I have recently switched from Aperture 3 to Lightroom 4, thus my workflow has changed! I wrote a new free tutorial which can be found here: Landscape Workflow Tutorial with Lightroom 4
If you are out there and shootings lots, you probably want to know, what is the most efficient way to get everything sorted, organized and processed when you get back, right? Well, I have read many photography workflow tutorials – and they were all different. That’s the beauty of it. Every photographer has its own unique style about photography and the processing. A few things are the same everywhere such as backups, importing, etc. however quite a few aspects are very different and depend on the style. That’s why I called this tutorial “Landscape Photography Workflow Tutorial”. My style of photography is landscape and I have found that the following fits my needs the best and helps me to get through thousands of shots, when I return from a location fast, easy and with minim risk of loosing images.
To give you a bit of a background, I shot with a Nikon D7000, 16GB Sandisk Extreme Memory Cards and use Apple Aperture for most of my processing and organization and only shoot RAW.
- Getting back from a shooting, I import the memory cards into Aperture. My iMac has nice SD card slot on the side and importing goes pretty quick. Usually importing from a SD card slot or memory card reader is faster than direct import from your camera. Also, there is no worries, that the batteries will drain, when importing a few thousand photos from even higher capacity cards. My Aperture presets are that all of my photos are automatically imported into projects, which are separated by date. So shooting only on one day, will put all files into one project folder. Coming back from a vacation, the shots are automatically sorted by date, neatly separated by project date.
- Immediately after the import is finished, I run a quick backup with the build-in Aperture Vault on an external storage drive. All photos remain on the SD cards, until I am sure, everything has been imported properly and after all backups have been successful.
- Now comes the part, that takes much time but helps tremendously in moving forward. I start to rate all photos from “rejected” to “5 stars”. This is fairly easy with the plus and minus button on the keyboard. In addition to the rating, I also mark all images, which were shot as a panorama “blue” and all photos, which will become HDR “red”.
- Photos will fall into separate “smart folders” automatically according to their rating. I do not process 1-3 stars, delete rejected photos, and process only 4-5 stars shots. However, even though I do not process 1-3 star shots, I usually keep them. I find myself more often going back to these photos and raise their ranking to 4 or even 5 stars. As my processing skills advance, I find new creative ways to make more out of them, as I initially thought.
- All of my processing is done within Aperture. I do not use Photoshop – honestly I am probably the only photographer, who does not even own a copy of Photoshop. I find that Aperture, gives me all the tools I need. I usually do slight adjustments on saturation and vibrancy, curve adjustments, hue, chromatic aberrations, cropping, etc. – basically whatever I feel is necessary, to the give the photo the look I want it to have. Some photos do not require any adjustments at all, whereas others where shot in very difficult conditions and require a bit more of processing – but that’s just normal among photographers. What film photographers used to do in the lab with chemicals, we do on the computer.
- After the whole processing is done, I export the best shots and upload them to my portfolio here and / or publish them one at a time on Google+ or Flickr.
- The finished images, then go into my archive folders and are backed-up again via the Aperture Vault on the external storage device.
I hope I didn’t forget any steps. If so, feel free to let me know and I’ll add them :). Below is a screenshot from my current Aperture Library Layout. I hope it will be helpful to some of you.