSLR models now in the market to choose from. The basic considerations (among others) are the following: a) your budget; b) your level of knowledge on digital photography; c) the ergonomics, feel and handling of a particular model; and, d) local after-sales service of camera manufacturer.

      There are new entry level models of Canon (1000D, 450D, 400D, 350D) and Nikon (D60). The advantage with these DSLRs is the ability to mount/change another lens to the body, hence you have some upgrade options.

      My advise is:
      1) first, do a little research on camera reviews in the net (Google search: new digital cameras, reviews; how to select a new DSLR, etc);
      2) once you have narrowed down your search to a few models, it’s important that you get the feel of handling a DSLR (is it huge, too heavy or too light for you? how about the buttons – can you reach them fast? etc.) So when you see a friend w/ a particular model you like, request to handle it so you get the actual feel of the camera in your hands (if you can do this at a more-friendly camera store, so much the better as you’d be able to handle & get the feel of several models.)
      3) get feedback from others on the performance of their DSLRs and ask for advise.
      4) if still unsure, you need not buy the newest models; opt to get a second-hand one first – they are much cheaper compared to getting this year’s latest models and start from there.

      As with the lens, start with the standard kit, then as you progress you will know what your additional needs are based on your preference and photography style. If you are more into landscapes, a wide angle lens will be the logical choice. If you are into nature/sports, a telephoto zoom lens will be it, and so on and so forth.

      Hope this helps. 😉

  4. by the way, i am a graduate of fine arts major in advertising and i do miss photography and painting. in the meantime using a sony DSC P-100 5megapixels something. i find it weird or an idiot to bring this sort-of point and shoot arrgh! hope to hear from you. exhibiting in ayala cebu loooong time ago is a fulfillment – no need to be popular, just nice to share the beauty around noh? thanks for great shots of sinulog—me no camera 😦

  5. thanks so much! this helps a lot coming from a photographer like you, aside from my brother’s and relatives’ opinions. nikon D60 or higher then. God Speed.

  6. Hi Gerry,

    It has been a long time since my last posting (gin block han am office im site… aw an amon IT security didi). i hav this mid slr camera… i’m hoping if you could help me out with things like: shutter speed, ISO, aperture… which you need to mix and when do you apply them?… would it be ok if you do some basic photo settings class here in your site? 🙂 like for a particular photo, you would post values for ISO, aperture and shutter speed… just the basics so we could enjoy our own camera and be proud students of ‘Gerry our best guy from Tacloban’ (sip2x!!)… tapos o puyde kana mag butang hin link for us, tag it as ” Student’s Lounge” puyde liwat nam ig butang didto am mga photos then you can post your corrections or better setting suggestions… nanayang ako kay once naka agi ak didi ha mall na nag exhibit an mga Waray-waray han ira mga Banig ( yaw kam panik k aadi la ak manila hehehe)… Di ba baga nakaka proud gihap na ma post unta ha im site… you are fond of it and am sure mga taga Region 8 would love it also. 🙂 Ger suggestion la adto ha … Most of all, thank you hit imo mga pictures… somehow baga “nakakauli” kami and continuously learning more about Region 8 thru your excellent photos.

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