Thursday, May 21, 2009

Workflow Adjustments

I have modified my workflow a few times over the past six months (wow, has it really been that long?) since I purchased my first digital SLR. Now that Adobe CS4 and Lightroom 2 have arrived I need to do so again.

My current workflow has been something like this:
  • Transfer photos using Nikon Transfer which puts everything in the right directory, .../Pictures/unprocessed/u_YYYY-MM-DD so that I can quickly see in Picasa which photos have and have not been processed, as well as copying everything to a backup directory on my linux system via a Samba share.
  • Preview the shots with Google's Picasa and delete any that I have no intention of post-processing (remember I do have backups so I can always pull a shot back out later if I change my mind).
  • Much of the time I simply call it quits here.
  • If a shot already looks good but needs a crop, I will usually just do that with Picasa.
  • If a shot needs postprocessing then I'll open in Paint Shop Pro X2 and get to work (before I purchased PSP I would do everything in Picasa and it is not bad for basic things, just do not blindly trust the automatic controls).
  • Once I am satisfied with how the shot looks I save it to .../Pictures/processed/p_YYYY-MM-DD (preserving the original date) and delete the shot from the unprocessed directory.
There are some flaws in my current workflow; I am not using RAW files, I am not backing up my postprocessed work* and it still feels like there are some missing steps but it could just be my imagination.

With PSP I cannot use RAW files because apparently that is a feature that is only present in the ultimate edition (or whatever they call it) and even if I had it, Corel does not currently support the D90 NEF files. Fortunately the D90 does a great job and the JPEGs are often all that I need.

I know that I should backup my work. I need to find a solution that will work behind the scenes so that I do not have to remember to do it. I have had my eyes on a few external hard drives but I just cannot justify buying one; my linux system has three 500GB drives configured in a RAID5 setup with 1TB of total space.

The whole unprocessed versus process directory name thing (especially with the 'u_' and 'p_' directory prefixes in the names of child directories) seems like overkill to me. I think that I should try to move this scheme to the tagging level.

I would love to hear any suggestions, especially from someone who made a similar switch.

* I lost a few shots when I transitioned back to Windows from Linux and only realized it this past week, I hope that I can salvage something from Picasa Web that is of a suitable resolution.

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