The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow

 

Lesson Info

Final Q&A

My question is about, revolving basically out in the field, how does your workflow change when you're out in the field? Let's say you're out for several weeks and the other convoluted part of that is just backing up and equipment backups. In the filed? What do you travel with when you go out in the field, generally speaking? Dang, these days way too much is what I travel with as a pro. But in terms, my workflow doesn't change in the field. Everything I've shown you happens everywhere but in terms of working up my raw image files, it's not often that I'm back-to-back booked up where I'm flying from one job to the next to the next to the next, it happens, there's, more often than not, at least every year, there's a month or two months period where I'm pretty much gone for two straight months shooting multiple jobs. And so I'll ask the clients like, hey, how fast do you need this stuff? Because I'm not gonna be at my computer at home until this date, and that's the first chance I'll...

have to really start working stuff up. And more often than not, from my clients, they don't need it yesterday, they can wait a week. At my jobs these days, as I've advanced in my career, are getting shorter and shorter. They're not month and a half long expeditions like they were earlier on, sadly. It's fun when there are month and a half long expeditions. But sometimes they are, that's pretty rare. So, it's the conversation, because I wanna wait until I can get back to my office with that fancy Adobe RGB monitor. If I do have to work up images on my laptop in the field, and I'm in a hotel room, or wherever I'm at, I try to replicate the conditions of my office. Lower the lights, turn on that lamp on the other side of the room, I have my light meter so I can make it somewhat close. That light over there is not daylight balanced, I'm on my laptop so I'm only seeing SRGB. I make sure the client understands that I'm not gonna be able to do as good of a job on the road as I could on my office on that monitor in terms of working the images up. But if they're only gonna be seen online, which is 80% of my work these days, I can probably get it pretty close on here. So that's the caveat and then everything else just, when I get back to the office I back everything up and all that stuff. In terms of what I travel with, I travel with a laptop pretty much everywhere, I travel with at least a minimum of two external hard drives. So I have on this work, this is is my travel laptop, it's a one terabyte hard drive, and there's almost never more than 300 gigabytes of whatever's on here, the software for the computer. And I clean it off with the old images that were on here every trip if I can. So, I can put one backup of the images, typically, on here and then one backup on an external hard drive. And then, that second external hard drive is usually my business information and whatever else I need if I'm on the road and need to converse with a client. So that's the typical setup, and then there's a whole truckload of camera gear, and then if there's, well, not a truckload, but a bag full of camera gear. There might be multiple bags of camera gear. It's really difficult to travel with both the Hasselblad and the Nikon kit these days, if I need extensive kits, especially on airplanes. And if it gets into lighting (sighs) oh my gosh, we're talking hundreds of pounds when we start talking about lighting. And these days, for a lot of my trips I'm driving, I'm not flying because I have 600 pounds of lighting gear. And I drove to Oregon three times last year for one of the CreativeLive shows last year with my Subaru Outback stuffed to the gills with lighting gear because how am I gonna get a 12-foot boom arm onto an airplane? Like checked or unchecked, whatever, it's just not gonna happen and it would pay a fortune in baggage fees. We went to the Amazon a couple of years ago, and I know I'm going a little bit beyond your answer but just to give an example, shooting a documentary film, we had 48 Pelican cases. It cost us about six times more to get the Pelican cases there than it cost for our tickets to get down there. So that's an extreme example, but it gets crazy every once in a while. You had a question, Tony. I have four questions. Oh, jeez. First one's Smart Previews, so I'm on a plane, I don't wanna take my big hard drive and I wanna work out those images. Let's go to my computer here, and see if I can get outta this. There we are. Let's just say raw images, you can actually, I'm just gonna select the first four here, if you go up here to edit, or if it's under library, there they are, previews, you can choose to build what are called Smart Previews, and say you're on a plane and you don't have your hard drive accessible where your images are on or whatever situation you're in, you're not connected to the hard drive that those images actually live on. Smart Previews built, oh, so I've already built them for this. Basically, the images are on here, but if they're on a separate hard drive, I could unplug that hard drive and because I built what are called Smart Previews, that means I can go over here and make adjustments to that image and then when I plug that hard drive back in, it saves the adjustments here in Lightroom, when I plug the hard drive back in, it's gonna write those out to that actual image XMP file or whatever. But it still allows me to manipulate the image. If you don't have the Smart Previews built, you cannot change any of those, sliders will be grayed out because it's like, I can't find the image, which is often the case. And there's even, I saw a folder earlier that I guess I used to have these workshop images here, and it's like, where are those images? And it gives you this little exclamation point and you'd have to go in and do this, or I guess for the whole folder I would just go here and say, find missing folder, and then I'd have to go track down where that folder moved to. If I deleted it, then I would probably just have to delete this whole folder. And this might be a major issue for lots of people with the rat's nest of, I don't know where my images are at. You would have to go in there and relocate where you moved all these folders to or star over with a brand new catalog and undo the rat's nest a little bit or just move forward. (chuckles) But. Yeah, that was my second question. Did that answer your question? Yeah, that first one, very clear. And my next question was lost images, how that happens when you just have one catalog. When you say lost images, you mean Lightroom lost track of them or-- Yeah, questions marks on images, can't find that image. Can't find that image. Why does that happen? 