Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On workflow and archiving

My friend Jostein is writing a series of articles about (digital photographer's) workflow and archiving. I'd like to attend to his most recent blog entry that, as he says, "is step to the side" from the series.

I must admit that although I am using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom since the late beta stages, I did not bother with the keywording until quite recently. Admittedly this is not a wise thing, as Lightroom is pretty powerful (at least IMO) in this regard, but it occurrs to me now that it has a direct connection with the way the archiving and organizing fused in my workflow.

So here is my workflow (described loosely in the same style as Jostein describes his):

1. Take the pictures (well, otherwise Jostein and I wouldn't be friends now...)
2. Load them to the computer.
3. Immediately organize as follows:
a. The folder is renamed to yyyy-mm-dd.
b. Files are renamed to IGPxxxxx.PEF as opposed to _IGPxxxx.PEF produced by the camera. (I don't expect to wrap around at 100,000 exposures with my camera, but your shutter count may vary from that of mine.)
c. Initially I store all these new folders and files in a folder called "K10D". It is because Pentax K10D is presently the camera I use.
4. Load to LightRoom which is done simply by "syncrhonizing the folder" K10D.

From this point on it is varying. The following very loosely ordered steps usually take place.
1. I go over the images once and mark with one-star rating all image I think I might want to post-process further. Also I delete the obviously bad images.
2. This step usually happens at least one day and in fact more often several days to one week afterwards. I go over the images again and correct the one-star ratings ever so slightly. Usually I would post-process some (or all, depending on their number) of the rated images and give them more precise ratings.

Next, the following happens from time to time, really depending on my time allowance:
1. Whenever I decide to post an image to the web (say, my blog here) and give it a proper key word.
2. Using Lightroom I may move the directories around and about on the hard drive. The final directory structure is tree like:
Family Album/Year/Month/Date/*.pef
Travel/Tel Aviv/Date/*.pef, etc.

When I prepare a printable full size JPG I usually place it in the same directory where its original RAW (pef for Pentax) is. On the other hand, the web size images are stored separately and they are not imported to the Lightroom catalog.

Usually during this stage I assign various keywords to the images. However, I haven't yet completely figured what kind of benefit I want to extract from the keywording. The premise "the more keywords is the better" does not cut it for me - inevitably I will get confused and loose valuable information if I come up with too many keywords. This is in fact, why the series of articles that Jostein is writing is so interesting to me.

Finally, the backup strategy:
1. All the image files are stored on a Linux server that has RAID1 (mirror) disk array. Therefore, immediately after the files are copies from the memory card(s) to the computer, they get protected.
2. Once a week Lightroom create a backup copy of its catalog on the above Linux server.
3. Usually once a week I perform an unscheduled backup of my image files to the net attached external hard drive.

I realize that this workflow can be improved. Notably, I should at least endevour to describe it in less words. However, it is offered here as yet another view on the problem presented by Jostein. And of course, I am allowed to produce a textual entry in my photo blog every now and then, am I not?


Alunfoto said...


In your description there is a good deal of what and a good deal of how. :-)
If I may, I'd like to extract the what as follows:
1. Shoot
2. Load to PC
3. Rename
4. Load Lightroom
5. Apply star-ratings (iterative)
6. post-processing

You describe your backup strategy as scheduled only, fully automated.
So far so good! :-)
But there are some things that makes me wonder.
1. do you ever delete anything?
2. Why can't Lightroom do the image renaming for you?
3. Why do you keep web-images outside of your archive? How do you keep track of what you have published?


Boris said...

Jostein, here are answers to your questions:

1. Yes, I delete things, but one of the things I owe to myself is to go over my photos and actually delete what really needs to be deleted. So far I am sure I am keeping much of what can be safely deleted.

2. Only because I am not too proficient in using Lightroom this way. In fact, presently the renaming is done by one click operation.

3. From not too long ago I assign keywords (also) according the places where I published my images. Since web images are derivative of the originals and since they are plentiful (I rarely print and way more often publish on the web) I keep them out of my Lightroom. It is done on the premise that I can always create a new copy of image to publish from within Lightroom. It is not always the case for printable images that I may edit outside of Lightroom in GIMP.