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Author Topic: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?  (Read 8919 times)

Redreflex

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How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« on: August 01, 2011, 02:38:07 PM »
Out of curiosity and of my current struggles of working out the most efficient way of dealing with my rapidly accumulating photos, how much time/effort do people spend on post-processing in general?

I take family/toddler/travel photos purely as a hobbyist. I can see a huge difference in IQ of my 7D captured photos between in-camera jpg and RAW captures. So all I do is shoot in RAW, download to Aperture, do the occasional exposure adjustment, and that's it. I then export to jpg as required. Can't imagine doing the multitude of adjustments that are possible with Aperture, let alone more sophisticated software like Photoshop, LR, DxO etc. I know you can run macro changes to batch of photos. That's still a lot of post-processing time, if you consider I typically take 2000 photos on a 2 week vacation.

I accept that it's difficult to generalise these things, but how much post-processing do you do, either in terms of time, or number of steps? What would you realistically do for a batch of 2000 personal travel/holiday photos which would include a mixture of indoors/outdoors, people/landscape/architecture, all shot in RAW?

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How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« on: August 01, 2011, 02:38:07 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 03:14:41 PM »
I personally find that lightroom is excellent for handling large batches of images.  You can correct one image and then select all 2000 or just a few and apply the same corrections or just selected corrections to the whole batch in seconds.

Examples;

Change aspect ratio to 8.5 X 11

Almost every adjustment can be applied to all photos from cropping, aspect ratio, noise reduction, color, exposure, lens corrections, sharpening, etc.

That creates a starting point to complete the editing.

with Lightroom, you do not actually change the image, the image adjustment settings are recorded in a database and can be changed or undone without ever affecting the original file.

Then, when you are ready, you can render a copy of the original image to jpeg or other format with all your edits.  You can always go back and do them over, or even make multiple versions done different ways.  Need something done in Photoshop, click edit in photoshop, do your photoshop edits and return to lightroom.

I commonly take large numbers of images, and process them in Lightroom very quickly.

I flag the images according to my personal rating so that only the best ones are printed or uploaded to my website, no one would want to see 2000 photos.

Canihaspicture

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 03:23:22 PM »
I used to take that many pictures...

How many of those 2000 photos would you be willing to print large and hang in your home? How many of those do you think would sell if you tried to sell them?

I started taking photography more seriously and thinking before I shoot. It resulted in far fewer shots which out of those I still rate them and then really edit the good ones. I do it all in Lightroom because it is nondestructive and super fast.

For photos that I really consider snapshots more than anything else I just adjust exposure, maybe white balance, set the black and white points, maybe a little contrast adjustment via tone curve and I'm done. It takes under a minute. If I am editing a photo that I might post online, or print, etc. I will spend significantly more time per image.

If you can control the lighting and/or dynamic range of the scene then your post processing time drops dramatically too. I only have one strobe, but if I decide to use it, you better believe my exposure is spot on and my post processing will be measured in seconds (as long as no retouching is needed).

Like I said I rate my pics first and start editing the best ones first... There's also no real reason to edit the photos that you don't plan on doing anything with except saving them to look at later.

neuroanatomist

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 03:33:38 PM »
My average over time is ~250 shots/week (spread across 5DII/7D/S95), and I spend a fair bit of time with post processing.  The first step is triage - as Mt Spokane Photography stated, no one wants to see all your images, and you probably don't want to keep them all.  A personal pet peeve is the photographic equivalent of babbling - Flickr or Smugmug pages filled with multiple versions of the same basic image.  Edit, edit, edit.  Pick the best, most memorable images from a set and toss the rest. 

The next step is post processing - that's where most of the time is spent.  With effective triage, you minimize the amount of time spent tweaking each image, or put another way, effective triage frees up your time to bring out the best in your best images.

The final (optional) step is conversion to JPG.  You may only need to do that for images you want to share (via the web or prints).

