My Work Flow

February 03, 2018  •  14 Comments

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 7.16.10 AMScreen Shot 2018-02-03 at 7.16.10 AM Hey everyone!  I have done a few blogs and videos on different portions of my process but haven't really gone through the whole thing.  So just imagine that you've just gotten back from an outing of shooting and you have taken all of these great photos.  You've looked at them on the back of your camera, but you need to get them off and into your computer for processing.  I shoot in RAW format.  But when looking at the back of your camera, you're looking at JPEGs which have been compressed and have been processed by your camera.  So if you really like the photo that's on the back of your camera, you still have some work to do to make the RAW file with no corrections to look like the back of your camera. We also want to safeguard our images, make backups for safety in case of equipment failure.  So now you have your SD card with all of your images on it.  This is Copy 1 of your images.  Let's get the images onto your computer.

Import into Lightroom

Getting the images onto my computer, I will hook up a card reader and insert my SD card.  I use Adobe Lightroom to do almost all of my editing and all of my organizing. I have made a video that is a couple of years old, and it's basically how I do things now, except I don't store any of my photos on the hard drive of the computer.  I keep all of my photos on an external drive.  I also just copy to my external.  I "don't copy as DNG."  I still like the DNG, but it takes too long to convert.  Everything else is basically the same.  Lightroom stores everything in catalogs.  I have one master catalog that has all my images through the years in it.  It is stored on my main IMac computer.  When I'm traveling or camping, I have a mobile catalog that is stored on an SSD external drive so I can edit and cull photographs while I'm away.  When I get back home, I can transfer those photos back to the master catalog with all my edits from my mobile computer/laptop intact.  Think of the Lightroom catalog like your iTunes library.  All of your images edits are kept there like all of your music on iTunes library.  Notice I said all images "edits" are kept there.  Your original RAW files are still on your hard drive, whether it's internal or external. Here is the link to the import video that I have on YouTube.  

Importing into Lightroom

Library Module and Culling

After you have your photos in Lightroom, the culling process starts.  This is choosing the best images (the ones you want to process).  This can be Arrows and blocksArrows and blocksArrows and blocks. Correlation of the parts. Relations. a big job!  If you say took 500 images, out of those images you'll probably only have maybe 50 at the most that are worth processing.  So getting down to the 50 or 20 good photos that you want to process is culling.  There are many ways to do this, and you kind of have to figure this out for yourself.  But this is how I do it.  I go through four or five images at a time and pick the ones I like by rating them to a "1" rating.  I do this very quickly, and here is my logic for this.  When you walk into a room full of people, it doesn't take but a few seconds for you to find the prettiest/most handsome in the room.  Our mind's eye picks out the person in a flash and will also find the best photo in a flash.  Now after going through the photos, I have knocked out the 500 number to about 100 real quick.  Then if I need to I'll do it again and rate a 2  to the best photo and I have knocked the images down to 25.  I can process those photos and then I can pick all of the unrated photos and delete them.  By doing this you will keep the number of useless photos down and keep the speed of your computer up.  Now, I don't get rid of everything.  If I have photos with family or friends in them, I usually keep them.  But the rest of the unrated photos are deleted.  I don't need 50 shots of the same tree that I will never use taking up space on my computer.  One or two will do.  Here is a video that I made a couple of years ago on the library module and my culling process.

Library Module and Culling 

Processing (Five-Step Tango)

tango-party-design-poster-vector-illustration_10083-26tango-party-design-poster-vector-illustration_10083-26 My processing  procedure has not changed in many years.  I use a process called the five-step Tango that I hijacked from a photographer/teacher, Jack Davis, a long time ago, and it works well for me.  I usually take less than five minutes on most photos to process unless I'm doing a portrait or a composite that will take longer when I bring it into Photoshop. Some people really get into this portion of the workflow process and that's great.  But for me, the least amount of time I spend on the computer after a shoot the better.   I have a couple of videos on processing that I will link here also.  Here is the link to the YouTube videos.

Five Step Tango

Lightroom Develop Module Part 1

Lightroom Develop Module Part 2

Exporting Photos

fb-artfb-art Now that you have your photos processed, what next?  How do you share what you have done so far?  In the film era, you sent your film away or you processed it yourself and had prints made.  Today you have many options.  You can share with family and friends many ways through the internet.  Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, 500px are just some of the ways you can share your images.  What about prints?  What about Canvas?  Putting your photos into calendars, cups, stickers?  For me personally, most of the photos I take flickrflickr and process are shared through the internet with the above-mentioned websites and of course this site!  I love to see the feedback and ratings I get from these sites and friends.  I also create a couple of canvases and I do print small for my house or family and friends, usually 5x7 and 8x10's.  But what about the future when I'm long gone?  I think prints are one way for future generations so see my work.  I've also started making books.  We did this for an end-of-year project this year with my camera club, and it was pretty great.  So that's one project that I will be doing yearly and maybe for large trips in the future.


I still have my original RAW photos on my SD card.  I also have another copy of them on my external drive that I have been using for all of my edits.  In the digital age at least two copies of your work is needed to be safe that you don't lose what you have done.  So now I have to place the SD card back into my camera to use again.  So I will need to format the card which will erase all of my RAW data, and I will only have one copy of my images.  I have done many backup strategies in the past, and the one discussed in my last blog post Backup Strategies (check out that blog for more detail)  is the one that I use now.  Backing up to a cloud-based storage.  That backs up my main computer and external drives.  But what about my laptops and mobile devices?  I also back those up to external drives every couple of weeks or so using time machine or PC's backup program.  I'm real big into backups after I had my Macbook Pro have some problems with a video card and I had to have the motherboard replaced.  I had just done a backup of my laptop.  So when I got it back from Mac, I just ran a restore and it was back to where I left it and I didn't lose anything.   By having one copy of my files at home and one on the cloud, if anything happens like a fire, a hard drive crash, or a stolen computer, I still have a backup on the cloud.

I hope this helps in some way and doesn't confuse anyone.  This is my workflow process, and it works for me and for what I do in photography.  I am not a professional photographer, just a photography enthusiast/hobbyist who loves to share.  Keep shooting!




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