Importing images from the camera to the computer is obviously the first step in the workflow. For this activity I use Adobe Lightroom, which already during importation allows to make automatically some basic adjustments to the RAW files. It also allows to create advanced thumbnails and to add some metadata (eg. copyright). You can also rename files according to your own default criteria and to add them to the Lightroom catalog on your computer, in order to manage your files, selecting the best ones, adding labels and assessments that will become useful in the later stages.
Here is what happens in practice:
After plugging the SD card into your computer (in this case it was a USB key, but it is the same), just click on the button “import” in the “library” module of Adobe Lightroom. You will get a screen like the one above. Select the files you want to import in the catalog (therefore you can already make choices at this stage, discarding those images which you surely don’t need). On the right, in the “file handling” panel select “build previews 1:1” then also “build smart previews” and “don’t import suspected duplicates“.
In the “File renaming” panel of course you can rename files automatically during the import process, from the usual “DSC3483” to a name that makes the more sense for you, such as the capture date followed by a sequential number, such as “2013.05.30-0273” or any other format that’s most suitable to catalog your files. You can also use presets or create new ones at your convenience.
The following panel “Apply During Import” is certainly the most interesting one, because it allows us to make some automatic editing already during the import process. For example, if you generally like to have slightly more saturated colors in your photos or if you want to use a first basic sharpening for all the files that you import then it’s useful to create a preset with adjustments to be applied automatically during this phase. Obviously these adjustments are applied to all files indiscriminately, so you better not over-edit your images in this phase, otherwise you’ll have to correct any overuse later, for each single file, with great loss of time. However, if you know that you always apply the same adjustments to the photos after importation, you might as well add those adjustments automatically already during importation, in order to save a lot of time in the later phases. Another very useful tool in this panel is the one that allows you to add metadata to files during import. Obviously it makes no sense to add too specific tags that may not be suitable for all the photos in a batch but, for example, I find it very useful to add the copyright info at this stage, of course by using a metadata preset already created earlier. This way all files imported will have the copyright tag already properly set , regardless of the fact that they will be used or discarded, and you won’t need to add this tag for each single file later. If you need to import all photos from a same series or with the same subject, you might even add keywords to all files at this stage! A nice time-saver!
The last panel is focused on the destination of the files: this is obviously a personal choice and depends on the way you are used to organize the files on your computer.
After all the settings are configured, if you think this set of settings will be useful again in the future, you can save a importation preset by using the black bar at the bottom of the screen. The next time, you will need just one click to automatically recall all the settings that we’ve covered this far.
You can now click on the “import” button to start importing your selected files.
If you did everything correctly, after a few seconds (or minutes, depending on the number of files to be imported) you will be back to the “library” module in Lightroom with the result of our import, represented in a screen like the following:
Now the pictures are in the Lightroom catalog. From the “Library” module you can make a selection of the best images (pick flag) and a selection of the ones to be discarded (reject flag), which can then be eliminated in just one click. It is also possible to geotag the files by adding their location from the “Map” module, if GPS data are not already present in the raw file. When GPS data are included in the file tags, a small icon appears at the bottom right of the thumbnails in the “library” module. It must be said that geotagging in microstock is not indispensable: however there are some agencies that are able to automatically detect geo-tags from files sent for approval.
At this point there’s nothing else to do than make our selection of best shots and delete the refused files, as you can see on the next screen.
After deleting the rejected files, you will find yourself in the “library” module with your best choices (in this example, only the Brooklyn Bridge image with a strong backlight) to which you have already applied some basic adjustments, such as having them renamed as you like, having them cataloged properly on your computer and having also added the copyright metadata. Now you are ready to move to the first phase of the editing process, which will take place using the “Develop” module in Adobe Lightroom.
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