Back in the film days, workflow was pretty easy. Shoot a roll of slides, send it in for processing, and then put the results on my light table and pick out the select few images to scan and print. With film, many creative decisions were made for you. Each film type had a particular look and feel to it; the color palettes and contrast responses varied between emulsions. With film, what you saw in the slide was pretty much what you got out of a scan. Moreover, with film, I shot far fewer images than I do now with digital. The tangible cost component of film shooting kept the number of images down for most casual shooters. Shoot a couple of 36-exposure rolls, pick the keepers, scan ’em and you’re done. Scanning slides was a tedious enough process that I really only chose the best images to scan.
Today, we shoot hundreds or even thousands of images with our DSLRs and high-capacity memory cards. Transferring these images to your computer only takes a few minutes, and there is no agonizing wait for film to return from the lab or the scanner to scan the slide/negative. That means we’re quickly filling up our hard drives with images that may have never even made it into a slide sleeve in the film days. Moreover, unless you shoot only JPEG, you are now the photo lab. Instead of choosing a film type to get a particular “look,” we have to process our own RAW files to achieve a desired result. The prospect of processing thousands of files is intimidating, to say the least.
If you shoot for your own personal pleasure, I’d like to recommend simplifying your workflow. Don’t put yourself into a position where you must process EVERY SINGLE FILE. Simply put, you don’t need to. Start by trying to get things right in your camera. Choose the right white balance and get the exposure right. Use camera settings that are appropriate for your subject– don’t shoot a portrait session using “VIVID” mode; you wouldn’t shoot a wedding with Velvia film, right? Once you’re back from your shoot. be picky. Choose the select few images that you really want to share, and only process those. Not only will you save time in post, but your friends and family will appreciate that you didn’t bombard them with every variant of every shot in a 100MB email bomb!
For more on my workflow and how I have integrated modern tools with Capture NX2, sign up for my NEF-Centric workflow workshop!
One of the things I like about shooting in RAW is that I have the ability to override my in-camera settings during post-processing. The RAW safety net is tremendously useful, even if you get most things “right” on a shoot. One thing I don’t like, however, is using software that automatically throws away my in-camera settings because it thinks it is smarter than me. When I preview my images, I want to see what I had shot in-camera, even if I got it “wrong” (I like to learn from my mistakes).
I’m mostly talking about image browsers, here. All these products that are “RAW saavy.” That’s really just code for “built-in RAW converter” that will ignore all your in-camera settings. The problem with multiple RAW converters is that each one works with its own set of instructions. If you use Browser “A” to view your files, then process them in Application “B”, when you go back to Browser “A,” you won’t see any changes in your image previews. This conundrum is why we’re seeing a big push towards “soup to-nuts” products like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Apple Aperture.
Take for instance, the scenario where you shoot NEFs using different Nikon Picture Controls. By default, you can make four different core settings in your camera:
When you look at the LCD preview on your camera, you can tell the difference between the images. Neutral is low-contrast and low-saturation, while vivid is high-contrast and high-saturation. And monochrome, well it’s black and white.
Now consider what happens when you download those same four images and preview them in a browser that has its own RAW engine:
Click to see more…
Continue reading Just Browsing my NEFs
I’ve been busy in my virtual classroom; the first two of my spring workshops are now complete. We had a great turnout, and the attendees all learned a lot about Capture NX2 and Photo Mechanic. There are still more workshops left on my schedule, so if you missed out, you can still get in on one of the upcoming dates. In even better news, participants who have headset mics for their computers can now bypass the telephone altogether and join the teleconference from their computers. This is sure to be great for international participants!
If you have a need for personal attention and support, I may be available for one on-one consulting. I’m happy to help you work on your own images, learn Capture NX2, or whatever other topic you might have about your Nikon workflow. Click here for mentoring rates and details.
It’s also software update time. Today, Adobe formally announced Creative Suite 5, which includes updates to Photoshop, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and InDesign. I’m mostly looking forward to native 64-bit support for these applications in Mac OS; something that has been lacking for some time.
I’m pleased to offer a slate of spring online training courses for Capture NX2. In addition to my advanced Capture NX2 Editing course, I’m now also offering a new course called “The NEF-Centric Workflow.”
Continue reading Announcing Capture NX2 Online Courses
Do you need to hone your post-processing skills? Still trying to figure out when to use a Control Point and when to use a brush tool? Capture NX2 workflow got you down? For those who are interested in learning more about Capture NX2 and/or Nik Silver Efex Pro, I am available on a limited basis for one on-one private tutoring.
Contact me for more information if you are interested in a custom training package.