Tag Archives: photos

Putting Together a New Gallery

I was pondering the content of the gallery on my website.  I hadn’t updated it for a long time and thought there were plenty of shots that should be in there that weren’t.  I started compiling a folder of shots for the revised gallery.  I thought I should check the old gallery to see which shots I should carry across and, when I went to open it on the website, it didn’t work.  It turned out the design was not compatible with current browser design!  I have no idea how long it has been out of commission.

I looked at what options there were for alternative gallery designs and was struggling to find one that I liked that did something special.  In the end, when concluding that a simple design was what I was going to end up with, I went with one of the templates within Lightroom.  That made creating and updating the gallery a lot simpler.  The revised gallery is now online at the link at the top of this page or, if you can’t be bothered to click up there, here is the link.

www.robedgcumbe.com/gallery/

Lightroom Keyword Approach Update

I have been using Lightroom since the first version came out many moons ago.  For most of that time, I have been actively keywording my photos.  It is a bit time consuming, but it does provide for good searchability and it also is useful when providing images to stock agencies.  My initial keywording was a little light, but I have got a pretty good level of information in there now.  The only problem is that I have to try and remember all of the different words I use for given types.  I almost always forget something when doing this.

The solution to this is using a hierarchy system for the keywords.  Lightroom allow you to have these hierarchies in the keywords such that, if you add one word, a whole sequence of other words will automatically be added.  For example, if you want to add AH-64, it would also add Apache, military, helicopter, Boeing etc.  This does require you to set up all of the words properly of course.  I took a halfhearted go at this many years ago and it didn’t work out well.  Recently, I decided to have another go.

This time, I wanted to do things in a more organized way.  However, editing the words and the hierarchy structures in Lightroom seemed a bit slow going.  Then I realized you can export and import keywords.  I exported the words I currently have and it created a text file.  Where I had tried creating hierarchies before, these were shown as tabbed indents from the words above them.  Therefore, I figured I just had to create a text file in the same structure and then import it.

I spent a fair bit of time creating the file.  Setting up the structure I wanted required a bit of thought and I had to change things a few times as I realized certain groupings would work more efficiently.  I also changed a couple of times to have the one word that was likely to be used as I keyworded be the top of the hierarchy.  For example, I am going to add 787-8 reliably but not Dreamliner.  Therefore, if I have 787-8 at the top and Dreamliner below, it will get added without me thinking about it.  The same for F-22 versus Raptor.

By taking a couple of weeks to create the list, I got it pretty well laid out.  I remembered to add stuff as I went that I had initially forgotten so the final list was pretty comprehensive.  I will have still missed out on some stuff but it didn’t have to be everything.  All of the existing keywords are still going to be there, and I can add more stuff later if it seems valuable.  Finally, I imported the file to Lightroom and boom, all of the new structures were there.  Next time I add a bunch of stuff, we shall see whether it makes a significant different to the process.

One thing to note, if you have the keyword box set to Enter Keywords, this hierarchy approach doesn’t work. Much frustration ensued when I first found this. However, some good guidance was provided and by changing to Will Export, things work as intended. No idea why that is necessary but, now I know, things are okay. I am also going to progressively clean up the old keywords to get rid of the non-hierarchy ones to ease entry even further.

Demise of a NAS

Moving house means packing up your stuff and hoping it all survives the journey.  Some things you have are not ones you are happy about leaving out of your control so you take them with you.  Since we were driving up, we had a bit of flexibility about what we could take with us.  Aside from the camera gear, I brought my two NAS devices.  These have the backups of all of my stuff so, while the computer went in the truck, I had the backups.  However, when we got to the new place, one of the NAS units wouldn’t fire up.

This rather defeated the purpose of taking my backups with me.  The reason I have two units is that the one I have had the longest is limited in the size of drives it can handle.  2Tb drives are the largest so, as it was getting full, I bought a new unit.  Originally I had planned to just use it but, instead, I kept the one going and added new data to the new unit to avoid having to buy larger drives up front.

I figured at some point I might want to retire the old NAS.  It was far noisier than the new one and was probably over ten years old.  It seems to have made the decision for me.

Now I was in a worrying position.  The newer unit didn’t have enough capacity for all of the data.  However, it could handle most of it.  I immediately backed up what I could.  Meanwhile, I ordered new drives to expand it.  The price of drives has dropped dramatically so the 3Tb units are being replaced by 8Tb items.  That should provide plenty of capacity for a long time!  As the drives get swapped out sequentially and the NAS rebuilds and syncs everything, I gradually got extra capacity and set up the full back up process.  Now I am back to normal.  It does make me wonder about the life cycle of a NAS though.  (As an aside, I do have a tertiary backup of the images to BluRay so, while some elements were vulnerable for a while, the majority did have a fallback option.)

My Revised Workflow

My approach to processing images after a shoot is something that constantly evolves.  I have written about how I do this in the past but a few things have changed since I wrote that so I thought I would write up the latest approach in case it is of any use/interest to any other shooters out there.  I should say at the start that my workflow is based around the use of Lightroom.  If you don’t use Lightroom, this might not be of any use to you although I imagine that a similar process could be achieved with other software.

