Workflow – an article in permanent change and development – last updated 22/11/2015

November 2015

Like Trey Ratcliff likes to say about his free HDR tutorial  “It is a living document that continues to evolve over the years”
Well, a Workflow is also something that evolves, depending on the photographer, his own knowledge and progress, specialty and interests, technology, etc
And it evolves over his lifetime.
A Workflow is not something you can copy, it will be different from person to person.
The only similarities you will find in different workflows, is the aim to :
– find a routine
– develop easier and faster
– organize files better
A Workflow has a starting point, and an end point,
after which the Workflow restarts.
A Workflow starts with :
– taking a picture(s)
– transferring the data
– sorting/selecting and deleting
– developing ( convert from RAW, retouch, sharpen ..)
– finishing ( resizing, convert to end product ), delivering ( customer, website, own use …)
– taking a new picture
As you see, a Workflow never ends.

Because I get a lot of questions about my Workflow and How To,
I will try to make a simple sketch and summary, so you can see and maybe adapt it into something that fits into your situation.


In the Standard Workflow, following steps are taken :
– Taking pictures
– Transfer data with DIM 5.0 to Computer ( probably the most important step )
– Viewing/Sorting and Deleting with RawTherapee in “File Browser” modus
– Developing, although retouching and “photoshopping” isn’t possible with RT, everything else from exposure, color to sharpening can be done in RT.
Even film simulation and other image enhancements are perfectly possible.
– Finishing, converting the final picture to end product.

Alternatively, RT is used to develop a TIFF image that is further developed with ESF Simple fusion, Luminance HDR or Gimp. Afterwards, the image is again loaded in RT for final developing ( sharpen etc ) and converting.

To be continued


September 2014


Like I said in my previous article of “Photography Workflow – what is it – what do you need – Part 1”
it’s about having a good plan and getting organized.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have only ‘one’ workflow,
no,you probably need a plan with a few crossroads,we all do,
that is because certain decisions you will make, will differ from situation to situation.
In some cases you will only take pictures in JPG, maybe because the subject isn’t related to critical development.
Like when taking pictures at the family barbecue.
Maybe you will take pictures in JPG and RAW both, when taking an trip to the zoo and maybe you want to edit a few pictures.
As you see there are many possibilities.
Then there is storage.
Some people will say they have no problem with storage – indeed, today hard disks for storage or archiving can be found in terra byte volume.
Flickr calculates that 1 tera byte can hold 500.000 pictures
Well, it depends on the picture size of course.

1 tera byte equals 1.000.000 MB , if you take pictures with a 16 MP DSLR, shoot RAW and convert to best quality JPG, and keep both file’s,
lets say 25MB RAW and 15MB JPG – that makes 40MB for one picture – that makes 25.000 pictures.
still a lot of pictures.
But try to find one picture taken a year ago, and you now what your up against !
So, its not only the volume that is a problem.
It’s also the amount of pictures.

Even in the old analog days, when amateurs filled there cabinets with plastic boxes, holding there color slides,
the people were smart enough to label the boxes with occasions and/or dates.
and that was long before the coming of the computer and digital photography.
I hope you get the picture 😉


4 Sep 2014,
Workflow starts in your camera – here you make the first decision : take pictures in JPG or RAW format, or both.
As been said before, this can vary from situation to situation.
This is you’re choice.
Copy from memory card to computer.
Use a structured file copier like DIM 4.0/5.0
and edit the folder names with clear and easy to find tag names.
The trick is to use “tree tag names”
For instance, DIM uses folders with “date tree format” like :
topfolder : 2015
subfolder : 8 (august)
subfolder : 5august2014
complete the last subfolder with “tree tags” like “vacation Bulgaria” – “trip zoo” – “vacation Oslo” – “family bob” ….
Now its easy to enter wild cards in your windows explorer/picture browser,
and find all pictures taken on “vacation” or on a specific vacation, trip’s and so on…

with tree tags you can go further in defining specific events by splitting the folders in occasions.
like :
5september2015_adventure_Dakar -> speaks for itself
5september2015_adventure_Dakar_arrival -> only pictures of arrival at airport
5september2015_adventure_Dakar_hotel -> pictures taken in the hotel
5september2015_adventure_Dakar_jeep_breakdown -> pictures from car breakdown
Afterwards, it will be much easier to find any picture.

Until know, I was only writing about file size and file naming.
But in a workflow many events can take place.
Its possible that you would like to make use of color profiles.
Its also possible that some pictures have to be delivered in a special file format – like for printing purposes ( magazines, local news paper…),
or high resolution.
And don’t forget backup !

Maybe the most important event in a workflow ( certainly for myself ) is when developing pictures from RAW.
RAW isn’t a picture, its information to build a picture.
If you are going to edit pictures, converting RAW to JPG is no option.
You need a loss less format like TIFF.
TIFF file’s can be two to three times bigger than RAW – so, again a storage problem.
That is, if you don’t remove them after editing and converting the end product to JPG.

Unfortunately we all do forget sometimes, don’t have enough time, or any other reason that leaves your folders in an unfinished state.
Afterwards new pictures are copied to the computer, and older folders are neglected or forgotten.

I found the solution for this and many other “developing” problems, in the good old days.
The days I was developing paper pictures in the darkroom.
A picture had to go into different chemicals like developer, stop bath and fixing bath, afterwards it had to be washed to remove the chemicals.
The paper picture, following the developing process, was placed in different (chemical) containers during the process.
So, it was impossible ( or not easy 🙂 ) to forget in witch processing step a picture was – and what the next step was.
I compared these steps – chemical containers – with folders on a computer.
What I did and had put in to my workflow, is that I created “steps” on my computer in the form of folders.
Folders that are temporary “containers” while I am “developing”.

At this stage, and before I go further,
I would like to give some computer tips that can be important to any workflow.

– Don’t use the “pictures” folder on your computer as main storage for all pictures.
Its path is usually very long and not easy to use or type : c:\users\{computername}\Marc\My Pictures\Pictures\…
Use a simple path instead, like : C:\Pictures
It’s also much easier to integrate short and simple paths into your software.

– Use simple path’s for all photographic related folders if possible – even for software.
This is one of the reasons I use portable software, they can easily be installed in the root of the computer, and thereby there explorers have easy access to other folders in that root.

– I use capital letters to easily recognize important folders.

– Use underscore to connect individual folder and file name’s ( PICTURE_ARCHIVING )

Ok now, hoping to make all more clear, now you can see my own workflow in action with pictures and explanation.
It may look complicated if you look at it the first time, but its realy very easy, and in time it can save you from chaos and dissaster.
At the end you only need to remember why I use three folders.
One is for making viewing and sorting much easyer.
The second is to create a folder containing the files ( pictures ) you want to keep,
and also not to forget what project your are working on.
Third folder is the final result and picture archive.

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