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Digital Workflow in Photography

Everything is digital today. While there are a whole lot of advantages, there are a lot of risks as well. Your shoot is not complete till the point that it reaches the audience, in the form you planned and intended it to appear.


Shooting

while ideally you should be shooting with at least two different cards in the camera but not every camera supports this feature and maybe this is a bit too much or a precaution.


Reliability

use only a very reliable memory card. performance of a good camera depends on the performance of the card as well. If your camera can shoot very fast, the card should be capable of having this information be written on it also equally fast. At least to match around the cameras writing speeds. this will ensure an error free data on the card.


Always insert the cards in the right way as not doing so can damage the pins and the area going into the slot.

Do not use Micro sd cards by using adaptors. use the card that is meant to be used with your specific camera without any adaptors.


Transfer of Data

Transfer images to the computer using a reputed card reader and not though your camera itself. While the images are being transferred through a card reader you can actually continue using your camera instead of blocking it.



Naming

Name the images and the folder as per the shoot details. This will keep things organized to begin with. Use the camera software (prefered) or any independent software to transfer the images and don’t just copy and paste from the card to the hard disc. If you do copy and paste, you can still rename them either on your camera's software or simply in the Finder of your Mac This is a simple Batch renaming process.


Partitions and Hard discs

Don’t keep your data in the same partition which has your operating system. Saving it in folders that contain your most commonly used programs and applications should be avoided too.

It's always better to keep it on the other physical drive if you have more than one hard discs on your computer. Make sure you have enough space in your computer as per the size of the data expected from your shoot.


Do you have enough space ?

As you prepare for your assignment, make sure that you have enough empty cards to shoot with. Nowadays the cost of a memory card is much more affordable as compared to how it used to be earlier. Having more cards allows one to continue with the shoot without any immediate need to transfer the images for more space.

Same goes for your computer as well. Do make more space before hand by shifting or deleting the old unwanted data from your computer or external hard discs so that you have more than what is expected from a particular assignment. Doing this at the last minute is quite cumbersome and time consuming.


Delete and reuse the cards

Once the images are transferred and the card is still inserted in the slot. check and compare the properties of both. The folder on the computer and the one on the card. Delete the images from the card through the computer rather than deleting in the camera. If you make a mistake, you will still have the images in the trash, provided the card is inserted. To actually make the space in the card, you will have to empty the trash as well. the images won't show in the camera but the space also won't be available. So don't forget to empty the trash as well.

This way you will be sure that you are not accidently deleting the images without having transferred them. Remember that the Camera does not have a trash can and deleting images on the camera is irreversible.


Exposed cards

Keep a separate Distinguishable case for Exposed Cards so that you do not accidently use these cards before they are safely transferred to the computer. Sometimes data from an Assignment is quite huge and it may take a lot to time to actually transfer the images and it may not happen in one go all together. This also helps keep the new and used card separately while shooting as well. I have red ribbon tied to the case which is used for exposde cards.


Dont Format the cards

In the unlikely case, besides taking all the precautions if you accidentally erase the cared without transferring the images you can use one of the recovery softwares to retrieve the images from the card. But if you have formated the card, it won't really be possible to get any past images from the card. So unless there is a specific reason to do so, avoid formatting the cards, erase them instead.


Capacity of Cards

Don't fill up your card to the maximum capacity just as you shouldn’t be filling up your hard disk. The card will get slower as it gets filled up. This is one of the reasons why it's a good idea to invest not only in fast but big capacity cards as well. As cameras are coming up with more and more megapixels, the number of shots per card keeps on getting reduced. A larger card allows one to change the card less often before it gets filled up.

If you are shooting 4k videos, you must use fast as well as large cards.


Shoot in RAW only

Unless you need to handover the images immediately after the shoot there is no need to add Jpeg besides RAW while shooting. This will only reduce your shooting space without any advantage. Once on the computer you can evaluate the images better, apply changes and then convert to which wever format is required.



