What is a 30 Bit Photography Workflow?

Many photographers have been buying expensive wide gamut monitors in order to take a full advantage of their ability to display over a billion of colors. What many do not realize, is that their actual workflow is most likely limited to just 16.7 million colors due to software and hardware limitations. How does one achieve a true 10 bit per channel, or 30 bit workflow? What are the advantages and is it worth the effort? To answer these questions, I decided to dig into the 30 bit photography workflow in detail and explain its advantages, disadvantages and also discuss its future.

Grand Tetons Sunrise

[Read more...]

Mastering Lightroom: Basic Post-Processing Workflow

Most of my previous Mastering Lightroom series articles were about specific techniques and features of Adobe’s popular post-processing tool for photographers. Of course, learning these techniques is very important, yet for someone who’s just started using Lightroom, other questions come to mind first. Where do you start? What do you do first? How to keep your catalogs uncluttered and organized? Answers to these questions can be extensive, but in this article, I will try to describe a very simple, basic workflow I often use myself. This workflow allows me to keep my catalogs tidy yet at the same time helps me get to actual post-processing very quickly and in just a few steps. Many of you already have your favorite workflows, I’m sure, and some will involve different or more steps than this one. With this article, my goal is to get those of you completely new to Lightroom up and running quickly so that, with practice, you can decide on your own approach.

Mastering Lightroom Basic Post-Processing Workflow

1) Import

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Import_1 Lightroom is a catalog-based post-processing application. For someone new to such photo managing approach, it may sound complicated at first, but actually isn’t. What it means is that Lightroom doesn’t work with the original files, but stores information about them – along with rendered previews – in a set of files that make up a Catalog. We’re not going to talk about advantages and disadvantages of such a system, suffice to say both are present. More importantly with Lightroom, in order to edit images, you first need to import them into the Catalog. To import your images, start Lightroom and select “Import…” from the bottom of the left-side panel while in Library module (hit “E” to engage Library module or select from the Module panel at the top of the screen). Alternatively, you can import photographs by selecting “Import Photos and Video…” from File menu (Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows users).

[Read more...]

Efficient Aperture Workflow for High Resolution Images

After I posted an article on Efficient Lightroom Workflow for High Resolution Images, Jason Schultz posted a video tutorial over on his blog on efficient aperture workflow. While I personally do not use Aperture (I don’t own a Mac), I liked Aperture’s ability to first import JPEG images, then only import matching RAW images after all the sorting and deleting is done.

To do this though, you have to set your camera to shoot RAW + JPEG, which will use more space on your memory card. Jason recommends to use JPEG Basic to have smaller images, but he does not mention the image size. You need to make sure that the image size is set to “Large”, or the images will be down-sampled to lower resolution by the camera, which means that you will not be able to view them at 100% zoom. So if the idea is to delete images that have even slight blur or softness at 100%, for example, then you need to make sure that you are looking at the largest image.

This method wastes about 6-8 MB per image for JPEG Basic (on the D800) and your camera will slow down a little when shooting bursts. But given how cheap memory cards are today, it is really not that bad of an argument anymore. And cameras like D800 are not fast anyway in terms of fps. So if you use Apple’s Aperture, check the below video out – this might be a great solution for you!

Photoshop vs Lightroom

Whenever Lola and I post images on our website and the Facebook fan page, we get plenty of requests on post-processing from our readers. One question that keeps coming back all the time is about Lightroom vs Photoshop – many beginners do not know differences between Lightroom and Photoshop and have a hard time choosing which one to get first. In this article, I will show the main differences between these two software packages from Adobe, what they are used for and what you can do in Photoshop that you cannot in Lightroom. Most of this article will also apply for Aperture vs Photoshop discussion, because Aperture and Lightroom share very similar functionality.

Photoshop vs Lightroom

Photoshop Compared to Lightroom

1) What is Photoshop?

Photoshop was originally created as a tool for simple image editing, which since 1990 has grown into a monster software suite with many functions and capabilities to accommodate graphic designers, architects, animators, publishers, photographers and even 3D artists. Think of it as a Cadillac of image editing with an unlimited potential that can grow not only with software updates and upgrades, but also with special plugins known as “filters” from Adobe and third party software companies. Want to stitch multiple photographs into a single panorama? Or create a High Dynamic Range photograph? Or get rid of skin blemishes? Or perhaps make a person look taller, shorter, thinner or fatter? Yup, Photoshop can do all that; and much much more. It would be pointless to try to list what Photoshop can do, because it would probably be a never-ending list. The term “Photoshopped” is now a part of our daily jargon, because we are constantly exposed to altered images that might look realistic while being fake – that’s the power of Photoshop.

2) What is Lightroom?