'Cause the Lightroom, Lightroom is basically like FileMaker Pro with a whole bunch of extra additions. It's basically a database that keeps track of different files, whether they be digital images or videos, or what have you. So, if you move that file outside of Lightroom to a different folder somehow or accidentally deleted it, Lightroom's like, well I'm not seeing it anymore, so if there's a question mark up there, there's a good reason there's a question mark because somehow, outside of Lightroom, something changed with where that file is. And that's why you gotta be careful when you hit this delete key within Lightroom. There is always this dialogue box that comes up and every time you see this dialogue box, read this dialogue box 'cause if you hit the wrong key here, you delete it off your hard drive or you just remove it from Lightroom. Those are your options or you cancel outta this, which is what I'm gonna do right now. But, you know, be careful with what you do inside of Lightroom and outside of Lightroom with those images. If I say move those images, if I come to my hard drive here, and let me get out of this for a second. And let me just go to, let me force this to happen. I'm going to go to the picture's folder up here, just where this workshop stuff lives and I'm gonna pull one of these things, editing sequence, and I'm gonna pull it out of there. And so, it's not in the folder that Lightroom thinks it's in and so when I come back, editing sequence is like, whoa, what happened? I can option click here and find missing folder and I know where it's at now because I just did it. If I did it three months ago, I may not know where that folder's at, but I'll have to go back into my picture's folder and show it where it's at and what was it, editing sequence and chose and now you notice that editing sequence moved to wherever it is in my folder stack here. There it is. But there's no more question mark. And I'm pretty sure what happened to this workshop one is that I deleted it off my hard drive and here I just need to go bing bang boom, remove, and those are gone. And then if I want to rebuild that folder again, I need to find those images, collect them, and make a new folder. Those weren't as precious as say, a shoot with a whole folder full of images, but you get the idea. The opposite here, if I go back to this editing sequence and I want to move it back into this Lightroom PSD folder, which is a bunch of images from my workshops, I can actually move stuff within the folder structure of Lightroom. And you'll see, bam, now it's back there, and if we go back here, you'll see it's not over here. It moved it in my finder window as well. So, it goes both ways with Lightroom. It's just understanding what's happening. And that's why I harp so hard on folder naming and file naming outside of Lightroom so you're organized before you get into Lightroom, and then that way you'll be organized in both and just understand the relationship of the organization. Did that answer the question? Okay. We have a question. I have a question somewhat related to that. So, say someone like me that has say three, four, five external hard drives that I have been hesitant to put into Lightroom just because of the organizational rat's nest that it is, would you suggest going through that first or doing it via Lightroom or where do I start? That is the eternal question in digital workflow of classes, and it's up to you. It's how big is that, how many images are we talkin' about, and how much time is it gonna take you to go untangle that knot? If you've got 10 terabytes of images and it's a 100,000 images, the likelihood of you spending the next year untangling that knot is pretty low, probably. If it's only 400 or 500 or 1,000 or 2,000 images, that may not take that long to undo. You can do it outside of Lightroom or in Lightroom, however you wanna do it, you can do it in Bridge, you can do it in any number of softwares, whatever you're most comfortable with would be what I would say. What I would say, if you have a giant rat's nest of images, not to decimate the rats here by calling it a rat's nest, but I would say start figuring out your folder and file naming conventions and move forward and then do what you need to do to access what you need to access in the old file structure. 'Cause that'll just make a clean start, and then worry about this as time goes on. 