Early Evening

Early Evening

The past couple of days I’ve talked a little bit about the software I use; I thought it was about time I discussed my workflow in quasi-depth.

The camera equipment that I use is mentioned in every post. I’ve recently upgraded from a Nikon D70 to a D300, and am slowly but surely expanding my stable of lenses. What’s not obvious with every post is that all of these images start out as RAW, with the exception of some of the earliest images I took with my D70.

I’m kind of an operating system slut. I have a desktop PC running Windows Vista with a dual monitor setup – I’ve been dying to put Ubuntu on it, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth at this point. I also have a Macbook Pro running Leopard with a virtualized Windows XP under Parallels (which I use mostly for work – everything else I do can be done under the native Mac OS). I have a Mac Mini hooked up to my TV that serves as my media center PC. On occasion I’ve run Ubuntu file servers, though I don’t currently have one running. I do have an older laptop with Ubuntu, but that’s seldom used these days. For these purposes, I should note that I do the majority of my work on either the Vista PC or my Macbook Pro. I might rely exclusively on the latter, but I find that I very quickly run up against the limitation of a relatively small hard drive.

I begin by importing the photos from my camera into Adobe Lightroom. The main reason I use this over Apple’s competing Aperture is that it’s cross platform, and it’s relatively easy to keep my Mac and PC synchronized.

The first thing I do is add metadata – usually a couple of keywords, location data and contact and copyright info. I also use the excellent donationware application Geosetter to geotag them, as it’s the only program I’ve tried that can actually write that information to Nikon’s RAW format, .NEF (It’d be nice if Lightroom did this, but c’est la vie).

Next, I’ll give the collection a once over, picking out the best and most usable images, and add them to a temporary collection for developing. I never, ever delete anything, no matter how terrible. A habit that eats hard drive space – but in the grand scheme storage is cheap enough that I don’t much care.

90% of the developing I do is done by Lightroom – for most images I never leave that application (except for the aforementioned geotagging). I take the RAW image and adjust the highlights, tones, and colors to my satisfaction. I only drop into the full featured Photoshop for complex operations, such as special effects (orton being one example), panoramic stitching, layer based operations or anything that requires fixing just a part of the image. I use Photomatix for HDR processing and occasionally Nikon’s Capture NX as I think it’s better at reducing high ISO noise from the D300.

Next, I export my final picks as JPG’s and upload them to Flickr, where most people who will ever look at them will see them. People can and do make justified complaints about the site, but there’s simply no other place on the internet that can match it for the feature set or visibility.

The final thing I do is archive them. I mirror all my work on two local hard drives, and use Jungledisk+Amazon S3 for offsite backup.

I’ll probably expand on the details a bit in future posts, but that’s the broad overview.

I know it’s Valentine’s day, but astonishingly I don’t have any Valentine’s themed photos to share. So instead this is one from Washington Square Park last summer.

Exposure: 1/200″
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 18mm


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