The full name for Lightroom is “Adobe Photoshop Lighroom”, which may sound confusing, because it contains the word “Photoshop”. In a way, it makes sense, because Lightroom can be considered a subset of Photoshop with specific functionality that Photoshop does not and probably will never have. It was created for the main purpose of managing a large number of images, keeping them organized in one place. Photoshop is a very advanced image editing tool, but when you edit hundreds of images, keeping them organized becomes a problem over time. Before I started using Lightroom, my photography workflow solely consisted of Adobe Camera RAW (which allows opening, manipulating and converting RAW files) and Photoshop (which I used to fine-tune images before saving them into my hard drive). It was a complex, cumbersome and inefficient process, even after I semi-automated it through a batch process in Photoshop. The biggest challenge was organizing edited images in my hard drive, sorting and cataloging them. I am not even going to talk about finding images, because it was an impossible task that required reviewing thousands of thumbnails and image metadata in order to find what I was looking for. As my file catalog grew, I realized that I had to find a better way to organize my photographs. And that’s when I discovered Lightroom.

[Read more...]

Drobo S Review (USB 3.0, 2nd Generation)

This is a review of the new Drobo S second generation 5-bay storage array by Data Robotics. Although the Drobo S is officially known as the 2nd generation unit, my PC recognized it as a 3rd generation Drobo S, so I’m not sure what I should call it. I guess I will simply call it the “new Drobo S” for this review. There are several reasons why I decided to write this review. First of all, Drobo products are gaining more and more popularity among photographers and in many cases are becoming a part of their workflow. While some well-known photographers have already endorsed Drobo as a photo storage solution, I wanted to see exactly how fast and reliable this unit is for storing photographs, compared to internal and much cheaper single/dual disk external storage. Second, I have been working with some of the best DAS/NAS/SAN storage solutions during the last 5 years (from small business to enterprise-level storage solutions like EMC Clariion) and having a pretty good idea on what to expect from a storage array, I wanted to see what Drobo has to offer compared to other similar products like Netgear ReadyNAS Pro. Lastly, I wanted to test and see how well the new Drobo S works with the latest technologies like USB 3.0 and how the new eSATA port performs in comparison. I will do my best to make this review as objective as possible, with plenty of data and screenshots to back up my words.

Drobo S

1) Introduction to Drobo S

Drobo S is a 5-bay Directly Attached Storage (DAS) device developed by Data Robotics, targeted at “creative pros, photographers, videographers, small office/home office”, as stated on their website. While designed with simplicity and reliability in mind, the Drobo S uses a fairly complex, proprietary “BeyondRAID” technology with a single or dual drive redundancy, which means that your data would be safe even if two drives were to fail at the same time, as long as dual drive redundancy was enabled before drives failed. On top of that, “BeyondRAID” has some great features like mixed drive size utilization, which allows mixing any size SATA hard drives, and instant expansion, which allows users to insert additional drives when more storage is needed. Traditional RAID technologies such as RAID 5 and RAID 6 have certain limitations and do not provide as much storage as BeyondRAID, especially when mixing small and large hard drives of various sizes. Lastly, the self-managing and self-healing features of the Drobo family are very attractive – if a drive experiences a failure such as a bad block, the system switches to a “self-healing” mode, where it will try to work around bad sectors and return to normal state. During such failures, the system will blink with red lights in front of the unit and will prompt you with warnings (through Drobo Dashboard), indicating which drive must be replaced. Drobo S also proactively monitors the amount of free space available on the unit. If you get to near full capacity, Drobo S will notify you through lights and its dashboard software.

[Read more...]

What is a Photography Workflow?

If you have been reading articles on photography and post-processing, especially from a professional photographer, you have probably stumbled upon the word “workflow” and wondered what it meant. In this article, I will explain what a workflow is and what it is comprised of in the world of digital photography. Please note that the workflow process can vary greatly from one photographer to another, because of too many variables involved and because there is no established, standard workflow that applies to everyone. Therefore, information that I provide in this article should only be used as a reference point to get an understanding of how workflows work in general. It will be totally up to you to establish your own digital photography workflow and you should ultimately design the process that works best for your needs.

1) What is a Workflow in Digital Photography?

A digital photography workflow is an end-to-end system of working with digital images, from capture to delivery. It is comprised of a series of inter-connected steps developed by photographers to simplify and standardize their work. Simplification and standardization are the two key words here, because a well-established workflow process will not only help you in simplifying and speeding up the process of working with images, but also will also allow you to stay organized, improving your efficiency and bringing consistency to your work. The number of steps involved in the workflow process varies, but generally consists of the following:

  1. Setting up the camera and capturing images
  2. Transferring images to a computer
  3. Importing images into a photo application
  4. Organizing and sorting images
  5. Post-processing images
  6. Exporting images
  7. Backing up images
  8. Printing or publishing images to the web

[Read more...]