Digital Asset Management – Part II

10 Nov
 

… or How to Cope in the Digital Age of Photography

Updated October 15, 2011

© 2008 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.In my last blog, I wrote about the thinking, procedures, and steps I take to set up my system of handling my images. This is the first part of digital asset management. Are there other ways to do it? Absolutely. Each of us must find out what works for him/her. Even if you are an old hand at digital asset management, you may find some useful hints here. If you are new to this blog, I suggest starting with Part I of this article.

The images on this blog are eclectic. Some are “straight” images, some processed in Photoshop, some in Photomatix, and all with some element of Lightroom.

Importing Images onto Your Computer

OK, your folders are set up. You know your naming convention. Now it’s time to download those images, another way of saying “import them” into your computer. Personally, I do not like to use the word “import” as people are prone to thinking that the images are actually in Lightroom. The images are in the folder you created for them. Only the thumbnails for the images are in Lightroom, along with the ability to work on them.

Different programs have different dialogues, but the principles are the same:

  • Select the location of your card reader as the source of your images to download.
  • Browse to the folder you have already created for those images. Some people prefer to browse to the main folder (My Pictures, or some such) and create a new sub-folder for those images; I prefer not to do this, as I know I have not mistakenly duplicated a basic folder name by mistake. For example, in September, I had several folders starting with 20809 — 208091, 208092, 208093, etc. — so I don’t want to duplicate a project number (the last digit here) for my new images.
  • Select “Convert to DNG” — in these settings, I do not select “Imbed RAW file” on the assumption that if it works for Peter Krogh, celebrated guru of The DAM Book, it should work just fine for me.
  • Select “Save Copies to” or to the location where you keep your back-up files; I use the same folder name that I created above.
  • Apply your metadata template (see below).
  • Click on “Get Photos” or similar wording.
  • CHUGGA-chugga-CHUGGA-chugga-CHUGGA-chugga … Time to get something to drink or a bite to eat. Make a few phone calls. It’ll take a while if you have dozens or hundreds of photos to download!

When you are sure that all your images have been downloaded and backed up, then, and only then, put your card into your camera and format it right away. That way, you won’t risk downloading all those images another time. More importantly, however, you are “marrying’ the card to your camera, and you are really cleaning it out, rather the way we do when we defrag our computers.

Metadata Templates

© 2008 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.

What? You don’t have a metadata template? Don’t worry. You’re not alone by a long stretch.

They are easy to create. And if you are comfortable with your template, skip to the next section. If you are not, check out our website page Create a Copyright Template for Lightroom.

Now what?

Cull, Cull, Cull

This is probably the hardest part of photography. As noted in Part I, there are two schools of thought, so I need not repeat them here. Whatever your approach, remember that out-of-focus photos are out of focus! They are not going to magically become sharp, so unless they are the only remembrance of a special moment or location, banish them from your computer!

The same applies to those way-way-way-too-dark or beyond-hope-too-light photos. They’ll just take up space. And we haven’t even addressed those mega-pixels that really don’t make a photograph. We should certainly experiment, and knowing that, we know that all experiments are not successes.

Renaming

After purging unwanted images from my computer, I am ready to rename my photos. Suggested naming conventions are discussed in Part I. It does bear repeating, however, that having a sequential name that ties in to the number of photos you have kept makes sense. If my folder contains 943 images, and my numbers go up to 952, something clearly is missing!

Post-Production

© 2008 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.Now comes the fun part. It’s time to realize your vision in these photos. For those of you who have joined us in one of our photo adventures, you have heard such phrases as “Pre-visualize what you want,” “Don’t waste all those wonderful, expensive, little pixels you paid for,” “What attracted you to the scene,” and “Simplify and isolate.”

Did you succeed? Hopefully yes, in which case, post-production takes a lot less time.

Regardless of the program you used to import your photographs into a folder of your choosing on your computer, it is critical to understand what function the assorted programs serve. In all cases, they enable you to see the images in your various folders. All of these programs allow you to rename your photographs and add metadata such as job numbers, descriptions of photographs, key words, locations, etc. In all cases, if you uninstalled the programs, your images would still be on your computer. That said, there are important differences.

Since most people in our workshops are using Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom, I will address those, rather than Photoshop Elements or other, less-mainstream programs.

Bridge

© 2008 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.This is very simply a browser. Just as you might use Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer to view the potpourri of information on the Internet, you can use Bridge to view the wide selection of images on your computer. It shows you thumbnails of the images you have in your various folders. You don’t need to “import” your photos into Bridge for it to see your photographs.

Lightroom

When you “import” images into Lightroom, you are really importing the capability of processing your images. This includes tweaking your files by giving a set of instructions to your photograph through the metadata. You crop in Lightroom; the instruction for that cropping gets added to the metadata for that photo. You burn or dodge, and those instructions are added to the metadata for that image. You play with the saturation, and you guessed it, those instructions get added to the photograph’s metadata.

All these instructions reside within Lightroom, so that you can call upon them again when you open up Lightroom the next time. If, however, you choose to open up the image in Photoshop, those directions are not yet permanently attached to the photo.© 2011 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. east-coast time.

Every time I make an adjustment to a photograph in Lightroom, I save those directions to the file itself by doing a CTRL-S or CMD-S (PC & Mac shortcuts for saving).

When I want to update a whole slew of images at once, I make sure I am in Library module, since the Develop module handles only one image at a time. As I tweak my photos, I give them a two-star rating. That way, I can select all those images that I have just tweaked, and save them as above.

If you are careful about this, you will never lose all that work you have done on your images. If you use Bridge, you will see your tweaks reflected in the thumbnails. In any event, when you have done work on your images, don’t forget to back up those files!

In Part III, I’ll talk about Photoshop vs. Lightroom, and in Part IV, I’ll discuss managing your files so that you can find those photos you have taken over the years of your Great Aunt Minnie or all your vertical images of lighthouses taken across the country.

For more information on our workshops, go to Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

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