My current image workflow

I posted my current backup strategy a while ago. And after a quick chat with Rodrigo on Twitter I decided to post my image workflow as well.

The basic flow is simple:

1. Out there
Snap images in RAW using my trusted Canon ESO 400D. I’m still very impressed with this camera. It has survived more than I could expect. Now snapping away at its image number 26 654.

It has survived drops from 1,5 meter. Heat and sand in Marrakesh and freezing snow in the mountains of Norway. I’m not changing before Canon cranks out that 21 mpix, 8 fps, weather sealed, HD-video shooting full frame 5D mark II. Yeah. I know. Rumors.

Anyway, I am using two 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF cards while out shooting. Then:

2. At home
Transfer the images to my 24″ iMac (a fast, beautiful, silent and in general amazing machine). I’m using the import function in Lightroom and organize the images in folders according to the date: “Main Archive”/Year/Month/Day/image files

The images are not stored on the iMac. They go to a shared drive that’s connected to the main server at home. The main server is a MacBook Pro that had an accident and ended up with a destroyed screen. It’s now permanently connected to the TV in our living room. Serving as a media hub, PVR and file storage for the family. It’s placed in a well ventilated cabinet together with a bunch of disks.

And that’s where my image files go. On to two of the disks. Set up in a mirrored RAID for redundancy.

3. The boring stuff
Tag my images as much as I have time for. Usually that boils down to a few tags describing the session, happening, place and whatever suits all images. I’m not good enough at individual tagging of my images. Too much of my archive relies on the fact that I remember when the image I am looking for was taken. Lately I’ve also started to do automatic geotagging of my images.

(This image: the ultimate cliche. Shot at Solastranden at the western coast of Norway)

4. The fun stuff
Process and edit my images. Lightroom 2 is really powerful for this. With the adjustment brush I can do wonders with an image very fast. And everything is non destructive, leaving the original RAW file untouched. The RAW files contain more information than a JPG and I’m still amazed what I can get out of even a bad shot with wrong white balance and wrong exposure.

I used Aperture for this in the beginning. But Aperture ended up useless on my 60 000+ image archive. I’ve checked, and the latest version of Aperture is way better at this. But when switching I also ended up liking the tagging work flow, editing, RAW conversion and general handling in Lightroom better.

(This image: the beautiful Steinsdalsfossen in Hardanger, Norway)

The kitschy stuff goes into Photomatix and the tricky stuff goes into Photoshop.

5. Publishing
I’m using my images in my presentations, on this blog, over at NRKbeta, on our family site, on print and even for sale. I have a lot of images on Smugmug and Flickr, but the ones I’ve sold have been directly because someone found them on my blog or through my experiment with Shutterpoint.

In general I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to people using my images. As long as it’s not stupid shops using them in commercials without asking.

The alternate workflow
When travelling I bring my MacBook Pro. I’m running Lightroom on that one as well. So, when I’m on the road my images go from the camera, into the MacBook and on to an external disk for backup as well. When back home I transfer the images from the MacBook. Keeping all the editing and metadata from Lightroom on the laptop.

Feel free to fire away questions in the comments.

My current image workflow