I know, everyone is blogging, but I thought this might be a way to share some information and thoughts that I am working on, and see what happens. My biggest obstacle right now is time. I need to work smarter in my photography, as I cannot seem to work longer, unless I forgo sleep. I am trying to embrace new technology and ideas to work more efficiently, but this does not always work. As many people know, the learning curve can be very steep, and as you sit at the bottom looking up, the daunting climb is questionable as to whether you can make it to the finish.
I am struggling with what should be fairly simple tasks, or even basic habits or practices. Coming from a film based world, I had many of the same issues, but all of them now center around the computer. Space, filing, locating prints or negatives, processing, and print aesthetics all now reside within my computer. There are hundreds of programs,websites and blogs offering help, and few seem to be helpful. As I work through my transition and organization, I will try to share with people what I find that works, from a non-computer geek perspective (Okay, I can be really dangerous when I open that computer case, or even worse yet, get into the Registry to edit. I will go there, but often the results are not pretty. Many hours with support techs may follow).
TODAY: ORGANIZATION AND DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT
I have been shooting digital since 2004. I came late with a D100, and resisted it, feeling that my passion was in traditional black and white photography in a wet chemical darkroom. I love the time and the process making a print from a negative gives you, on fiber based selenium toned silver prints. I still have my darkroom with two enlargers, but it has been over a year since I processed a roll of film, or flipped a print in the fixer.
I noticed that my digital color prints were as good as my color slides and prints, even with the D100. The more I used it, the more I made good images, and pretty soon my digital color work was overtaking any black and white work.
The problem is that I have files in at least four computers, hard drives that are filing up, and when I need to find a file, memory (not the computers, but mine) is challenged on where to look first. Even worse, I have multiple images of the same or slightly different file, and no clue as to why so many copies exist. Lightroom shows me that I have over 10,000 images that I have not really done much organizational work on, other than some keywording. Ranking and rating have not been done. Editing and selecting is very tough, and I am trying to be as conservative as possible in my ranking.
Last year I decided to shoot RAW most of the time, once I started using Lightroom as my primary workflow. Photoshop has so many options that I felt I was doing very little with my files there. I still try to do as much "in camera" to avoid heavy post production, such as doing critical framing and exposure, but often there is a need to tweak the files. Lightroom really does the heavy workload for many files. If you shoot a lot, and I do take a lot of images, it can really cut your processing time.
I attended some seminars, and one with Katrin Eismann really struck home as to management before anything else. It is really hard to pick a starting point, and work on the existing files, as you continue to shoot. But organization issues compound the more you shoot. So I got Peter Krogh's book. Digital Asset Management. I have read and reread his book. It is wonderful for so many things. It gives a work flow and best practices.
So first step, add space. I have taken an older computer, which two years ago was my primary photo computer, and made it a file server. I cleaned out some old hard drives by backing up my messy files to work in progress folders, and now have two internal hard drives, with two back up hard drives, ready to take my sorted files. I am organizing my work in progress, starting with new files and using the best practices, and working backwards with files when time permits.
Keywording is essential. Right now, I have pulled all the files I can find into Lightroom 2 to catalog them. At worst, date is my primary search tool. I now know where all of my images from 2004 are, even if they are on different drives or computers. I am backing up on at least two hard drives, one being an external that can be removed, and making DVD copies as I go. My plan is to do this for all the files, so I can do it once, and not have to save and save over again.
What is working for me is a written plan of attack. A checklist, such as Peter suggests, on each shoot, as it is ingested, cataloged, keyworded, rated, backed up and saved. A written workflow practice. I don't know if mine will be robust enough, or if Lightroom alone can be my cataloging or DAM tool. There are too many software "solutions" offering different results. I am hoping that either Adobe builds more DAM power into Lightroom, or Microsoft improves Expression Media, from everyone's prior favorite, IView Media Pro. I will post blogs on what works for me, and what doesn't, and why, with the hope that this might be helpful to others.
So, this is my task for the next several months. Check in with me to see how it is going, and what I am doing. Thanks. Please bookmark my blog. Be patient with me. It cannot be a daily blog, and it will be done when I can, or when I have information.
Check my website out at http://www.boglephoto.com/. New things will be coming there, as I also plan to overhaul my website. For beginners like me, perhaps my experience, faults and successes may be helpful.
Thanks for reading. Be back soon.
Bill Bogle, Jr.