Improving workflow

I’ve been spending less time behind the lens recently and more effort on improving workflow.

Currently my process for getting images out of the camera and onto the screen goes like this:

  1. Import RAW files – Canon EOS Utility
  2. Import into Lightroom (v2.x), add metadata
  3. First cull, flag images for editing
  4. Adjust image colour temperature, brightness, blacks, curves etc. in Lightroom (which saves to an XMP file)
  5. Edit images, saving originals for those that I’m likely to rework
  6. Save for web as JPEG, 100%, embedded profile (usually AdobeRGB)

This process has been working well for a while, but once I realised (the penny dropped at the Camera Craft 3 course last year) that having a good image on screen is only half the battle, I’ve been working to fill in some of the gaps in my digital workflow. Far and away the best site for helping with this has been dpBestflow.

There were two main areas that needed work. The first was storage. Having lost months worth of images due to hard drive failure in the past, I was keen to get this right, finally. “Acquire abundant hard drive storage capacity” was an easy recommendationto follow: I now have a 2TB main internal hard drive, a 1TB HDD which archives the first, and a 2TB external drive for uncompressed backups of all the audio and video in the house. While this does yet follow the ‘3-2-1 rule‘ – “Use a 3-2-1 backup (3 copies, 2 different media, 1 stored offsite) whenever possible” – I’m now a lot more comfortable that failed hardware won’t result in data loss.

The second area, rather more fun than dealing with hard drives, was colour management: “When delivering image files, make sure both sides understand color profile requirements” (dbBestFlow). I’m fortunate to live near a printing house that takes colour management seriously: Pixel Perfect. The first step they insist upon is profiling your monitor. I chose one of the instruments they recommend, the i1 Display 2; the bundled software makes the process quite straightforward. Pixel Perfect also supply colour settings and gamut profiles for soft proofing, as well as detailed instructions on how best to supply your images.

I’m sure most other photographic printers don’t offer as detailed instructions for first time customers. This, I think, is a big plus for Pixel Perfect; not everyone agrees though. I picked up my first batch of prints from them this morning, and I’m very impressed with the colour reproduction. In the same batch were images from both before and after the monitor was profiled: comparing the detail and colour of these to the prints shows a strong difference. I’m pleased with the output, and an now keen to try out the effects of different papers with specific type of photos…

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Posted on February 21, 2011

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