Personally, I use Aperture for triage, DxO for global adjustments (exposure, corrections, etc.) and RAW conversion, and Photoshop CS5 for selective editing, and back to Aperture for library organization.  It's a somewhat complex workflow, to be honest, but it gives me the results I want.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 03:38:40 PM »
I used to take that many pictures...

How many of those 2000 photos would you be willing to print large and hang in your home? How many of those do you think would sell if you tried to sell them?

I started taking photography more seriously and thinking before I shoot. It resulted in far fewer shots which out of those I still rate them and then really edit the good ones. I do it all in Lightroom because it is nondestructive and super fast.

For photos that I really consider snapshots more than anything else I just adjust exposure, maybe white balance, set the black and white points, maybe a little contrast adjustment via tone curve and I'm done. It takes under a minute. If I am editing a photo that I might post online, or print, etc. I will spend significantly more time per image.

If you can control the lighting and/or dynamic range of the scene then your post processing time drops dramatically too. I only have one strobe, but if I decide to use it, you better believe my exposure is spot on and my post processing will be measured in seconds (as long as no retouching is needed).

Like I said I rate my pics first and start editing the best ones first... There's also no real reason to edit the photos that you don't plan on doing anything with except saving them to look at later.

Yes, indeed, rate them first!  I usually reduce the number to 30% on my first cut and work a little more on them before reducing them further.  i typically produce albums for local theater events for the cast, and may include 100-130 images as finally selected by the director from a group of 300-500 images I've processed.

I have it down now to spending only about 3 or 4 hours for the first cut, and then about 16 hours for editing the remaining images.  It only takes a hour or two to prepare the album once the images are selected.

I was going to attach a pdf copy, but its 57mb, and reducing it further would make it look pretty awful.

motorhead

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 03:43:45 PM »
I probably tend to spend between 15 minutes and 30 minutes per image for those that I consider are worth processing. However I have spend many hours on a few very special shots. These tend to be images that need extremely careful, subtle "massaging" to draw out the best.

I certainly don't process all my RAW images, only those that I believe deserve the effort.  But I enjoy the time I spend doing all this and certainly don't consider it work. Each image is processed entirely on it's own merits. with no bulk processing. 

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 04:02:54 PM »
As you can see from the posters above, there is no absolute right method or wrong method.  We all have developed a methodology that meets our needs and we are, at least reasonably satisfied with. 

If you are producing images for large prints, spending a considerable amount of time per image will be required.  If you are going to print at 4X6, less time will be needed.  Internet photos will be a case by case decision, it can be difficult to make a low resolution image on the internet really pop.

I typically make one large print of the entire cast that is a panorama like format about 40 inches long and 17 inches high.  The students sign the margins and present it to the teacher / director.  A few prints are 8X10, and the other 100 plus are about 3.5 X 5 (4 to a 8.5 X 11 page).  The biggest difficulty is getting colors to print right with a laser printer so that the images pop and look photographic.  The cost of printing all the albums on 34 pages of photo paper are far to expensive for the students who perform in the theater events to afford.

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 04:02:54 PM »

unfocused

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2011, 04:45:19 PM »
I'll try not to repeat too much of what others have said, but also try to answer your specific question.

Quote
What would you realistically do for a batch of 2000 personal travel/holiday photos which would include a mixture of indoors/outdoors, people/landscape/architecture, all shot in RAW?

First, I think about what pictures I have and mentally divide them into two categories. Category one I'll call "friends and family" and category two I'll call "portfolio."

Friends and family are the pictures that will go up on my Facebook page to be shared with (you guessed it) friends and family. Most of these fall into a "snapshot" category. They are the obligatory pictures that I take to prove I was there and to re-live the personal experience. They are generally heavy on family and other travel companions, but also include scenics that are nice, but frankly, unlikely to be all that much different than thousands of other pictures taken by visitors to that particular location.  These pictures will never show up in my portfolio, but instead are destined for family albums or the electronic equivalent. At the most, I'll maybe need two dozen of these. (Who wants to see more than that?)

