It’s important that we set up our cameras correctly and have a set out workflow in place in order to create the best final product we can, in a quick and efficient way. There are a few things that we can do in camera and on the PC that will allow us to achieve this.
Firstly let’s start off by looking at what we can do in camera that will make life easier for us, to start with let’s take a look at our shooting settings. Starting off with the basics, we should make sure that our camera is set to Shoot Adobe RGB, as opposed to any other available settings. It’s important that our camera is set to Adobe RGB as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the programs that we’ll be using to process our images on, so it makes sense to have the camera working to the same colour space as the software.
Secondly we should ensure that our cameras are set to produce RAW files. It’s important that we do this as RAW files contain a much higher level of detail than JPEG files do and allow us to go further in our processing, editing things like white balance and highlights.
Thirdly, we should look at entering our own custom file names and copyright information if we can. Not all cameras support this function, but if thy do it makes sense to take advantage of the option and embedding your name into your files right from the start. This could help with lost and unidentified files in the future or help out in a case of image theft.
The first thing to do before opening up any software on the computer after importing your files from the camera is to create a file naming system and a folder archiving system. Create a new folder, title the folder with the name of the subject and the date, ensure that you know from the title exactly what is in that folder from a quick glance. For example, the folder could be called ‘Class Portraits 07.03.15’. Now create a file name, most cameras will export images with a code similar to this DSC0001.NEF, this is no good for the purpose of archiving. To make your file more unique to you and more easily identifiable you should give each batch of files a unique name, a good code to use is the following; Use the initials of your first and last name, three initials from the location of the shoot and then a four digit number signifying the file number. For Example, a picture I’d taken in York would be named like so, MR (First and last name initial) YOR (For York) 0001 (For file number one). Again creating a file name like this will not only help with archiving and locating the file in future searches, but it could also help identify your file in a case of image theft or misidentification. It’s important to ensure that you make your work as easy to trace back to you as possible as there is now the orphan works system, in which after a process of 1-7 steps the original photographer cannot be located or tracked down then the image can be passed for use without the photographers consent.
Once the camera has been set up correctly and you have devised an appropriate file naming and filing system then its time to begin editing. Firstly open the RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop’s RAW Processor, from here you should do as much editing as possible. It’s best to edit the file whilst its RAW as the files in it’s most mailable state whilst RAW. Major edits such as sharpening, highlight adjustments, white balance edits etc, should all be dealt with at this stage to ensure as little work as possible need be undertaken on the exported file. Exported files are more prone to loosing detail and quality when worked on. When your image is edited to your desire in the RAW stage it’s time to think about exporting your image, before you do though, save a file of your RAW edited file, incase you need to re-visit it later on. When exporting ensure that you export to these settings unless instructed otherwise by your client. Export your file as a TIFF at 16bit, a TIFF file is usually up to three times larger than your RAW file, that means a 24megapixel RAW file will be boosted to 72megapixels file as a TIFF. It’s quite simple to see just why exporting as a TIFF is important from that comparison alone, a TIFF is going to really maximise the potential of your image. Unless instructed to do otherwise, ensure that this image is also exported at a resolution of 300 DPI. If the image is to be used online, it’s ok to export as Adobe RGB still, however if you’re creating the image with the intention to print, then remember to export your image in the CMYK colour space, which is the colour space recognised by most printers. Now save two files, a .PSD (Photoshop) file in case you need to re-visit the image at this stage later on, and a .TIFF which is the completed image, ready for use, you may also wish t save a smaller .JPEG file of the completed TIFF for use in E-Mail and quick sharing.
When completed you should create a folder with the name of the image (Example being MRYOR0001) in this folder you should copy in the files created in the above process, an unedited RAW file, a .PSD file and a completed .TIFF and perhaps a JPEG too if you decided to create one. This way you have quick navigation and access to each stage of development of your image, should you need to re-visit a certain stage of editing, this saves time and increases the efficiency of your work flow.