Work Flow
Whats in your Darkroom?
Many photographers seem to get caught up in trying to have the "correct" work-flow... but, basically there is no across-the-board standard type of work-flow. When you start getting caught up in trying to fit some kind of standard or required shooting, processing and presenting your images... you may want to stop and literally smell the roses and then create your own personal work-flow that suits your production requirements.

Especially since the last thing you want to do is "copy someones style". Just as I talked about having your own style, let your work-flow develop from your own free creating state of mind. Yes, there will come hurdles you have to cross, but don't make the hurdle someone else's, but set it to your own height.

For example my basic work-flow begins as I capture mostly with a full frame DSLR and shoot in RAW. (I chose not to shoot RAW & JPG at the same time because it simply is not needed in my style of shooting, processing & presenting).

You will also want to implement some tighter checks on the Color Space you choose to use. Whether you go with sRGB or AdobeRGB, make sure your color space in all the programs you use to handle your image files use the same color space.

I use Nikon Transfer software to put the images in a specified folder called "New Items" and view any particular image I wish to open with the Nikon View software. And after I have opened the RAW file and processed it into a PSD file, I move the RAW file into a folder depending upon its subject type. Such as landscapes, sunrise, people and so forth with the idea being that as I process down the RAW Files and move them to corresponding folders, then the New Items folder will get cleaned out. Thus meaning I have caught up with processing... at least for the moment.

I have tried several programs to open RAW files with, but my program of choice is to use Adobe Camera RAW to open the file into Photoshop. I keep all of the PSD files on a dedicated hard drive just for them and a backup copy on a second hard drive. I also backup the RAW Files onto DVD and a hard drive.

Tracking Your Images
Some of your work-flow will depend upon your end usage or presentation of your images. Depending on how involved you wish to go into managing the work-flow will also play a part in it. Since I rarely utilize EXIF data or other embedded data from the file, I don't need to keep up with cataloging those aspects of my images. For the most part since mine are mostly fine art for my gallery agents, I keep things filed by subject.

When I first open a file in Adobe Camera RAW and import it to Photoshop, I will save that file in a folder simply called "Rough Stuff". This becomes the folder for my current processing and finishing of my images.

Some photographers may find the the date of the shoot, the type of event, and many more different ways may suit you best for how you find those images months or even years after you shot them.

I keep the folders cataloged with Extensis Portfolio since that is the program I used even before I had a digital camera. I was shooting E-6 slide film and processing it myself then scanned for use in printing and computer uses and thus used Extensis Portfolio to catalog my images. There are a lot of programs out on the market that do a multitude of things in keeping your stuff organized. If you are using Lightroom to process your images, then you have a "built in" catalog system.

Pick which one works well with your image editing program and your style of how you wish to keep up with things. As for me, once I have saved the file into the catalog, no matter what folder I choose, I can drag the files from one folder to the other quite easily in the side bar. Once my image is in the catalog, I always go there to find the file an launch it open in Photoshop to process. When the image is finished and even been printed it remains in the catalog for easy retrieval.

Adobe Covers It All
I actually got started cataloging my images using Extensis Portfolio back in earlier days of Photoshop when the "Adobe Bridge" program had not been created yet. Then when they came out with their Creative Suite and Adobe Bridge became part of the work-flow with Adobe Programs, it has lessened the need for photographers to really need any other work-flow programs other than the Adobe Creative Suite.

There again, in my particular work-flow... if I used Adobe Bridge as my main asset management program, I would eliminate the need to use Nikon Transfer, Nikon View and Extensis Portfolio. But I have found several small nuisances with each of those 3 programs that I prefer over the way that Adobe Bridge handles those same processes. And thus that is why I have my own work-flow that works for me in a manner that I like. For me the work-flow is more about me keeping all my creative energies in play and not feel I have to use some kind of industry standard just because it fits someone else's work-flow.

Even during the writing of this post, I have been experimenting with Adobe Bride to see if I want to migrate my cataloging away from Extensis Portfolio and into Adobe Bridge. And after several test of how I operate in my darkroom, I still find I like more features and the way they work for me using the Extensis Portfolio program for asset management. Although, due to my methods I have used for years as far as file naming and cataloging, it enables me to also use a feature in Adobe Bridge if I wish to and not adversely affect my current work-flow programs.

But again... this post is NOT about the correct work-flow programs to use, but more about you having a work-flow that doesn't inhibit your creative time and efforts. I am sure the "experts" will push the use of Adobe Bridge & Lightroom as the only way to go, but then the experts of "Aperture" will also say the same of their product and so forth amongst the asset management software titles. Like any software choices... learn the one you use the best you can and be your own expert at your own work-flow.

Presenting Your Images
Another portion of your work-flow that plays a part of your work-flow software, is the end use and presentation of your images. Since I primarily capture scenes that I plan to print as a fine art Giclée, then, that becomes my main route of production for just about all my images. Of course many images do serve dual purpose for use on social networks or my Gallery5 web site. And there are even images made from my phone that I use in social media snapshots, and of course they are stored off into their own folder as well and managed from Extensis Portfolio.

Having a program that keeps my files organized is great... but if it means that I am dedicating a lot of time in keeping up with that program and it's use requirements, then that begins to take away from creating at full pleasure.

Determine what is best for you... and not what someone has determined for you. As for me, my main priority is to get the image from my camera to the printer in a manner that I feel is enjoyable and not a lot of clerical work. And just as I have over the years, I will always experiment with other programs to see if they suit my work-flow better. In fact, I have used Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, Photo Mechanic, Nikon Capture and several more image editing/cataloging programs.

From whatever methods you use in your work-flow software, the most important thing of all is to shoot, process and print within the same color space in order for you to have predictable results in what you see on the screen compared to what you get in print. If you use an outside lab to print, then your best method of consistency is to use the same lab all the time.

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