My Workflow - from camera to instagram

Since this is my first ever blog post I thought it would be appropriate to document one of the very first things I had to learn when entering the world of digital photography - how to get a photograph from my camera to a finished product.

It may surprise you to know that this process is actually a lot more challenging than one might imagine and a lack of organisation through these stages can lead to a multitude of disasters - loss of files amongst the masses, poor editing techniques, misidentification of the 'best photos' and, the absolute worst, accidental deletion of images! I can safely say that I have been unfortunate enough to experience all the above in the few years that I have been involved in photography but over time I have developed a strategic workflow that has helped minimise mishaps.


Step 1 - organising files

Coming back from any photography trip or day out can leave me with anywhere between 50-1000 RAW image files. Now, not all of these are images that I want to keep but, in order to correctly sort them, I have a monotonous routine that I diligently follow.

I transfer all the RAW files from my cameras memory card to my laptop before then copying all of these files to an external hard drive. This hard drive serves as my back-up (I currently have two of them) and they have copies of every single image that I have ever taken - some good, some very very bad.

I then utilise a programme which I only started using about a year ago; Adobe Bridge. I use this application to sort through the images on my laptop, deleting those not worthy of my editing time (remember I still have all RAW files on my hard drives), until I am left with something looking like this.

These images are from a recent visit to Kew Gardens, where I took over 200 images. My sorting process has now left me with just over 30 images, all of which I might be interested in editing.

Step 2 - EDITING

Selecting the best images from the hundreds I have taken is only half the battle. Now that I have identified my favourites shots I now have to edit them to give a clearer representation of what was seen through the camera.

The first stage of my editing process is to open up the image in Camera Raw (a side application found within Adobe Photoshop). Here I make some very basic adjustments to the picture - slight changes to the highlights and shadows, whites and blacks and exposure.

Having completed my basic adjustments, I transfer the image to Adobe Photoshop. I used to complete all my processing and editing within Adobe Lightroom but, especially given my increasing skill level, I find that Photoshop gives me the freedom to achieve what I desire. In Photoshop my images all go through a similar process, starting with cropping the image to my desired size and orientation.

They are then subjected to a couple of presets that I use to work on contrast and brightness before then having a final adjustment to highlights and shadows through the manipulation of curves. I often then address saturation of colours before finishing with some pixel sharpening and/or noise reduction where required.

From there I save my files as a JPEG and resize them so that they are suitable for viewing on a webpage. I often upload them to a private Flickr account so that I can then save them to my mobile device for eventual posting on my Instagram page.


The finished product - a fully edited image of a Chinese Water Dragon (Kew Gardens, London; February 2019)

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