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Thread: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

  1. #1

    Default RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    I've been reading many photo books. Inevitably, ALL the authors (some seasoned photographers themselves) will go thru how to adjust the fine details such as colour temp, brightness, contrast, etc, using a RAW converter software, eg Photoshop RAW.

    Then they will all say: Ok, if you want to have a life, you don't want to be doing the RAW editing image by image. True. So they introduce this feature called BATCH PROCESSING. Phew, seems like a God-send solution.

    Or maybe not.

    These photographers will simply assume there are many shots which require identical editing. If that's the case, why not. Batch works like magic.

    But in the REAL world, at least for me, Batch processing is far from realistic. For eg, when I travel, let's say I shoot 1000 images. And in the end, I select 300 that I like. It is very unlikely that there will be many images that I could put thru batch processing. One moment I shot say 2 indoors in incandescent lighting where AWB (Auto White Balance) usually screws the colours up.

    Then next moment, I was outdoors. Perhaps my exposure required some tweaking a little. Then the next moment, I'm somewhere else doing other kind of shots. For every image, there will be some "customized/unique" tweaking required. How can I possibly do a BATCH PROCESSING? At best, it's only 2-3 shots. Now, out of 300 images that I have, those pathetic few shots here and there hardly improve my workflow.

    So how do you all ensure you get your processing done quickly enough not to lose sleep over it? For me, in my last overseas trip, I took literally months to do the editing and it's getting me very tired! (And losing some interest in using DSLR/shooting RAW when I'm overseas actually!) I know it's not effective so I hope some kind members here can share your workflow.

    My suspect is that those pros/photo book authors shoot in controlled lighting (eg studio) where many of their shots can simply be processed in batches. That makes sense. Or for landscape, press or Nat Geog photographers, they shoot hundreds and thousands of images but they only need to choose a very small handful to make it to print. So naturally, batch or even image by image editing is no big deal.

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
    Member kenkht's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    You're just being silly. You have answered your own statement below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priscilia View Post
    My suspect is that those pros/photo book authors shoot in controlled lighting (eg studio) where many of their shots can simply be processed in batches. That makes sense. Or for landscape, press or Nat Geog photographers, they shoot hundreds and thousands of images but they only need to choose a very small handful to make it to print. So naturally, batch or even image by image editing is no big deal.
    If you put in all type of photos with different exposure conditions, how can you expect to batch process.

    Now, what batch processing can do for you is to process your Raws according to the "failings" of your specific camera. Such as if your camera always gives a slight green tint, you can correct that in batch or Slight sharpening because Raw do not sharpen unlike shooting in Jpegs and etc. Just the basic to get all your pictures up to scratch. Anymore, you will have to go to individual photos to process. Also, different lens gives different results. That's why creating presets in programs such as Lightroom helps a lot.

    Don't give up
    Last edited by kenkht; 4th June 2009 at 11:05 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by kenkht View Post
    You're just being silly. You have answered your own statement below.

    If you put in all type of photos with different exposure conditions, how can you expect to batch process.

    Now, what batch processing can do for you is to process your Raws according to the "failings" of your specific camera. Such as if your camera always gives a slight green tint, you can correct that in batch or Slight sharpening because Raw do not sharpen unlike shooting in Jpegs and etc. Just the basic to get all your pictures up to scratch. Anymore, you will have to go to individual photos to process. Also, different lens gives different results. That's why creating presets in programs such as Lightroom helps a lot.

    Don't give up
    How dare you say I'm silly! *Slapz*

    Oh pleazzz, I'm not asking with all the different editing needed, how to do batch processing. Of course we can't. And that's the problem.

    What I'm asking is, what good is it for the authors to teach batch processing if it can't be applied to lay people/amateurs shooters like me? I don't think the books are necessarily written for complete professionals anyway.

    These authors spend like 3-4 chapters explaining how to do detailed adjustments of the various parameters just to get an image going from plain to WOW. So if I want all my images to look WOW, it's obviously going to be time-consuming if it's done image by image. And if batch processing is not appropriate, how else can I process the images effectively? That's my main question.

    When you travel, you practically shoot anything and in any condition. One moment landscape, one moment portrait of your friend, another time indoors under various lightings, with or without flash, etc etc. Not just colour balance needs editing. Other parameters such as Exposure, brightness, shadows, etc need to be adjusted. To get optimal results, I have to edit them one by one in RAW.

