Damned DAM - Going for the Flow
I’m somewhat cured of GAS. Oh I do enjoy a little gearporn session once in a while but, as money goes, I have to refrain a bit on the acquisition part of the acronym. « You can look… but you cannot touch ». That’s my motto for the time being. Although I would probably fall for a 24 mpx X-Pro 2 or X-T2.
One thing is always itching me though; workflow.
I’m pretty sure that I’m not as efficient as I could be. I always wonder if I’m making the best choices for image quality, assets management and security of my data. I’ve looked at a number of articles depicting one’s process of managing images, and versions, but somehow I stay unsure if what I’m doing is the right thing.
So I’ve tried a couple of things in the past one and a half year, from simply organizing my files manually in the finder and processing them in CameraRAW/Photoshop or Pixelmator, to using a full blown DAM and RAW converter like Lightroom, Aperture or Capture one… and yes, everything in between, DAM or RAW converter; Photo Ninja, Iridient Developper, SilkyPix, Photo Mechanics, Perfect Photo Suite, On one, and others I don’t even care to remember… the latest being Mac Affinity Pro and Supreme Photo.
I had not looked at another piece of software than Aperture as long as I shot Nikon. But you know what, I committed to Fuji and everything changed. X-Trans files are special you know. Everyone has an opinion on the rendering of X-Trans files and I got caught in the debate. So I wanted better images AND better worflow.
But, believe it or not, I’m longing for the leanest process possible. If I could use just one application that would be perfect! It is supposed to be quite simple after all; import, manage, cull, develop, output, upload, archive, retrieve. That’s it! Simple. Linear. Like in Lightroom linear.
Sickening… don’t you think? Doctor, am I normal? Ain’t I the worst case you had?
The thing is that, by trying all those apps and constantly changing my worflow (including file naming conventions, output formats, metadata presets, keywording, etc.), I finally got results... RESULTS!
- Got everything messed up
- Spent a lot of time managing files, creating presets while not shooting
- Ruin my eyes comparing images on the computer screen
- Lost confidence in my abilities to render images the way I want
- Lost all pleasure I had in doing post related things
I somehow stopped being an artist and became an application tester. BETA… throw it this way!
That’s when it hit me. « Build it and they will come »
It’s not that I’m waiting for baseball legends of the past but, what this quote means to me is « COMMIT and they will come back », meaning the pleasure, the confidence, the awareness, the abilities… more of the FLOW and less of the WORK.
Just like I committed fully to the Fujifilm system and look, I needed to commit to a certain set of tools that I feel comfortable with, that gets good results and that, most of all, allows me to express myself, tools I can use to make my images look the way they should, the way I saw them or imagine them at the moment I pressed the shutter.
So I did. Got rid of every application except Lightroom and Capture One, and I got back to the very simple workflow I had established years before. I even got rid of my once beloved Nik Efex Pro and ditched every presets I had ever downloaded. Down the drain. Everything except the VSCO sets, that I kept just in case or for comparison purposes, as I use my own presets 95% of the time, on RAF files as well as on the superb Fuji JPEGs. And you know what? I feel lighter, clean, honest. By committing to those tools I committed to myself; to the artist and to my peace of mind.
So, here it goes. Simply put:
- I shoot RAW+Large JPEG
- Import the files in Lightroom (in folders by date and custom name, with generic keywords and copyright info)
- Culling using the picked, unpicked and rejected flags (I do this on the JPEG files as they give a better idea of what the photo could look like)
- Throw away the obviously scrapped files, RAF and JPEG (yes I do that)
- Add relevant keywords to every file that are left, even the unpicked. That little interval soothes my eyes for the next part
- Filter the picked files
- Assign a star rating to picked files that will only serve as a priority reminder. The more stars the more I want to develop the file
- Backup every file on a external HD
- Develop files on a virtual copie
- Export a MASTER file that I will never tweek again in a MASTERS subfolder, add an « M » to the file name and assign the yellow label
- Export a 1200px on the longest side file for WEB publishing in a WEB subfolder, rename accordingly and assign the blue label
- Go back and assign the red label to the original file I just develop. This means « as been edited »
- When, and only when I decide to print a file I will export with specifics settings in a PRINTS folder, add a « P » to the file name and assign the green label.
I publish to Flickr and 500px using the Lightroom plugins. I use Collections to gather only four types of files : Polychromes, Monochromes, Photos published in my blog posts, Photos delivered to clients.
Lightroom backs up the catalog every day. Time Machine backs up the whole system once a week and Smart Backups backs up everything that is Lightroom related and all my photos and file structure once a week on another HD.
Texte et photos © 2015 OLNEY