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Thread: Digital workflow--individual adjustment or batch processing?

  1. #1

    Default Digital workflow--individual adjustment or batch processing?

    Do you all do batch processing of images or individually image-edit in Photoshop? I love digital but the post processing is killing me! Maybe my Pentium 3, 1GHz, 378MB RAM is too slow for my Canon 8MP DSLR?

    Take this typical scenario:

    You come back from a fantastic 3 weeks overseas trip. With you are literally 1000 images, in 8MP RAW format (!!), thanks to the portable storage device you brought along.

    Back home, the nightmare begins (for me at least!). You have all the 1000 images. But you know in the end, only 300 or 400 are keepers perhaps. When you view the RAW images on thumbnails, sometimes you need to open them to see if the images are blurred, or if your friends had their eyes closed. As I click to select the image to open, it takes several long seconds. Sometimes you got to open 3 consecutive images to check which image has better tonal range preserved. This takes time again.

    Then comes the headache. After conversion from RAW, you got to decide what to touch up. Crop? Adjust colors since white balance is never perfect? Sharpening? But different images require different amounts of sharpening. Batch processing sounds tempting as a compromise but it'll never gonna work well overall, I foresee. Also, the contrast and sharpness of my images suck when I use RAW to shoot on the Canon DSLR, possibly worse than a much cheaper $600 digicam!

    I can imagine doing individual editing for the first 10, 20, 30 images. But for literally hundreds of images from a trip, gosh, by the 30th image, my enthusiasm just wanes down... and till date, I still have my thousands of images from Europe, Korea and US trips that took place 2-3 years ago still unsettled! I'm working so everyday I have only 1-2 hours per night to fiddle with photo-editing.

    In the past, with films, the shop conveniently did the color adjustments, sharpening with ePic printing... Send the 30 rolls of films in today, within 1-2 days time can collect. Just need check the prints, admire the quality. My only job is to slot them into the albums! All can be done in less than a week! With digital processing, it's been years... Argghh!!

    Sigh... What's the best solution?

    Thanks for any suggestion/advice...

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Do you all do batch processing of images or individually image-edit in Photoshop? I love digital but the post processing is killing me! Maybe my Pentium 3, 1GHz, 378MB RAM is too slow for my Canon 8MP DSLR?

    Take this typical scenario:

    You come back from a fantastic 3 weeks overseas trip. With you are literally 1000 images, in 8MP RAW format (!!), thanks to the portable storage device you brought along.

    Back home, the nightmare begins (for me at least!). You have all the 1000 images. But you know in the end, only 300 or 400 are keepers perhaps. When you view the RAW images on thumbnails, sometimes you need to open them to see if the images are blurred, or if your friends had their eyes closed. As I click to select the image to open, it takes several long seconds. Sometimes you got to open 3 consecutive images to check which image has better tonal range preserved. This takes time again.

    Then comes the headache. After conversion from RAW, you got to decide what to touch up. Crop? Adjust colors since white balance is never perfect? Sharpening? But different images require different amounts of sharpening. Batch processing sounds tempting as a compromise but it'll never gonna work well overall, I foresee. Also, the contrast and sharpness of my images suck when I use RAW to shoot on the Canon DSLR, possibly worse than a much cheaper $600 digicam!

    I can imagine doing individual editing for the first 10, 20, 30 images. But for literally hundreds of images from a trip, gosh, by the 30th image, my enthusiasm just wanes down... and till date, I still have my thousands of images from Europe, Korea and US trips that took place 2-3 years ago still unsettled! I'm working so everyday I have only 1-2 hours per night to fiddle with photo-editing.

    In the past, with films, the shop conveniently did the color adjustments, sharpening with ePic printing... Send the 30 rolls of films in today, within 1-2 days time can collect. Just need check the prints, admire the quality. My only job is to slot them into the albums! All can be done in less than a week! With digital processing, it's been years... Argghh!!

    Sigh... What's the best solution?

    Thanks for any suggestion/advice...
    can you shoot RAW+jpeg?

    the first step of my post processing is quick editing using the jpeg files. then instead of 1K+ files to convert, I may have only 100-200.

    if you cannot shoot in both format, my suggestion is to creat an action and droplet in PS to convert every to jpeg, then edit out those images you don't want, and get to the 100-200 file that are more managable.
    deadpoet
    my portfolio

  3. #3

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    soup up your RAM. ram is dirt cheap these days. (and its already hit bottom).