These pictures get some post-processing to make sure the subjects look good, the color is good and the cropping works. I give them enough work so that I won't be embarrassed by them, but don't worry about the fine points that only matter to me.

I usually get these out of the way first so I can get to the "fun stuff" the handful of images that may make it into a portfolio.

The second batch are the "portfolio" images. These are the ones that I think I may want to include in my collection of personal bests. Of course, there is likely to be some overlap, so I may give these an initial post-processing with the intent of going back later and fine-tuning them.

In order to pare these down, do some simple math. Imagine that an average of just five pictures taken every month makes it to your portfolio. In a year, you'd have 60 images for your portfolio and in five years you'd have 300, which is way more than you need. (To put this in perspective, think about the work of your favorite photographer. Chances are you can't visualize more than a half-dozen of his or her images. Do you really think you need more images in your portfolio than Edward Weston?)

Instead of thinking about the 2,000 exposures I took, I think about the five or six images I want to add to my portfolio. Then it becomes pretty easy. Usually, I know what those images were before I even get home so I can quickly review the image files to see if those five or six really work.

I'm under no deadline to get these done, so I can take my time and process them the way I want. I usually start with the ones I'm most excited about and work backwards from there. When I've got those five or six done, I've usually discovered a few others that I want to play with.

At some point, I'll have moved on to the next shoot (for me, these are self-assignments since I don't do this for money). I will have processed the images that I know I want and I can let the other 1,950 or so images sit untouched on my hard drive, secure in the knowledge that they will be there if I ever get the time to revisit them.
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Haydn1971

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 12:52:15 AM »
I've just started using RAW & Lightroom, I've noticed a big difference in picture quality, but as mentioned above, I've loads of "family and friends" shots and a smaller selection of my favourites, which currently get uploaded to flickr, then an even smaller selection that makes it to our company screensaver - it's nice getting comments at work about my photos, even if I know I could have done better.

Since moving to Lightroom, I'm mindful that whilst I can access the RAW files now, will I be able to in 10 years time ? So I've continued to batch process images into jpeg and store them in with my previous method of storage... folders !  I've now got the advantage of both worlds where I can get the higher quality output, but ensure longer term accessibility - I can't see jpeg disappearing any time soon, but fully expect the RAW compatabilty with my 450D to disappear much earlier.

I have some old classics from 10 yrs ago taken on a cheap 2mpx Fujifilm digital compact, these or memories for me, of places I've been and people I've known, regardless of quality, these images are very important to me but represent zero time in post editing.  Always be mindful of that aspect of photography and that once you are dust, no one will be looking through your hard drive in the same way as people now look through old photo prints...   Which is a rather sad thought :-/
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Redreflex

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 12:56:12 AM »
Thank you all for the prompt and helpful replies. So first off, I need to qualify the "2000 photos" - apologies about the lack of info on my part. So in fact, with that example, I took 4700 photos, deleted 60+%, and am left with 1700 photos. How many photos one takes is dependent on a myriad of factors. I'll be the first to put my hand up to say that I can certainly cut down on the number (and I should!). However, my wife and I (and both our parents) treasure all these photos immensely, in part due to our love of the minutiae and multitude of facials expressions of our toddler son.

If and when I do upload photos on Facebook, it typically in numbers of <50. I occasionally extract some for printing calendars etc, but vast majority stay exclusively in a digital form.

I personally find that lightroom is excellent for handling large batches of images.  You can correct one image and then select all 2000 or just a few and apply the same corrections or just selected corrections to the whole batch in seconds.

I haven't been able to do that successfully in Aperture yet. I think a batch change of a maximum of 20-30 photos at a time is possible, because that is probably the limit of how many I'd take in a particular setting. Nonetheless, that'd be useful.

