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Author Topic: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?  (Read 8575 times)

tomscott

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 05:18:02 AM »
All digital images need post production. I have all my in camera settings set to 0 as i dont like the camera adding sharpness or contrast before I start my workflow.

All digital images need some sharpening to bring out their best, also levels adjustments and white balance. Just to get the image to a point that makes it useable. Also all images need some touching up, removing distracting elements, dust, distortion etc.

My workflow is ...
• Import files into Lightroom (as a library)
• Star rate and flag
• Make smart albums of my star ratings
• Then I work on these images with the above
• All my effects are produced through Photoshop, even if it is softening skin, I like to touch my photos in photoshop too   
   as Lightrooms tools drive me insane.
• Flatten the image and save it as a .tiff or .psd depending on the type of effects and whether I may want to edit the
   result in the future.
• That brings it back into Lightroom as a version and I export from there.

Depending on what I am shooting changes my workflow.

If i am shooting a wedding I will make a new Lightroom library and store it and a copy, generally on an external drive. Then I can take it with me and edit the pics on the fly, then when coming back to my main machine I just update the library with the changes. Make workflow very easy and convenient.

The faster you can determine the best workflow for you, the faster you can get on with sorting the bad from the good, finish editing and get back out with the camera. Because lets be honest everyone prefers being out with the camera than being in front of a machine editing.

For special images I may spend up to an hour, but only if I am bringing multiple images to create a perfect image. If I am happy with the original then 5 mins is all thats needed.

If you ask me, I preferred shooting in film for this reason. If you only have between 12-36 frames on a film, its stops you shooting the crap, and makes you look, and look again until the picture is perfect. As an exercise I like to go out with a tripod and a 100mb CF card and spend a whole day shooting. The satisfaction of those images at the end of the day is immense. It teaches you to look, slows down the process, making you be very specific and reduces the time you need to spend editing. Because at the end of the day looking and watching is key.

Henry Cartier Bresson said that he would be lucky if he had one perfect frame out of 36. If you are that critical with your own imagery you will find you will evolve as a photographer extremely quickly and will be shooting some incredible imagery. 

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 05:18:02 AM »

Canihaspicture

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2011, 05:21:30 AM »
Call me crazy but lately I have been using the Cinestyle profile to take photos in RAW. Obviously this has no effect on the RAW file but it allows me to better shoot to the right of the histogram and allows me to more properly see a truer dynamic range of the capture since I can see it on the LCD. When I shoot standard I get highlight warnings which are not actually clipped in the RAW file, Cinestyle reduces that.

I don't personally use DPP since Lightroom covers everything I can think of. Sometime I start like Motorhead so in Lightroom I use the preset General - Zeroed to see the zeroed low contrast, flat, RAW file.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 05:24:22 AM by Canihaspicture »

Hillsilly

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2011, 06:58:56 AM »
I'm not a pro, but this is what I do.  I download the files onto my computer.  I then open up the files using Windows Photo Viewer.  I spend maybe 10-30 seconds per photo deciding if I like it.  I don't bother with a star rating system.  It is simply "Keep" or "Delete". I'm ruthless with deleting.  Anything which isn't 90% right gets deleted (unless it has some sentimental value of course).  I generally cut the number of photos by more than half in the first round of deleting.  On the second round, I delete more.  I keep going until I'm left with the ones I like. Depending on the number of photos, this could take takes 20 minutes to an hour.

I then use DXO Optics to do the RAW processing on the final photos.  My initial move is to use the automated defaults on DXO.  Therefore, I just start it running and the magic all happens in the background.

I generally like the default DXO options, but its not perfect.  For a handful of photos I'll tinker with the settings.  But I would rarely spend more than ten minutes doing this.  However, like everyone, there are photos that I just keep going back to and spending lots of time on.

So to answer your question - 10 to 30 seconds to decide if the photo is a keeper.  I might keep about 10%.  These go through DXO Optics' automated processing.    For a handful of photos I'll spend a few more minutes doing minor adjustments.  I get through a few hundred photos in under two hours.
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2011, 05:46:24 PM »
All digital images need post production. [...] All digital images need some sharpening to bring out their best, also levels adjustments and white balance.
Here is my situation where post production was not the answer:

Earlier today I shot into a hydrangea bloom with the TS-E 90mm f/2.8.  Since I have mostly given up using the tilt at the closest focus distance, I tried some different focus settings for sharpness and to have a good range to pick out later (much better than spending yet more time with Live View than necessary).

