Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

From RAW conversion to image editing and printing
Alan Shaw
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Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby Alan Shaw » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:20 am

G’day all,
As part of my move to a fully digital world, I’m looking for ideas on the right software for me. Although I have only recently bought a DSLR I have been happily scanning slides for many years and then editing in Picture Publisher 8. My workflow, such as it was, looked like this:
• Collect the slides
• Select those that I will want to share or add to my web page
• Scan and save the file as version 1
• Open version 1 and then remove any dust, save, copy as version 2 and then close
• Use version 2 for edits which may range from very simple to complex, save, copy as version 3 and close
• Open version 3, resize to my default internet size, sharpen and then save as JPEG

That’s about it. I will not miss de-dusting those slides!

However, now seems a good time to try something a bit more up to date than old Picture Publisher.

Given my needs I think these are the sorts of things I’d like to be able to do:
• Rename my files at the time of downloading from the camera as far as possible removing as much repitition as possible
• Be able to tag files for later sorting and selection
• Probably be able to use RAW at some stage
• The usual sort of photographic editing tasks, including good conversions to BW, and localised changes such as “dodging and burning”
• Probably a noise removal function

I reckon that about covers it.

I’d assumed Photoshop Elements would be the one for me – I cannot justify the expense of Photoshop CS and the learning curve to do it properly looks steep – but I was intrigued by David’s article a while ago on DxO Optics Pro. David suggested his workflow was too deeply embedded in PS to consider a change but as I’m approaching this with no such constraints maybe it is a very good solution for me.

It may well have all I need and certainly seems to have some interesting features. However, I’m not sure whether it allows for the sorts of localised changes I am used to, first from the darkroom and more recently in Picture Publisher. Perhaps an all in one solution is too much to expect so it might be a couple of programs to cover bases.

Or maybe Elements will do everything I need anyway!

Your ideas are welcome.

Thanks
Alan
Brisbane, Australia
Alan Shaw
Brisbane, Australia
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Visit my Railgrafx rail photography site:
http://www.railgrafx.id.au

Visit my Moreton Bay Model Railways Site:
http://home.iprimus.com.au/mbmr/index.html

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dewarp
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:35 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby dewarp » Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:52 am

Hi Alan

I also use a 7D. My workflow is as follows:

I use RAW. I take RAW+JPEG, but only because on the 7D you need the JPEG to zoom in on the screen.

I use a card reader to download the RAW's and then delete all files on the card. I get the camera to re-format the card every three or four usages.

I use an old freeware programme called CKRename to rename all files yymmddnnn.mrw.

For raw conversion I use an oldish version of Capture 1 LE (Ver 3.7.3) - (I got poor results with the new Ver 4.). When I first got my 7D I tried many different raw conversion software packages. Capture 1 LE came out as the best by far, although Raw Shooter was pretty close. The output has a certain wow-factor that other converters didn't seem to manage.

I first go through the raw's and delete what is definitely rubbish. Then I check the white balance - but this is usually pretty good unless incandescent light is involved. Next I adjust the exposure, usually trying C1's auto setting, and then manually adjusting to suit my taste. At one stage I used to add a bit of saturation, but now I do that later if required.

Next I add a tad of sharpening, although I leave the real sharpening for later.

I then crop if necessary, and save the output as jpg's.

I view the jpg's using Irfanview. At this stage I throw out any unwanted duplicates. Also, if I am going to do any HDR work on an image, I go back to C1 and process under-exposed and over-exposed versions. These I then process in Photomatix to get the desired output.

The jpg's are then moved into my viewer database - this is a very old version of Canon Zoombrowser - but I would probably use Picasa2 if starting again. The database moves the files to an external drive, which is later backed up on another external drive.

I delete the trashed raw files, and store the remainder of the MRW's on an external drive, which is later backed-up on another drive.

For further processing of selected files I use the following:

For any HDR work, I first use Photomatix. This can give some amazing results, but also some very disappointing results. (I have three HDR images in the photoclubalpha gallery).

For the main manipulation I use Photoshop CS2. For years I used The Gimp (free!) but eventually decided to bite the bullet and get CS2. Although I have had a legal copy of Photoshop Elements for some years, I didn't use it because it attempts to take over all sorts of things - and this annoyed me intensely.

Finally, particularly when preparing for printing, I use Lightzone to accentuate areas of light/dark and use tone-mapping to cut down the overall contrast range. My prints are A3 done by a local printing works using an industrial photocopier and semi-gloss paper - cheap but of reasonable quality.

