Digital capture has enabled us to shoot more and more images with fewer constraints, but the payback is often more time spent in front of a computer. As a wedding and portrait photographer who'd rather shoot than tweak digital files, I've found some software that's particularly helpful in speeding along the editing and storing process. . .
I have rediscovered an old editing friend: Photo Mechanic from camerabits.com. Available for Mac and PC, PM was a staple in the newspaper industry, from which I came before moving to documentary wedding photography.
The software's most significant features include enabling you to assign two separate folders in separate locations as you download the files. This process, called ingesting the files, eliminates my having to place a folder of images on a backup hard drive plus it saves me from having to remember to do it.
The software also lets me place caption, copyright, and other data onto the files during this process in IPTC fields helpful during the search and archive functions. As your files grow, these search fields become critical for helping you find specific images for clients and for sharing with wedding vendors, as part of a marketing strategy.
Photo Mechanic is fast, stable, and allows me to edit faster than anything I've used to date. Once my images are copied to the drive, I sort by capture time--remember to synch your cameras!! Then, using the arrow key and number 1 key to color code my select, I move quickly through the take, editing and marking the keepers. I can do the initial edit from 1,000 images in about 45 minutes to an hour. I recommend using the fastest computer you can because it saves precious time.
Once the images are edited and renumbered using Photo Mechanic, I import those edited files into iView Media Pro and create a catalog. For easy viewing, I rebuild the thumbnails to the largest size (640 x 640 pixels).
User friendly, without a steep learning curve, iView let's me create stylish websites and QuickTime slide shows, with cross--platform compatibility. Using Apple's iPhoto, I can make very small slide shows from a wedding and email the couple a sneak peek. iView lets me keep a catalog of each wedding in an easily searchable and viewable manner, and lets me view my 20D RAW files.
I've become a huge RAW advocate since listening to a Seth Resnick presentation recently. He made a clear and convincing case that the quality achieved from a RAW file makes it worth the extra CompactFlash cards and hard drive storage space necessary.
I've started shooting RAW plus small JPEGs and am pleased with the results. I use the RAW files for print orders, album photos, and large wall--size prints. The JPEGs look superb right out of the camera and can be used for slide shows, proof magazines, and 4x6 prints.
I'm excited about the possibility of having great JPEGs for proof prints and retaining the RAW files for final prints and albums. With my Canon 20D, I can shoot in black--and--white mode, and preserve all the color data in the RAW file. It will show up in Photo Mechanic as B&W, and color data will appear when taken into ACR.
Converting RAW files to B&W is easy, whether you use Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop CS2 or another software, such as Canon’s DPP. Since it is a RAW file, you always have the option of presenting it in color, as well.
With ACR, I typically desaturate the image to –100 then tweak the image with various controls in the software. Or I can save a particular setting and use it as a starting point for future conversions. One of my favorite features of the ACR is the vignette, which is under the Lens command in Camera Raw. It saves me the time of running a batch action on the converted files to add a vignette effect.
Make the technology work for you, and you'll be free to shoot.BIO Paul F. Gero (www.paulgero.com), of Ladera Ranch, CA, has had work published in People, US News & World Report, Time, and Sports Illustrated. His images of Pat Tillman, killed in Afghanistan, were shown on ESPN; he documented The Contender, The Apprentice, and Rockstar shows. His book, Digital Wedding Photography, was published in 2004 by Thomson Course Technology.