Capture and Beyond Workflow Lessons That You Cannot Afford to Miss
There are no images to accompany this post. Why? When I first started digital photography in September, 2002 (not 2001 as I have written before…), I did not realize that it was important to save each RAW file. Each RAW file is the digital negative for an image that represents an irreplaceable moment in time. Note that I did know enough at the time to use RAW not JPEG capture. But once I converted the RAW files and optimized them I simply discarded them. Ooops.
I learned how bad the situation in those early years actually was while working on the 13,000+ image file that I mentioned in the Gems Found, the Sunday evening post. I came across many images that needed additional Photoshop work. We do not always realize it, but over the years our optimization skills will increase by leaps and bounds. There were many dozens of images that I opened in Photoshop and worked on for a few to ten minutes using skills that I did not possess back then. In addition, there were more than a few excellent images that screamed for me to start over with the RAW file and process them again using the Photoshop skills that I had honed over the past decade.
Here is the e-mail conversation with Jim Litzenberg that followed:
Jim, Please do a search for the following RAW files: 279T9135, T9J5688, 123F4928, and L8X2290. Thanks, artie
Boss, I found many optimized TIFFs and several JPEGs for each of the file numbers above but there were no RAW files. Jim
Jim, Thanks. That’s what I figgered might happen…. artie
Here are some details on the missing images that I wanted to re-do:
123F4928: Snow Geese, silver yellow sunrise, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. December 2, 2002. EOS-1D. This was the image that–with help from Rich Steel– fueled my digital epiphany.
279T9135: Roseate Spoonbill, Lake Martin, LA. April 7, 2003. EOS-1D. This image has helped to sell more than 3300 copies of Digital Basics.
L8X2290: Snow Geese, blast-off pano, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. November 19, 2005. EOS-1Ds. A three-layered cropped pano that is one of my very favorite all time Bosque blurs.
All three of the images listed above plus another dozen or so that I e-mailed Jim about would have benefited greatly from being re-converted and re-worked. However, no RAW files, no can do.
Interestingly enough, when I arranged the files by date I learned that the images from the trip to Tanazania that I made in January of 2003 with Patti and the late Wes Ardoin were all labeled January, 1980….
Lessons for you (including those that I have learned the hard way):
1: You will get smarter and you will become better at optimizing your images.
2: Use only RAW capture 100% of the time. If you need JPEGs, simply set your camera to Large RAW plus whatever sized JPEGs you would like. If you set your camera to JPEG capture for whatever frivolous reason or reasons rest assured that you will forget to switch backs to RAW and will encounter a great situation while shooting only JPEGs. Usually small JPEGs….
3: Come up with a workflow that allows you to save and archive all of your RAW files even after they are optimized.
4: Back up your images daily while you are in the field and once a week once you have the images on your home computer.
5: Be sure to set the date on your cameras properly and to check them regularly. And that goes double when you travel to a different time zone.
Those who would like to improve their Photoshop skills more quickly than I did should get themselves a copy of our Digital Basics. This PDF is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens and dozens of great Photoshop tips, and the personalized keyboard shortcuts that I use every day (as well as instructions on how to create them).
I must admit that for the first time about 10 weeks ago I received an e-mail from a guy complaining that Digital Basics was poorly written and was so complex that he could not follow any of the instructions. With more than 3,300 sold a single complaint is nothing to get too upset about, but needless to say I was somewhat mystified as I pride myself in taking great care with all of my writing. Especially with my how-to stuff. I answered the guy as politely as possible urging him to have another go at it and suggesting that he use Digital Basics exactly as he would a cookbook. About a month ago I got another e-mail from the same guy thanking me profusely for creating such a helpful, easy to read, and easy to follow guide.
As I say often, you gotta love it.