Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Bottle of Beer?

For quite a while now I have been a fan of Magda Indigo's work. I just love her latest posting on URBAN ART rather than ANGER?. It certainly goes "beyond the obvious".

Urban Art
(by Magda Indigo)

As good photography should - it makes you confront your pre-conceptions. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Digital Photography Workflow Part 2 (Processing)

In Part1 I covered capture and getting the images on to the PC

Having downloaded all my files to my PC, Downloader Pro then launches straight into Breezebrowser Pro for the initial sort out of images. Breezebrowser Pro is a great tool for handling batches of raw images, it makes it easy to email proofs, generate webpages, edit metadata and sift through a group of images in slideshow mode.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

The first thing to do with my images is to delete the duff shots from the shoot. First I check that BBPro is in the "High Quality" mode (Ctrl+Q) which applies screen sharpening to each image which makes it very easy to see the sharpness of an image.

I then select all the images in the shoot (Ctrl+A) and display them as a slideshow (Ctrl+S). I move through the slide show using the right arrow key and tagging any images for deletion using the up arrow key. At the end of the slideshow I select only the tagged items (f6) and send them to the recycle bin (del).

The number of images I delete on this first pass varies with the type of shoot: on a carefully measured landscape shoot there would only be one or two deletions but if I was trying to shoot dogs running about on a windswept beach over half the shots can be rejects due to the conditions and the models not being too co-operative!

The reason that I can be quite harsh with these deletions is that my download procedures make sure I always have a backup of every image. If I delete an image then the backup becomes the only copy of the image, so that’s why I use the recycle bin – just in case I decide that I shouldn’t have deleted it.

Deciding what to process

I could use the built in raw converter in BBPro or the converter built into Photoshop – both of which could be started automatically from BBPro but unfortunately I find that Capture One (from Phase One) produces the best results. The current version of Capture One doesn’t support a way to start it in a particular directory, so I have to start C1 and then navigate to the right directory and file to do my more detailed viewing and raw processing.

I now use the full screen view in C1 to work through the images tagging those which will be worth running through the raw converter.

Processing in C1

The raw processing in Capture One consists of the following:

  • Adjusting the White Balance
  • Adjusting the Exposure
  • Outputting as a 16bit tiff

The processed file then opens automatically in Photoshop.I won’t detail the whole process as Keith Henson has done a great job in his Capture One Tutorial.


The first job in Photoshop is to view the image at 100% and clone out any dust spots using either the clone tool or the spot healing brush tool.

Usually I like to keep my images close to what comes out of the raw convertor but the extra processing depends on the images but may consist of:

All adjustments are done on layers then the image is saved back to the tiffs sub directory.

For security, all the files mentioned in this part of the workflow (raw, tiffs & web-ready) are backed-up using the Microsoft Synctoy tool, which is set to backup the machine from a scheduled batch file.

In part 3 I will be cover Outputting the image to web and print.

If you are getting a sense of Deja-vue that is because this blog was originally in the Articles section of the site...but I'm having a tidy up!

My Workflow

Monday, 23 April 2007

Digital Photography Workflow part 1 (capture)

"What’s that you are reading?"

"The DAM Book"
"Charming! I only asked!"

Be prepared for this conversation if you read the highly recommended "The DAM Book" by Peter Krogh, but it's worth it.

So what is DAM?

DAM stands for Digital Asset Management, which means managing your images so that you can find your images easily and they are backed up properly, which will ensure you won't loose them in event of a hardware, software or user error. In order to achieve this you need to have a well thought out workflow that you stick to consistently.

A workflow is the series of processes you go through to handle your images. A comprehensive workflow covers everything from downloading from the cards, through sorting, indexing and classifying, raw conversion, Photoshop work, archiving and backup.

The DAM Book provides a complete working and proven workflow based on the Adobe Bridge product (which comes as part of Photoshop CS2), Adobe DNG and iView Media Pro plus some other bits and pieces downloadable from its own website. Even if you don't use the flow described in the book it is a great tool for reassessing how you handle your images.

Reading the book made me decide to re-plan and document my own workflow. So I thought I would share it with my readers. This article describes the very first part of the workflow – Capture and download.


I shoot on a canon 20D using the raw file format. There are many reasons for using raw which have been detailed in articles such as this one. Two reasons draw me to this way of shooting,: the first is being able to deal with white balance problems easily and the second is that using a good raw processor like Capture 1 allows you to replicate the traditional processes of printing an image, minimising the amount of correction required in Photoshop. For me, the more I get an image right in the camera (and the raw processor) the more I like it.

