It was about a year ago when I headed to Chicago for a weekend seminar entitled SB2. For two days I networked with fellow photographers and learned a great deal of information about the photography business. While SB2 visited four different cities in 2008, not every one was able to attend. Now a year later the folks at ASMP have started the Strictly Business Blog. The information provided on the blog is a good reminder of what I learned on the business side in Chicago, but also brings new information to the table from what presenters have learned in the past year. If you are a photographer I strongly recommend bookmarking this site and checking back often to see the latest posts.
As I was catching up on some of the blogs which I follow, I came across the following video from Atlanta Photographer Zack Arias. This was a timely video, as I have had some discussions with other photographers about how the winter brings out the worse in our fields and usually it shoots down motivation. If you are a photographer, check out the video and you will find after the first minute the content of the video suddenly changes. It just may be that kick you need this time of year and get back in the game for the spring.
If you would like to view the full screen version, you may do so at the following link.
During the Thirty Days 2008 project last month, I received a couple of questions asking about my workflow for when I post images to the blog as well as the watermarking on the images. I thought this would be a good time to talk about the various steps I took during the project and how it has been fine tuned to allow me to quickly post images to the blog for the project as well as other posts.
The process I use was derived from a few different photographers who have talked about their process on their blogs. Using this information I was able to come up with a workflow which works best for me and you may find yourself doing the same thing after reading my workflow as well.
- Copy images from Compact Flash card into a folder on an extra hard drive which is primarily used for temporary storage.
- From this temporary location, I import my images into Adobe Lightroom.
- During Import my contact information and copyright is automatically populated. I also populate my Metadata including the location and date fields as it is also easier to do it at import than catching up. Also this is a good time to keyword the images as well.
- Backup the images which were imported to DVD and other archival methods. By doing it at this point you now have your metadata and keywords being saved as well in case you need to reference the backups in the future.
- Select the images you will be using and develop your images as needed. If I crop I try to keep it the ratio size out of the camera. If you are using Lightroom the basic adjustments should be done in this program as it is non-destructive to the image. Meaning you can always remove a change since a crop or change of settings doesn’t get written to the image itself but to a xmp file on the side.
- After I have developed the image in some instances I will add a vignette in Lightroom which is quite easy to do in Lightroom 2.
- Once I am satisified with the image, I export the image using a template which gives me the largest size as 600 pixels. For my blog 600 pixels is just about the width across making it as large as possible wihout WordPress trying to resize it or it coming out of the template. On export I also change the colorspace to sRGB for output since this is what looks best on the web, 72 dpi and about 70 for quality which is once again all which is needed for the web. Every so often I find I need to up the quality a little based on the image bringing it to 80 for quality and it will suffice.
- I open the image into Adobe Photoshop and do not perform any layer edits as all of this should have been done in Lightroom. The one thing I do use is Unsharp Mask which is found under the Filter–>Sharpen menu. By getting the image a little sharper it pops a little bit more on the web, however you need to be careful not to over do the sharpen as it will ruin an image as well.
- Depending if the image is horizontal or vertical I open one of my PSD templates with my logo already included.
- With this template I will drag the template to the image and then determine where I want the logo to show by clicking on or off the layers. The purpose is to give a watermark to the image which is not too intrusive but all is part of the image. Once I have determined what position this is I flatten the image.
- The final step in Photoshop is to do a “Save As…” for the image. When saving the image, I rename the image name from DSC****.jpg to something meaningful. Some examples include Civic-Center-Park.jpg and Denver-Convention-Center.jpg. I do this as another benefit for the search engines to know what is in the image, since the seachbots can only read text and can not determine what is in the image… yet. DO NOT do a ‘Save for Web’ here as it can strip all your metadata from the image.
- Next step is to upload the image to the blog or website.
Once I have performed the backups the rest of the process takes about five minutes from developing in Lightroom to uploading to the blog or website. However this does depend on the amount of work needed in the develop module it could take a little longer especially if you are transitioning between Lighroom and Photoshop for fine tuning of selections and more complex layer masks.
I would be interested to hear what works for you in blogging workflow with images.
This weeks photography tip is titled workflow, but it won’t cover the step by step instructions of what you should include in your workflow. There are many other valuable resources to discuss this depending on the products you use. Instead we will look at why it is important to have a digital workflow which works for you.
I started shooting digital two years ago, after I decided it was more practical then using film. It was at that time in late 2006 where the main switch from film to digital took place almost overnight as the technology and costs were at a point which let it happen for a lot of people. When I switched to digital, one of the first things I needed to do was determine a workflow which would work for me when handling the images created with my DSLR. Just around this time the first beta of Lightroom was made available and it was something I looked into to determine how it could work for me, instead of using Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw to process images in Photoshop. As I was new to the whole digital at this time I found Lightroom easier to learn than Bridge and Camera Raw. Based on this I attempted to learn this product on my own, but it wasn’t until last summer with some training I really understood the whole product and how to use it effectively. By putting off learning the product to the best of my ability I lost valuable time in my digital workflow process.
My example is just one of the many stories you will hear on why it is important to have a workflow process which works best for you, the value of time. You may want to follow an established professionals specific workflow, but you need to ask yourself how will it benefit me and improve my production. Everyone has their own steps they follow as they shoot in the field, go to the grocery store or many other things in everyday life as it is what suits them best. A digital workflow process is the same thing. The following bullet points are some things to consider when selecting and refining your workflow, which will be a ever changing process.
