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My new digital photography workflow

I love making photographs. I spent countless hours during my junior year in college in the darkroom. And since then I’ve had the shutterbug.

About 10 years ago, I gave up my analog camera and switched to a DSLR. And about that time my life got crazy busy when our daughter was born. I stopped processing photos. I just take them and publish them.  

Nowadays, I take casual pix with my iphone, and use a combination of my Panasonic GF1 and a Canon 40d when I want to take great photos. I love the 40d but it’s just too heavy to bring most places. The GF1 is truly portable and I love that camera. 

I’ve been using iPhoto for years. My basic workflow had been: import all my photos in iphoto, delete the ones I don’t want, upload to Flickr as a backup in the cloud and also use Time Machine. I didn’t do much if any post processing except for some occasional cropping. I wish I had more time for that but it’s not for me. 

But I’ve always been fighting with this workflow. I never liked how it imports photos into an “iphoto black box” where the user doesn’t have any idea where the photos are located. And I have this nagging worry that something is going to happen to my photos on Flickr. But year in and year out, I kept this workflow going.

Until last week.

I started reading and researching about shooting in RAW and I was convinced it was worth a try. But iPhoto doesn’t handle RAW very well so that was all the justification I needed.

I asked folks on Twitter if I should use Adobe Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture now that I’m shooting in RAW. Most people said Lightroom so I downloaded Lightroom and been using it every since.

My quick thoughts on Lightroom

-The UI takes a bit of getting used to. At first, it’s feels extremely busy and overwhelming. But it’s very fast and the sheer number of shortcuts and power is absolutely awesome. After a few days I’m feeling good.

-I still don’t do much post processing. Now, after I import all of my photos. I delete the ones I don’t want. Then I do two things in batch mode: apply auto white balance and apply auto tone. That’s it. Takes 30 seconds for the entire batch. Maybe a crop or two if I need to do that. 

My photos look so much better with this method than the previous ones taken with my cameras shooting in jpeg and importing into iphoto. It turns out Lightroom does a better job with white balance and tone than my in camera.

-The other benefit of my new workflow is that Lightroom organizes the origignal photos into nested folders on my Mac (year/month/date_taken). So I can easily see where the photos live and can get to them any time I want. 

-Shooting in RAW also allows me to keep a history of any changes I make so I can step back in time. It’s like a time capsule for photos. 

-After I apply those two batch processes, I upload the photos to flickr. Publishing from Lightroom to Flickr is a breeze. You can even remove photos from Flicrk from inside Lightroom. I mark all of those as private. 

For backup, I am now using CrashPlan. For $10/month, I back up all of the Macs in our household to Crashplan with unlimited storage. I haven’t tested the restore feature yet but a few of my good friends Jason and Stu swear by it.

So that’s my new workflow. I’m very happy with it.