Monthly Archives: October 2011

Digital WorkFlow

Film was Simpler, but Harder

Back when I shot on film, everything was on transparencies. That made photography more difficult – an unforgiving medium. There was little recourse if highlights were burned out, shadows too deep or color was off. Still, you work with what you’ve got. I learned to pre-visualize, shoot Polaroids, do color balance tests before the shoot, and when the budget allowed, I’d wait for film. On the other hand, when I handed over the film, I was finished.

Now, I am further into the workflow. This gives me way more flexibility to adjust, after the shoot, color, contrast, and exposure. Often I do the retouching, and deliver color corrected tiffs. Then I archive the job in case the files are needed again. I thought it might be interesting to share the process in more detail.

The shoot

Because this is about the workflow, I’ll ignore all of the pre-production and jump right to the shoot. I almost always shoot tethered. I like the knowledge that I’ve got it, without any waiting. It also gives clients a preview of what they’re getting. The laptop screen is calibrated with Eye-One (made by x-rite) so I’m pretty sure I’ve got the color right to start.Capture one Screen Shot I shoot with Capture One software, because I’ve got a Phase One back, and it works very well with our Canons too. Apart from doing an excellent job processing RAW files, one of the things I like about Capture one is that it creates a folder structure for every job. A session folder contains a capture folder, a trash folder, and an output folder.

After the Shoot

After the shoot, I simply copy this folder to the “job” drive on our server. I am then able to work off the server to make all the adjustments to the captured images and process them to make tiffs. If I’m doing the retouching, I’ll use Photoshop (big surprise) and create new folders inside the session folder that contains all of the files I’re working on. This keeps all the files for a each project together and organized. The server automatically backs this drive up to an external hard drive every night. The nightly backup keeps versions of the files for 30 days, so it’s possible to go back to get older versions of files, or deleted files if necessary. After the retouching is completed, and the job is delivered, the job folder is copied to an archive drive, also on the server. Once a month, I duplicate everything on to a yet another hard drive and take it home for safe keeping. So I have several terabytes of online archives of old jobs with a back-up off-site in case of drive failure or natural disaster.

Automotive Advertising Photography

Dave shot the Landscape it’s stripped into. Teamwork is everything.

I’d love to hear what you think or about your workflow.

Web Directories for Photographers

Web directories are a great way for photographers to get noticed on the web. There are photographer directories that help people searching for photographers find them. A new directory called USA Photographer Directory seems to hold promise. It’s edited by hand, Advertising Photographer Tom Kirbyso there is an assurance of quality. Every listing is free; it does not sell links, as so many of the others. Navigation is intuitive, making it easy to find the photographer you need.

Other directories are worthwhile too. The Commercial Photographers Directory uses Google Maps to help you find photographers in your area. The Michigan Photographer Directory is a directory just for Michigan. General directories are valuable as well. Yahoo costs $299.00 a year (to pay the editors) and inclusion is not guaranteed. This seems odd on the face of it, but it is the feature that makes directories valuable. By having someone curate the directory, you reduce or eliminate spam and poor web sites. DMOZ is another good directory, and it is free because it has volunteer editors.

In general, it’s a good idea to stay away from photographer directories whose reason for existence is search engine optimization, that sell links, or promote themselves as being SEO friendly. What you want is for a directory to drive traffic to your web site that is interested in buying your services. If it helps your performance in search engines, that’s a bonus.