MP3 on Macintosh
I take almost all photographs using a digital
SLR, currently a Nikon D300 and formerly a Nikon D200 and D70.
I use Nikon's raw format exclusively, producing about a 15 MB
file for each image. Much like film, these files, known as NEF
files from their file extension, must be processed before becoming
images that you can see.
The best practice is to get composition and exposure
exactly right when I take the photograph. While it is possible
to compensate for exposure or composition deficiencies later,
the result is never as good as having gotten it right in the first
place. White balance, saturation, and sharpening can easily be
The camera writes the raw NEF files to a CompactFlash
(CF) card. Card capacity varies; my highest capacity 8GB card
in the D300 will record 400 raw+jpg images. After I get home,
I process the images on the cards in a methodical way to make
sure I get the best results. This method is called the workflow.
Early steps of the workflow are fixed and almost never vary. Final
steps depend on the use planned for the image—web, print,
My workflow is undergoing constant refinement
as new tools or techniques become available.
I place images in a directory structure that
reflects both when the photo was taken and the location or purpose
of the photographs. Any directory structure is necessarily a compromise
between complexity, ease of use, and specific situation. I use
a separate directory tree for each photographer. There are two
directory trees--one for work in progress and one for permanent
storage. The permanent directory tree looks like this:
||Photographer: "dslr" for photos by
Guy, "cp950" for photos by Teresa.
||Year photo was taken "2005"
||Month photo was taken "01 Jan"
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx
||Y, M, D photo was taken, plus short description "2005-01-21
San Diego Zoo". NEF files are in this directory.
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\jpg
||Original JPG files from the camera when shooting NEF+JPG.
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\ps
||Working directory containing edited files (.pspimage, .psd,
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\album
||Output directory containing JPG files ready to be included
in an album (rarely used)
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\web
||Output directory containing JPG or PNG files ready for use
on the web, email, anything except printing
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\print
||Output directory containing JPG files ready for printing
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\Seconds
||Original NEF files that are of secondary quality, not normally
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\Rejects
||Original NEF files not good enough for use. Usually kept
only for bird photography where they may contain useful information
for identification even if a poor quality image.
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\Zenfolio
||Output files intended for uploading to Zenfolio web site.
|\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD xxxxxxx\xxx
||Directories for various other special purposes or destinations.
|Note that JPG, SECONDS, and REJECTS directories
are archived and removed from the hard disk.
The work-in-progress directory is a simplified version of the
above, truncating the first three levels of the heirarchy to one,
named WORKING. So, while the permanent location might be \dslr\2008\04
APR\2008-04-04 Bald Eagle, the working directory is simply named
\WORKING\2008-04-04 Bald Eagle. I use Bridge scripts to move directories
between the work-in-progress and permanent locations.
The camera creates a file with a name like DSC_1234.NEF.
I replace the "DSC" with a camera identifier such as
"D70" or "D300" and follow that with the five-digit
shutter count for that image. (Older files taken before July 2005
use "DSC" for D70 files.) After I have selected the
best images, I rename them to include a description of the content
of the image. For example, "D200_01234 Bald Eagle.NEF".
When I save a version in the web directory, I append a notation
about what the file is for. For example "-email" for
a file to be sent by email, "-pbase" for a file to be
uploaded to pbase, "-photosig" for a file to be uploaded
to the photosig web site, etc. In the print directory, I use a
suffix indicating the print size if other than 4x6. For example
"-8x10" for an image prepared with an 8x10 print ratio.
For example, files taken at the San Diego Zoo
may be in a directory named:
Jan\2005-01-21 San Diego Zoo
One of the files in that directory may be named:
If the file is uploaded to the pbase gallery,
it's image in the web directory will be named:
Finally, an image ready to be printed at 8x10
in the print directory will be named:
This workflow is organized around the software
I use today, notably Lightroom, Nikon Capture NX or Bibble Pro
for developing the image and Photoshop CS3 for editing. However,
the workflow is essentially unchanged no matter which product
I used in the past: RawShooter Premium or Adobe ACR for conversion;
Paint Shop Pro 9 instead of Photoshop.
I find that Lightroom provides the fastest overall
workflow. Capture NX provides the best image quality. Bibble Pro
is most useful when working with noisy images because of its integrated
This section focuses on how files are handled,
named, and moved from place to place for different purposes. I
may later write another section on Processing Workflow which will
describe the actual processing typically done to an image.
- Attach Garmin GPSMap 60csx to computer via USB, Menu-Menu/Setup/Interface
and select USB Interface. Run 'copygps' batch file to copy all
logged tracks from GPS to g:\gps\tracks on computer.
- Remove CF card from camera (if not already done) and insert
card in the SanDisk card reader. Use Breeze Systems Downloader
Pro to copy images from CF card to g:\user\YYYY\MM mmm\YYYY-MM-DD
xxxxxxx, where "xxxx" is a suitable name for the set
of photos. Edit job codes and IPTC data (including keywords)
as required before copying. Downloader Pro creates .XMP files
containing IPTC data and GPS co-ordinates.
Files are renamed with the camera name (D70 or D200) followed
by the shutter activation count.
- If shooting for day includes more than one subject, import
each subject separately, using different job codes to create
appropriate directories. Edit IPTC data as required for each
set of photos.
- Start Lightroom and import the \working directory to bring
any new images into Lightroom. Assign star ratings (1=rejects,
2=seconds, 3+=keepers). Star ratings can also be assigned in
Bridge but that requires synchronizing metadata in Lightroom
to pick up the changes made in Bridge.
- Optionally, use Bridge (or IMatch or other browser that recognizes
XMP files), to rename keeper images to include a subject. E.g.,
D200_01234.NEF becomes "D200_01234 Bald Eagle.NEF".