Some pictures showed the stigma (female parts, fluffy looking from a distance, spiky covering in macro) and others showed the stamens or anthers (male parts, clumpy, look like yellow caviar clumps), which was a slightly closer focus setting.  As it turned out, the best picture of the group was one in which the focus point was really set to neither, but somewhat inbetween, focused on a short section of petal with a water droplet on it.  The spiky parts of the stigma, while natural and correct, might not be pleasing to everybody as they resemble thorns.  On the other hand, focusing closer to get the anthers in focus would throw the focus too far off the stigma.  A bit like a human portrait where some softness can often be desired, and achieved by the lens itself.

Aside from some quibbles with my composition and focus selection, my main problem with the image is that I unthinkingly kept ISO at 400 - which is still pleasantly smooth but I had more than enough light for a ISO 100 or 200 setting (shutter speed at f/2.8 was over 1600th of a second).

The bottom line is that image composition succeeded or failed because of the background blur, the focus point selection, and not by the addition of artificial sharpening routines.  The relatively high ISO setting didn't appreciably damage it, and sharpening wouldn't have helped.

I will have to white balance the other pictures I took, for the most part, because I had the camera set to incandescent, instead of cloudy.  I set the WB in-camera correctly for the other shots.  All that remains for this photo is to simply run it through DPP.

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2011, 05:53:14 PM »
Anything which isn't 90% right gets deleted (unless it has some sentimental value of course).
Not to pick on what you wrote, but I find I cannot make this judgement in the first, second, or even the third pass sometimes.  I have a more relaxed method (since I don't have to make money off what I do) which means I generally shoot photos, come back and load them on the computer, and then:

- First pass is to look for photos that are outstanding or plain wrong.  I do this in Irfanview.  The "good" photos get mentally tagged; if I get around to looking at the set in DPP I can use the star system (5 stars for good photos; other settings are just placeholders).   Bad photos (terrible exposure, blur, nothing interesting going on) get deleted outright.

- Second and sometimes third pass is to look for photos with more subtle problems:  Slight amounts of motion blur (bird photography for example) almost always gets a photo deleted if otherwise it is similar (unless I don't have another to replace it with; likewise incorrect focus (small-scale nature photography i.e. flowers) can get a picture deleted.

- Assuming everything is in order in the remaining exposures, I then can look at the remaining files to nitpick for the best composition and so on.

RuneL

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2011, 06:21:30 PM »
10 minutes, rarely more.

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2011, 07:23:14 PM »
Redreflex:

I'm giving you an internet forum version of a slap upside the head! :)

Don't listen to these folks, listen to me. :)

Just kidding...sort of.

Seriously though, think about what you are asking. You have the most beautiful, precious, intelligent, clever, talented child to have ever walked the face of the earth. So, do you want to spend time with him or with his pictures?

If it's not the latter, then let's focus on saving some time here.

1) Ignore everything about deleting photos. Your time is more valuable than drive space. A 3TB of memory is $140 at Best Buy and the price is dropping. Every minute you spend deleting images is a minute that could be spent either editing a picture or better yet, enjoying your son.

2) Ignore everything about additional programs. Do you really want to take the time to learn some new program so you can spend even more time editing pictures? Learn to use the program you already have and when you outgrow it and feel a strong need for something else, then move on, but don't go out and buy some new program based on what someone on this forum gets off on.

3) Don't worry about some future change in image formats. When a change occurs, there will be several years of backward compatibility available. You can decide what to do then.

4) Don't get freaked out by the 2,000 (or more) pictures that you think you have to go through. Concentrate on the task at hand. Let's say you have four hours a week you want to spend editing photos. Okay, each time you sit in front of the computer pick the one shot you most want to post or have printed. Work on that one until it's "good enough" then move on to the next one. Don't look back. If you get five done in a night, that's five more than you had before you started.

5) You'll get faster and more ruthless with time and experience.