'Cause you're gonna know what your best images in that old structure, and maybe you can integrate that, slowly, piece by piece, into your new way of doing stuff, new organization scheme, would be my advice. And from what I've seen, that's what people usually opt to do just because of time constraints and they don't wanna spend their time doing that for hours and hours each day, or even have the time do it. Do we have anything online? I'll get back to you. Nothing online. Okay, keep goin'. Yeah, my final question, when I'm exporting from Lightroom and one of the export options is, am I exporting for screen, for matte, or for glossy? What does that actually do? Hm, let's look at that, I don't even know. Whoops, I did the wrong command there. Let me go back to Lightroom here. Okay, that's if you're sharpening, is that what you're talkin' about? If I'm gonna sharp an image, and it says screen, matte, glossy. All that does is. So if you choose sharpening here, it's basically giving you the same sharpening options in the print module, so it's-- Oh right, and you did cover that and then I can either chose high, lower, or standard-- Exactly, but it does have the option, so if you. So, this is actually a great question. We were printing, and if you own a Canon printer like this PRO-1000, and you get much better colors using their printer driver than you would using the Photoshop or Lightroom printer driver, you could export your images out of Lightroom as TIFs or whatever file types you wanted to, say for glossy paper and standard amount of sharpening and you can even resize it here and let Lightroom resize it when it exports it, and then you can open that up in Photoshop, and print that from the Photoshop with the Canon print driver. (laughs) I'm going down a long series of rabbit holes here, but you have the sharpening that Lightroom uses, which is excellent sharpening algorithms, to then print the image and you don't have to go through the rigmarole of learning how to sharpen your images for years and years to kind of perfect your sharpening techniques. That's one way of doing it, or a way of doing it. And you said that's gonna be pretty close? Pretty close for what, for sharpening? For doing it through Photoshop. The sharpening's gonna be really good. Whether or not it's too much or too little sharpening is up to you when you see the print, and then you could go back and export it with high or low, depending on what your preference is. I can expand upon a few things, I suppose, just overall thinking, and I won't go on forever here, but-- Yeah You've seen the whole process, and you've seen also in this class that each process has an effect on the quality of the final image. Which camera we choose, the resolution of that camera, if we're gonna make prints, that makes a big difference. The sensor, how good is the sensor on that camera. All the way up to, how did I hold the camera, how did I stabilize the camera, how did I expose the image, what does that histogram look like coming out of the camera. All the way through my monitor, the tools I'm using, then how you worked it up, then what you do before you print it and how you resize and sharpen it. I mean, it's the whole enchilada thing here, anyone of these points could break down and ruin, not ruin but not allow the image to be as excellent as it could be. And this is irrespective of your ability to take a picture, and your composition and everything else. So, I think that's the overarching thing I wanna get across to people because back in the days when Kodak and Fuji made film for us, they took care of a huge chunk of this stuff and very few people actually printed color images in a dark room, I mean, I have only printed a color image in a dark room from film a couple times in my life when I was younger, and it was a total nightmare. And if you haven't done that, you have no idea what a nightmare it is to get accurate color in a dark room with color film, which is why you always sent it out to the lab back in the day with film. But we are the dark room, we have to be the masters of our domain if we want to get the best image quality out of our image files. So with that said, I think everything's important, decide what part of this you wanna attack and have mastered for your images. You know, if I was, you've heard me say it, color management is big for me, that's been my experience. If you're just putting your images on Instagram or in other places and they're not going to print, it may or may not be as big of factor for you as it has been for me in my career. How I work it up is just how I work it up. There's something we talked about earlier today that I think is a good point, how you work up your images, you get into these ruts, you see what I did to my images. Well, I end up doing that exact same thing to all of my images. Sure, the sliders are in different places, but I get into this rut of I just keep doing what I know to do, and I don't, if I don't explore how other people are doing stuff, I don't learn new tricks to add to my quiver of how to work up images 'cause if I give some of my best images to a retoucher or another photographer, whoever, and watch them work up images, I might be like, wow, I would have never thought to do it that way, but I really like the effect it has. And these days, as I said earlier, this is like half the game, what happens after you take the picture. And that's a lotta people's look, their style, quote, unquote, which I use carefully, that word, it's how they process the images, not necessarily how they shoot the images. So, you can change your style and play around with all kinds of different styles of processing your images and get radically different looks. It's up to you to figure out which one of those looks you like, but that's a big factor in your photography, and I watch a bunch of software, you know, people working up their images, a bunch, I mean here and there, I watch it when I can, it's not like every day I'm watching videos of people working up their images, but to gain these little tricks. And often, I'm like, okay, yeah, I know that, I know that. Just like everyone here watching this video's like, oh, I knew all that stuff, I'm good. But maybe you saw me do one little thing in Lightroom or Photoshop, you're like, oh, I've never seen anybody do that before. I might add that to what I do and that'll change how my images look. So, that's a small thing but something to be cognoscente of because if you're doing things in a very regimented way the whole time, you're not fully exploring the artistic possibilities of where that image could go. And that's just something to be cognoscente of, so you can actually push the envelope if you wanna keep pushing your image forward, your images forward and your photography forward.