CF CardsI use 512Mb Compact flash cards, which seem incredibly small and cheap in these days of 8GB cards. There are a couple of reasons for using smaller cards:

  • A 512mb card fits neatly on to a CD which makes backing them up a doodle, by the time I buy my next camera I expect sensors to be up to 20+ megapixel sizes at which point 4GB cards and DVDs might be a good pairing.
  • I get 50ish raw files onto one card, which is about the maximum number of images I could bear to lose in one go should I drop it in the sea, a lake, a washing machine, a volcano, etc, etc.

I store the cards in Jessops media cases, which hold 4 cards at a time and provide them with a degree of shock proofing. I know it's not the most original system in the world but I keep track of which ones have been used, by keeping empty cards face up & shot cards face down. I always reformat cards every time I put them into the camera in an effort to reduce the possibility of file system problems on the card.

Numbering the cards helps to identify if there are any recurring problems with a particular card or not.

On returning from the shoot my workflow depends on if I am back at base or not.

Normal workflow

On returning from a shoot, I use a card reader to download the images to my laptop using Downloader Pro. See this Blog for more details on setting up Downloader pro and the Controlled Vocabulary. I have this, deceptively easy to use bit of software setup to completely automate the download part of my workflow:

  • Files are copied into a directory within my working area which is named based on the year and month. i.e.: C:\Working\200611_Nov\04Nov06\Raw - where:
    • "C:\Working" is my working directory
    • "200611_Nov" is a directory for nov 2006-11-04
    • "04Nov06" this is the actual date of the shoot
    • "Raw" indicates that these are the raw files.

  • Files are renamed based on the original name, job code and date i.e.: CS20061104-IMG_0123_Epping Forest.cr2 - where:
    • "CS" are my initials
    • "20061104" is the date in YYYYMMDD format
    • "IMG_0123" is the original file name

  • 2 directories are created at the same level as the "RAW" directory. These are:
    • "Tiff" - for files converted from raw
    • "WebReady" - for files converted too web proofing size.

  • IPTC/XMP data is added to each file automatically adding creator, copyright, contact info, keywords & location etc to every file.

  • Files are automatically copied, across the network, to a second PC (my file server) to ensure I have a backup of every image.
  • When the download is complete the card is completely erased ready for reuse.

Amazingly it does all this automatically when I insert a card in to the card reader. At some point in the future I may take advantage of downloader pros ability to automatically generate DNG files, but at the moment I don't feel DNG fits into my workflow very well.

Now the images are ready for rating and raw conversion as detailed in part 2.

On-Location Workflow

The normal workflow relies on a network file server to provide a backup of all the images downloaded. This is not possible when I am away from base and simply download all the files to my laptop is not a secure option because the laptop could crash or be stolen and I would lose an entire expeditions work.

Instead I use a digimagic CD writer to duplicate each card to CD. Spindles of CD-Rs are very cheap these days and provide an ideal backup medium. I then load from the CD into the laptop using Downloader Pro which does all the renaming/directory creation as detailed in the normal process. This way I can be sure that not only do I have a backup but that backup works!

On returning I use the Microsoft Sync-toy to duplicate the working directory back to the file server.

In part 2, I will detail the process of sorting the wheat from the chaff and converting raw files into a usable format.

If you are getting a sense of Deja-vue that is because this blog was originally in the Articles section of the site...but I'm having a tidy up!

My Workflow

Thursday, 19 April 2007 gets started

Over at Joe has got galleries with paging working...hurrah!

Why not take a look at the site, it looks like it will develop into a very useful resource.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Holding your first Photography Exhibition

I'm still spring cleaning the site and migrating the articles section of the site into this here blog malarkey. So I though I would point you all in the direction of an article I wrote three yeas ago.

Setting up an Exhibition gives a few pointers on setting up your first exhibition. Since that first exhibition I have become quite practised at putting on exhibitions. Reading it again I still feel it offers some useful advice that you rarely see on any of the photography sites on the web.

Bluebell Stripes
(A popular Exhibition Shot)

I hope it is of interest and to borrow a line from my own article:
If you are thinking of putting on an exhibition then go for it, you won’t regret it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

ECommerce sites with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and the PayPal Shopping cart..continued

Those of you who are interested in Lightroom web templates (and there does seem to be an awful lot of you) will be pleased to know that I have extended the template to add two new features:

  • Sequential numbering for each item.
  • Next & Previous buttons for each image allowing users to easily page through.
Install instructions are the same as for the previous version except you will need to download this new version of the file from here:

I will be leaving each of the different versions available so that you can see how each of the elements was added to the template. hopefully this will help people develp their own versions.

