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What is your workflow?

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by triangular, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. I've worked in both computers and photography for many years, although I'm still fairly new to a lot of the issues in this digital merger. My own workflow seems to be learning Photoshop more than anything else!

    Many people seem to use both Pshop (ACR) and Nikon Capture, or sometimes another RAW converter. I've even seen reference to including ACDSee as a regular step in a workflow, though I can't imagine why.

    Do you have a solid workflow you always use?
    Are there reasons you sometimes use Capture instead of ACR? If so, what do you do next?
    Do you have favorite plugins you almost always use? If so, at what point in the flow?

    If you have a reliable workflow that you use pretty regularly with rules about when you deviate, can you describe it step by step, from capturing the image to final output? If your workflow begins in-camera please include that as well.

    I would be very interested in seeing your steps, and we could probably all learn something about different possibilities. I would really like to know what works for you, as I'm still learning my own workflow issues.

    Thanks. I look forward to it!
  2. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    I just saw your post and have to get ready for work now, but I'll respond with some details after work this evening.
  3. Hi Chris,

    For what it is worth, this is my workflow:
    1. Shoot in RAW which also means no in camera sharpening. Also, Adobe RGB.
    2. Download to Nikon View
    3. Open in Nikon Capture where I do initial processing. Things such as White Balance, Exposure Value adjustment, RGB levels adjustment with histogram, as described by Ron Reznik in his Ebook. I do no sharpening at this step.
    4. Save as a TIFF (16 bit, Adobe RGB)
    5. Open in PS and apply Pixel Genius Pro Kit II capture sharpening. This is a low level of sharpening and primarily overcomes the effect of the anti aliasing filter in my camera (D2H)
    6. Size for web or for printing using Fred Miranda's plug in.
    7. Do further processing as necessary (levels, contrast, color, shadow/highlight, etc.)
    8. Using Pixel Genius I do what ever sharpening is necessary including spot sharpening and/or ouptut sharpening. This program gives great control of the sharpening process.
    9. Change from 16 bit color space to 8 bit.
    10. Convert to sRGB
    11. Save As a JPEG

    I hope this is of some help to you. :smile:
  4. 1. shoot in RAW. sometimes compressed, sometimes not.
    2. download using a CF card reader to a date based directory. Also usually copy that to a backup hard disk. I just copy the files from the CF card using the standard Windows XP explorerer.
    3. review images in Adobe Bridge. Delete obvious wastes of space.
    4. open images in Nikon Capture. Further culling.

    Once I find an image I want to do something with it goes from NC to CS2. I store first cuts in the same directory they were downloaded to.

    I also keep a hierarchy of folders containing "interesting photos." Those that I am fairly certain I will want to find later on. Usually one or two from a particular download. Sometimes the entire batch.

    This is all on a Windows XP PC. I also keep an iPhoto library of the interesting photos. Makes it easy to find them later one. Search for them by keyword, etc. iPhoto is a Mac OSX app. I use both platforms.

    Every now and then I will burn DVD backups as well. I keep reading how DVDs will fail, but I have yet to see this. At this point I have about two terabytes worth of 200 to 300 GB hard disks. I figure I will not run out of room for a few years.
  5. Beezle,

    When do you choose compressed vs. uncompressed RAW? Is it because of highlights at the high end of the spectrum you try to give a little extra room? I've heard that compressed NEF may clip just so slightly on the highest end.

    From your description it sounds like you do most of your RAW editing in NC. Is there something you like better about NC?

    Personally I do feel better about keeping my data on hard drives, but I make sure it's a RAID solution or to have multiple hard drive backups. I've often had serious data loss through the years. I guess with HD's its not much different than DVD's. Not really a question of if but when. Everything is vulnerable. A DVD kept in a closet at room temperature should probably be safer than a HD used every day though, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing your method.
  6. So you convert to TIF before you do any editing in PS, and prefer NC for RAW changes. Have you compared NC with ACR much? Many people seem to find the NC interpreter more pleasing as a baseline. But I'm also wondering about claims by some that colors and contrast are more pleasing with NC as well. I am still determining this for myself, but I'm not sure if I'm just imagining differences or if there's something about the type of image that seems more manageable with one or the other.

    I've heard a lot about Pixel Genius sharpeners. I will have to experiment with that.

    I find that ProPhoto gives me the widest gamut of levels to work in at the RAW level, before I convert down to either sRGB or AdobeRGB for web or print output.
  7. They do have a 7 day free trial. I did that before I bought it.
  8. bstaggs

    bstaggs Guest

    It seems that a lot of you save to tif from NC before going to Photo Shop. What is the advantage / disadvantage to doing this over going straight to PS from within NC (with 16 bit setting)?

    Also, does anyone use Adobe's DNG format or converter. Same questions here; advantage / disadvantage to using this format.

  9. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Mine is easy...

