Workflow

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Flexibility

Photo Mechanic’s power lies in its flexibility and each user will no doubt use Photo Mechanic in subtly different ways to fit into their own unique workflow needs.

This section will suggest some simple but effective ways to get started and along the way improve the efficiency of your workflow. None of the steps should be construed as ‘must do.' Feel free to adapt, modify, and customize anything you like.

Let’s look at a fairly typical photographic shoot and how Photo Mechanic can help with reducing the time taken to deal with the resulting images.

Real World Example

Weddings

This type of photography probably generates more images in a day that any other photographic job. Some photographers will shoot 2000 images of a single wedding, filling up maybe ten 1 GB cards in the process, using the Large Fine JPEG setting on the camera generating files of maybe about 4 MB each.

The photographer will need to accomplish three main tasks:

  1. Ingest the files from the cards onto a computer and make a safety backup.
  2. Edit the images down to maybe 200 ‘keepers’ and copy these files to a folder for subsequent editing in an external editor.
  3. Upload the images to a web gallery for the client to see and make choices before coming to the studio to make final selections of proofs sheets.

Not every photographer works this way but this step will serve to illustrate a few key concepts.

Ingest

Step one is best accomplished using the Ingest function. But first a few preparations must be made.

Decide where on your computer you want the images to be copied to. You may have a folder called Work in Progress or something similar. Also, and most importantly, you need to consider where you want a backup set of images to be copied to. Ideally this will be to an external hard drive but each has their own way of doing things.

One very effective way is of achieving this to copy onto a harddrive and into folders named DVD1, DVD2 etc. When a folder reaches about 4 GB simply burn it to a DVD and label it with the appropriate number. This means you have a backup copy on a harddrive as well as an off-line mirrored backup on DVD.

Also, you need to decide on a consistent file naming strategy which includes meaningful information in the file name. This makes it much easier to recognize file names from specific shoots much better than the file names generated by the camera. One simple method might be to use the name of the bride, the date and a unique file number. (E.g. jones_01012007_0001.jpg) This is immediately recognizable as being from the Jones wedding on Jan 1st 2007.

Open Photo Mechanic and go to Edit/Preferences. In the General tab set ‘On Start Up’ to ‘do nothing’ and ‘On Mount of Card’ to ‘Show Ingest Dialog’. Now, when a card is mounted the Ingest dialog will start up automatically.

Open the IPTC Stationery Pad dialog and enter the details of the shoot. Make sure you enter your name as credit, your Copyright label, the date of the wedding, the location and the names of the bride and groom in the Caption field. Remember to make sure the check boxes next to any info you want to use are checked.

It would also be useful to add the bride’s maiden name into the category or keyword field. Later, if you use a separate cataloging program, it will be easy to search on this name to find all the images from that particular wedding. If your company shoots more than one wedding, or portrait session, on the same day, then searching on the date AND the surname will find you the correct images. If you use internal Job numbers the category field could be a good field to use too.

Close the IPTC Stationery Pad: all the settings will be kept and will be applied to files when needed.

Insert a card into the computer or card reader, this should trigger the Ingest Dialog to appear. There is an option in Preferences, (Launching) to tell Image Capture to launch Photo Mechanic when a card is inserted. (See how to Configure Image Capture manually)

Normally you will want to copy all the images off the cards, so the option to copy from specific folders is not so important in this example. Select the card from the list in the Source Disk list.

Now choose the Source Directory Structure as ‘ignore : copy all photos’. This simply copies all the files, regardless of location on the card, into the destination folder.

For Copy Photos choose ‘into folder with name’. Type the name of the bride into the text box. This will result in the files being copied to the Primary and Secondary Destinations into a folder named, in our example, Jones.

Choose a Primary Destination and a Secondary Destination with the top right option buttons. You will need to check the Secondary checkbox to activate the Secondary button.

Check Apply IPTC Stationery Pad to add the data you set previously to each file as it is copied.

Check ‘Rename Ingested Photos As’ and type this into the text box: jones_{date}_{seqn}

You can select {date} and {seqn} from the variables list by opening the Variables list (button in the lower left corner) and double clicking the Variable you want. Click on the “Set {seqn} var...” button and type 0001 into the text box and click OK. This sets the initial number of the numbering sequence and by adding three leading zeroes Photo Mechanic can increment the file number from 0001 to 9999 which is plenty for this example.

Check the ‘Open Contact Sheet during Ingest’ box to generate a Contact Sheet of all the Ingested images during the ingest process. You can work in the Contact Sheet and Preview windows even while Photo Mechanic is Ingesting so you can view and edit your images right away.

Check the ‘Unmount Source Disk after Ingest’ box.

Click ‘Ingest’ and files will be copied to your computer. Once the first card is completed, it will be unmounted and can be removed. Insert a second card and the Ingest Dialog will reappear. All the settings will be the same as before, and the file sequence number will be set to where it left off during the last Ingest, i.e. if you ingested 100 files, the {seqn} variable number will be on 0101.

Click ‘Ingest’ again and the next batch of images will be copied, backed up and added to the open Contact Sheet.

When all the cards are finished you now have all the images mirrored in two places, all renamed and with accurate metadata added for future cataloging.

Editing

Now all the images are copied and backed up you can start editing them; in fact you can start this process before the Ingest is finished since Photo Mechanic allows full use of the Contact Sheet view and Preview during the Ingest process. On the Ingest dialog there is an option to ‘Open Contact Sheet during Ingest’.

For quick editing double-click the first image in the Contact Sheet to open it in the Preview window. Press F to show it full screen and press Z to toggle between full image and zoomed in. (The ⌘-click zoom function is very useful here too.)

Use the left and right arrow keys to step through the images one at a time.

As you view the images and decide whether the image is worthy or not press T to tag the image with a tick in the box in the lower right hand corner. This marks the image as a ’possible’.

Go through all the images in this way, tagging ones that are worthy in some way. When you have finished, press ‘Esc’ to shut down the Preview window and return to the Contact Sheet. Press F3 and all the untagged images will disappear leaving behind the ones you tagged. Select All (⌘-A) and use the Copy command to copy all the tagged images to a new folder named something like ‘Final’ or ‘Keepers’.

You could get more sophisticated by using the Color Classes to whittle the whole collection down to the amount you want to present to the client.

Presenting

Once you have settled on your final selection press ⌘-A to ‘Select All’. Then choose File/Export. Pick a layout for your webpages: see Export for details.

This gallery could be uploaded to your website for the bride and groom to view.

So, to summarize, we have copied all the cards quickly and easily. The settings for Ingest and IPTC Stationery Pad needed only to be set once for this shoot, no matter how many cards were filled or how many images were shot. If two photographers were covering the wedding Photo Mechanic can keep the images separate based on the photographer’s name set in each camera (see your camera manual for this). This is the {owner} or {user} variable.

The images were edited quickly and easily using the simple tagging system built into Photo Mechanic. For more sophisticated edits we could have used Color Classes to separate the images into up to 8 different color classes. Or we could have used the 5-star ranking system.

Once edited, the images were uploaded for viewing but they could also have been Saved As JPEGs of a different size of they could have been FTP transmitted to a client’s server for viewing.

Photo Mechanic offers enough options for any photographer to customize their workflow to suit their needs.