I am currently working on getting paging working.

Things I have yet to work out is how to get keywords & descriptions in to the source xml.

After that I will look at how to get settings in to the lightroom panels...still a long way to go.

Related Posts

Monday, 16 April 2007

Thanks Ron!

According to my feedburner stats, I suddenly have a load of subscribers to my blog feed. This seems mainly due to my recent articles covering Lightroom, iView media Pro and Controlled Vocabulary. So a big hello everyone and a quick warning: Not everything here is about software. I tend to jump around subjects (within photography) in my blog, so if you don't like one blog, hopefully something better will be along soon.

In his great series of blogs on the seven deadly sins of photography David Toyne describes his first encounter with a professional photographer and it wasn;'t a good one. By contrast I have always found the serious amateur/professional photographers I have met, (or contacted by email) have, without exception been extremely friendly and helpful. For example: Paul Indigo and Keith Henson are a credit to their profession, in the way they were happy to discuss any part of the photographic process with me - for which I thank them both.

Many years back now my very first encounter, with a proper photographer was a chat to Ron Tier at one of his exhibitions. Now, Ron's name is usually followed by more letters than a postman running from an angry dog, yet still he took the time to talk to a complete novice like me and even pass on a tip or two. I doubt he remembers the encounter...but I do!

First Train
Ron Tear, ARPS, MPAGB, BPE3*, PSA3*

Time passes and my photography has moves on and I find myself (virtually) bumping into Ron on Ephotozine and then later I met both Ron and his lovely wife Maggie at Harlow Photographic Society.

One day recently I spoke to Ron about a picture of his that I have always liked and next thing I know he has given me a print of it...what amazing generosity! So I feel it is the least I can do to point my many readers in the direction of Ron & Maggies website so you can all enjoy their terrific images.

One word of warning though: Ron uses "film" for those of you not familiar with "film" it's very similar to ordinary photography don't be scared.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Creating an ECommerce site using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and the PayPal Shopping cart

In my previous post I covered what I have learned so far about Adobe Lightroom Web Gallery Templates.

Using what I have learnt so far I have created a template for web-gallerys that uses the paypal shopping cart. It's far from perfect..but I intend to re-visit the issues when I get a chance, and others might be able to progress things faster than me.

To use the template:

1. Download the file.

2. Unzip it to the Web Galleries folder (by default you don't have one so you will need to create it):
  • On Mac, <your home directory>/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Web Galleries/.
  • On Windows, put the gallery in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries.

On a PC the Application Data directory is hidden so you will need to enable "show hidden folders" before you can browse to it.

3. Edit the transformer.xslt file:

near the top you will find a section that looks like this:

<!-- paypal Settings -->
<xsl:variable name="PayPalAccount"></xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="ReturnScreen"></xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="CancelScreen"></xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="CurrencyCode">GBP</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="CurrencySymbol">&pound;</xsl:variable>

<!-- Individual Sale Items -->
<xsl:variable name="Item1Description">10&quot;x20" Print</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item1CodeNo">100</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item1Price">150</xsl:variable>

<xsl:variable name="Item2Description">11&quot;x22" Print</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item2CodeNo">101</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item2Price">155</xsl:variable>

<xsl:variable name="Item3Description">10&quot;x20" Print framed</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item3CodeNo">102</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item3Price">150</xsl:variable>

<xsl:variable name="Item4Description">11&quot;x22" Print framed</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item4CodeNo">103</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="Item4Price">155</xsl:variable>

You need to change the values between <> and <> on each line to reflect your settings.

The Settings:

Setting Current Value Description
PayPalAccount Your paypal account ID
ReturnScreen URL to return to after a succesful purchase
CancelScreen URL to return to after the user has pressed cancel
CurrencySymbol &pound; Currency symbol in HTML (£ = &amp;pound;, $ = $ € = €)
CurrencyCode GBP Currency code (GBP = pounds, USD = dollars, etc )
Item1Description 10&quot;x20" Print Description of first item type you sell
Item1CodeNo 100 A code number for this item if you have one
Item1Price 150 Price for item 1
Item2Description 11&quot;x22" Print Description of second item type you sell
Item2CodeNo 101 A code number for this item if you have one
Item2Price 155 Price for item 2
Item3Description 10&quot;x20" Print framed Description of third item type you sell
Item3CodeNo 102 A code number for this item if you have one
Item3Price 150 Price for item 3
Item4Description 11&quot;x22" Print framed Description of fourth item type you sell
Item4CodeNo 103 A code number for this item if you have one
Item4Price 155 Price for item 4

Having made all the changes, save the file.

