What is your workflow when editing photos?

Started 2 months ago | Questions
Nic727 Regular Member • Posts: 128
What is your workflow when editing photos?

Hi,

Weird question I know, but I'm looking for advice for a better workflow. I was always using default photos app on PC to edit my photos or using my phone, but now it's the first time I use a software with a library like Luminar after travelling and I'm a bit lost.

Currently, I'm rejecting and deleting bad photos or photos that are better on my phone than my compact camera (that I will soon replace for a new camera, so new technology = better photos). Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

Thank you

ANSWER:
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mfinley Senior Member • Posts: 3,185
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?
1

Nic727 wrote:

Hi,

Weird question I know, but I'm looking for advice for a better workflow. I was always using default photos app on PC to edit my photos or using my phone, but now it's the first time I use a software with a library like Luminar after travelling and I'm a bit lost.

Currently, I'm rejecting and deleting bad photos or photos that are better on my phone than my compact camera (that I will soon replace for a new camera, so new technology = better photos). Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

Thank you

Well, you're going to find a million answers and there is no right or wrong, everybody does it a little different.

I'll just comment on a few things that you might find helpful.

In regard to culling, I find it easier on a first pass to mark the ones to delete rather than the ones to keep, you might not think it makes a difference, but when you try it you might see how it's a bit easier.

For basic editing on ALL of your photos, that is what presets are or in Lightroom even the 'auto' button as a base adjustment on all your images and then just tweaking instead of going from start to finish on each single image.

For shooting neutral or default, every camera can be different so you have to decide through trial and error which setting gives you what you want, but remember if you're shooting RAW that setting isn't affecting your raw image anyways, that only applies to Jpegs out of camera.

I keep the RAWS forever.

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Brian Kimball
Brian Kimball Regular Member • Posts: 335
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?
2

Nic727 wrote:

Currently, I'm rejecting and deleting bad photos or photos that are better on my phone than my compact camera (that I will soon replace for a new camera, so new technology = better photos).

I agree with this.  Blurry?  Trash.  Bad photo?  Trash.  Really bad facial expression?  Trash.  Horribly boring?  Trash.  Too-similar duplicate of other good photos?  Trash.  I will only keep:

  • photos that I consider good/better/best
  • photos that make up a bracket or pano that I'm also keeping
  • photos that document a special memory
  • photos that provide important context to the other ones I want to keep

Long ago I tried to be a "completionist" and keep everything, but I quickly found it was overwhelming and also frankly depressing to wade through a bunch of photos I didn't want.

Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that.

Does Luminar have an auto settings feature?  I use Lightroom and the auto settings has gotten so good I now use it as a baseline for my edits.  I might not keep any of the settings but it immediately shows me the potential of all the shots I just imported.

Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

Yup.  Raw and flat profile on my nikon.

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

Sounds like a good start.  Simple = good most of the time.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)?

I export "good/better/best" photos in JPG to Apple Photos (if you use Android, I'm sure Google Photos is about the same) and I export mostly just "best" to Flickr.

If I re-edit a photo and re-export it to Apple Photos, I then have to search for the old version in AP and delete it.  It's a pain.

How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

This is actually why I wanted to respond:  Never delete your raw photos!  As you progress in your post-processing experience and education you will want to go back and revisit them.  Your best-effort processing right now might look god-awful to you in 1 year or 5.  Save your raws!  Make sure they're backed up!  You will really appreciate being able to go back one day in the future.

Lightroom has a snapshot feature, so as I "finish" processing a photo I can snapshot those settings.  That way if I decide they need changes a few years later, I don't lose the original edit, and I can see how I'm progressing in post processing.

WryCuda Veteran Member • Posts: 9,231
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?
1

Nic727 wrote:

Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

Most editing programs allow you to process your RAW files as a batch, with standard settings that produce a pleasing result.

I mostly shoot just JPEG with slightly tweaked camera settings. Sometimes I shoot JPEG + RAW if I want to be more secure about dynamic range, colour balance etc., but note that a fair degree of adjustment is still available with JPEGs.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

I export as JPEG in batches for various purposes (e.g. reduced resolution for emails, or slightly cropped images for slideshows at 16:9). I do keep a few RAW files, but hardly ever access them.

I should disclose that most of my photography these days comes from travel, or family events, rather than professional work. I use a range of photo programs, depending on the computer that I have with me at the time.

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KCook
KCook Forum Pro • Posts: 16,912
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?
1

Luminar does not have an Auto exposure button like LR.

For images with a wide range of tones the Accent AI Filter does do a decent job of taming tones, especially brightening up dull shadows.  Try modest settings first, such as a Boost of 65 over an Amount of 40 -

Unfortunately this does nothing toward taming overcooked contrast.  For images with that issue you would need to start from scratch.

