My post-photography workflow

One of the areas of photography which is becoming more and more important now with digital photography is the post processing. This is how I do it;

  1. I copy the photos from my memory card to my hard drive to the place where I keep my photos (I leave the photos on the memory card until I’ve completed the last step in this workflow)
  2. I view the photos in a simple image viewer (such as irfanView or Picasa Image Viewer) without any adjustments in order to check which ones I want to delete, and delete them right away (I rarely delete photos in the camera, because sometimes you don’t get a good feeling for the quality of the photo until you see it on a big screen).
  3. I rename the folder in the following way; YYYY-MM-DD Description (2010-06-02 Beach with the dogs)
  4. I rename the files inside the folder to the same name as the folder, and add a counter at the end (2010-06-02 Beach with the dogs_0003.DNG)
  5. I start Lightroom (Lightroom 3 Beta can currently be downloaded free from Adobe, try it!)
  6. I chose Import and chose the option to keep the photos where they are and add them to my Lightroom Catalog.
  7. I mark all the photos with a rating from 1 to 5 stars, where I hardly ever use 1, since it would be so bad that I likely would have removed it before ever getting this far (this includes all photos out of focus, too under- or overexposed or accidental double shots of the same scene). 2 is my ”ok”, 3 is ”good”, 4 is ”excellent, would be good for a print too” and 5 is ”My very best, my portfolio material”. In an average shot of maybe 150 photos I would probably have about 100 2’s, 30-40 3’s, 5-10 4’s and probably no 5’s (In all of my photos I’ve taken with DSLR’s I have only about 15 5’s, in total).
  8. I go through the photos with these following steps;
    – Adjust exposure (no more than +- 1.0 step in exposure)
    – Adjust colour balance (usually a tiny bit towards yellow/warm)
    – Adjust fill light (I usually always add a little)
    – Add a bit of clarity (about +20 or +30)
    – Add a little vibrancy and saturation (+10 usually)
    – Remove a bit of noise (not all of it though, since it usually removes all texture or detail)
    – Check and possibly add sharpness (depending on the photo, it if needs it)
  9. If the photo needs to be cropped or straightened I create a virtual copy, and do the adjustments on the copy, so I can see both the original photo and the cropped/straightened one
  10. Even though I shoot all my photos in Raw format (which is DNG in my camera) I don’t feel I need to keep all of them in Raw since it takes up much disk space, so I keep the Raw-file of the 4 and 5 star photos, but the rest I convert to jpg in Lightroom in the following way;
    I select the photos with rating up to 3, and chose export. I keep the original size, and don’t add any sharpness. I chose jpg, sRGB, quality 75 (usually means 3-4 MB per photo) and export to the same folder as the original photo.
  11. I then go into an ordinary file management software (I prefer Total Commander) and where I see there are both jpg and Raw for the same file I remove the Raw.
  12. Back in Lightroom, I do a search for missing files. Those that come up I remove (those were the Raw DNG’s I just deleted since I made JPG’s instead)
  13. I do a new import, which gives me the JPG’s which were just made
  14. Now that I have the folder with a mix of Raw-files and JPG’s I set the meta-data. I set keywords containing info about who is in the photo (first name of the persons), if there are animals in the photo (names if I know them, or at least species) and the place/venue where it was taken (both country, city and place). I also add some other keywords if there are special objects in the photo, or if it is especially funny. If it is on a special occasion (birthday, wedding etc.) I include that too, and if was taken abroad I include country and city. I also in include if it is a portrait, landscape and still life.
  15. The last step is uploading all the photos to my Flickr-account (built in lovely feature for this in Lightroom 3), which I use both as an extra backup (I always backup my photos and lightroom catalog in at least 2 (more usually 3) places. I export in full resolution, and since I tagged keywords this information also follows into Flickr.