    And this is just the RAW part. I'm not even touching on the finer editing that may be needed in Photoshop itself, eg dodging/burning, cloning, perspective corrections, etc etc. Thankfully these are a handful though they will take up a considerable time also.

    That's why I need opinions of those who have travelled frequently, how do you process your images quickly without fretting on so many of the parameters?

    I haven't tried Lightroom. Does it speed the workflow somewhat?

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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    If you select 300 photographs to edit, surely there will be a bunch which are of the same place/conditions right? Unless you got to 300 different places then yeah, you don't have a choice but to go through them one by one but if out of the 300, you can split them into say 10 different places/conditions then batch processing would help alot.

    I find lightroom to work wonders for me. Load in the whole bunch of photos, select and mark the ones that are good, put them into a group and edit accordingly.

    This would probably vary from person to person but I tend to be rather selective in what I choose to edit and so cut down on the number of photos I have to work with.

  5. #5

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    I read in one of the books by Scott K. - get it right the first time. If situation permits, shoot, review, no good, delete, re-shoot. Then no need to pp. For situations that does not permit re-shoot, I guess no choice but to pp. But I believe you will have less shots to pp
    Tangfolio, 9mm; CZ75 Shadow, 9mm; S&W 686, .38

  6. #6

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Hi Pris,

    You gotta understand that a number of these books were written with a broader view in mind. Of course, the authors don't explicitly state the how-to for all situations (such as travelling to different countries taking different pictures by the hundreds), so you should take them with a pinch of salt and just make full use of whatever's relevant to you.

    One thing I do with more images is that I become even more selective with which images i'm going to PP, and that actually does me a favour (because only the really decent ones are kept for PP). However, if you have tonnes of decent pictures, just have to suck it up. heh.

    You shouldn't let post processing kill your desires to take nice pictures. Just keep improving your efficiency/skillset with ACR and cs3 and you'll do fine.

  7. #7

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    You try to group the most photos with the most similarities together. Like you may 50 photos with some sort of indoor shot. But all slight different.
    i) Process in 1 step the similarities. All indoor shots
    ii) Separate those sub-differences. 10 may be tungsten, 30 fluorescent, 10 may be halogen/candlelight
    iii) process for these sub-groups.
    iv) Pick out those in these photos that need to adjust for shadows/highlights.
    v) Sharpen as needed by selection /batch.
    vi) You've just processed about 50 somewhat similar yet different photos in about 5 selective steps ?


  8. #8

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Like what the others said, batch processing can be used when you take shots of the same location and probably use similar settings too. One important aspect of post-processing is organising your photos so that you can process shots with similar tones and flaws using batch process to avoid repeating the steps over and over again. Organising also helps you to identify and select the better shots, that way you present more appealing pictures and have less photos to process.

  9. #9
    Member kenkht's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by Priscilia View Post
    How dare you say I'm silly! *Slapz*
    Hey... I felt that!.... OUCH!

    I think everyone knows what you're going through and frankly if we can AI our bloody computers, then we can leave the "thinking" to them, until then, we just have to do the "thinking" ourselves. Kinda lame... I know..

    As for workflow in Lightroom, it's good for me as it's the only thing I used from the beginning. Having said that, I have tons of photos left that have not gone through the PP process. I will only PP those I intent to publish/print/gloat/boast and keep the rest for memories. Lightroom is good in that aspect.

  10. #10

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Thanks everyone!!! Yes, I mean every single one of you.

    Evilmerlin/Kang S/Elgaris: Ok, I did consider this method. I guess this is the most logical thing to do. But even then, it's hard to categorize nicely.

    For eg, ok this 1st folder of images are those taken under Tungsten lighting. So I have to process them with a certain color temperature to correct for the somewhat over-yellowish color cast.

    But unless I take ALL the "Tungsten" images in the same room, it's unlikely I can process them in one batch like that. Some shots I take in the hotel, some in the shopping centers, some outdoors, etc. They are all under Tungsten but they all require DIFFERENT amounts of "tweeking".

    2nd folder, the underexposed shots. This will not work generally because the shots are underexposed in different amounts. Some images may be just 1/3 stop underexposed, some 1/2, some close to 1.

    3rd folder, highlight recovery shots. I'm sure you guys know, the extent of recovery you need to do really varies from one shot to another.

    And the list goes on.... You get the picture what I'm driving at.

    In fact, I've tried this workflow b4 only to find more work to be done. Cos images here and there turn out not to be optimal.