  4. #4

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    i guess if you've been through film and have the confidence of letting the shop edit your pictures then, why not let them edit your digital shots now?

    you could go to certain shops like BM, who would let you review the pictures before the eventual printing as well. i think that would save you both the money and effort.

    for someone like me who's particular of my output, its no choice but long hours of editing

  5. #5

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    Why not use a RAW browser to pick (say) 50 or 100 of the most promising shots and work on them first. That way you can assemble an album that you can proudly show around or post on the web. Then you can work on the rest at your leisure. No one gets 100% really good shots and even narrative or documentary style shooting requires careful selection and editing.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Sometimes you got to open 3 consecutive images to check which image has better tonal range preserved. This takes time again.

    Then comes the headache. After conversion from RAW, you got to decide what to touch up. Crop? Adjust colors since white balance is never perfect? Sharpening? But different images require different amounts of sharpening.

    Batch processing sounds tempting as a compromise but it'll never gonna work well overall, I foresee.

    ...

    In the past, with films, the shop conveniently did the color adjustments, sharpening with ePic printing... Send the 30 rolls of films in today, within 1-2 days time can collect. Just need check the prints, admire the quality.
    So you shoot in raw format, nitpick about best tonal range, crop, adjust, etc. because you think batch processing doesn't bring out the best in your pictures - but you admire the quality and ease of automated prints from the photo dealer where you have no influence on the result at all? Something is not quite consistent here ...

    If you're satisfied with off-the-shelf automatic printing, don't waste time on carefully processing your image files - just give the photofinisher some straight from the camera/straight from the raw converter JPEG files and collect 1-2 days later. They still can do colour corrections, contrast stretching, etc.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf
    So you shoot in raw format, nitpick about best tonal range, crop, adjust, etc. because you think batch processing doesn't bring out the best in your pictures - but you admire the quality and ease of automated prints from the photo dealer where you have no influence on the result at all? Something is not quite consistent here ...

    If you're satisfied with off-the-shelf automatic printing, don't waste time on carefully processing your image files - just give the photofinisher some straight from the camera/straight from the raw converter JPEG files and collect 1-2 days later. They still can do colour corrections, contrast stretching, etc.
    You know, LittleWolf is correct.

    Many people buy the largest CF card they can afford and shoot the RAW all the time without thinking of their needs, and the post-processing necessities.

    Holiday touristy snaps of people and the destinations do not need RAW. Use RAW specifically in difficult lighting conditions, or that "special" shot/s that you think defines the trip. or the image that is going to hang on the wall, or potential prize-winning competition image. I assure you, you know the moment it presents itself to you.

    Otherwise, use the highest JPG.

    This itself will increase the quality of your life, and the enjoyment of photography, much more than the millions of RAW images on archival.

    If photography does not bring you $$$, why deal with additional headache. One can profess love for this art, many can enjoy it more by being rational.

  8. #8
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    I had a great deal of headache with RAW processing before, but slowly I have solved most of the problems and now I start enjoying my RAW workflow. No jpeg for me. I can finish processing more than 1000 photos in a single night, with optimized white balance and dynamic range, and packed in 3 formats to cater printing, screening, and web presentation. Here is my work flow:

    1. I use C1 raw converter. After caching all the raw files, will do a batch setting: EC -0.5 (this is because the default film standard curve tends to over-exposure by half a stop), CC +2, apply a mid-contrast S curve.

    2. With the above adjustment, if my photos are well exposed, then the converted jpeg files would be very close to the in-camer jpeg. The benefit of RAW is that I can adjust exposure (especially for flash), and increase DR without increasing too much noise. BTW, the C1 noise reduction is great.

    3. Now the time consuming part. I will go through EACH raw file and make a decision if it's a keeper. If yes, click "INSERT" to process it in the background; If no, simply pass it. In fact, this is not that time consuming given that I am rather familiar with photo editing. Generally I know what kind of pics to keep for different purposes, eg. for my own website or assignment. I also found that I need little cropping these days coz it's already cropped at the location. However, action shots are another story. Normally only one or two will be used in a burst of pics.

    4. I set sharpening to "60, 3, soft look" and enable it. Later in photoshop the files will be further sharpened.

    5. I usually process to jpeg in sRGB. For mission critical works (not many), i may change to Tiff and AdobeRGB.

    6. Now, I have all the raw file processed and move to photoshop workflow.

    7. I have made a number of actions to do the post processing for me. In short, I have optimized workflow for full, mid, and small resolutions for different purposes. Sometimes I use my laptop to run the actions simuteneously. My normal settings in PS may include: increase saturation, apply a "soft light" filter, healing brush, cropping/rotation, additional curve, sharpening, BW, frame, etc.

    That's it. Recently I am re-processing my earlier photos and converting my website to PHP script. After it's done (soon), I will probably save even more time in updating my gallery contributed to Exif information extraction (camera setting, image title, desciptions, etc).