One thing to highlight at the start is that, when shooting aviation (and that is the majority of my photography), I aim to slightly overexpose my shots.  I have found that going a slight bit over and then bringing the exposure back down in post-production gives a better balance of exposure across the shots and also makes for more pleasing sky colors.  This is something I do when shooting RAW.  If you shoot in JPEG, this might still work but your latitude for adjustment afterwards is a bit reduced so you might not get the same effect.  I don’t shoot in JPEG so I can’t state what happens.

All the shots are imported in to Lightroom and I will form a Collection Set for the shoot.  I don’t have specific folders for shoots, nor do I have a renaming convention.  I keyword all shoots and this is how I manage files and find things later.  Keywording is a story for another day.  Within the Collection Set, I shall create a series of Smart Collections.  They vary depending on what I have shot.  There will always be Not Rejects, Rejects and Picks.  Then, depending on what else there is, there might be Videos, Time Lapse, Blend Stack, Pano Originals, Pano Edits, HDR Originals and HDR Edits.  I keyword any of these types of shot with that term so the smart collections will pick them up.  The Smart Collections may be looking for a date range or shoot specific keywords depending on what I have been shooting.

The aim for all of this is that I get a Smart Collection which is unrejected shots which doesn’t include and shots from HDRs, panos, time lapses or blend stacks.  I don’t want to get rid of those shots by mistake and I want to be able to edit those shots at a convenient time.  Then the Not Rejects folder becomes my focus.  I am aiming to get all of them roughly corrected for exposure so I can make decisions about which shots to keep.  I will be looking for sharpness/focus issues and exposure variation can really mess with how you perceive sharpness.  I will open a shot up in the Develop module and I will have the Grid view on the second monitor.  I can now select shots with the same exposure and choose Auto Sync.  Then a change to one shot will be reflected in all of them.

It used to be that I would select the shots by eye.  Then it occurred to me that the Metadata filter is powerful here.  I select the filter of shutter speed and then I can select each shutter speed in turn.  Now it is easy to select the similar shots and edit together.  This really speeds up the quick edit process.  I know tweak whatever needs tweaking and get everything basically okay.  I won’t bother with detailed editing unless a shot is going to be used for something further.  Now I select all files and, in the Library module, select Render 1-1 Views.  Then I head off to do something else for a while.

When the rendering is done (I don’t try and do anything else while it is underway because, while you can do other Lightroom tasks, everything gets pretty sluggish.  It is easier to wait.  I may even shut Lightroom down and restart it after the rendering is done because it seems to like the chance to clean itself up.  Then I go to the first of the Not Rejects shots.  I have it full screen on the main screen and then zoom to 100% on the second screen.  The Smart Collection is set up to show any file that is not marked as a reject (or all of the other stuff I mentioned earlier) so now I can click through the shots.  If a shot is good, I Right Arrow to the next one.  If it is bad, hit X and it disappears.  Now I can run through the whole shoot and quickly get rid of all shots that are not good, be they unsharp, chopping off a bit of something or just clearly useless.

When this first pass is done, I am now left with a bunch of shots, many of which are very similar.  Since I know they all are basically acceptable, I can now select all the ones that I won’t have a need for and hit X.  Very quickly I am down to a far more manageable number of shots.  Then I can pick which ones I want to do something with.  Hit P for those and they will automatically appear in the Picks Smart Collection and I can come back to them at any time.  If I have shots that will be used for a specific piece, I may create a Collection specifically for that publication and just drag the shots in so I can deal with them at any time.

That pretty much sums up how I handle a shoot.  Some will have pano shots, some will have HDR, occasionally there will be time lapses and often videos.  Sadly, the integration of video between Lightroom and Photoshop is non-existent so I have yet to have a good process for video editing.  Maybe one day Adobe will fix that.  They tempted us by having video in Lightroom but they never took it any further despite the fact that the opening in layers option for stills would be ideal for video editing.  One day…

Sonoma County

Sonoma County is very pretty from the ground but it looks even better from the air.  The hills that roll across the county look great and, from above, you get to see way more than you can from the roads.  Not only do the hills look great but you also get to see some rather interesting properties that are tucked away in the hills and out of sight.  There are some very nice places up there.

Updating Your Keywording Standards

I provide a number of images to stock agencies.  They require keywords to tack what is in the images.  This has never been a problem because I have been keywording my images for a long time.  Some people keep their images in folders based on shoots but I have, for a long time, been more bothered about putting keywords in for my shots.  This way I can use Lightroom to find shots of any topic really easily.

However, I have become a lot more diligent about my keywording standards in recent times.  I used to not get too bothered about adding too much detail to my keywords.  Now, when I am looking for something, I search on a keyword but the result doesn’t show up an image that I know I have.  When I look at older shots, the keywords are rather sparse and not as specific as they would be now.

The result is that I am making an effort to improve my old keywords.  This is not a quick task.  I find little fixes I can make for clusters of shots and implement those.  It usually triggers something else I can do.  I don’t try and do everything at once.  I just build a list of little tasks and tackle them one by one.  I am now also more diligent about keywording new shots more aggressively.  Fixing this afterwards is a lot harder so now they all get tagged with everything relevant.  I hope this will eventually pay off for me.