Monday, May 2, 2011

I Think I've Photographed Everything That Moves in Chicago

So, I've been away for a bit.  I haven't left home, but my internet time got a little derailed by a few things.  Most notably I had a houseguest for the past 8 days.  She wanted to see Chicago.  Since I see Chicago through the lens of a camera, I took her to my favorite shooting grounds.  In a week we covered The South Pond, Lincoln Park Zoo, The Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, The North Pond, The Chicago Botanical Gardens and the Magic Hedge.  And right before that I went with a group to shoot "The Bean" and Buckingham Fountain downtown and went out to Willowbrook to retrieve the tripod I left out there.

I have roughly a million photos to deal with now.

Doing all this shooting in such a short time has made me think about a lot of things.  Chiefly about my workflow.  If you're unfamiliar with the term, workflow in photography is the system a photographer uses to get their pictures off the camera and in whatever final form they want them in.  In my case I want them ready to publish on this blog.  Other people want to get them printed or produced in books.  Whatever your final form is, the beautiful thing about digital photography is that you can take your raw image (not RAW image - I'm not talking about file format here) and edit it yourself and make the most of what your camera captured.  But after a few hours out with your digital camera you come home and find that you've literally taken 300+ images and... well, NOW what?

In my own workflow I tend to have one less-than-stellar habit.  I race home from any given shoot, move my shots to my harddrive and then go through and sort out the ones I want to at least look in in my editing program from the absolute garbage.

Unfortunately, sometimes I come to a screeching halt right there.  I have tons of shots I know are pretty good, but haven't been edited because I have the attention span of a damselfly. 

Ideally, my workflow would be something like this:

1.) Move the photos to the harddrive.
2.) Sort and label shots with some redeeming value from what I can see in the 'preview' function in the finder.
3.) Sort the decent shots into preliminary groups based on how I want to group them for posts here.
4.) Edit in batches.  Crop and correct color/lighting in each photo in a given group all at once.  This is where I should probably start reducing the number of 'useful' shots pretty judiciously. 
5.) Save both large versions and small (blog-sized) versions of edited shots.
6.) Blog each set once it's been edited.
7.) Back up photos onto a DVD.  I've lost all my shots from 2009 from a dropped external harddrive.  I really should be better about backing up the 1/2T of shots I have on the current external than I am.

I'm curious to know how other photographers handle large numbers of shots.  Back when I was a kid and shooting on film, we didn't have workflow. Not like this.  You took the 24 or 36 shots and then shipped the canister off the the drug store for developing.  If you had your own darkroom, like I did, you may have waited until you had a few rolls to develop so you didn't waste unstable chemicals, but even so, you weren't working with the extreme numbers of shots you can end up with after a week of digital shooting.

So the next oh... many posts will be my shots of spring *finally* deciding to come to Chicago.

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