4. Now use the new template

In Lightroom generate the web site using the new Paypal Template.


As I said it's not perfect yet but hopefully it will give those of you who wish to dabble, something to dabble with.

Update 16 April 2007

Improved version with forward and back buttons added.

Related Posts

Friday, 13 April 2007

Creating Web Gallery Templates for Lightroom

I have started looking at the process for creating your own custom HTML web galleries in Lightroom and I thought I would pass on what I have learnt so far.

1. There ain't much documentation out there.

For a flagship product like Lightroom Adobe seem to have been particularly tardy in providing the documentation as to how to create your own web galleries. The entire total of what I have found is this:
2. Getting Started

Check you have a Web Galleries folder (by default you don't) so you will need to create it:

  • On Mac, <your home directory>/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Web Galleries/.
  • On Windows, put the gallery in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries.
On a PC the Application Data directory is hidden so you will need to enable "show hidden folders" before you can browse to it.

Download the demo template from here:

Unzip the file into the web galleries folder you just created.

If you now open Lightroom and go to the Web module, you should see this available as a new option:

Now close Lightroom as it caches the web templates so you won’t see them unless you close and reopen them.

3. Create your own web Gallery

Copy the example folder in Web Galleries and give it a new name.

Now open the galleryMaker.xml file and edit the values in the <galleryInfo> section to describe your template (unless you change these values Lightroom won’t detect your new template):

Original version
<amg ver="0.5" />
<thumbnail path="preview.jpg" />
<galleryName>Demo Template</galleryName>
<gallerVersion ver="1.0" />
<livePreview enabled="yes" />
<creator company="Adobe Systems, Inc." designer="Adobe Lightroom Engineering" />
<category>Web photo gallery</category>

My Version

<amg ver="0.5" />
<thumbnail path="preview.jpg" />
<galleryName>PayPal Template</galleryName>
<gallerVersion ver="1.0" />
<livePreview enabled="yes" />
<creator company="" />
<category>Web photo gallery</category>

Start Lightroom and you should now see your new template in the available list.

Once again close Lightroom.Edit the GalleryMaker.xml file to Generate the output sizes you need.

For my templates I wanted both thumbnails & large images so I changed the <sizes> section from this:

<size height="130" name="thumb" width="130" />

To this:

<size height="130" name="thumb" width="130" />
<size height="500" name="full" width="500" />

Though you might want loads of options - like this:

<size name="thumb" width="160" height="120" />
<size name="small" width="640" height="480" />
<size name="medium" width="880" height="660" />
<size name="large" width="1024" height="768" />
<size name="video" width="400" height="300" fps="30">

Open Lightroom and Export the web gallery to a new directory. If you open this directory you should see contents similar to this:

In the main directory are the index.html and individual html documents for each image. The thumbnail images have been created in the images/thumb directory and the larger images are in images/full.

4.Edit the transformer.xslt file

The transformer.xslt file is an XSLT template that you use to transform the XML in source.xml into XHTML files. If you didn't understand that last sentence you are in for quite a rough ride and it might be worth looking through some tutorials on XSLT now.

Some things I have learnt about the transformer.xslt file are:
  • It does not support the <xsl:include> tag so you have to put everything in the same file.
  • If you have any errors in your transformer.xslt file then Lightroom will just not generate the file…no error messages, no logs nothing.
  • A good XSLT tool like Stylus Studio makes developing the pages considerably easier.

Some things I have still to work out are:
  • How to implement multiple index pages
  • How to get resource files (css/buttons/graphics) copied to the new directory
  • Why Adobe picked quite such a complicated way of doing things.

Next blog I will be posting my first go at integrating Paypal and Lightroom Web-Galleries. This will include example download files for you to use.

I hope this posting has been of use, please feel free to add a comment if this has helped you or if you have discovered anymore information.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Using The Controlled Vocabulary with Downloader Pro - Part 2 (usage)

In Part 1 I discussed how to set-up Downloader Pro and The Controlled Vocabulary Keyword Catalogue to enable easy file management and downloading. So now we have set it up, how do we go about using it.

Insert a Card in your Cardreader.

