My Photo Workflow 2

Me, Reflected

I recently wrote a post about my photo workflow – how I get photos from my camera to Flickr, etc. I admitted in the post that it was a bit over-complicated for me, and that set me off rethinking it. I now, a week later, do something quite different.

If I was taking pics that I really thought needed more processing, or were going to be used for something special, I’d still go the old route. It has lots of redundancy, and gives the best quality results. I don’t intend to do a wedding again, but if I did, that’s how I’d do it (actually, I took even more precautions that day, but that’s another story). For day-to-day stuff, though, it was taking too much time and effort.

The first thing to reconsider was the quality of the captured data in-camera. I was only ever using RAW images, with the camera set to take RAW along with the lowest quality jpeg. I decided I could make do with just jpegs. The camera is faster that way, and I get lots more images on an [[SD card]]. They copy to the computer quicker, too. I decided to try an experiment. I shot roughly the same pic (of a cuddly zebra called Z9) on each of the three jpeg quality settings, then opened them all up in Aperture, zoomed in 1:1. I couldn’t see a difference. The lowest quality looked just as good as the highest, and was under 800kb rather than over 4Mb. So for most stuff now, I’ll use the lowest quality jpeg setting.

As for copying to my [[Mac]], I won’t create a folder, copy the pics, then import them into Aperture. I now plug in the camera with a cable sitting on my desk ready, run Aperture, turn on the camera, and import the pics directly. It means the pics are stored in the Aperture library, but I’m ok with that. I’m letting go of a bit of control for a lot of convenience and speed. They can be moved out again later if I want to. Also, because there’s no RAW conversion to do, Aperture doesn’t seem to take anywhere near as long to process the images once they’re imported.

I’m also making a bit more use of some [[Aperture]] presets I’ve downloaded from various sources, which gives me some of the fun of quick filter effects that I’m used to in [[iPhone]] apps. Exporting to Flickr still takes a while, but it’s just left to run, and the results do look good.

In the end, I’m paying almost nothing in lost image quality, at least as far as I can see; and I’m gaining a lot of time and ease. I’ve only really tried it once with a real day’s photos, so it might all change again next week, but so far it feels quite liberating.


  1. […] Workflow Articles,Blog, Tags: Aperture, iMac, Nikon, NikonD90, Photography by pigpogmUpdate: See Part 2, where this all changes a week later.This is what I do with my photos, from originally taking the […]

  2. For comparison, out of interest, my current method:

    I use a Windows PC with Lightroom – which seems very similar to Aperture from what I’ve read.

    When I return home with my camera, I take the memory card out and pop it in to a card reader on my comptuer – that pops up with Lightroom’s import dialogue – I type in a few tags that will be all purpose ones for the set and thee photos get filed on a particular disk in a dated folder and all of the files are stored as DNG files (mainly because manufacturer specific RAW files end up having a separate metadata file otherwise).

    I only use RAW files, I don’t bother with JPG at all – it just makes editing much more flexible. If a card reader is USB2 or better, it’s generally fast enough, even though my RAW files are now massive (since I moved from a Nikon D50 to a D7000). Using a fisheye means the graduated RAW exposure adjustment on skies is very useful for me. Balancing things out when you’ve got a 180 degree view is hard!

    I edit the photos in Lightroom, set any extra tags and titles for the good stuff and use a plugin to export to Flickr – that plugin also copies the exported JPG in to a folder at the same time which is backed up online (Jungle Disk – used to be Dropbox).

    Those final JPG files are really the most valuable bits so it’s handy having an automatic backup of those I don’t have to think about. Periodically I jetison the RAW files – I almost never go back further than a few weeks to edit photos – Lightroom has made it so fast to process photos compared to using various bits of software in the old days – I also don’t end up with temporary files and copies everywhere that need tidying up like I used to pre-Lightroom.

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