Shooting tethered

This may not always be possible but is a good idea when you need to see the images on the go as you click. Choose the setting on your camera which allows you to record the images on the inserted memory card as well besides transfering the images to the computer. Writing to the card is faster and more reliable as compared to transfer through the cable. the quality and length of the cable may also influence the data transfer.

Back up

Once the shoot is over, you may delete the images which are blank, when the flash did not trigger. You’ll be able to notice such shots easily in the lot. Recording a dvd or dvds of all the raw data which you have shot is outdated now and you may choose to copy tis data on to an external hard disc. It is faster to shift everything rather than segregating the good and the bad ones first. Moreover, you have a backup now of original shooting data. Do label it appropriately as this is only a safety backup.


Your working data

Since you already have the backup you can delete the images not required from your computer and keep only the good ones. As per your priority you may convert the shortlisted RAW files to to 16 or 8 bit TIFFS or JPEGS


Use a RAW convertor.

All Brands of cameras have their own proprietary raw convertors which not only help in converting the files to universal formats but also in making fine adjustments in exposure, white balance and other such factorr.

Digital Photo professional from canon, View NX from Nikon, capture One from Phaseone are some of the popular ones which allow quick batch processing of images when corrections are applied to the images.

Adobe Lightroom is a popular third party software for this purpose.


Make Adjustments

In the RAW convertor itself do the fine tuning of your RAW files before they are converted. Adjust the following parameters if they are off from what you intended to have while shooting. White balance, sharpness, contrast, saturation are some of the key factors which can be adjusted. But do keep in mind that softwares cant make a blur image sharp. They can take care of camera shakes.

It is better to adjust the RAW file than to adjust the TIFF file. For making adjustments which are manipulative in nature like rubber stamping etc. Photoshop is the preferred software.


Batch Processing

You may apply general settings to all the images or selectively to the ones which require. Simply select and apply the settings. Save and then convert them all together to TIFF or JPEG as the case maybe.


No JPEGS as yet

Don’t convert to JPEG. Saving in jpeg means compressing the file and everytime you save a jpeg file you loose on the quality. Even if you need a jpeg file in the end still convert to Tiff and after all your photoshop work convert to jpeg as the last step, keeping the TIFF file as an archive. However, if you don’t need to make any changes in photoshop, you may convert directly to JPEG in the Raw convertor itself.


Adobe Photoshop is unbeatable

Adobe photoshop has always been the best software for making the fine enhancements in the pictures. For certain steps / tools you need to repeat in all the images, you may use the “action”option to do so. I wonder if there is any other software as good as photoshop.


Working files

As mentioned earlier work on large 16bit TIFF files and reduce size or change format only as a last step. Before doing so to avoid any mistake, it is a good idea to make a copy of the whole folder. Sometimes, you may accidentally change the original files. Again use “batch conversion” option on a software of your choice to convert the final tiff files you have worked on to JPEGs.

JPEGS are only for sharing


Once again take a back up. This time of your Tiff worked files and/or jpegs. Store your dvds vertically and not horizontally to avoid moisture if they are in the “non stickable” plastic pouches or paper envelopes. Keeping in Dvd cases takes a lot of space as you can keep only one dvd in one case. Also it will be more expensive. Catalogue them properly.

Be doubly sure before you delete

before you delete data from your computer make sure that the dvd was written properly without any error. To ensure, copy the data back on to a “checking” folder on your computer. If the data can be copied, you will be able to copy it later as well. Write only about 4.20 Gb on one dvd although the claimed capacity is more. With less data chances of error are much lower that filling it to capacity. “verify data” after recording is not a foolproof option as the software may give a wrong report.


Online servers for Backup

Important data could also be stored on a huge external hard discs. These hard discs can be categorized as per your preferred naming system which is easy to remember. Also you could upload data on an external server or storage hosting websites as a backup. I use Zenfolio for storing all my jpeg files as I have unlimited space for a certain fees. One of my photography websites is built on the Zenfolio platform itself.

Keep Multiple copies


While there used to be only one negative in the film era, good thing is that you can keep multiple copies of your digital negatives and “worked” end results safely and securely in separate Hard discs.


Mac or Windows? Check out which one works out better for you!





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