As an amateur photographer, you probably would have come across the term, “digital workflow” at some point in time and probably pondered over its meaning. A digital workflow is a term that generally refers to the complete system that involves the capturing of digital images to their final delivery. The workflow for each photographer varies due to the presence of multiple variables, which means that there is no fixed digital work flow that is followed in digital photography. It is up to each individual photographer to establish a workflow that is best suited to their methods and requirements.
A digital photography workflow is made up of several steps that are connected to each other and is mainly focused on creating a simple and standardized system. Establishing a standardized workflow can help the photographer organize their tasks as well as achieve consistency and efficiency.
The basic steps involved in digital photography workflow include:
Camera set-up and image capturing
The first and most basic step in a workflow involves setting up the camera and shooting the necessary images. This involves basic decisions such as deciding whether to shoot the image in JPEG or RAW format. Though it may vary according to your requirements, shooting in JPEG format is ideally the better format as JPEG images do not require pre-processing like RAW images and are smaller in size which makes them easier for transferring. On the other hand RAW format images have more detail and are flexible in terms of editing. Ultimately, it boils down to your immediate needs.
However, the RAW format is generally advised for amateurs who take photography seriously and is the preferred format for professional photography. Therefore, when it comes to producing professional work, RAW is the format that needs to be followed.
Transferring and storing images
The second step in a digital workflow is to shift the captured images onto a computer. This can be either done by connecting your camera to the computer or by inserting the SD/Memory Card. The images can be directly transferred or done using image-editing software to simplify the workflow process. The image-editing application can transfer the images and also catalogue them for easier access.
Editing and organization
Edit your images once they are transferred as it is an important part of the process. You can use photo editing applications such as Lightroom, Photomecanic, and Bridge to edit the photos prior to organizing them. The idea is to pick out the best photos to save time and to show consistency in your work. Once the images are transferred, you can use the same image-editing software to add meta-data and sort them. The software can also be used to adjust color, exposure or contrast in the existing images, which will make the final processing easier. Remember that all RAW format images must be processed.
Processing, back-up and final delivery
Once the images are edited, you can start processing them on the software to enhance their quality. This, again, depends on specific requirements. If you feel the images look great in their natural state, then there is no necessity to process them. However, in the case of images in the RAW format, fine tuning is required almost all the time.
Once the images are processed, they have to be exported into a different folder, if you are working with Lightroom.
After they are exported, you will have to create a back-up of the images on a separate storage device such as an external Hard Disk Drive (HDD). It will ensure that you have extra copies, in case something goes wrong with the original ones. It is also necessary to create a back-up of your cataloged images so that you don’t have to go through the process of editing them all over again. The original files need to be backed up too as they play the role of negatives. You never know when you’ll need them.
The final delivery involves having the processed images published on the web or sent for printing. Prior to publishing, you may have to export the images in TIFF or JPEG format and you will probably have to decide on color profile and resolution based on your publishing requirements.
You should also consider renaming your files according to their properties as it will help you prevent confusion in the future and make it easier for you to identify as well as differentiate your images. For instance, you can rename the images with your initials, month, day, year or even a subject number so that there are no repeats. Renaming can be done by right clicking all images or a group of images and then choosing the rename all option, after which you can type in the appropriate file name and sequence number.