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Images, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography Discussion of all things graphics.

What is your Photo Processing Workflow?

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Member Since: Apr 12, 2008
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I just switched from a PC to a MBP and I am trying to find the best method for photo processing. I realize everyone has they preferences, but I would love to hear what you do just to get some ideas. I am sure there are things that I can learn. I shoot alot of RAW, and do not consider myself a pro by any stretch, but would like to understand different workflows.

What app(s) do you use and for what? what is the order of your workflow?

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It depends how big your workflow is. I use Light Room and Photo Shop. For a lot of the smaller shoots, I skip LR and just edit the pics I want in PS. For the larger batches, I send them through LR, sharpen and adjust them all together, then create a folder for proof sized JPG's and print sized JPG's.

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I am not a pro, and so my shooting is usually for my own enjoyment and for the usual historical family shots sort of recording. I use a combination of ImageBrowser and Photoshop.

For large volumes of shots, I use ImageBrowser to quickly sort through them, separating the good from the bad. Typically, I sort them into three buckets: Excellent, Good and (predictably) TheRest. You can also use iPhoto for this step, but I just like ImageBrowser better - none of that messy import/export stuff that iPhoto insists on.

I will then go through the Excellent set and cherry pick just the best of the best. I take those through Photoshop, cropping where needed to improve the composition, adjusting lighting as needed and typically, resizing down to something that is more comfortable to view than the enormous files that come off typical digital cameras these days. For shots that I am planning to print, I keep two copies - the full size original and the resized version. Keeping a full size original allows you to maximize the DPI, matching it to the capabilities of your printer, for printing.

I then file the processed pictures in my digital photo album, which is a self managed set of folders, one per year. In some cases, I will create subfolders under the year for specific events.

This works just fine for my style of shooting. A pro would likely need a more rigorous system.

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For a while I was using Aperture, but I found it ran far too slow on my Powerbook G4, and then I switched over to Lightroom which ran much faster. I liked aperture, and had it run quickly I would have continued to use it, but for me it was just unusable.

I import directly into Lightroom, with all photos sorted into Folders by events. At the moment all of my photos are on the internal drive, with Backup DVDs of just about everything, but at some point I really need to transfer everything off of my computer. I've got a good 50GB of pictures eating up space. I'll then go through and delete the obviously bad ones, and then ranke all of the others. My highest ranked pictures will get a basic touchup through the controls in lightroom, and then I pull the best and most usable shots into Photoshop CS3 for more agressive editing, if need be.

On a rare occasion, I'll pull in something like Noise Ninja to the mix, but that's usually just on my ISO 3200 shots (I shoot with a Canon 20D).
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When I shoot RAW, which is almost every time that I am shooting for a special reason or someone, I think the greatest editing tool(s) are Adobe Camera Raw from Bridge, and then importing to PS Cs2 (cs3) to do the "real editing".

When I shoot .Jpg, I'll go straight to PS Cs2 or Cs3 depending on location.

Through bridge, I download my photo's, batch rename them, and organize them for future editing ease.

I don't think I will ever use any program other than Adobe's Photoshop line. I've just gotten so attached to everything that it has to offer etc'. It truly is a wonderful program. Almost anything that you can imagine, you can achieve in Photoshop. It just takes time, patience, and practice.

I tried Lightroom out for a little bit, and it was alright and all; but again, the level that Photoshop is on is completely different than what Lightroom is on.

I think it is worth learning (if you haven't already of course) the ropes on Photoshop. You'd be amazed at the things you can do.

But in general, my average post-processing includes the following:

-Remove facial blemishes when doing portraits.
-Adjust lighting, colors, saturation of skin (portraits), sharpness/softness.
-Photo-manipulation (ex. "photo plastic surgery" - portraits.)
*Photo special effects - B&W, Sepia, or any other duotone.

The list really goes on

Anyways, that's just my little thought.

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I am a u.k. based fashion and advertising Photographer and I don't know anyone in the industry who would use anything other than capture one pro, it is the industry standard for professional shooting and processing, if you can't stretch to that then capture one LE or DB will do the job. I have tested Lightroom, aperture and adobe camera raw and none of them compare on flesh tones or clarity, check for yourself they do a 30 day free trial at
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