6) Those 1,995 pictures you don't get to aren't going anywhere. They will be there when you are retired and enjoying the grand-kids (and, hopefully, have more time to play with the images as well). That's the whole advantage of digital: the bytes never go bad. Besides, you'll enjoy the pictures even more when you are old and grey and so will your wife, kids and grand-kids.

7) Finally, don't waste your time on this forum. That's time you could be spending either editing pictures or playing with your kid. (This one falls into the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category). :)
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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2011, 07:23:14 PM »

Redreflex

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2011, 10:49:22 PM »
(This one falls into the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category). :)

Does this apply to your entire post?  :P

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2011, 11:25:47 PM »
For the photos I like usually I spent 15 minutes. Opening the RAW file, tweaking the RAW file , converting to JPEG, tweaking the JPEG again and maybe adding some text or signature :)

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2011, 11:31:40 PM »
(This one falls into the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category). :)

Does this apply to your entire post?  :P

Hah! Probably. But not intentionally.   ;)
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Hillsilly

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2011, 03:47:29 AM »
Another way to answer your question - my last big family holiday was March to April 2010.  I came back with over 8,000 photos.  It was only a couple of weeks ago that I ordered a photobook of my favourites.  Therefore, how long do I spend processing photos?  About 15 months.

In relation to deleting photos.  My wife would never delete a photo of our kids.  Whereas, I tend to think that I've got 10s of thousands of photos of them already and it has to be something pretty good / interesting to keep.  I just find that deleting photos makes things more workeable and easier to find.  For example, I tend to copy all my favourites onto a PS3 as I like to run slideshows while listening to music.  I simply copy the whole folder.  Same with uploading to Smugmug, photoprinting etc.

But when I said I deleted anything that wasn't perfect, I was probably thinking about general photography.  For fun, I enter photo competitions and club challenges and for this, a photo is either good or not.  But I generally also keep the ones that are close enough.  I've a much lower threshold for family photos and take the opposite approach - I keep everything except the ones that are really bad.  But as pointed out, disk space is cheap so there is no real need to do this.
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tomscott

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2011, 05:35:09 AM »
All digital images need post production. [...] All digital images need some sharpening to bring out their best, also levels adjustments and white balance.
Here is my situation where post production was not the answer:

Earlier today I shot into a hydrangea bloom with the TS-E 90mm f/2.8.  Since I have mostly given up using the tilt at the closest focus distance, I tried some different focus settings for sharpness and to have a good range to pick out later (much better than spending yet more time with Live View than necessary).

Some pictures showed the stigma (female parts, fluffy looking from a distance, spiky covering in macro) and others showed the stamens or anthers (male parts, clumpy, look like yellow caviar clumps), which was a slightly closer focus setting.  As it turned out, the best picture of the group was one in which the focus point was really set to neither, but somewhat inbetween, focused on a short section of petal with a water droplet on it.  The spiky parts of the stigma, while natural and correct, might not be pleasing to everybody as they resemble thorns.  On the other hand, focusing closer to get the anthers in focus would throw the focus too far off the stigma.  A bit like a human portrait where some softness can often be desired, and achieved by the lens itself.

Aside from some quibbles with my composition and focus selection, my main problem with the image is that I unthinkingly kept ISO at 400 - which is still pleasantly smooth but I had more than enough light for a ISO 100 or 200 setting (shutter speed at f/2.8 was over 1600th of a second).

The bottom line is that image composition succeeded or failed because of the background blur, the focus point selection, and not by the addition of artificial sharpening routines.  The relatively high ISO setting didn't appreciably damage it, and sharpening wouldn't have helped.

I will have to white balance the other pictures I took, for the most part, because I had the camera set to incandescent, instead of cloudy.  I set the WB in-camera correctly for the other shots.  All that remains for this photo is to simply run it through DPP.

TBH ISO 400 really shouldn't matter, most modern cameras exceed in quality up to about ISO 600 and are extremely useable. If you had shot at 1000+ then yes you may have had an issue. But 400 in my opinion is pretty average, 400 would be the average ISO you would use in film cameras if the day was overcast, so I would say that isnt an issue unless you are using a pre 20D camera like a 10D where your image quality will suffer through older technology. In fact ISO is so good these day that it is hard to tell the difference between 200 and 400 unless you zoom into 400%. Also if you shot raw and are using the a newest raw processing update like 6.4.1 (or anything in the CS5, lightroom 3 etc) the noise reducing tools are extremely powerful, when ever I use an ISO over 200 i usually add 5+ on the Luminance slider and it creates a fantastic effect. Not too much, but enough to sort out the minor problems. Obviously it works much better at high ISO's because like I said at 400 there shouldn't be a problem.

