Agree about always having multiple copies. Now that I shoot with a 1D X, I have at least two copies, even right after the images are captured, since I write RAWs to both CF cards.
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I use Aperture for image triage and library management, and DxO for RAW conversions. I do my image processing on a 17" MacBook Pro (often connected to a 27" cinema display).
Here's my workflow, in three parts - image triage, RAW conversion, image storage.Image triage
- Swap out CF card in camera*
- Use card reader (ExpressCard or FW800) to transfer images to new folder (e.g. Xmas Portraits RAW) on Desktop
- Import images into a Triage Library in Aperture as referenced images
- Sort through images, deleting the ones I don't want (I wish DxO had a loupe tool and faster loads! Aperture is better for traige...)
- Empty Aperture's trash, checking box to move referenced images to system trash
- Delete the new project folder, UNchecking the box to move move referenced images to system trash
- Open folder in DxO
- Edit as desired
- Export sidecars
- Process all images to jpgs in new folder on Desktop (e.g. Xmas Portraits)
- Copy RAW image folder (w/ sidecars) to hierarchical folder on HDD (organized by year and month, then folder, e.g. Pictures > RAW Images > 2012 > 12 > Xmas Portraits RAW). Note that a copy remains on the Desktop
- Import the folder from the hierarchical location into my RAW Image Library in Aperture as referenced images
- Import the folder of JPG images into the Aperture Library (the default one) as managed images, i.e. directly in the library
- The folder of the JPG images on the Desktop remains until I've copied it to my wife's MacBook Pro (imported into iPhoto for her), then gets deleted from my Desktop
- The folder of RAW images on the Desktop remains until I have backed it up to one external HDD at home, and a second external HDD at work (both with the same hierarchical organization), then gets deleted
- The CF card with the images is now returned to the usable pool, to be formatted next time it goes in the camera (indicated with a slip of paper in the case)
* When shooting with a one-slot camera like my 7D, right after copying the images to the HDD, I'd immediately back the images up to an external drive; with the dual slots of the 1D X, Card 2 serves as backup storage, and I only format Card 2 when it's 80-90% full and all images on it are processed and backed up as above. I currently have a pair of 32 GB 90 MB/s cards that I swap as Card 1, and a third 32 GB 90 MB/s card as Card 2. I also have a pair of 16 GB 60 MB/s as spares, in case I can't get the images processed fast enough.
So, when all is done, my RAW images are in three locations - two external drives in physically different locations, and on my laptop. Then, every 2-3 months, I burn that period worth of RAW images onto DVD(s), and those go in a safe deposit box (in a town that's neither home nor work). The idea is that laptop storage is finite, and although I have not needed to yet, I can delete a prior year's worth of RAW images from the internal HDD as needed to free up space, knowing there are 3 copies elsewhere. The JPG images can easily be recreated, and even then, those are stored on two diferent laptops.
Hope that helps...