Processing Workflow – The Four Minute Mile

I get many questions and comments regarding processing together with an increasing number of enquiries about tuition. In light of this I felt a brief overview of my processing and persepective might be advantageous.

First and foremost, I am not a Photoshop Expert. If you want to learn to use the full armoury of Photoshop features, there are better places to go. Like many photographers, I probably use less than 10% of the capacity of this software. If however, you like the way I process my images, I’m happy to share those techniques and would direct you to the Learn page here.

Here then is a brief tour of my processing Workflow. It is worth bearing in mind that even when one has learned bad habits, as I have, they may still be simpler (for me) than the ‘right way’.

  • I shoot everything in RAW and Fine jpg.
  • I use a PC for all processing. I build them myself and am comfortable with them. I don’t claim them to be better than Mac’s neither do I see any of the gains that others claim for their Macs.
  • I use Photoshop CC. At the current monthly price of ~£10 I think it represents an almost essential item. I use Lightroom for its management and catalogue features but prefer to process in Photoshop.
  • I ingest using a Lexar USB card reader and manually copy and paste the files from card to PC
  • All files are duplicated and backed up. I back up to a second HD within the PC, an external HD on the desk and to Amazon Cloud.
  • Import all files into Lightroom and have a look through them. I usually add key word tags at this point.
  • Open RAW files in ACR and carry out a fairly route set of corrections at this point including Shadows, Highlights, Colour Temperature, Lens Corrections.
  • Open in Photoshop. At this point I’ll crop ( virtually every portrait format image will be cropped to 5:4) and clean any dust spots that I notice.
  • Depending upon the image I’ll potentially drag a gradient mask over areas to control exposure and dodge/burn to suit my view. If I have darkened the sky, more spots may emerge and I’ll attend to these as I see them.
  • At this point the work might be done or I may add a duplicate layer and use a Raw filter to open again in ACR. This might allow for some local changes to exposure, contrast or saturation and the addition of a vignette.
  • Once back in Photoshop I’ll have a last look at dust spots and perhaps apply some final local exposure changes or sharpening.
  • Finally I’ll save a complete PSD file, a web ready jpeg and a jpeg with a white border for Social Media use.

Any of the above steps may be repeated in the cycle but (referring back to the post title) this process tends to take 4-5 minutes at the outside. There are photographers who spend hundreds of hours processing a  single image – their work is magnificent but I am not one of them.