    Romeo: Yeah, it's certainly good to get it right the 1st time. But even so, it's unlikely the shots will turn out optimally well if there is no PP done. Take for eg a shot where you got the histogram nicely covered within the dynamic range of the camera. Looks good maybe, but the image may not "pop". It can be a decent image, but it's not an OPTIMALLY edited image.

    waderbreak: Yes, while the books can be general, they have to be practical I feel. I'm sure the authors also travel other than take only studio shots. I guess as you said, SELECTIVE is the key word. And by selective, it means we want to sieve out perhaps 10% or fewer shots that we have taken. That's ok if you are a pro and paid by the hour editing shots, or earn hundreads per image.

    But for amateurs like us, we will keep more than just 10% of all the shots taken. Nevermind some of the images may not be world class type. They are still personal to us and we want to show them to friends and others.

    We want to "beautify" our images if we know how to right? I feel awkward when I open a RAW image, know what I can do to make it nice, but instead, decide to do only the bare minimum or even not do anything, cos there are too many images to edit. That's sad.

    kenkht: Glad you feel the pain. Just kidding.

    So can I conclude when people photoshop, they only select the very best that they want to showcase to others? Otherwise, try to group them very generally into what needs to be batched process, but we have to accept that the results may not be optimal?

    For those who have travelled, I think you can understand what it's like. Even if you are located in one place, the lighting is never consistent. Just give you guys an eg.

    You go to the zoo. You take the following shots:

    1. Wide angle shot of the zoo. Some parts in shadow, others with highlights almost burnt out. Picture looks a bit cold. So you want to do shadow and highlights recovery and warm up the image a little.

    2. You proceed to an animal enclosure. The animal is in the open sun. Your expsoure is different from 1 obviously. It's only slightly underexposed. So you want to open up the midtones or brightness, while not touching the shadows and highlights.

    3. You decide to take a picture of an interesting sign. Everything looks ok except the colour temperature looks a bit off with a tinge. You only need to adjust the colour temp.

    4. You take a pic of a friend beside an animal. The friend's face looks a bit shaded cos no flash or too little flash was used. You need to just light up your friend's face a little.

    And like I said, the list goes on.... One same location, but 4 different shots. All requiring different type of processing. Batch processing is of course out of the question here. And this is only a simple example. Imagine say you come home with 200 shots, pick out say 70 that you like. This is what I mean, you have to possibly edit the 70 images individually to bring out the best in them. With 300 images, *faintz*

    I wonder how the uncle in the good printing lab do when we used to send our films for processing? He has to look through every single exposure in the film and help us adjust every one? *admire*

  11. #11

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    I try to be very selective of what I process. Last few trips, ended up processing 20-30 images, but mostly it's slight adjustment to levels and curves. Yes, i'm lazy but I guess that's why I to try to get the shots right in camera versus relying on PS later. A friend's trip to Europe yielded 2500+ photos for him... he's been processing them for a few nights now and he's looking at a total of ~10% or 250 photos.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    First there isn't a fast and easy way.

    Second, there is this thing called selecting which you already know.

    Third, there is this thing called Photoshop aka digital darkroom. You can't just make all of your adjustments in camera raw and expect them to be good.

    Lastly, do you really want to print. If you do, then learn more about using the digital darkroom.

  13. #13

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by agape01 View Post
    First there isn't a fast and easy way.

    Second, there is this thing called selecting which you already know.

    Third, there is this thing called Photoshop aka digital darkroom. You can't just make all of your adjustments in camera raw and expect them to be good.

    Lastly, do you really want to print. If you do, then learn more about using the digital darkroom.
    Think you didn't understand the question TS was asking. I think she's asking how to streamline workflow. Nothing to do with knowing Photoshop or not, which is another issue altogether.

    My personal opinion for RAW processing for every image is, yes, it's the hard way out. And somehow, I feel authors, no matter how, do have some trade secrets they will never let out. At best, they will share general workflows, or what seems to be a typical one.

    In a way, if you want to look at it, they offer contradicting statements. Yes, they spend huge loads of words and diagrams on how to edit your RAW images by the numbers. Then suddenly, with batch processing, everything SEEMS to be so easy. That's a lie or unrealistic expectation. You can never fit every image in real life (unless it's fixed lighting/camera settings) to a standard set of editing parameters in the RAW software.

    These photography book authors earn big bucks from their images. Even if they spend an hour or more on 1 image, it's worth it. For hobbyists, it's purely out of personal satisfaction or challenge.

