Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ex 2: Your own workflow - 2

Returning to the topic of workflow, I would like to document a more involved workflow that I am currently following to finalize Assignment 4 of People and Place.  Preparing work for an assignment is one of the more involved photographic tasks that I undertake, although by no means the most complex, that would be publication of a photo-book.

When approaching a photographic project that will span multiple shoots over a period of days or weeks I overlay a second level of workflow:

  1. The shooting workflow is as documented earlier
  2. The first shoot will usually be exploratory, simply a walk around of the subject to understand what the visual options are, taking photographs, but more from a recording point of view, versus an artistic one.  This might include several hundred images (for assignment 4 I shot 280 at this stage)
  3. Reviewing these images I will select themes that might work for the assignment and keep a selection of around 50 (49).
  4. The next 3 or 4 shoots will then target specific themes or areas within the assignment suggested by the first shoot.
  5. Following every shoot I edit the images down to a select group and add them to a Lightroom Collection numbered specifically for that shoot.
  6. After these 3 or 4 shoots I perform a second edit of the images, this time trying to identify from all shoots a short list of photographs that might be selects for the assignment.
  7. Following this stage the next 2 or 3 shoots will be to specifically refine or improve those photographs that I want to include.  At all stages an opportunity might arise that presents a unique image that could be part of the final set.  For assignment 4 of PaP, one of the images in the first exploratory shoot worked so well it made its way into the final collection.
  8. At this stage I will have complete several shoots (8 in this case) and the process moves to the final edit.  For each photograph requested I will ensure that I have 1 or 2 alternates, all will be processed to the same standard.
  9. I will then enlist the critical powers of friends and family to help decide which will be the in the submission set.
  10. At this stage I will finalize the images (12 for As. 4), exporting to 16bit TIFF to import into CS4 for final cropping to print dimensions and printing.  CS4 seems to handle printing better than Lightroom, however, this is virtually the only step I do in Lightroom.
Assignment 4 took me 5 weeks to complete, with 8 separate expeditions into a district of Munich called Haidhausen which I am illustrating for the Assignment.  All toghether I shot 1,166 frames which were edited down to 6 prime and 6 alternate images for submission.  This requires careful workflow.  The final result is illustrated in the screen shot below.  On the left hand side the file manager shows the 8 shoots and then the 3 refinements of all images.

The discussion so far is not really related to the current exercise, but does describe my overall approach to longer assignments.  Exercise 2 asks for a workflow for an open unstructured assignment.  Tonight is a good example of such a thing, it is Halloween and the local kids have been gradually working themselves into a frenzy of anticipation.  Apart from making most of the local kids sick with the amount of candy we have to give away, I plan to make a photographic record of the evening.  My wife is American and grew up with a strong Halloween tradition, last night we had a fun evening carving pumpkins, and so really gets into the spirit of the evening.  This has rubbed off on the local parents and outside our front doors there will be pots of Gluehwine and soup, with most adults congregating for a boozy evening ostensibly to watch over the kids.

This will necessarily be an unpredictable evening, photographing children, even in costume these days, seems to carry a risk that parents assume some kind of intenet perversion will follow.  I don't get it, but aggression seems normal rather than unusual nowadays.  Thus I will have the following potential workflow:
  1. Prepare my camera as I would normally, taking care to ensure that I have plenty of batteries for the flash as this will be needed in the darkness outside.
  2. Select a medium range zoom lens, my 24-70mm f/2.8 is the best choice due to its speed and quality.  The lack of IS should not be an issue as I will be chasing fast moving 6 year olds.
  3. Before doing any shooting check with the parents that they are happy that I am capturing their kids on camera, shouldn't be an issue as I am well known locally
  4. During the shoot I will review with the kids and the adults the shots as I take them as they will be interested in the results
  5. I may also take time to download the images to my workstation during the shoot, that way I can share what I am doing as I go.
  6. I will probably need to use more than 1 card, although I have over 10 8GB cards, they are so inexpensive these days
  7. On editing I will select first the best images into a Quick Collection, but with an eye to making sure that I capture all of the kids, not simply the best photographs.  Here there is an issue of completeness that goes beyond the aesthetics of the images.
  8. The Quick Collection will be saved to a normal Collection and a further edit will reduce the number of images
  9. I will then process the images to create a contact sheet that describes the evenings events - I will post the best images into this blog
  10. The final step will be to share the results with my friends and provide any particularly "cute" images to the associated parent.
Should be fun!

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