Bird photographers, your Lightroom workflow recommendations please

Started Dec 10, 2016 | Questions thread
Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Senior Member • Posts: 2,904
Re: Bird photographers, your Lightroom workflow recommendations please

During import:

  • Keyword with location, subject matter (bird) and species info. (If I'm importing photos of multiple species in one batch, I'll add the species info after import. 

After import:

  • Do additional keywording as may be needed. 
  • Use "Map" module to drop photos onto shoot location and add location info
  • Review photos for appealing compositions. 
  • Review select photos at 100% and 5-star images with tack sharp focus on eye.

Smart Collection: "Selected for Post"

  • All photos assigned a 5-star rating but having no assigned color end up, here.
  • Enter "Develop"module
  1. Lens Corrections: Check both "Remove Chromatic Aberration" and "Enable Profile Corrections"
  2. Detail: (zoom in to 100% view) simultaneously press "Alt" while adjusting "Masking" to completely darken the background sky. Subtract the number from 100 and enter the result add the "Amount" of sharpening. For example, if Masking is set to 40, then I would set sharpening to 60. This largely negates the need to add any noise reduction.
  3. Set "Raidius" to 0.7 and leave "Detail" at default setting of 25.
  4. Basic: Select the crop tool and adjust to taste. Adjust exposure, saturation and vibrance to taste. Adjust shadows to taste or use the brush tool to apply a positive (typically no more than about 0.5) adjustment to select areas.
  5. As a general rule, i do not like the "Auto Mask" setting on the brush tool. Edges are too ragged. Rather, I'll apply the adjustment and then use the erase tool (60 pt feather) to clean up along the edges. I find this technique prevents dreaded halos.
  6. I typically add a brush adjustment to the eye, with some positive exposure comp, saturation and clarity.
  7. Towards the end, I'll adjust black and white levels, pressing "Alt" while making the adjustments to ensure I'm preserving detail.

I don't enter the "Tone Curves" or "Color" areas; never had much use for them. On occasion, I may add a touch of positive dehaze in the "Effects" area.

Once an image is done, and if there are several photos from the same sequence having similar lighting and composition, I'll use the "Sync" tool to copy my edit settings from the finished image to the others. But if there is a clear favorite within a sequence of photos of the same behavior, i won't bother processing the other images in the sequence.

When processing on an image is complete...

  • Tag as Green or...
  • If I really like it, tag as red or...
  • If I want it in my portfolio, flag as a pick then tag as red

I've created smart collections for my "best of" and "portfolio" selections in a variety of genres (birds, wildlife, landscape, etc.). My keyword and tagging protocol automatically adds images to the desired collection.

It's a workflow that works for me and my aesthetic. About 1 in 100 exposures may end up in either a "Best of" or "Portfolio" collection. Once a year or so, I'll go through my smart collections with the goal of downgrading a few images. It's a constant effort to view my work with an objective, critical eye and only allow the very best examples to remain in the "Portfolio."

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Bill Ferris Photography
Flagstaff, AZ

 Bill Ferris's gear list:Bill Ferris's gear list
Nikon D610 Fujifilm X-T20 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD +3 more
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