I flag the images according to my personal rating so that only the best ones are printed or uploaded to my website, no one would want to see 2000 photos.

Like I said I rate my pics first and start editing the best ones first... There's also no real reason to edit the photos that you don't plan on doing anything with except saving them to look at later.

The second batch are the "portfolio" images. These are the ones that I think I may want to include in my collection of personal bests. Of course, there is likely to be some overlap, so I may give these an initial post-processing with the intent of going back later and fine-tuning them.

Yes agree with all of you. Rating/grouping helps tremendously. So from that example of 1700 photos I've got left, 241 are rated 3 star or better (out of 5). OK, that's a slightly more manageable number. But actually, even to go through each of those 241 photos, and spend say 2 (very conservative) minutes on each, that's 482 minutes, or just over 6 hours. Wow, that's a lot of time to spend processing photos.

I probably tend to spend between 15 minutes and 30 minutes per image for those that I consider are worth processing. However I have spend many hours on a few very special shots. These tend to be images that need extremely careful, subtle "massaging" to draw out the best.

I certainly don't process all my RAW images, only those that I believe deserve the effort.  But I enjoy the time I spend doing all this and certainly don't consider it work. Each image is processed entirely on it's own merits. with no bulk processing. 

I take my hat off to you - you must be a perfectionist! If I do put in 15-30 minutes on each... wow... I'd have to give up my real job.

My average over time is ~250 shots/week (spread across 5DII/7D/S95), and I spend a fair bit of time with post processing.  The first step is triage - as Mt Spokane Photography stated, no one wants to see all your images, and you probably don't want to keep them all.  A personal pet peeve is the photographic equivalent of babbling - Flickr or Smugmug pages filled with multiple versions of the same basic image.  Edit, edit, edit.  Pick the best, most memorable images from a set and toss the rest. 

So 250/week would be completely out of the question for me - I'd certainly feel I've missed out on capturing stuff I'd really like to have for keeps. Thankfully (for you neuro! :P), I don't upload photos onto any Flickr-type sites.

Personally, I use Aperture for triage, DxO for global adjustments (exposure, corrections, etc.) and RAW conversion, and Photoshop CS5 for selective editing, and back to Aperture for library organization.  It's a somewhat complex workflow, to be honest, but it gives me the results I want.

I'm stating the obvious, but I presume you find the adjustments functionality less than adequate on Aperture, even though it's not an amateur photo management/editing programme?

With Aperture, do you have 1 large library? Or do you have multiple libraries across several external drives? I fear I have to consider the latter soon, as these 25-30MB RAW files are just eating my hard disk for breakfast.

At some point, I'll have moved on to the next shoot (for me, these are self-assignments since I don't do this for money). I will have processed the images that I know I want and I can let the other 1,950 or so images sit untouched on my hard drive, secure in the knowledge that they will be there if I ever get the time to revisit them.


That's the problem I have right now. Photos that aren't bad enough to delete, but just taking up too much space! Gotta use that DELETE button more.

I guess there isn't a panacea for my photography woes! What I'll need to do is:

1. Organise photos better. Continue to use Aperture as my library. More vigorous rating and deleting.
2. Processing photos. Establish a system. Looks like I'll eventually have to give in to a Lightroom / DxO / Photoshop, as the consensus from other threads on this forum appears to be that noise reduction (amongst other things) is significantly better than Aperture. It's disappointing, because I was under the impression I can do vast majority of editing with Aperture. Yet another software interface to have to deal with!

So what about DPP? It seems pretty impressive in terms of being able to more finely apply/adjust various in-camera settings like white balance etc in the comforts of your computer. I guess you guys don't find it all that useful?

And when you take a photo into LR/Photoshop/DxO, in what order do you typically adjust a photo? Exposure, highlights/shadows, then NR, then curves, then xxx? Because I so rarely adjust photos, I know next to nothing about how to really do it properly... I do a little exposure adjustment and that's about it!