Hope this helps.

regards Peter

Alan Shaw
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Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:17 pm

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby Alan Shaw » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:03 am

Hi Peter,
Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I must say though I found it a little daunting - so many programs!

I will investigate C1 a little more based on your experience. I'm puzzled about your comment that PS Elements "attempts to take over all sorts of things" - what did you have in mind? I'm especially interested as not surprisingly Elements is a frontrunner for me at the moment.

However, I have to say that my one experience with Elements (v2) was not a very happy one. It came as bundled software with my KM scanner but I could not get it to work properly. I may have only had a partial download - I just don't know. But I have to say I found the interface and many of the actions so different from Picture Publisher that I did not pursue it. However, I don't think I can keep using PP as it does not do non-destructive editing which I think is incompatible with my expected increase in workflow.

I will miss its object-based philosophy which I found very natural.

Alan
Alan Shaw
Brisbane, Australia
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Visit my Railgrafx rail photography site:
http://www.railgrafx.id.au

Visit my Moreton Bay Model Railways Site:
http://home.iprimus.com.au/mbmr/index.html

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dewarp
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Posts: 147
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:35 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby dewarp » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:02 am

Hi Alan

For comment on Elements vs CS2, see under DSLR System - A700 and Photoworld.

I would recommend that you rather start with The Gimp.

regards - Peter

Alan Shaw
Acolyte
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:17 pm

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby Alan Shaw » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:50 am

Hi Peter
Having used Picture Publisher for the best part of a decade, the Gimp looks rather like a step or two backwards.

I will indeed keep searching. Lightroom is looking like an interesting proposition for me and I'll download the free trial in the not too distant future. It's hugely frustrating though that the full price here in Australia is so much more expensive than in the US!

Shame I can't get a free trial for some of the lenses I have my eye on!

Alan
Brisbane, Australia
Alan Shaw
Brisbane, Australia
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Visit my Railgrafx rail photography site:
http://www.railgrafx.id.au

Visit my Moreton Bay Model Railways Site:
http://home.iprimus.com.au/mbmr/index.html

Alain
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Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:37 pm

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby Alain » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:03 am

Hi

For the DAM (Digital Asset Management) part I use and recommend IdImager, one of the few that supports multiple version from the same image. (Search also for "The DAM book") While there's an simple image editor in IdImager, it's easy to integrate others.

When using RAW I recommend a seperate RAW convertor, using Bibble myself and I do recommend using RAW. I'll probably look into C1 into the future adn DxO if a lot off lenses are added. I do cull in Bibble, read "only the good ones survive that step". Bibble does has noise reduction build in (noise ninja).

I'm using Imageingester for downloading the memory cards (with automatic rename), but this can be done in IdImager also.

Alain


BTW. Don't forget to take backups, HD crashes do happen.

colmo
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Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:53 pm

Re: Seeking ideas on software for workflow and PP

Unread postby colmo » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:35 am

My own workflow is to copy the entire folder of images from my A100 to a drive, and rename that directory to something descriptive, usually the place or event I was shooting. I don't rename the files, as the A100 gives each one a unique name. As they are date-stamped at the moment of creation on the camera, I do not organise them by date. This entire file structure can be accessed and viewed easily using Picassa - useful for uploading to online print services. I'm a desperate hoarder, so tend not to delete files unless they are completely rubbish, and I have usually done this already in-camera, but my regular file browser (I use Nautilus on OpenSuse 11) allows me to open and delete duff shots.

I run RawTherapee 2.4m1 and browse to the new directory, and make edits on the RAW files as appropriate. This creates a .pp2 file of the same name in the same directory; this is simply a text file describing all the edits made - at present, this file doesn't distinguish RAW and JPEG files of the same name, so be wary when shooting RAW+JPEG!

At present, RT does not have batch capabilities. It does have IPTC capabilities, so extensive time and date details, credits, captions and notes can be added here. These can be copied and pasted manually to other .pp2 files. It's a good idea to put your basic details into the default postprocessing profiles, to save you doing it for each image.

Depending on the output method desired, I apply sharpening (I'm starting to use the RL convolution method in RT), output size, cropping and the appropriate colourspace, and hit save - this will by default go to a 'converted' subfolder, but can be edited to a relative or absolute file location. The final TIFF or JPEG can then be additionally edited in Photoshop or GIMP if it really needs it, and printed, uploaded, emailed or saved to external media.

For speed, I'll simply edit the camera's JPEGs in GIMP directly - this is usually for web use, where the image will be dramatically reduced in size anyway.


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