Class Description

Setting up a practical and efficient workflow with your photography feels like a daunting part of your business. Internationally recognized photographer Michael Clark introduces you to techniques to allow you more time to shoot the images you want. His workflow philosophy is that you must first know how you are going to edit the image in post production to know how you need to shoot it.

In this class Michael teaches:

  • Best practices for a shooting workflow from setting up your camera to histograms and exposure
  • How to clean the sensor on your DSLR camera
  • Color management workflow including your work environment and monitor calibration
  • An overview of Lightroom® and multiple ways to speed up your workflow including file folder and batch naming as well as metadata and archival processes
  • Techniques to finalizing your images in Photoshop® with basic adjustments and retouching
  • Making fine art prints, choosing your printer, paper, understanding ICC profiles, and much more!

Michael covers everything you need to know in order to streamline your post production workflow in Lightroom® and Photoshop® and best practices for printing your art at home. Digital photography is far more complicated than shooting film ever was. Knowing the best practices for a digital workflow will make you a better photographer.

Lessons

1Class Introduction
2Shooting Workflow: Set-up The Camera
3Shooting Workflow: Histograms and Exposure
4Shooting Workflow: Sensor Cleaning
5Overview of Color Management
6Color Management: Monitor
7Color Management: Workspace
8Color Management: Monitor Calibration
9Color Management: Do I Need This?
10Introduction to Lightroom®
11Download & Import Images With Lightroom®
12Lightroom® Preferences
13Six Ways to Speed-up Lightroom®
14To DNG or Not to DNG?
15A Logical Editing Process in Lightroom®
16File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®
17Batch Renaming in Lightroom®
18Entering Metadata in Lightroom®
19Managing Images in Lightroom®
20Introduction to the Develop Module in Lightroom®
21Lightroom® Develop Module
22Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration & Vignetting in Lightroom®
23Graduated Filters & Spot Tool in Lightroom®
24Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom®
25Creating Panoramas in Lightroom
26Creating HDR Images in Lightroom®
27Lightroom® to Photoshop® Workflow
28Export Images to Photoshop®
29Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments
30Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching
31Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Saving Master Files
32Make Fine Art Prints: The Cost
33Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Printers
34Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Papers
35Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles
36Make Fine Art Prints: Sharpen Image
37Printing From Photoshop®
38Printing From Lightroom®
39Compare Monitor to Physical Prints
40Printing Black & White Image
41Extended Workflow: Back Up Images
42Extended Workflow: Storage Options
43Extended Workflow: Archiving Images
44Submitting images to Clients
45Prepping Images for Social Media
46Alternative Workflows
47Final Q&A