Once Downloader Pro has been setup to detect card events, inserting a card with images on will automatically fire you into Downloader Pro. If you have the option to prompt for job-code set then the first dialogue will prompt for job-code:

Enter a descriptive job-code or select a previously used one from the dropdown and click OK. Next you will be prompted for the metadata and the dialogue will appear, prefilled with the entries you added during the setup.

Click on the Keywords tab, here you can enter keywords separated by commas. To use the Controlled Vocabulary click on the catalogue button.

You can either browse the catalogue using the tree view or just enter a search string and click find. For example entering "beach" returns two possible results:

Select the ones you want and click OK. Repeat this process bringing in all the keywords that apply to your set of images.

Note: that some terms or phrases are in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and may not make much sense as keywords by themselves. These terms are needed in order to create a branch under which other terms may be grouped. However, once you have pulled them into the BreezeBrowser list, they have served their purpose and can be removed from the list.

Once you have added all the keywords you need then clicking OK will bring you to the automation dialogue.
Click Yes and everything happens by magic! Files are downloaded, renamed, keyworded, backed-up , metadata added, directories created and the card deleted..all in one little measure - marvellous!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Using The Controlled Vocabulary with Downloader Pro - Part 1 (Setup)

I am still investigating using the controlled vocabulary when keywording images. David Riecks at has produced a controlled vocabulary keyword catalogue, which is a great basis for a structured keywording of files and now the new version of Downloader Pro integrates with the controlled vocabulary keyword catalogue. This blog is the first part of a 2 part blog showing how to use downloader pro and Controlled Vocalbulary to manage your images. This first blog covers the set-up of the programs which you should only have to do once and the second covers day to day usage.

Downloader Pro is a great tool for downloading images from a memory card - the main benefits I get out of using it are:
  • Intelligent File Renaming based on attributes in the file.
  • Intelligent directory creation based attributes in the files.
  • Supporting directory creation (../Tiffs,../Webready) to improve workflow
  • Immediate backup of every document to a different drive
  • Bulk keywording and metadata.
Of these keywording and metadata are one of the most neglected areas for most photographers. The download process is one of the most useful times to apply metadata to your images as this bulk information will usually apply to a whole shoot and stay with the images throughout your workflow.

Installing the CVKC

1. Order the Controlled Vocabulary Keyword Catalogue.
2.Download the breezebrowser zip file:
3. Unzip
4. From the downloaded files copy cvkcv3_0.txt into the Downloader Pro program directory (usually C:\Program Files\BreezeSys\Downloader Pro), replacing the Keywords.txt file that is there already.

Set up your Downloader Pro configuration

Run Downloader Pro and Select File>Preferences and on the Download Path tab you can use the {tags} to allow files to be renamed in whatever way you like and placed in named directories according to your preferred naming scheme. if you use the {J tag and select "Prompt for Job code every time Downloader Pro is run, the system will request a name/code for each batch of pictures you download and build them into the naming of the files.

On the general tab make sure you check "Add ITPC/XMP data to downloaded images" and "prompt for ITPC/XMP data every time Downloader pro is run. The first means that your standard metadata will be written to the files as you download. The second means that you can change this each time you download.

On Automation tab it is best to check all the options so that downloading is completely automated.
Setup the custom button for your preferred software for browsing the downloaded images, In my case I use Breezebrowser which makes things quite simple:

On the plug-in screen I have 2 plug-ins enabled , director maker and Backup.Backup is configured to automatically copy every downloaded image to a second disk drive whilst the directory maker is set to create the directories that support my workflow.

Setup your default metadata

One of the clever things with Downloader pro is that the {tags} can be used all over the program and they really come in handy when configuring your standard metadata. On the Origin Tab I use {tags} to set the date & time correctly and enter the standard origin information I want to write to every file:

My contact information stays the same from one day to the next , so again this is set for all images: The Caption information can be defaulted as well - here I have used the {J} tag to render the job-code into every image.
Now we are all set-up and ready to go. In part 2 I will take you through the actual download process I use on a daily basis.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

About Time!

Regular readers will know that I have been spending quite a lot of time sorting out my workflow and the software associated with it. Now that most of the software and processes are sorted, I suppose its time to start actually using them.

So I have finally got round to uploading my Portfolio for 2006 (and a tiny bit of 2007). I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed making them.

A Bit Moore

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Chris Herring is photographer of the month for April

Chris Herring is a landscape photographer who captures the beauty of Britain in its many moods. Visit his website to see some great landscape photography.

Happisburgh Lighthouse
Chris Herring