About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Canadian Rockies and Image Management Workflow

Two Jacks Lake, Alberta
I love photography in the winter, but enough is enough. I have been taking so many moody achromatic images that I think my sensor has lost its ability to see red. This week however I have escaped the icy grip by going back though my images of the spectacular Canadian Rockies taken in the spring of 2008. It has been great to discover with fresh eyes images that I never got to process. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that there were some keepers still hidden in the pile. I did come back from the trip with over 3000 pictures. As I've been working on these images I have been reminded of two important lessons.

First, although our most recent pictures often seem to have the greatest attraction, it is always good to visit the archives from time to time.

Silverton Falls, Alberta

Sunwapta Falls, Alberta
The second lesson is about the importance of a careful image management workflow. In 2008 my approach was to import the raw images and back them up. (Period) In those days I didn't take the time to input metadata detailing identifying information. Somewhere there is undoubtedly a notebook or slips of paper on which I recorded the locations of images from this trip, but as I worked through them, now nearly three years later, I realized that I was at lost to identify locations. The Canadian Rockies are resplendent with gorgeous mountains and waterfalls, but which is which? Thank god for the internet and guide books helping me solve the mysteries, but this experience, has reinforced the importance of rigorously following my current approach to image management.

The most important thing about image management is to DO IT. Come up with a workflow and follow it faithfully. I little bit of effort now can save a world of aggravation in the years to come. When I come home after shoot I still can't wait to start working on the images, I struggle to resist the temptation to dive right in and first go through my workflow steps. There are as many workflows as there are photographer, but here is my approach - today - I'll probably change it tomorrow:

* First I download my RAW images and then immediately convert them to Adobe DNG. Although DNG probably has an archival advantage over proprietary file formats, my primary reason for converting is that DNG files incorporate the metadata within the image file itself. There are no pesky little sidecar files to try to keep track of and invariably loose. After converting to DNG I move the original RAW files to a separate disk as a backup.

*Next I rename the files using my own numbering format. I simply name each file with the date taken and a number. The date and number format is yymmddxxx. With this convention the files can be ordered chronologically by a simple alphabetical sort. The first image from today would be; 110305001. I presume I will never take more than 1000 images in a day, but who knows. Many photographers include a description of the project in their naming format, but my projects always seems to be "pretty pictures". To each their own.

*At this point I typically GPS label my images. I have a GPS logger that I usually carry with me. I match coordinates with images using GeoSetter (Windows Freeware at http://www.geosetter.de/en/). The program employs Google Maps which can be used to fix locations without a logger. I suspect this step will be done automatically in the camera of the near future.

*Finally I dive into the metadata. I use Adobe Camera RAW to edit the information. I start by placing a copyright announcement and then applying simple titles which include subject and location. I populate the key word section with important search terms. This will always include town, state and season, but I'll also throw in other identifiers such as the names of models, time of day and descriptors of the subject matter (eg barn, road, waterfall, naked lady). I will occasionally add other information in the Description Box, eg contact information, thoughts about the best time of day to come back to reshoot or other critical information such as "poison ivy in the field". This step tends be time consuming, but can be streamlined by batching information entry for similar images.

Thats it.

My trip back to the Rockies has reinforced for me value of careful image management.  There are many solutions to this problem.  I would be interested in hearing about how you deal with the challenge.

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