I’ve been a professional wildlife photographer for the past 10 years, shooting exclusively digital for the past five. I much prefer to spend my time in the fresh air to slaving away in front of the PC.
I shoot mainly stock, for agencies and book projects, but few, if any, are commissioned ahead of time. I pay all expenses up front and trade on my ability to always come back with something saleable. This means I’m always under pressure to get the latest images out to the market quickly.
I’ve always shot RAW, not JPEG, for practical reasons. I shoot from the hip and often risk my life in precarious situations, where worrying about such trivialities as exposure and white balance is far from my mind.
The problem with shooting RAW is the extra time required for the workflow. Early on in my digital life, I struggled with this because the queue of non-processed images grew by the day. I tried different solutions and combinations of software, the end result of which was an increasingly complex workflow.
Two years ago, I started using Pixmantec RawShooter Premium as the hub of my workflow. The big difference was that I could do 90 percent of my processing at the RAW stage of the workflow—as opposed to post-processing TIFF or JPEG files—using one piece of software. The product contains mini applications for downloading images, renaming, cropping, editing, and proofing.
There is a learning curve for all products, and RawShooter Premium is no exception. But after a very short time, it was fully integrated into my daily workflow, whether I’m away or at the office.
RawShooter Premium has a logical and simple workflow. My favorite features, not surprisingly, are the ones that save me the most time. The Downloader application automatically takes the multiple image directories from my portable download device (a JOBO GigaVu Pro) and copies them to a single directory on my hard drive. With a couple of keystrokes it’s done. I can walk away and let it to get on with its business; when I return, I can begin editing.
Edit in an Instant
Wildlife photography is a very competitive business, so I need to ensure that the absolute best image in a sequence is the one I convert and send to a client. This is a vital consideration, because the images I take with my camera, a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, have a default size of 50MB, and can be output as a magazine image or a billboard poster.
RawShooter allows me to quickly find noise-free, razor-sharp files with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get zoom and an application to tile up similar images next to each other to select the best. I used to do this by converting everything to JPEG and using Photoshop to display them, but this was a real time-consuming chore.
Now, I can do the same in RAW—plus give them real punch with an intelligent saturation tool, Vibrance, which mimicks the effects of highly saturated Fuji slide films.
Powerful Business Ally
It would be unfair to claim that RawShooter has made my business more successful. All I can say is that business is booming, new pictures are getting to market within weeks of a shoot finishing, and my images are getting used for bigger, more lucrative projects.
RawShooter has helped me several times this year to get images to clients while I was traveling. One time, I was in Alaska photographing my beloved grizzly bears. Before the trip, a major French magazine client told me that they were about to commission an article on grizzly bears. The decision would be made before my return, but if I could get them some proofs in time I might get the deal.
So, every night, after having the time of my life with the grizzlies, I edited my work using RawShooter Premium. I prioritized the best images, color-corrected them, cropped and rotated as necessary—I’ve never been good at straight horizons!—and created low-res proofs. All I had to do was hook up the satellite phone and transmitting back to the editors in France.
After doing this for five nights, I received an email saying they loved the work and I’d gotten the deal. The only problem was getting hi-res files to them within a week—not something you want to send via sat phone. Fortunately, a plane was arriving the next day. I generated hi-res TIFFs for all the images, burned them to a DVD, and gave them to the pilot, who transmitted them from his home ADSL connection.