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Digital Workflow

An inordinate amount of time has been dedicated to finding a solution for the digital workflow. A variety of important topics were researched and discussed to yield in a very functional and flexible workflow.

Topics that were resolved include:


I will briefly summarize my digital workflow and welcome any comments or questions.

I use a very useful utility for downloading my images from my memory cards to my laptop called Downloader Pro. This utility lets me rename the files and perform a few basic functions like lossless rotation while downloading the images.

The photos from the Canon camera are named IMG_xxxx. Using Downloader Pro, I replace the useless "IMG" with the corresponding date stamp YYYYMMDD. My photos then are named i.e. 20050101_1234.jpg. The files are then organized in a dated directory structure. YYYY\YYYYMM\YYYYMMDD.

In the YYYYMMDD directory I create another directory named "originals". If I edit any photos in Photoshop, the edited version remains in the YYYYMMDD directory and a copy of the original is saved in the YYYYMMDD\originals directory.

Photos that have been edited are appended with the suffix "-e" i.e. 20050101_1234-e.jpg. Photos that have been resized are appended with the suffix "-s" i.e. 20050101_1234-s.jpg. Photos that have been both edited and resized are appended with both suffixes, i.e. 20050101_1234-es.jpg.

I try to spend very little time using Photoshop on my images, but I will use auto-levels, cropping and the unsharp mask for certain photos. For the web I will typically resize the photos to 800x600 (which is actually 800x533 for a dSLR) and generally use a jpg compression level between 8-9. This results in decent SVGA images with an average of 100kb. To resize my images for the web, I use the 'Batch Conversion/Rename' function in Irfanview - a fantastic freeware image viewing and basic editing utility. In a single batch operation I can resize, compress, rename and watermark a selection of images.

Since the directory structure on my laptop is only chronological and contains no other intelligence, I use a database program called IMatch to keep track of all the images. IMatch is a powerful database program with an immense amount of flexibility for even the most demanding user. There are dozens of photo database programs which will suit various needs. Currently, I predominantly use IMatch to categorize all my images. I have set-up approximately 300 unique categories and each image gets tagged with the appropriate categories. I use location, event, fauna, flora, people, scapes, sports, rating - to name a few. Each of these categories is further broken down into sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. Sounds like a lot of work, but when you keep on top of it and systematically categorize your photos when you download them to your computer, it really is not that much extra effort. IMatch then lets you do custom searches which allows you to find any image in your library in a mere few seconds!

Archiving and storing the digital images is another important consideration. Currently I have my photo data base on my laptop and image the entire database to an external hard drive. Further, I burn a backup DVD when 5gb's of new images is reached. I still need to refine and automate this process and will post an update when this has been finalized.

A note on EXIF. I noticed that my Canon 20D was using EXIF version 0221 and the Canon 300D was using EXIF version 0220. When I would use Photoshop CS to work on an image and then resave the file, the orientation flag (where applicable) would only be updated on the images using EXIF version 0221. The windows thumbnail would be saved in the correct orientation but the orientation flag would not be updated. This caused a problem, as the images that did not have the orientation flag updated would be rotated by 90 degrees when displayed with a viewer that uses the orientation flag in the EXIF (such as Irfanview). Irfanview does have a setting to enable/disable auto-rotate image according to EXIF info. Viewers such as Windows Picture and Fax Viewer do not use EXIF info and thus the orientation of the thumbnails is how your fullsize image will be displayed. Rotating an image with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer does not update the orientation flag in the EXIF.

I have since updated the firmware on the Canon 300D to 1.1.1 from the previous 1.0.2. Images now use EXIF version 0221 and the inconsistencies between EXIF info on cameras is solved!

For a comprehensive description of the above topics and a host of other very useful information pertaining to digital photography, please visit Impulse Adventure.