Also if you are shooting with a TS-E 90mm, at 1:1 or larger magnification you really need to be shooting at a smaller F stop, 2.8 is far too open at these distances you will be lucky if you got 3% of the image in focus, I would say the minimum F number I would use is F5.6 which will give a nicer effect and still keep a pleasing bokeh. you can get some nice effects with 2.8 if you are going to use the images to paint or other uses, but from a visual standpoint there isnt enough of the image in focus to keep the viewer interested in the image. A lot of people do this, there are hundreds of pics on the forums of bees (or other macro items) that there is only one leg in focus because the depth of field isnt large enough. It is extremely difficult at that magnification to get a full depth of field, even at F22. But just because a lens is a 2.8 doesnt mean it is technically right to use it wide open.

With macro photography you shouldn't use an overall sharpening technique. There is no point in sharpening areas which are out of focus (or bokeh) because it will degrade the image and add unnecessary noise. Your much better off using a selective sharpening technique using a mask to paint in your sharpening. This will not only excentuate the part of the image you want the viewer to concentrate on it will also add more depth and clarity and increase the overall visual effect.

There are a number of ways of doing this, A. within your Raw processing - using the mask slider (works ok but for better effects use a custom one. (Also sharpening should be added in the last stage of image processing)

B. In my opinion the best way to selectively sharpen. Use the high pass filter and paint it in manualy.

Open your image, then duplicate your image in the layers panel (copy), on the layer above your original (copy) go to filter - other - high pass. When the dialogue box comes up dial in a number that makes the image look embossed (dont worry about over doing it because you will reduce the overall effect later, in fact you should over-do so you have more control) then click ok. Next step is crucial, desaturate the image (because when you use a blend mode it will do some weird things with the colours left)

Now the image should look very grey, next thing to do is go to your layers panel and add a blend mode, soft light or overlay works best. I usually find overlay works best but depends on your image. Now you should see you image very bold and too sharp. Now comes the interesting bit. Go to the bottom of your layers panel and add a layer mask, nothing should happen because the mask is visible (white) to make it invisible and allow you to paint the effect into specific areas you must invert the mask. Make sure you have the mask selected on your copy layer and press image - adjustments - invert or Command I on a mac. Then the mask should turn black and the effect should disappear from your image.

Now we can paint the effect into the image. Select your brush tool and make sure the paint colours are set to the original black and white and the brush must be a soft edged brush. Select white as the foreground colour and use 100% opacity and fill. Then just paint over the areas of the image that need sharpening, if you paint an area that doesn't need sharpening (a mistake) you can switch your paint colour to black then paint over the mistake to paint away the effect.

When you have finished you will see that the areas are very sharp, too sharp. But because we have used the layers panel we can dial back the effect using the opacity slider in the layers panel, dial it back to what ever you feel, i usually find around 70% gives a good natural looking effect, and wallah a perfect selective sharpening effect which is editable by painting the effect in and out and changing the overall effect through the layer opacity slider.

Hope this helps.
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te4o

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2011, 06:13:16 AM »
UNFOCUSED :
+1
Great advice, can't think of a better one ! Probably use SW which deletes automatically the unfocused shots... There should be someone working on this already.
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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2011, 06:13:16 AM »

torger

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2011, 06:33:32 AM »
It depends. I don't work professionally so I can choose to spend quite much time if I want to. I kind of like to make pictures look as good as possible, and as true to my vision as possible, there's art in that too. My favourite hobby is landscape photography, and if the shot is good enough to print then it could be hours or even days with post-processing for a single photo, especially if it is composed of multple shots (focus-stacked, panorama/mosaic, HDR) and I want do test prints etc.

