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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tagging and my Photo workflow

This year I've started keywording my photos. Until now, I've simply renamed them upon import, but you can't describe all that much with a filename alone. 

This month I finally broke through the 20,000 photo barrier - that's 20,000 photos that actually mean something to me and are not blurred / underexposed / of nothing in particular. With such a large collection I've grown increasingly aware of how important it is to label them as accurately as possible. For example, a shot of *twinkle* may be called 'twinkle_in_london-1243.jpg' - but it also fits into categories such as 'people' 'family' 'holidays' '2008'. Unless I assign those keywords to it I'll only ever be able to find it with 'twinkle' or 'London'.

Until now it's not really been an issue; I'd either search by filename or simply remember which directory it was in, but as I start to do more with my photos so finding what I'm looking for becomes more difficult - thus my adoption of photo libraries (Lightroom for RAW images, iPhoto for JPEGS) and the adoption of keywording / tagging. 

It was only last autumn that I switched from shooting in JPEG to shooting in RAW, and this of course necessitated a new workflow. It took quite a bit of fine-tuning but I've got it sorted now. It goes like this:

1) Download RAW files from camera using Image Capture. These are kept in their own directory separate from all JPEGS.
2) Rename all RAW files with the excellent Renamer4Mac: I use search and replace, replacing 'DSC' with a name that describes each batch (this means that every photo maintains its original unique number whilst having a descriptive name)
3) Import in batches into Adobe Lightroom. This is the stage at which I assign keywords.
4) Adjust levels etc in Lightroom
5) Export full size JPEGS to iPhoto library
6) Export small JPEGS with watermark for upload to website via FTP, and to Flickr using the amazing Photonic

I really enjoy this process. I love organising, and I love adjusting the levels in Lightroom, (something that any camera that shoots in JPEG does on your behalf).

I've also discovered that when uploading to Flickr, Photonic will automatically convert your keywords into Flickr tags - very handy (except when you inadvertently assign some cat photos the keyword catering). Not only that, but Coppermine (the photo-album database that I use for this website) can also read those tags ...and of course, iPhoto picks them up too. 

I then back up my photos to two external drives and an FTP server (talk about anal...), before formatting the memory card in the camera (not the computer); this helps prevent corruption of future photo files.

This evening when musing over photo tagging, I started to think about how I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find blog posts. With about 750 mumbles in the blogger database, the only tool I have is Google - and that's a bit hit-and-miss. Thus, I've finally decided to start using Blogger's built-in-labels. I've not used them before now as they are not so user friendly when you're publishing on your own FTP server (each label becomes a unique html file which has to be republished every time you use that label, thus one blog could result in (for example) 10 files being published).

So far I've only had time to label this month's mumbles, and I may not bother do the other 700. We'll see.

Oh, and I've re-admitted non-registered commenters to the fold - a review of past comments has showed that the vast majority of anonymous commenters have actually left a lot of very helpful comments, rather than just banging on about how boring the mumble is. 

:-p

Anyway, I'd best be off to bed. It's been a long day.

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