    If you want to follow everything those guys teach from A-Z and apply to ALL your images, from correcting exposure, color, sharpness, contrast, noise, etc etc, it will take you ages to finish editing them. And I'd say Digital photography sucks. Not only expensive but time-consuming.

    There's no way you can do batch processing and expect the best in every image unless the lighting and setup is 100% or close to 100% indentical.

    Unfortunately, with digital photography, there is a tendency for us photographers to quantify things too much. We read the RGB colors, color temp, exposure values, Levels/Curves adjustments, etc all in numbers. Back when films were used, these things don't exist. People still take pictures with blown out highlights and shadows completely black and still managed to have their pictures praised. Color correction then was a painfully tedious way of using special color filters or films.

    I think book authors make it like a ritual you have to "do this and that" when editing images for completeness sake. Almost like an academic exercise. But in the real world, hardly anyone does it to most of their images unless you have lots of time or paid by the hour.

    How do you think wedding photographers edit their hundreds of images? They don't. Everything is automated except for SELECTED few which they want to spruce up. And of those selected few, not all are painstakingly done manually. It's "semi-automated" too. Else these guys couldn't survive if they spent their precious time editing every single image. No one views images so microscopically also.

  14. #14

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    Unfortunately, with digital photography, there is a tendency for us photographers to quantify things too much. We read the RGB colors, color temp, exposure values, Levels/Curves adjustments, etc all in numbers. Back when films were used, these things don't exist. People still take pictures with blown out highlights and shadows completely black and still managed to have their pictures praised. Color correction then was a painfully tedious way of using special color filters or films.

    I think book authors make it like a ritual you have to "do this and that" when editing images for completeness sake. Almost like an academic exercise. But in the real world, hardly anyone does it to most of their images unless you have lots of time or paid by the hour.
    Totally agreed, especially those in red. To date, I have not even touch up any of my digital photos. The only thing I did is to crop it. That's all. Photography is a hobby to be enjoyed, not tied down with digitally enhancing the images. Those hours spent doing enhancement can be better spent on shooting This is also not a true reflection of your photography skill. What I did in the past when using film, I "read" (argaration, can't afford light meter) the light, decide on the DOF I want, set the aperture, approximate the shutter speed, then check the only help I have, the built-in exposure meter, which just tell you over or under expose. Then adjust accordingly. I have quite a few special effect filters, rainbow circle, centre spot, soft spot, cross, and a self-made dual screen. Nothing fanciful, like digital. Just sharing
    Tangfolio, 9mm; CZ75 Shadow, 9mm; S&W 686, .38

  15. #15

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by romeo tango View Post
    Totally agreed, especially those in red. To date, I have not even touch up any of my digital photos. The only thing I did is to crop it. That's all. Photography is a hobby to be enjoyed, not tied down with digitally enhancing the images. Those hours spent doing enhancement can be better spent on shooting This is also not a true reflection of your photography skill. What I did in the past when using film, I "read" (argaration, can't afford light meter) the light, decide on the DOF I want, set the aperture, approximate the shutter speed, then check the only help I have, the built-in exposure meter, which just tell you over or under expose. Then adjust accordingly. I have quite a few special effect filters, rainbow circle, centre spot, soft spot, cross, and a self-made dual screen. Nothing fanciful, like digital. Just sharing
    Yes... At one point, I got disappointed with digital photography becuase I became too overwhelmed with the editing part. It's as bad as spending 85% of the time editing and only 15% on photography.

    Then one day, I decided Heck with everything the books or pros say. They are teaching all those stuffs from an academic viewpoint. Not that they are false, but it's too tedious in the real world for us amateurs. I need a life. I was also wondering, how can I do batch processing if I want the best in every image which all have different camera settings and subjects?

    I realized, yes you can spruce up 500 travel or family pictures to make them look best individually. But the amount of time is simply not worth it if you still want to enjoy the hobby.

    It has come to a point where photographers are so over-reliant on digital editing that things become so unreal. Like people's faces looking like mannequins instead of real human flesh.

  16. #16

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post
    Yes... At one point, I got disappointed with digital photography becuase I became too overwhelmed with the editing part. It's as bad as spending 85% of the time editing and only 15% on photography.

    Then one day, I decided Heck with everything the books or pros say. They are teaching all those stuffs from an academic viewpoint. Not that they are false, but it's too tedious in the real world for us amateurs. I need a life. I was also wondering, how can I do batch processing if I want the best in every image which all have different camera settings and subjects?

