DSLR – Workflow, The End of the Journey , or just the beginning?

The camera is great, the lens is doing a good job but I know I will want a bigger one as soon as I can scrape the money together, and I am slowly getting to grips with the software that I am using, but the biggest single change that I have had to adapt to has been the concept of a workflow.

Let me put this into context. My previous ‘workflow’ was based around my view that I didn’t ever have to discard any digital pictures as, well that was the point of having a digital camera wasn’t it? You could keep everything you shot without having to worry about discarding any.

I used to upload them all into iPhoto, tag and rate them, and occasionally set up a photocast or slideshow. At the end of the year I would back up that years pictures to disc. I didn’t take an excessive amount of pictures, but I always thought I was a reasonably active picture taker:

– Pre 2004 1570 Pictures
– 2004 251 Pictures
– 2005 353 Pictures
– 2006 951 Pictures
– 2007 331 Pictures so far.

My current workflow is totally different.

First I am (slowly) getting used to the idea of taking multiple photographs in order to the the one(s) that I want. This is a big change to me, and is the first sign that I am moving away from taking pictures to taking photographs. Sure I still carry the T7 around with me ‘just in case’ and I will always be a big fan of the impromptu picture but I am getting more used to the concept of working out the picture in advance, taking multiple shots, or even having the patience to walk away and come back another day. Without doubt setting up 4frames has been a great help with this especially when Mac is taking 160 pictures in order to post 8 on one theme!

So what is my current workflow?

It starts with taking notes of the pictures that I am taking. I now carry a small memo book around with me and note what I am attempting to achieve, what the shot was ‘about’, relevant technical details.

I am also using Scrivener to make notes of my planned projects, my work in progress and most importantly where I am with each stage of my workflow.

Having taken the photographs I upload them to the Mac. I do this into one WIP folder. Once they are there I divide them into folders relevant to the photographs. Everything is done by date, so for example I took some pictures today so have the following file structure:

070325
070325 Almerimar Project
070325 Al-rruz Project
070325 Moreno Roof
070325 Rock Doves Feeding

Once these are filed, I back the whole folder (070325) up to an external hard drive, so at this stage I have two copies of every picture, and the original copy is still on the camera. IF the pictures are crucial I will also back them up to a CD/DVD straight away (otherwise I will wait until I have enough to fill a disc) and only at this stage will I delete the originals off the camera and disconnect the camera.

As I look through the pictures on the camera when I am using it I will discard any obvious ones that I wont use, but my tendency is to keep them all on and wait until I am viewing them on the Mac. To date I haven’t had a problem with memory card capacity, but if I did I guess I could always follow Mac and get a P3000.

At this stage I open up Adobe Lightroom and import the pictures by folder, i.e. 070325 Almerimar Project, 070325 Moreno Roof etc. I do this folder my folder and I tag each folder before moving on. At this stage I am just doing general tags i.e. moreno, marina, al-rruz etc.

Next I will go back through each folder and tag those that I want to keep. At the same time I will tag any that I want to add to Flickr (as a snap), import to iPhoto and any other information that is ‘relevant’.

Only at this stage will I start to think about the pictures in any specific detail – grouping them by theme (indoor, action, close ups etc) and using Lightroom will start to do some batch adjustments; but that will have to wait for another day!

So a lot of work? Yes. Worth it? Well I have been really happy with some of the photographs that I have taken so far, and most importantly I am really happy with the way I am approaching my photography these days, which was one of the key objectives in buying a DSLR in the first place.

The end of the journey, in some ways yes – I have bought the camera and am having fun using it. I am loving 4frames, have had my first paying gig already and am thinking totally differently these days in relation to my photography – but end of the journey? In reality this is only the beginning. I will keep you updated for sure.

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