Tuesday, October 27

I Think I've Found My Workflow

Okay, after months of studying and demoing my options, I think I have finally found the best workflow for my post production on my photographs. This is a flow that works well for me, although I can't speak for others. Many swear by Aperture and Adobe Lightroom for post production, and I did find them to be very neat tools to work with.

I demoed both and found that I leaned more towards Aperture, if I had to choose between the two. There was something about Lightroom that just felt a little "off" to me. Not quite sure what it was, but I was just not comfortable with it. I'm sure with time and familiarity it would have become a better fit.

In the course of demoing the two "big players" in the post production realm, I also discovered Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, both components of Adobe Photoshop, which I just happen to already own. I didn't realize that Camera Raw gave you so much control over editing your raw photos, until I started playing with it. I was able to do all of the things I could do in Aperture, and then some, with the addition of some presets that make my workflow even quicker within ACR. Sure, Aperture has the "lift and stamp" tool, but my predefined presents make processing the raw photos in ACR a breeze, and actually faster for me than the "lift and stamp" does.

Also, I still like using iPhoto to catalog my best shots and upload them to my website, Flickr and Facebook. I know you "photo pros" are probably cringing at that statement, but I still find that iPhoto has it's uses. But, the main advantage in going with a Bridge, Camera Raw and iPhoto workflow is the fact that I already own all of them. No extra money out of my pocket! I like that reason the most. I just wish I had discovered ACR and Bridge sooner.

So for now, I will share my workflow with you. Take it for what it's worth. I know others will say it's so much easier to keep in all in one program, but I kind of like the setup I have come to use.
  1. Take my photos in RAW on my camera.
  2. Upload the contents of the memory card to a folder on my external hard drive (I have been doing this all along no matter what program I was cataloging in).
  3. Open that folder in Bridge and make my initial picks for editing, ignoring the shots that I just won't use. At the same time I also apply my keywords and change the file names with a batch process, if need be.
  4. Tweak my picks in ACR to my liking, using presets as much as possible to speed it along.
  5. Export the final tweaked RAW files from ACR in one batch, as JPGS, to the same folder.
  6. Drop and drag the JPGS into iPhoto for uploading and sharing. The keywords follow along into iPhoto just nicely this way.
All in all, the process moves very quickly when I work this way, which is great for the amount of photos I shoot. Bridge actually moves at a much speedier pace than the other two major programs do on my machine, which is a bonus, since I tend to take a LOT of photos during any given shoot.

I feel like I gave the other two programs a pretty good chance, demoing Aperture for a month, then Lightroom for a month, but after using the above work flow for just two weeks, I have decided I will hold on to my $200 plus and continue to work this way for now. From what I could tell, this process goes about as fast as it did for me in Aperture, and definitely faster than it did in Lightroom, which I just never seemed to get the hang of at all.

So, if you are someone looking to move to one of the two big guys, and you own Photoshop already and haven't worked with Bridge and ACR to process RAW photos, give it a try before making the leap. You might just like it!

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