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Workflow is something I’ve paid very little attention to since first picking up a digital camera 8 or so years ago. As I become increasingly trigger-happy however, the necessity of a consistent workflow has finally become apparent. (a quick tip for anyone just starting out – get this done now, as trying to do it several years in is a huge pain in the proverbial!).

When I first made the life-altering(!) decision to switch from a PC to a Mac, I looked for the cheapest photo management programme I could find – at the time, Apple’s Aperture, which was on offer. Since then, I’ve vastly increased the size of 2 separate libraries (desktop and laptop), with no coherent structure. So, I’ve finally bitten the bullet, copied the whole lot from each library to a couple of portable drives, and am looking to start afresh.

Question 1: do I stick with Aperture, and learn how to use it properly? Or do I stick £100 + on my credit card and get Adobe’s Lightroom? Decisions decisions. Google of course provided guidance, as did this chap: http://www.technologyformedia.com/2013/02/13/aperture-vs-lightroom-lightroom-vs-aperture-aperture-4/ Following his advice (and being a bit skint), I’m sticking with Aperture, as I’m familiar with it and I shouldn’t get stuck with a monthly Creative Cloud bill.

Question 2: where do I go from here? The answer, for me, lay in last week’s TWiP podcast. www.thisweekinphoto.com covered workflow in quite some detail. I was most interested in Jay and Varina Patel’s presentations (www.photographybyvarina.com) ; they are adventuring landscape photographers which is an aspiration of mine., and they create some absolutely phenomenal images.

Having taken in quite a lot of information and scaled it back for my own purposes, I’ve come up with an outline plan:

1 Shoot to both card slots, creating 2 of each image.

2 Save my CF or SD card to 2 standalone hard drives.

3 Import each day’s photos in to Aperture, adding keywords to each batch in order that a) I can find them easily afterwards and b) they have as much information as possible in the metadata

4 Skim through each project and give them a star rating. 5* = get it done NOW! 4 or 3* = come back to it later, 2 or 1* = don’t bother, but have a look and work out what you did wrong.

5 This step only comes in if I’ve shot a High Dynamic Range batch of 3 or 5 photos; I’ll drop them in to Photomatix for tonemapping before whisking them over to photoshop. This takes longer than any other step in the workflow, but produces cool images like the one above…

6 Export the 5* images to Photoshop Elements (if needed) and save as full and lower res versions on to both computer and hard drive.

7 Upload to my website a couple at a time, then share throughout the week on a whole bunch of social networking sites.

I’m going to give this a go for a couple of weeks and revise accordingly - stand by for the results!
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