For sports and events it is a whole other thing, then I find a standard profile that gives a pleasing image for the given setting and apply them to all photos, and then filter out the best images and crop if required. If there's some really good image in there I can spend some extra time on that, but rarely as much as for my "art" photos. I don't have the best workflow to handle huge amount of photos yet though (I don't do that kind of shoots very often), I spend a lot of time to look at the same images over and over again before deciding if they should be in or out which is not very efficient.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 06:36:59 AM by torger »

Edwin Herdman

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2011, 06:21:08 PM »
1) Ignore everything about deleting photos. Your time is more valuable than drive space. A 3TB of memory is $140 at Best Buy and the price is dropping. Every minute you spend deleting images is a minute that could be spent either editing a picture or better yet, enjoying your son.
I am going to single this point out for disagreement as if it were general advice.

In some situations (wildlife - birds or macro scenes are a good example, I've even found handheld landscapes and flowers to fall into this category often) I find - and other people shooting in better light or at more reasonable shutter speeds often will, as well - that if you want the best picture it often pays to take more than one.  I've only seen sports photographers claim that they can find the image at the exact right time, but their cameras (well over 7 frames per second) and many of their colleagues tell a different story.  Those extra frames are there to help you out.

By all means, I encourage keeping images if you aren't sure if one is good or bad - coming back to a set of potential winners later on will give you an idea on what works and what doesn't.  Pruning these image sets might just save Junior some time down the line (a bit like inheriting boxes of uncategorized 35mm prints on your kids, people talk about "digital hygiene" nowadays) but it also forces you to make some decisions about what works artistically, and what doesn't.  It goes beyond emotionally parting with a subpar image.

I would emphasize that it takes relatively little time to prune an image collection, since you already will be looking through your images at some time later.  When I look through images in Irfanview, it is literally less than two seconds to delete an image and load the next one - which maybe sounds like a long time, but I already have to wait nearly a second to load the next image without deletion.  Deleting a RAW image is two additional keystrokes (a couple more at the end of the session to clear out the recycle bin, if wanted).  It's not a big deal and I would argue it's a good habit.

If somebody isn't finding images to prune, that means you are most likely not taking a lot of images, missing opportunities, and probably not too serious about improving your skills as an artist and photographer.  This is fine, and I wouldn't put somebody down for it, if they make a conscious decision not to let photography command their life, but I think we can promote something a little more aspirational here (and again, once you learn this stuff it is really very quick).  It shouldn't be tagged as being a daunting challenge to prune your images.

What's superfluous is all that stuff about opening the RAW and tweaking it - if you don't have a good exposure to start with, you can't save it (unless you're a hardcore photoshop abuser / airbrusher)!  I used to have a lot of familiarity with Photoshop (version 5-6, circa 1998-2000) but now (despite having a raft of image editing programs) I mostly swear off it and focus on getting it right at the scene.
2) Ignore everything about additional programs. Do you really want to take the time to learn some new program so you can spend even more time editing pictures? Learn to use the program you already have and when you outgrow it and feel a strong need for something else, then move on, but don't go out and buy some new program based on what someone on this forum gets off on.
It would be Nice, for sure, not to have to worry about software changes.  But these days you are a technological luddite at your own risk.  The downside to not having your RAWs saved in a more long-lived format is that you won't be able to read them back years from now - we're all planning on living at least another decade, right? - and while it's nothing like the risk posed by not paying attention to computer security, not logging into your bank account from a public computer, etc., it goes with being an informed, modern citizen.  Just like "ignorance of the law is no excuse," sheltering yourself from the real changes that are happening in photography means that you might end up with nothing to show from years ago.
7) Finally, don't waste your time on this forum. That's time you could be spending either editing pictures or playing with your kid. (This one falls into the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category). :)
You don't *have* to believe in the infamous, mythical Bit-Rot, but those hard drives most assuredly are prone to the same effects of time that even the Bible warned us about.  And even if the hard drive survives, do you think that Circa 2011 computer hardware will be as plentiful in the future as today?  Maybe, maybe not.  I have tons of 5.25" floppies about but still haven't hooked up a drive to my computer.  Most of them I probably don't have a chance of using (on modern computers) in any meaningful way.

Other than those points, I would say that your overall message - just stop worrying and take pictures - is pointing in the right way.

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Re: How much time do you spend on processing your photos?
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2011, 06:21:08 PM »