- Learn the primary product you will be using in your workflow. If this is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Aperture, iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop or something else there are good classes out there to help you get started with the basics. Some of these classes will be at a local community college, photography or art school or from certified professionals. By investing in the initial training you will be able to hit the ground running in your workflow and know the primary process you will want to use.
- Don’t be afraid to hire a certified professional to help you refine your process as well as work on some images. These people have passed a test to become certified, but more so spend many hours in front of the computer working on the product and training others. Prior to hiring someone for one on one time, be sure it is the right person for you. There are times when it is difficult to work with an instructor or expert and it is not the fault of either party as the sync is just not in place.
- Make sure the product you are using can provide all of the functionality you will need. If you need to provide a TIFF file can you do so? Is it possible to do localized adjustments? Will you need to use channels in your editing? These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself now instead of six hours prior to a deadline.
- Once you have learned the product continue to educate yourself on how to do more with the product. If you use Photoshop, there is always more available to learn. Most products have an 18 month lifecycle meaning there will be new features in upgrades you will learn as you use the product. Some photos or projects will force you to use these items which you haven’t utilized in the past.
- Stay current with the product you are using. Sometimes it is difficult to spend $200 to upgrade Photoshop or $100 for Lightroom/Aperture as it looks the same as before, but there are new features which you will use at some point. Also the learning tools available on the internet or bookstores will be for the current version. If photography is a business or serious hobby, you should have the tools you need to do the job correctly and more so efficiently. You wouldn’t cut corners on the equipment you need for a shoot or in the field, and you shouldn’t do so in your workflow as well.
- Join a professional organization if it exists for your product. The largest one out there is the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. NAPP provides members with tutorials, tips and tricks, discounts, a subscription to Photoshop User magazine and many other items which easily pay for the membership price. One of the benefits is 15% off Adobe products, but the main benefit is the wealth of information available online to members.
- Network with fellow photographers. Sometimes you have a simple question about how to do something in a product. If you know other photographers using the same product they can be a great resource where an e-mail, instant message or quick call will get you through the simple problem. Of course you need to be careful not to take too much of their time as well.
- Use licensed software. It is amazing at how many photographers complain about images of theirs being “stolen” because of the internet, but yet use pirated versions of software to avoid paying the cost. If you want to take a stand on copyright violations for your images, it only makes sense you respect the copyright of others whether it is software, music, movies, or anything else.
- Use what works best for you. Not everyone will use the same workflow, as there are many options available in the marketplace. Photographers have also developed their workflow process at various times and may be well entrenched in a particular approach. If you were an early adopter of digital you may use Photoshop/Bridge/Camera Raw versus a recent convert finding Lightroom being the best solution for them. Mac users may use Aperture, while that is not an option for PC users. Your best friend may try to have you convert, however the workflow which works best is the one you are comfortable using.
In Photoshop for some tasks you can do it in many different ways, which is the same for your digital workflow. The important step is to get the image you captured to match what you envisioned when you pressed the shutter release. With digital we now have stacks of hard drives on our desks and the need to have an efficient workflow process. This process will be fine tuned over time, but it should always be a process which works for you in order to bring efficency when processing your work.
It happened this morning with a boom, followed by beeps from the backup power unit in my office. I didn’t ask to go off the grid it just happened unexpectedly. At the moment the power went off I was working and was little startled from the boom which I would later would find out was about 50 feet away from my window. Once I realized what happened, the first thing I did was shut down all of the electronic equipment which was still operational due to the power backup system. It is nothing huge, but gives me enough time to safely shutdown items and help prevent any damage with my systems and files in instances like this occur.
You are probably wondering why a backup power system is needed especially with most people using laptops as their primary computer these days. The reason I have one is to allow me to control the shutdown of the external items connected to my laptop which are critical to my business. If you look around your office you will find many items which operate on electricity and wouldn’t be critical, but there are a few were an unexpected shutdown could result in some damage especially with storage devices. I ave my external drives connected to the backup power as well as my external monitor to ensure I still have the displays I normally would use to safely shutdown applications I am working in at the time and then power down in a normal state. If you are using a dual monitor system it just makes it easier to see the whole application during shutdown. In most instance backup power is used just for this and not to continue running your business during a brief power outage.
The current system on the market which is close to what I am using is a APC Back-UPS ES allowing as I mentioned above to shutdown the items I am running at the time of power loss. Based on the items plugged into my unit I could last probably 5 minutes, but it is something I have not gauged at this time. If you feel you need more than this, you could upscale from this level giving you some additional work time during a power loss. I just figure that is too dicey when the goal is to protect your work and not try to extend the amount of time you are able to work.
I have been using APC products in my home for about five years, and when I was working at a mail order company in Tucson managing their information technology during college we also used APC products. Based on this experience this is why I mention APC in this post, however there are other companies out there providing solutions for the home.
In case you were wondering, it took Xcel Energy two hours to come out and restore power which included trimming the branches away from the power lines (the cause of the outage). Now I get to find all of the clocks in my house and reset them, which will be good practice for daylight savings time in early November.