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Optimizing my RAW workflow January 21, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer, GPS & Geotagging, Photography.

What is the best way to convert, select, organize and geotag lots of RAW images from a trip ? What tools should I use ? At the moment I’m trying to figure this out because in about one week I’m starting my journey to Australia and then I will need a effective technique.

Normally I shoot 150 to 200 pictures during a day trip , most of them in RAW format which gives me the greatest flexibility. For downloading the pics from the camera I use ZoomBrowser, a tool that comes with the camera. In ZoomBrowser is my fist step of the selection process. Pictures which have exposure or sharpness problems will be deleted. This is a rough quality check and I only delete pictures which I’m sure about.

The selection process in detail

The second step is are more detailed selection process. I often shoot several pictures of the same motif but different camera settings. This gives me the opportunity to learn which settings are best in different situations. The downside is that I have for example 5 pictures which look almost the same and I have to decide which of them I have to delete. For that decision I use the free beta version of Adobe Lightroom, which is a great product. It was designed from photographers for photographers and you feel this when you use the software. It’s intuitive and very fast in handling the large RAW files. By looking at the RAW files at an 1:1 zoom I can quickly decide which ones are sharp and which one I have to delete. The result is a set of pictures I want keep for further processing.

In Adobe Lightroom I can also mark the files with stars. I mark the very best pictures with four to five stars. After that I make some image editing where it is needed like correcting exposure, saturation or sharpness. Then I generate JPG files of all RAW files. The JPG files will have the corrections I made just before to the RAW files so I get good quality pictures for my web album on www.oxymoron.li and my local archive.

Now the star marking comes into play. I order the pictures in Lightroom by descending star rating so that the best are first. Now it’s easy to delete all RAW files with no rating at all. RAW files are very large and therefore I only want to keep the very best. Normally I keep about 10% in RAW quality of a trip. I have to limit myself here so that I really only keep the very best. These pictures could be sold (if some want’s them :-)) or printed on A4 or A3 in best quality.

Metadata and Geotagging

On day trips I always take my GPS (60CSX) with me to record the positions where I made the shoots. To map the pictures and the gps track later you have to be sure that the time on your camera is the same as on your gps device. So after your trip you can download the track from your device in a gpx format and use the great free tool Location Stamper from Microsoft. You load your pictures and the track into the program and you get all pictures with the gps information in the header. Even the sea level is stored in the picture.

Now I have the finished jpg pictures to organize. I use Adobe Bridge to edit the EXIF Information like copyright data, author and location. In Adobe bridge it’s very convenient to edit exif information from all pictures at once. So after that step all my pictures have the correct metadata in their header. It’s also possible to add keywords and comments to the pictures. I only use these metadata tags to describe my pictures because the information is stored in the picture itself. So when I copy the files no information is lost and there is no dependency on other programs.

The last step is to open Picasa and import the new trip. They should have all a little blue icon in the corner which indicates that they are geotagged. Now you can use the function “Show in Google Earth” to see exactly where every picture was taken.

A lot of work but I think that should be the way to archive your pictures. Otherwise you end up with a huge amount of pictures with no information and no extra value. I think programs to organize pictures especially integrating gps information and maps will play a major role in the next years.  



1. Andrea - January 29, 2007

I cant wait for Australia pictures and travel diaries 🙂 home alone Queeneliza1

2. Tom - February 7, 2007

Speaking of “Getagging”: do you know locr? locr offers the ideal solution and makes geotagging exceptionally easy. locr uses GoogleMaps with detailed maps and high-resolution satellite images. To geotag your photos just enter address, let locr search, fine-tune the marker, accept position, and done! If you don’t know the exact address simply use drag&drop to set the position.
For automatic geotagging you need a datalog GPS receiver in additon to your digital camera. The GPS receiver data and the digital camera data is then automatically linked together by the locr software. All information will be written into the EXIF header, and can then be used by other applications.
Have a look at http://www.locr.com.

3. ingenofesee - August 10, 2007

Very useful and informative blog. Recommended for all to see.

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