(The subject later becomes the default slide title if a JAlbum
is made from the images.)
- If converting using Lightroom, adjust all images as required
and create output files. Use Photoshop CS3 if needed for detail
editing. With luck, work on the images is complete at this point.
- If converting using Capture NX, apply either standard D300
settings or customized settings to all images. Examine all images
and adjust white balance, exposure, curves, Dee-lighting, and
other options as required for each image. Save all NEF files.
Convert NEF files 16-bit TIF files, placing output in PS subdirectory,
using the settings that now exist for each image.
- If raw conversion was done with Nikon Capture NX, run 'copyiptc'
batch file to copy IPTC data from XMP files created by Downloader
Pro, Lightroom and/or Bridge to the TIFF files (Nikon Capture
ignored the XMP files). This is required only if raw conversion
was done with Capture NX. Using Adobe Bridge, select all .tif
files and run action to convert files to Photoshop PSD files
using Photoshop. Erase the .tif files.
- Edit each image as desired with PS CS3. Straighten images
and crop if required, usually keeping original 3:2 aspect ratio.
Crop large enough so that other aspect ratios can easily be
obtained later. If in doubt, don't crop or crop large. Do preliminary
(capture) sharpening, adjust levels, brightness/contrast, histogram,
colors, etc. Use layers for adjustments as much as possible;
duplicate base layer if not possible to use a layer directly.
- Crop to largest format needed, erring on the side of keeping
extra information. This allows different aspect ratios (4x6,
5x7, 8x10 etc.) later without having to start over with the
- Save changes in .psd file.
For JAlbum web album images
- Use PS CS3 "Image Processor" script to resize all
images to desired limit (currently using 750 x600). Save in
"album" subdirectory as JPG files.
- Review all original NEF files with Adobe Bridge. Edit "IPTC
Headline" of each image to contain title of photo if file
name does not contain sufficient information. If desired, edit
"IPTC Caption" to contain a description to appear
below title of photo in the generated album.
- Run 'ecall' batch file from album subdirectory to copy IPTC
and EXIF info from original NEF files in the parent directory
to the JPG files. "ecall" is a batch file I wrote
that uses EXIFUtils to copy IPTC and EXIF data from one file
to another and put ISO in correct EXIF field. Batch file also
places lens information in the Iptc.Source field, removes orientation
field (which is no longer correct for the JPG file), moves subject
name from file name to Iptc.Headline field if headline field
- In the album directory, create a header.inc file to contain
the page header for the index page.
- Build a JAlbum, with new output and upload directories and
project name, and upload.
For client directories with GPS data
- Select images to be provided to client.
- Run Bridge script to create output image directory and HTML
file with Google Maps links for all images.
For zenfolio or other web use
- Resize all images to desired size, sharpening as required.
Save in "web" subdirectory as JPG files. Suffix the
file name with intended use ("-blog" for blog photo,
"-pbase" for a pbase photo, "-photosig"
for a photosig review photo, etc.).
- If anything other than minimal, standard changes were made,
save the modified .PSD files with the same suffix as used for
the JPG file.
- Run 'ecopy' on individual files, or 'ecall' on entire directory,
if EXIF and IPTC data is required, to copy IPTC and EXIF fields
from the original NEF files to the JPG files if the EXIF and
IPTC data has been lost by an intermediate processing program.
- Upload to pbase or elsewhere as required.
- Using Photoshop CS3, resize as required for destination printer
and dpi. Crop and sharpen image if needed. Save in "print"
subdirectory as JPG files with a file name suffix indicating
print size ratio ("-8x10" etc.) if other than 4x6.
Adjust color space for destination printer.
- Save the modified .PSD file with a suffix indicating print
size ("-4x6" etc.).
- [Note: Procedures may be updated to use Lightroom with release
When all work on the images has been completed, move the directory
from the \Working directory to the final location, using Bridge
scripts. Also, use Bridge scripts to move all 1-star images to
a Rejects directory and all 2-star images to a Seconds directory.
Burn CDs for the client
All new and changed files on the G: drive (where images are stored)
are backed up every thirty minutes to a network drive. Deleted
or changed files are retained on the network drive in a separate
The directory tree is backed up to an external hard drive weekly.
Periodically, the contents of the JPG, Seconds and Rejects directories
are burned to DVD and deleted.
|May 20, 2005
||First posted on the web.
|July 9, 2005
||Updated to show use of Nikon Capture instead of Raw Magick
Lite for developing images. While RML provides better detail,
NC yields a more pleasing color and is easier to use. The
only differences between RML and NC workflow are in steps
6 and 7 of the Image Workflow section above.
|July 16, 2005
||Added more detail to Nikon Capture and Paint Shop Pro steps.
Describe use of IMatch to set IPTC data. Now using Downloader
Pro to copy images from CF card, which means Nikon Transfer
no longer puts the "shooting data" in the IPTC Caption
field. Files are copied from the CF card twice: once by DL
Pro and once by Nikon Transfer, with the Nikon Transfer set
serving as a backup copy.
|December 29, 2005
||Update to reflect use of Raw Shooter Premium, Photoshop
CS2, revise directory and file naming to support multiple
|March 17, 2006
||Update to reflect changes to file naming, backup strategy,
and album creation process.
|April 10, 2007
||Update to reflect changes resulting from meta data processing.
|April 24, 2007
||Update to reflect use of Photoshop CS3, eliminate references
to software rarely used.
|March 14, 2008
||Update to reflect use of D300 and NEF+JPG mode.
|June 7, 2008
||Updated to reflect use of Lightroom, Working directory,
change in file naming. Remove references to tools no longer
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