Kelly Cook

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NicholasD
NicholasD Contributing Member • Posts: 698
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?
1

Nic727 wrote:

Hi,

Weird question I know, but I'm looking for advice for a better workflow. I was always using default photos app on PC to edit my photos or using my phone, but now it's the first time I use a software with a library like Luminar after travelling and I'm a bit lost.

Currently, I'm rejecting and deleting bad photos or photos that are better on my phone than my compact camera (that I will soon replace for a new camera, so new technology = better photos). Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

Thank you

Not a weird question at all. In fact, one of the most important ones......   As others have said, there isn't one right or wrong answer. But there are processes and habits that will make your life easier, particularly when your digital photo library runs into the tens or hundreds of thousands (if you're not there yet, just wait). The following may or may not work for you, but consider:

be ruthless with culling. If it kinda stinks, it ain't gonna get any better - delete. Probably the single best technique - narrow down your working pile of images to those that you feel good about or those that truly have potential. Be very critical - helps manage numbers AND helps you improve. Quick to add that I'm not always as good as I should be nor does this necessarily apply to images that have sentimental value (eg images of family members long since gone....)  I would agree with a previous poster that you should code for deletions rather than code for keepers in the first go round - will help with getting rid of images that are mediocre or worse.

adopt a consistent naming and file structure protocol. Countless variations (names based on date, location, "shoot" description, etc) - the best one is the one that works for you. But I would suggest picking one and sticking with it.

Keywords. If your program allows, adopt a good working set of keywords and apply consistently. If you haven't done so previously, I wouldn't worry about old stuff, but apply going forward.

Back up, back up, back up. Hopefully, this doesn't need elaboration. And, a backup is not a backup if it sits in the same place as the original - a portable hard drive with your back up sitting next to computer is not a back up. Avoid single point of failure (fire).  "Well, that's not  going to happen". It won't - until it does.....

I keep all my RAWS. I actually enjoy post processing. Pick a program and become proficient - most of the popular options have all sorts of tutorials - develop a few good work practices and I find that I can edit 90% of my photos in less than 60 seconds, 2 minutes tops. There will always be some that require or warrant herculean effort, but I don't have time to spend 10 minutes per photo.....

Good Luck and Have Fun!

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David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,261
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?

I transfer my RAW files from the memory card into subfolders named for camera model and further by date of capture, all in a folder called "To be processed" on an external hard drive using Windows 10.

I then review them in the Library module of Lightroom and cull. If I like an image, I open it in the Develop module and often make basic adjustments in the Tone, Presence, and Lens Correction panels. Sharpening and noise reduction are set to zero.

I then open in Photoshop and edit to taste after noise reduction and sharpening. I return to lightroom and export the edited image as a JPEG to a folder of edited files organized by subject (e.g., landscapes, animals, plants, people, buildings, assorted objects, etc). Each of these folders may have subfolders (e.g., the Animals folder is further organized into folders for birds, reptiles, butterflies, four legged creatures, etc).

I also have one folder where I keep copies of the ones I like best. I usually sort these by date.

All of this may not be the most efficient way of doing it but it's what I do nevertheless.

I have a different folder system on the hard drive for tourist-type snapshots, family photos, documentation, etc., with a similar kind of structure but those are typically batch-converted to JPEGs and given far less editing.

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LordKOTL
LordKOTL Senior Member • Posts: 1,384
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?

This may be long...so grab some popcorn:

I tend to not delete in the field, I just shoot and chimp when I feel it's necessary.  I also shoot RAW; with one of the SD slots as a mirror to the other to protect me from myself.  I focus on shooting and worry about culling later.  My current SD setup in-camera allows for over 2k photos--plus I carry spare SD's.  I can deal with culling later when I'm done shooting.

After shooting:  On both my main computer and my travelling laptop, I have a "Working folder" set up with all of the appropriate subfolders:  finished web JPGs, prints, TIFF intermediates (for stitching, panos, stacking, etc.), and the RAW sidecar files as used by my usual RAW processors (View NX-i and Capture NX-D).  I copy the photos and GPX file (if geotagging) to that working folder.  I make sure to not delete anything for the SD cards yet.

If I'm geotagging, I do that in View NX-i 1st.  Then I go through the photos in either View NX-i or Captrure NX-D and rank them:  usually 1-2 are the best and favorites, 3-4 are okay shots worth keeping that might need some work. 5-6 is for sentimental images--might not be technically great but something say my wife and I would want to keep for the memory.  7-9 are used to denote stacks.  From there I filter out the 0's and cull.  If I have a few multiple shots of the same thing that I don't intend on stacking I just choose my fave and cull the rest.

I then go through my RAW processing.  Since WB and the camera control settings are metadata in the RAW, I usually shoot FLAT camera control and Sunny WB...both of those can be changed non destructively in Capture NX-D.  If there are images that are in similar lighting conditions, I'll edit one and save a development file (same working folder location), which I can affect onto multiple files if necessary.

