Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

February 2006

Tip of the Month

Workflow and Work Load - You can keep ahead

Sometimes, it seems, the more you think you know the less you actually do, at least when it comes to workflow. Many photographer friends of mine seem to know everything about the world of digital, yet their files are chaotic, confused, and complicated. The reason, usually, is that these photographers haven't instituted a workflow that works for them, and if they have, they have not religiously followed up on the work involved.

At this point in time it seems like virtually everyone backs up their data - at least once, if not several times with several different mediums. However, that backup often consists of meaningless unnamed files in, hopefully, folders that make some sense. These folders may, or may not be, edited, and often the photographer doesn't know or remember which folders have been edited and which folders have not. More than once I've heard the resigned comment, I'll just have edit all of them to make they're all done!

This doesn't have to happen if you are systematic, and if you are disciplined in doing at least some bacis tasks, ideally before you do your back up, or at least before you start more another download.

I'm a huge fan of labeling my folders correctly and coherently. All of my imported images go into a Named folder that gives me a good clue as to what the contents are. Afterwards, I open up CAPTURE ONE RAW editing program, and after my thumbnail previews are generated, I batch rename the images with a correct identification. Generating thumbnails can take a bit of time, which I might occupy by doing other computer work or some non-computer task. At this point in my batch renaming I may not be extremely specific. For example, all my pumas may be labeled 'puma (cougar)' even though the folder may contain portraits as well as running, action shots. Later, when I do a thorough edit, I can again rename the images with an appropriate label like 'Puma portrait,' Puma Leaping,' 'Puma Running' and so on.

Some folks wait until after they do their hard edit to batch rename, and while that may work for you, I think it's best to rename as soon as you can. Doing so, you can later combine similar files into subfolders for a more demanding edit. For example, let's say I shot 500 images of pumas on a captive animal shoot. This includes images of pumas feeding, running, jumping, climbing a tree, in a landscape setting, and portraits. Initially, all of my images may simple be labeled 'puma (cougar)'. If I take the time, which I'd recommend that you do, you could be a bit more precise in your initial label, and include 'puma - running,' or 'puma-portrait,' or whatever. Later, you could then drag similar files from your other puma folders so that a subfolder only contains 'Puma Portraits,' or 'Puma Running,' and so on.

I'll tell you from a lot of experience that it's a lot easier to be brutally tough in an edit, and pick only the very best images when you see that you have a large assortment of a similar topic. If I can see I have 50 pumas leaping, I don't feel worried if I cull these down to the best 10 or so. However, if I didn't subdivide these first, I might have 3 leaping pumas in one folder, 7 in another, 5 in another, and so on, and I might be more inclined to play it safe and keep 'near-keepers' as insurance. Renaming and subdividing reduces that tendency.

In our Digital Complete Nature Photo Course we teach workflow, and our students, many of whom feel they know little going into the course, follow the workflow that we drill in to them. I'm always gratified when I see these students later on a trip continuing with the workflow we've taught, as their files are well organized, and there is no question as to what images have been edited and which images still need to be.

Rather than reinventing the wheel and spelling out the editing and batch-renaming process again here, let me refer you to two very detailed articles I did for another website that discusses this. For further information, please see our article on Adobe Camera RAW or this article on Editing in Capture One.


Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


ProShow Gold
Digital Slide Program


 DIGITAL- Digital Birding

 DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future

 DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II

 Capture 1's Most Useful Features

maximizing depth of field digitally

  Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think

 DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values

 NPN- Nature Photography Network - a digital forum for nature photography

 Digital Pro Image Management Software

 Watch Your Backgrounds
The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format

 A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society

 Save Your Equipment from Crashing!

 The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper

At the Pulse of Life
by Fritz Polking

 Carry Your Gear!

 Shooting in Inclement Weather

 Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights

 Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash

 Ask Questions
Before You Go

 Seize the Moment!

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work 

 Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography

 How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari

 The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Padding Your Wimberley
Tripod Head

  Specular highlights and the flashing frog
 Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds  Testing your Flash's Aim
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!  If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation  How do you shoot the Moon?
  Low level tripod work  A great depth of field guide  Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate

 Sigma's 120-300mm F2.8 APO HSM zoom lens

 Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

 Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO
zoom telephoto lens

 Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters

 Sighting in a very, very long lens
 The Nature Photography Network - a super website for images and information
  Take a Workshop First   Luck, what is it?  Don't take in baby wild animals

  Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

 Disconnect -- travel precautions

Photograph America Newsletter
 Wildlife Portraiture

 Obey the Rules
The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites Bushnell Night Vision Optics  Adobe Photoshop 7 for $300

 The Sibley Bird Guides

 Removing Cactus Spines

 Drying out boots with newspaper

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