I photographed two large sporting events over the last month. The combined photograph take turned out to be over 5,000 images. The reason for the large tally was my use of the Nikon D700 camera coupled with the MB-10 Battery Grip giving me the ability to fire off 9 frames per second (fps). Thus, many of the photos were bursts of 5 photos or more.
Here is how I am handling this large amount of photos. The process is called a workflow and I am posting it for two reasons: To help others who find themselves overwhelmed with the task of managing large digital photography libraries and to ask you if you have any tips or suggestions on how I might be able to do this better. So, speak up! Please!
I use Apple’s Aperture 3 photo editing and management software on a MacBook Pro laptop. Adobe’s Lightroom is a similar package for Windows and OS/X systems.
1. It all starts with my Nikon D700 camera Picture Control settings. I use a setting which brings out very good skin tones and allows me to shoot in JPEG for People events.
2. When I ingest or import the photos on my computer using Aperture 3 into a new Project, I have an Import Pre-Set specifically for the Picture Control which adds some color vibrancy, a bit of contrast, auto-levels and sharpening. This gets the photos very close to being processed and saves me oodles of time. The pre-set adds generic captions, keywords, location, ownership and copyright to each photo’s metadata. Import Pre-sets are immensely useful and time saving.
3. After importing, I immediately backup the photos onto an external hard drive. Later, I will upload to a Smugmug.com gallery under my Backup category. I usually do that overnight.
4. For these sporting events, I then break out each game into a separate album within the overall project and, using Aperture 3’s batch processing, add more keywords like each team’s name and division. This further describes the photos making it easier for people searching on the Internet to find the photos.
5. Editing each photo is done in two passes. In the first pass I look for focus issues and composition. In a burst of photos, the camera may miss focus on the first one or two photos depending on the lens I use. When following a player or the action, I may not be aware of other players, referees, umpires or background elements in the frame which can ruin a photo. All those photos I mark rejected and later delete. On the second pass, I give a rating of 1 Star for the photos I feel are good enough to do final processing on.
6. Processing or finishing. I go through each 1 Star photo and really look at each one. If I still like it, I crop the photo and then do final adjustments. If I do not, I mark it rejected. You crop before adjustments so you only adjust what the final photo will look like. Adjustments I normally do is straightening, pulling back highlights, opening up shadows, add contrast and/or brightness. Each finished photo gets a 2 Star rating.
7. Once I finish up a game, I upload them to a gallery on Smugmug.com for viewing by the players, coaches and families where, if I have done my job right, they will purchase them.
Whew, that is a lot of work. Now, in a burst of photos, I will select just one or two of them which drastically reduces the number of photos I end up processing. Got all this? Good! I need to get back to work. Have another event this weekend.