When done I process as needed--for prints, web-ready JPGs, intermediate TIFFs, etc.  Final web JPGs I then affix a watermark to.  From there my workflow differs slightly depending if I'm away from home or at home:

If I'm at home I copy the working folder to a final folder that has the year, and a short description of what I shot (i.e. 2019_Vysoke Tatry, 2018_Anniversary, etc.)  Then I run a script to back my photos up to my NAS, then I clean the Working folder, and finally, clean the SD cards.

If I'm away from home I make a copy of the work folder following the process outlined above, but copy it to an external SSD, and then clean my SD cards and working folder.  Once I get home I copy everything to my computer and my NAS, then clean both the laptop and SSD.

All of my photo folders have the same folder structure so it's really easy to find stuff, and everything is kept together.  I just find the shoot and everything is right there.

To answer some of your other questions:

I always export at least a Web-ready JPG for sharing/viewing--usually 1920px on the long edge.  Prints get a full rez export and maybe some additional processing if needed.  TIFF intermediates get edited in the appropriate editor (GIMP, Hugin, etc. and then when finished get JPG'ed like my usual workflow).  No RAW viewer I know of other than the Nikon ones read the sidecar files, and most people I know of who aren't photogs are more comfortable with a .jpg.

I always keep my RAWs.  I know I don't know everything in terms of RAW processing and I occasionally run across a tip/trick that I'm like, "I could have used that on xxx photo!"  So I can always go back and re-process.  It's like keeping your negatives.

I hope this helped a bit if you read it all--I know it was a wall, of text.  Good luck and happy shooting!

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There's no shame in using auto or semiauto modes--no matter what the salesdroids at Best Buy tell you.

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Barry Twycross Senior Member • Posts: 2,100
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?

Nic727 wrote:

Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

I shoot RAW+jpeg. That way I have jpegs immediately available to use without any faffing about. The jpegs are good enough for immediate use, like publishing to a blog or otherwise sharing.

The RAWs are backed up to an external drive, and forgotten about, unless I find a need to work with an image. If I want to get the absolute best out of an image (like to print or for a competition), I'll exhume the RAW file and start with that. Once I've processed the RAW, I'll export that to a jpeg and then use the jpeg from thereon.

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skyglider Veteran Member • Posts: 5,240
Re: What is your workflow when editing photos?

Nic727 wrote:

Hi,

Weird question I know, but I'm looking for advice for a better workflow. I was always using default photos app on PC to edit my photos or using my phone, but now it's the first time I use a software with a library like Luminar after travelling and I'm a bit lost.

Currently, I'm rejecting and deleting bad photos or photos that are better on my phone than my compact camera (that I will soon replace for a new camera, so new technology = better photos).

You may be disappointed in buying a new camera that takes better pictures than your phone. My Samsung S8 phone takes 3 pictures, uses the sharpest one as the base and the other two for focus enhancement where applicable. Also to reduce noise for low light shots. Computational photography by phones that have a good camera can be hard to beat for snapshot photography.

Since I mostly shot all my photos in RAW, I needed to do basic edit to almost all my photos, so it was very time consuming and I would like if you have any advice about that. Do you shoot in JPG or RAW and in Neutral colors or Default? I shot in Neutral for a natural color… Whatever, just take a long time to do basic edit...

For milestone events (like weddings & receptions) and for planned photo shoots, I shoot Raw. But for everything else I found that jpg is way good enough. Shooting jpg does require diligence in setting proper white balance when first entering a different lighting environment (like in sunlight, tungsten, fluorescent) but using a camera with electronic viewfinder, it's easy to select the right one.

Shooting jpg + setting proper white balance + using the ETTR method of setting optimum exposure, the majority of my pictures need little or no post processing. There however will always be some that will benefit from heavier post processing. The nice thing about shooting "snapshot" photos in jpg is that quick post processing efforts can be compared to the out of camera jpg with the out of camera jpg many times being hard to beat.

Milestone events like weddings & receptions can benefit from shooting raw where the quality of the photos are scrutinized as well as the content.

After editing I mark the photo with a green color for "done" and yellow for "I'm not sure, maybe reshot in the future". Also using blue for panorama.

But after you've done all the edit you want, do you create albums and/or are you exporting all your new images in JPG or you just keep them in RAW to visualize them in the software you use (Luminar, Lightroom, etc.)? How many months or years do you keep the RAW files if you exported them in JPG?

Since I only shoot milestone events in raw, I don't have the dilemma of of whether to archive in jpg or raw. Most everything is in jpg so they are archived in jpg. The raws are archived in raw as masters.

One final comment about raw vs jpg. I personally found that there is a huge amount of adjustment range in post processing that can be made to jpg images, that is comparable to adjusting raw images. It's only the really bad white balanced or badly exposed images that really benefit from being raw images. For milestone events like weddings, there is no second chance so shooting raw is worth it in case images need more post processing. But for snapshot images like vacations, kid's birthday party, etc., jpg adjustment latitude in post processing is way good enough.

My $.02 anyway,
Sky

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