Thursday, September 19, 2013

Photo Thursday: Lightroom Workflow

I am not writing this post as an expert on Lightroom. In fact, I am writing in the hopes that some of you may be able to give me a few pointers.

I have been using Lightroom 4 for about eighteen months.  I never got the hang of iPhoto and I have yet to advance to PhotoShop (I have an unhealthy fear of layers...), but I like the organizational system of Lightroom, and the basic editing tools are sufficient for my present photography needs.

I bought Scott Kelby's hefty tutorial text, and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first four chapters, I am ashamed to admit that I have not progressed any further - other than a brief scan of the index.  I thoroughly enjoy the author's conversational writing style, and the numerous images help this visual learner understand the step-by-step instructions.  I am certain to find time this winter to do a more serious study of this powerful software program.

In the meantime, however, I have managed to develop a nice workflow that suits my organizational needs, and I thought I might share that system here.  I am always open to suggestions, however, to make this even more efficient, so please feel free to share.

I try to download my pictures after each event; it allows me to review the photos while the memory is still fresh in my mind, and it prevents a major backup that will demand hours of time rather than minutes.  Within Lightroom my pictures are sorted first by year, then within each year I have a separate folder for each individual event.  All event subfolders begin the same way, that is, the numerical value for the month, followed by the year, followed by a brief descriptive title.  For example, the recent pictures of the Arboretum were uploaded to the subfolder:  09-2013 Arboretum within my 2013 folder.

Once I download the pictures into Lightroom, I do a quick review and immediately delete those that I do not want to keep.  My criteria varies depending on the event, but I tend to weed out about half (mostly due to poor composition or focus, and/or if I have several of one shot I eliminate all but two).  This takes very little time.

I then go through the remaining pictures and select those that I think are the best - the cream of the crop.    Currently I use the flag system (white for "best" and black for "delete") although I know that some people prefer the five star rating system.  While I have no set percentage that I deem as favorites, typically I find about 12-20 pictures that meet the criteria (and I typically find a few more to delete during this second pass through).

At this point I edit only those pictures that I flag as the best.  My edits are fairly basic, mostly because I am not familiar with many of the advanced options.  I crop the image, if needed.  I adjust the white balance (this one feature is worth the cost of the program!) and often tweak the exposure and contrast.  Occasionally I will play with the color adjustment options, but typically I stop here.  Quick and Easy.

A new step that I recently added is to keyword these edited images.  I must confess that I do not have the hang of keywording, and I fear I either add too many or too few.  I do, however, see the value of this feature to either perform a search for a particular picture, or to assemble a photo compilation that spans several months/years.  Unfortunately, I did not add this step to my workflow until just recently, so I am now faced with the laborious task of keywording photos of the past ten years.  *sigh*

The final action is to post these edited images to a photo sharing website like Flickr (if interested, here is my photostream).  Lightroom makes this simple and convenient because it is already linked to Flickr.  I can create a new set within Lightroom, select the images that I wish to include, copy them to that set, and click "publish"  Within a few minutes I can log into my Flickr account, rename the files to a more descriptive title (rather than IMG-0152), write a quick summary, and I am done.

Typically the entire process takes less than an hour and it suits my need for efficient organization.

Addendum:  As I continue to catch up on the backlog of key wording, I have decided that at the end of each year I want to review these favorite photos and select the "best of the best"  There are some that evoke such a positive response within me - mostly sentimental in nature - that I would like to have a way to easily access them.  Using the rating system, I will only five star those favorites that I feel are truly the best... based on purely subjective reasons.


As I said in the beginning, however... if any of you have a modified workflow, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

No comments:

Post a Comment