I’m always looking for ways to stay as efficient as possible when it comes to editing and organizing images. I came across Nasim’s article about having an efficient Lightroom workflow for D800 files and other super high resolution RAW files. You can never stay too lean or efficient when tossing around the huge D800 36MP files! As an Aperture 3 user, I found a really great image import workflow that has really helped me stay efficient. We all love RAW for the power it gives us to edit and capture the very best of a camera. However, undoubtedly we’ll have a good portion of images from a shoot that either aren’t in focus, aren’t sharp, poor compositions or just plain suck. Why waste time and computer grunt power importing all those crappy (yet still enormous) files?! Here’s the trick: Don’t import them! 😎 Save yourself the time. Here’s how to do it.
Set your camera to shoot both small jpeg and RAW. When you get done your shoot and get ready to import, just import the small jpeg files. You can do this from the Aperture 3 import dialogue or set your camera to write jpeg files to one card and RAW to the other. Importing small jpegs is very fast and efficient. Once they’ve all been imported, you can take a look at your files and make a selection of keeper images. Use a star or a flag or a color or whatever. Then go back to the import dialogue and import Matching RAW files. This import workflow ensures you only import the keeper RAW images saving you oodles of time! 😀 Who doesn’t love having oodles of time?
Check out the YouTube video I made of the import procedure in action.
Cameras are truly amazing things, they have the ability to capture time forever! In the old days, it was stored on film but since the digital revolution, it’s stored in bits and bytes, zillions upon zillions of 1s and 0s. RAW is the format that can capture almost as much information as film. RAW is exactly what the camera sees and saves when you push your shutter button on your camera. The files are enormous but they give you the most options in the universe for editing. JPEG locks you into a specific format that still looks great, takes up way less space but is limited.
I shot JPEG forever because RAW was scary to me. I didn’t yet understand the amazing potential that existed with it. After I saw the light, I switched to shooting solely RAW and have been blown away by what can be accomplished when editing photos in RAW – far more than JPEG! But, I’ve also watched my hard drives fill up with images – lots of junk images that I know I will never develop any bigger than a 4×6 or maybe an 8×10 (and should probably just be deleted all together). 😐
Enter my new workflow revelation. Shooting RAW+JPEG! I have come to believe this is THE way to go. You always have the RAW file to work with, but you also have smaller JPEGs that process quicker, look great out of the camera, and take up way less hard drive space. I set my camera to take RAW and Medium sized JPEGS with Fine compression giving me a file size that is 3216 × 2136 (6.9 MP) which works out to ±3megabytes.
It’s time to be realistic. Hardly ever do you print photos bigger than 8×10. And you can print that from an 1800x1200px image. So why do you need anything bigger? A JPEG image that is 3216 × 2136 is plenty sufficient. And, if you make a great photo you want to blow up to 20×30 or 40×60, you’ve got the RAW file to do that from. And here in lies my new “Best Workflow Ever” procedure.
I’ll be totally honest, I came across this concept first in a Photoflex episode (80:7, 2010) by Gary Box. He’s a professional photographer based out of Oklahoma. He shoots RAW (as everyone should) then generates 1500px JPEGS from which to edit for his clients. The computing power needed to edit small JPEGS is minimal in contrast to RAW editing, supercharging the editing workflow to notches unknown to mankind. Everything is quicker with JPEG than it is with RAW. It allows him to fully edit a photo in about 60 seconds, which is mighty quick.
The second advantage is in the importing process. When you import your images into Aperture or Lightroom, importing a few thousand small JPEGS takes no time at all. It’s fast! The processing is über quick too. But you still want the RAW files incase you get a hot photo you want to blow up. And herein lies the best part. You can import only the RAW files you want in a simple two step process. I use Aperture 3 and it makes this super easy. I’m sure you can do it with Lightroom too though.
The first thing is import your medium size, fine compression JPEGs (JPEG files only). Go through them, making your selections (stars, flags, colors) of good/keeper images. Some of the images will be complete junk (blurry, exposed wrong, test shots, etc.) – you know you don’t wanna blow hard drive space with RAW files of that crap. Even if you are diligent and delete them all later, you still have to import them all and sift through them. With smaller JPEGS, you can keep all the crap you want at a far less hdd space & time cost!
Then, once you’ve got your basic “gooder” selections done, you go back to the import dialogue and import the RAW files that match your selections. This way you only keep the RAW files for the best of your photos. You’ve got the full options if you ever want to make a big print later. Both the RAW and JPEGs import as matched pairs and you can access which ever file you want by right clicking on it and choosing either RAW or JPEG as master.
This workflow is fast, efficient and takes up considerably less room and time than just going RAW all the time. And it provides you with the best editing options because you’ve got the RAW files for only your best images. It’s truly the best workflow ever because you get the best of both RAW+JPEG worlds! 8)
Hat tip to Rob Boyer for the technical heads up on this import process. 😀
This is a brief tutorial on making HDR images. There’s zillions of other posts/pages on the information super highway already so you can look up more info there about it. But this is how I do it. Which makes it infinitely better. 8) Just kidding! 😉
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s been around forever conceptually, even since film days. But now, with digital it’s easy and fun. Get a camera and a tripod and find a scene that has loads of contrast: lots of lights and darks. The idea behind this kind of photography is to keep all the detail in the darks and in the light parts of the image. Because the camera currently cannot capture the same amount of dynamic range that the human eye can see, in one camera photo you don’t get as much range as you see with your eye. So, you take 3-7 photos of varied exposure and layer them together with software. I use Nik’s HDR eFex Pro. It’s super slick and comes with many final image presets you can apply to stylize the final image, making it look as surreal or as realistic as you want.
OK, here’s a sunset one I took the other night. And in all truth, it’s not how I typically do it. I was on top of my roof with my 70-300 lens and I did this handheld, which isn’t optimal. Get a tripod so there is no camera movement.
So, the first image: bang. Here it is.The camera meters the scene and determines that this is the best balance of light and dark. We get all that rich colour in the sky & the river. But the valley hills have gone dark and silhouetted the evergreen. This was at ISO 400 f/8 70mm and the shutter was 1/100.
The next shot speeds the shutter up to 1/200, recording an even darker, more saturated image. This one gives the mad colour, but kills off almost all the detail in the hills.The third image washes out the sky but it lifts the details up out of the hills with a slower shutter speed of 1/50. All three images are 1 stop of light apart from each other.
Now, technically, it would be better to get a couple more images here to further lift the details out of the dark regions. But, as I mentioned, this was handheld. If you have a tripod it’s easy to do.
Then, after feeding the photos into the Nik software (I use it as a plug in with Aperture) you can arrive at the final HDR image. There’s loads of darks and lights, rich colours and highlight detail that otherwise would have been lost. HDR is having your cake and eating it too. 8) When you stylize the image, you can make it look wild with texture, like I did here to make the clouds go boom. But you can also finish them to look realistic too which I did for this photo of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Regina. The light pouring in from that window would have made getting a balanced exposure difficult.
I did a screencast of editing the froknowsphoto RAW file of the week, a really cool portrait! The video is me showing you how I did my interpretation of the image in Aperture 3 using Nik Software’s Color eFex Pro plugin.