V8Beast

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 01:22:47 AM »
Almost all of my work is for editorial outlets, and the typical feature story runs anywhere from 4-6 pages. My clients usually expect 40-50 final images to choose from, and from there, they will only run 12-16 images in print. So, after you bust your butt in the field and in post production, 2/3rds of your images aren't even used. That, in addition to the fact that editorial work isn't the best-paying gig out there, means that it literally doesn't pay to spend lots of time processing your images. You simply can't afford to do it. Spending an extra two minutes per shot to get things right in camera can often save me ten minutes in post processing. Multiply that by 40-50 images, and the time savings is substantial, and impacts the quantity of assignments you can turn around.   

The big wild card with editorial work is that the size the images are run at in print varies tremendously. In my line of work, there will usually be 1-2 two-page spreads per story, and all the other images can range anywhere in size from 1x1.5 to 8.5x11. Naturally, it makes more sense to spend more time processing the images that will run large, but on the other hand, there's no way to predict which images the art director will decide to run as a two-page spread. Consequently, you can't get lazy and spend less time processing certain images just because you don't think they're going to be printed in a large size, which is all the more reason to minimize the need to process images in the first place.

All that said, it usually takes between 4-8 hours for me to process a batch of 40-50 images. An image that is potentially two-page spread material can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to edit, whereas I spend less than 7 minutes editing a typical shot. In scenarios where I can very closely manipulate the lighting and all the other elements that can add to or detract from the image in the field, I won't edit them at all.   

Again, it all depends on the image, your client, and how much work you have to turn around each month in order to pay the bills. Super high-end commercial photogs that charge $5K-plus a day are only expected to submit a handful of photos, and can therefore afford to spend hours or days processing one image. This is in an entirely different league from most professional work, and these photogs have the budget to hire assistants not just in the field, but to process the images as well. It's no wonder this upper-most tier of photography is being replaced entirely by CGI. 

As for the typical family snap shots or vacation photos, those don't get any post processing love at all  :)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 01:52:13 AM by V8Beast »

Redreflex

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2011, 01:40:06 AM »
All that said, it usually takes between 4-8 hours for me to process a batch of 40-50 images. An image that is potentially two-page spread material can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to edit, whereas I spend less than 7 minutes editing a typical shot.

That's very insightful, thank you.

 
As for the typical family snap shots or vacation photos, those don't get any post processing love at all  :)

No money for these, but they are the only ones that experience true love!

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2011, 01:47:28 AM »
After long years of Kodachrome, I love digital photography since it gives me the total control of results. For that reason, I never take pictures in jpg but just in raw format. I'm not a professional, so I'm free to spend my time without be pushed by deadlines or other goals rather than my own appreciation. I process all my raw, provided they are not badly out of focus, blurred or irremediably over or under exposed. Processing with LR 3.4 can do miracles to pictures apparently bad. And what seems a good picture, as coming from the camera, after a good and cautious post processing will acquire unexpected qualities. Furthemore, working on each picture you learn by yourself a lot more than any stage can do.
Since, as I said before, I'm not a pro, I needn't to process groups of pictures together. No picture is like an other. You need to crop individually, to enhance that color instead of another, to sharpen or not to sharpen, to adjust some chromatic aberration.
Obviously there many reasons to take pictures. When the main one is your own pleasure to read and interpret your own perception of reality, it makes no sense to cut corners...

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2011, 01:47:28 AM »

bycostello

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2011, 03:18:41 AM »
i delete ruthlessly and then after a straighten, colour and exposure adjust if required i'm pretty much good.  get it right in camera to avoid lenthy post is the key.

motorhead

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2011, 04:14:37 AM »
I only shoot RAW and have the images open in DPP with lowered contrast and saturation. This means I have more work to do but gives me a better starting point. It also means I have no chance of "getting it right in camera". I may be strange, but I actually like post-processing so its no hardship.

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2011, 04:14:37 AM »