    I realized, yes you can spruce up 500 travel or family pictures to make them look best individually. But the amount of time is simply not worth it if you still want to enjoy the hobby.

    It has come to a point where photographers are so over-reliant on digital editing that things become so unreal. Like people's faces looking like mannequins instead of real human flesh.
    Finally, someone who share the same tots as me !! Unless, your ricebowl depends on the outcome of the pics, else the heck with it, go out and shoot more, remember, photography is a hobby to be enjoyed That said, I guess it is no harm to once in a while, pick up a pic that you find really nice and want to share with people to just touch up abit

    Cheers !!
    Tangfolio, 9mm; CZ75 Shadow, 9mm; S&W 686, .38

  17. #17

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Wah piang eh, this is one of the wordiest thread ever, like reading a book.

    Actually, for me at least, I don't see the need to have a WOW effect on every of my photos
    unless I want it printed out for display or show off in online showcase.

    In most cases, the photo quality that comes out from our DSLR are already very good for
    general viewing by our families and friends. 300 photos to edit, that's alot of work, unless
    you're planning to sell them off

  18. #18

    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by HeiPiGu View Post
    Wah piang eh, this is one of the wordiest thread ever, like reading a book.
    Hope you had enjoyed reading

    Quote Originally Posted by HeiPiGu View Post
    Actually, for me at least, I don't see the need to have a WOW effect on every of my photos
    unless I want it printed out for display or show off in online showcase.

    In most cases, the photo quality that comes out from our DSLR are already very good for
    general viewing by our families and friends. 300 photos to edit, that's alot of work, unless
    you're planning to sell them off
    Very well said Seems like another one with the same train of tots
    Tangfolio, 9mm; CZ75 Shadow, 9mm; S&W 686, .38

  19. #19
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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Photographers, there are those who enjoy taking pictures, there are those who enjoy creating images.
    If you just want to take pictures, best to stick with a PnS.
    If you want to create images, only way is to use a dSLR where you have control. And since you have control, you'll need to account for every image taken, every image processed.
    Why are you fiddling with raw if you only want standard images?


    Personally, I travel a fair bit, take plenty of images. Here's my workflow.

    0. Selection
    Be very critical of the images one takes. There are good images, there are bad images. If it's a blurry, shakey, bad image, best to just take a proper one with good exposure.
    There's always someway to take a better image. If there isn't any available for me, I rather not show people my lack of skills. What I've realised is that most people are less interested than in your photos than you think, and they're even less interested to hear your explanation of why your image sux.

    If you're having problems taking basic images, better to stick to PnS where they will help you automatically do some processing.

    1. "Mass" Batch Processing
    I'll do my batch processing, certain generic colour tweaks, tweaks in curves, sharpening, noise reduction, etc etc all at a go. Everyone's preference is different, so this will help slant the image to "our" style.

    2. Individual processing
    I'll go through my images, 1 by 1, be it 200 or 2000 images. After all, the images should have already undergone basic QC. a bit of fill, a bit of lightening, a bit of etc etc, all unique to the individual images.

    For you, I'm not sure why you have under-exposed or over -exposed images left on your camera, but I don't let obviously screwed up images stay in my camera. Checking on my large LCD panel is to check if my focus is off, if there other problems I couldn't tell from my cacmera screen.

    3. "Mini" Batch Processing
    For some mini "series", i.e. all the images taken in a Shrine around 4pm, similar environment, apply the unique touches to them etc..

    This way, I can go through 500 - 1000 images in about 1 - 3 hours, and all of them can be suitable for print (i.e. magazines).

  20. #20
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    Default Re: RAW processing workflow -- REAL (travel, etc) photographers please come in!

    Quote Originally Posted by HeiPiGu View Post
    Wah piang eh, this is one of the wordiest thread ever, like reading a book.

    Actually, for me at least, I don't see the need to have a WOW effect on every of my photos
    unless I want it printed out for display or show off in online showcase.

    In most cases, the photo quality that comes out from our DSLR are already very good for general viewing by our families and friends. 300 photos to edit, that's alot of work, unless
    you're planning to sell them off
    I disagree. Most PnS nowadays will give a better image than your dSLR if you don't bother to edit them.

    Remember, your family and friends will only look at a 1024 pixel wide image. They aren't goint to pixelpeel like you, and noise etc isn't going to manifest to that big an extent. In a blind test, I'd think almost everyone would prefer a shot from a PnS than from a unedited dSLR image shot at default.

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