    Turn on camera
    Frame and shoot
    Download to PC
    Look at images on Monitor
    Go to bed.
  10. HA HA HA! Cwilt you crack me up. Oh come now it can't be that bad! Not with that inventory I see listed along your .sig line!
  11. Billy,

    I haven't used DNG, though I've been thinking about how I might incorporate it. I don't personally see any benefit opening in Pshop with less than 16 bits in any file format, unless you're sure of only minor changes before final output. If you open in 16 bit mode, it doesn't really matter which file format you're using, assuming all your RAW edits have already been done. As far as I can tell anyway.
  12. Yeah, if a scene has a lot of highlights I use uncompressed, though I am not certain it makes a discernable difference. Or if I am shooting an event. Those images seem more important and deserve the best data possible, regardless of space.

    I use NC if only because of the WB issue. Well, compared to ACR anyway. It also seems to me that NC does a better job with demosaic with D2X NEFs. I used to think ACR was better at D70 NEFs, but these days I just use NC for all of them. I have also found I get better results with Nikon's noise reduction for high ISO D2X NEFs than I do with Neat Image or Noise Ninja. RAWs of higher ISOs won't have that applied if they are decoded by CS2, etc.

    I do own a copy of Bibble, but frankly I just wasn't happy with the results compared to Photoshop and NC.

    I have actually not lost a hard disk in many years. And being a software engineer, I have used quite a few of them. I have a tendency to yank them and replace them often, and the old ones sit in a drawer as frozen snapshots of the moment they were replaced. I have never set up a RAID per se. I just regularly back up data to other drives.

    I recently mounted up a disk from 1992, and it was still working fine. Was interesting looking over the data that seemed important back then. They get a lot more interesting around 1995 or so, when I began to have access to a PhotoCD setup that Kodak gave us for our lab. Suddenly, digital imagery became the most common data for me.

  13. I was recently taking part on the "General" forum about uncompressed vs. compressed differences. I won't repeat much of that here, but in general the NEF compression indeed converts the native 12 bit file down to 9.4 bits. Therefore the uncompressed version obviously allows much more room to hold up under editing space. Although the dynamic range may stay the same, the extreme white point end could be clipped, allowing for less highlight recovery on shots you expose more for shadows or that contain lots of specular surfaces.

    From your post, I assume you're using a D2X. I think ACR 3.1 is now able to decode the D2X white balance. Do you feel that NC maps WB, color and tonal ranges better, or easier than ACR? It seems to me that most people who talk about it are preferring NC to ACR.
  14. My workflow

    1. Put my CF card into the reader and move the files to a work folder.
    2. Bathroom/email/fix food while this is happening.
    3. Use NikonView to delete any out of focus NEF files. I have a older 70-200 F/2.8 with a focusing problem so not every shot is good.
    4. Load Paint Shop Pro and let it read all the NEF files.
    5. Switch back to View and decide which files to process.
    6. Process each file in PSP. Greyscale depending on my mood.
    7. Every five-six files create a ZIP and upload it to Pbase.com
    8. Repeat until all files are done.
    9. Polish the Pbase collection. Send emails to the groups I have covered to let them know it is posted.
    10. A day later reinspect the work folder and redo any images since I would be in a different mood.
    11. Watch the comments on Pbase such as this last collection

    Go out and do it again.
  15. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Some days it seems that way.

    I always shoot compressed RAW.
    The RAW convertor depends on the image. If it is an easy image to deal with I will use NC and send to photoshop. If I need everything I can get out of it then I use Raw Magick and send to photoshop.
    Tweak in Photoshop to desired image.
    Print it or size it for web gallery.

    My signature contains very few of my lenses. I am slowly gaining on Bjorn. LOL!

    The hardware doesn't make a good photographer. I know because I tried that, and it didn't help.
  16. It isn't exactly 12 bits to 9. They quanitize the data and choose 683 values for each channel for a particular NEF. What gets lost will depend on the nature of the values to choose from. And how they choose them. Can't know that really, only what exists in the files.

    So far as I know there isn't a version of ACR that reads D2X WB data. I will check it out. Can't complain about the results I get with NC anyway, particularly with regards to their noise reduction and demosaic. They seem to recover detail from the RAW data that ACR doesn't. In particular when it comes to detail like dark hair. Having darked haired kids, I see a lot of it.

    I wouldn't say NC is easier than ACR. Adobe has much nicer batch processing and of course much more reliable software in general. I am happy about the new version of NC though. I happen to know a bit about the history and construction of NC and I think they likely had a hard time making it faster and more responsive. Kudos to them for their hard work.

  17. Hm, I do have ACR 3.1 installed, and it definitely is not picking up WB data from D2X NEFs. They are using the equivalent of "auto."

    I sure wish they would stop goofing around and just fix it. It isn't a case of not knowing how to read the data. And it isn't a new thing. Many of RAW formats have "encrypted" data in them. Silly people.
  18. I don't know. Maybe its possible I imagined the whole thing, but I could swear the news recently was that ACR is reading the WB for D2X. Am I wrong? Did you go to the Adobe web site and look around well? If I can confirm this later I will post my findings.
  19. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    ACR 3.1 does not read D2x WB. The "As Shot" selection will just give you ACR's best guess, same as you would get from the "Auto" selection in the drop down. ACR is supposed to get updated every 3-4 months, and there are rumors that the next release will decode D2x WB. Guess we'll find out with the next update. Not sure when that will be but I wouldn't be surprised if Adobe waits until they can get support for the new Canon models in, otherwise they'll just have to turn around and release another update to make the Canon users happy.
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