    So, my suggestion is: streamline your workflow first and save your time/frustration later.

  9. #9
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    Wah, tomshen, your workflow quite comprehensive. Thx for sharing.

    My workflow is simplier as photography is a hobby and not my profession nor my part-time job . I shoot in RAW and just extract the in-camera JPG in RAW to view first. Those that I like, I'll then use PS to convert into PSD for post processing. Still learning how to garner the power of PS.

    For holiday shots, I apply the same method above but do very basic post processing, and then create a DVD picture show for my viewing pleasure. Those that I want to print, I will spend a bit more time to post process.

    My main problem is more of conflict in resolution between printing at 4R and for viewing on my computer (which I would like to put in borders etc). Cropping of my pictures and fitting into the 2:3 4R dimensions with the borders in seem to be less productive. So maybe I'll end up having two sets of post-processed pictures: one for printing and one with borders etc. Any suggestion?

  10. #10
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    Oh yah, David, I think Pentium 3, 1GHz, 378MB RAM quite jia lat to use Photoshop. I think it was mentioned somewhere that CS2 also need at least a 128mb video card.

  11. #11
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    If you care about the quality of your digital images, the effort and time in post-processing and Photoshop are inevitable.

    I am producing around 40 still images a week. Mostly It took a whole day of Saturday to shoot them and processed them. And another day of Sunday for PS. I find the colours produced from raw conversion are too clean and lollipop for my taste. My photshop works also involve some retouching e.g if I hang up a prop to shoot, I would need to clone out the fishing line used.

    Also with my dslr I find I can't exposure my midtones well without sacrifing the highlights. So I need to underexpose by half a stop and later adjust the midtone curve with PS.

    In the predigital days remember that we had to send out slides and the publishers got people to scan them. The results were unpredictable and out of our control.

    Now isn't it heavenly that you could control almost all aspects of our photos through digital photography? I think the extra effort and time I spent on making the images better is worth it.

    Another great thing is that when I don't like the look of an image, post-processing allows me to alter the look and feel of it. I might want to add a cold greenish cross-processing feel with warm hightlights to it. I might want to inverse the colour spectrum or add a special layer with funky colours to blend in with the original one.

    All that thanks to post-processing and PS.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by David
    Maybe my Pentium 3, 1GHz, 378MB RAM is too slow for my Canon 8MP DSLR?
    If you want to continue shooting in RAW & do batch processing, i think its time to go down SLS to hunt 4 a new PC. If nt shoot in jpg.

  13. #13

    Default My workflow

    I also have backlog of several months of raw file to clear... Begin to gain momentum when I fix up my own workflow.

    For what it worth:
    1. I use iView Mediapro (or any other image viewer program) to sort the raw files. It will create "touched-up" thumbnails up to 640X640 pixels. In my opinion, big enough to spot those un-usable pictures.

    2. You can choose to delete those picture that you dont want to keep at all, or move those second grade picture to another folder. The idea is to have a pool of photo that you are willing to show to people.

    3. I will rename my raw files to something meaningful, such as YYMM_Event_xxx, where xxx is the running sequential numbers.

    4. Use your favourite raw conversion program to do a batch job to convert raw to high resolution jpeg. A little bit of contrast adjustment and sharpening will help here. Most of the raw conversion program comes with the digital camera will do the job. C1 is great, it does noise reduction in this step as well.

    5. Spot those really gross pictures to do batch touch up from the raw. I always find that a group of photos taken under the similar situation will need similar adjustment. Your raw conversion program will allow you to experiment with one photo, save the raw setting, and apply the setting in the batch job.

    6. If you are still here. you will have a complete collection of photo that quite worth printing now.

    7. If you still have the energy here, you can go in to do the individual fine adjustment to your favourite photo. This is the one that gonna take more time, as you will need extract the most of the raw file.

    BTW, the advise on not using Photoshop on older machine is valid. Photoshop is resource hungry, even on my P4 with 512MB RAM. I only use photoshop in the step 7 to work on the selected few images.

    8. If you have a lot of photo to maintain, you probably want to catalog or index them. This is the reason that I use iView Mediapro, as it allows me to index the photo with info such as event, photo status (raw, processed, print), who in the picture, where the photo is taken, and so on.

    Comment is welcomed... Good luck

  14. #14

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    Thanks a lot guys! A big mouthful of advice there but Very useful stuff... Do you all read up on the details of how to use the softwares and do by trial and error to find out what suits your needs? I'm only familiar with PS CS.. haven't tried the other softwares... So many types!

    Looks like my PC is ancient...

    Suppose I dun wish to get a PC... which is a good laptop to recommend with the fastest processing speed for photo-editing? My budget is about say $3000 or less.

    Thanks again!

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