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Category: Notebook (page 1 of 2)

Revising my Lightroom Workflow

While attending the Adventure Sports Photography Workshop back in September, I realized that I would need to significantly improve my Lightroom workflow if I was really serious of moving my photography from a hobby into a second-career business. I learned much from Dan and Janine Patitucci on how they manage their photography business in this age of social media and ever-growing competition from non-traditional sources.

Keywording

The first area I needed to work on was keywording.  While my photographs all had basic keywords, being successful in today’s world of stock photography requires a good  strategy for keywording.

I did some searching on the Internet and found the Lightroom Keyword Project List.  I downloaded the list and then exported my own keyword list. Working in my favourite text editor (PSPad), I combined the two and re-imported this combined list into Lightroom.  The design of the keyword structure simply requires me to move from the top to the bottom of list, keywording as I go.  My average number of keywords has jumped up considerably and I’m now at or above mytarget of 15 keywords per master photograph.

Workflow

In addition, my overall Lightroom workflow needed work. As a hobbyist, having no differentiation among personal, hobby and potential salable photographs was not a big problem. But looking forward, I knew that I needed to have a way to separate these in Lightroom.  I also needed a better way to manage master photographs within portfolios, especially if the master photographs were processed in other software technologies like OnOne and Nik.

Another Internet search led me to Dan Morris’  Complete Lightroom Workflow post, which met almost of my requirements including keeping all photographs within a single Lightroom catalog. I especially liked Dan’s use of Smart Collections to ensure that master photographs are all properly titled, captioned, geolocated, keyworded and copyrighted. My only significant change to Dan’s system was to assign the Purple color for Hobby Photography.

The Results

I took well over a month to go through my entire Lightroom catalog with the new workflow. Looking at the numbers below, you’ll see why it took so long:

  • Total Photographs: 16222
  • Within Total Photographs: Personal Photographs: 5710, Hobby Photographs: 794, Professional Photographs: 9717
  • Within Professional Photographs: Archive Quality: 3653, Hold Quality: 5839, Master Photograph Quality: 169

The numbers show that I need to take about 100 photographs to get one Master Photograph.

One of the joys of going through my entire portfolio was finding photographs that I passed over at the time.  Now with new tools and a more mature vision for my photography, I was able to bring some of these long-lost photos back to life.  The featured image in this post is a good example: it is from 2007 and a road trip we took to New Mexico.  The bright glow of the white sand desert that I saw when I took the photo really did not come out until I used some of the new processing tools (in this case OnOne Perfect Effects 8).

Camera: Nikon D70s
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX
Focal Length: 200 mm
Exposure: 1/80 sec at f/16
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 200

Processed in Adobe Lightroom 6.5 and OnOne Perfect Effects 8

Gear: Photography Equipment

As Dave duChemin said in a recent blog post:

If we spent more time analyzing our photographs as we did analyzing gear, we’d make much better photographs no matter what that gear is.

How true.

That being said, this photography gear page remains one of the most visited pages on Station Studios.

Digital Single-Lens Cameras

My main DSLR body remains a Nikon D7000 (pictured above). There is a lot to like about this camera, in particular the two user-configurable modes.

For lenses, you will  find one of the following on the D7000:

Robin still uses a Nikon D40x from 2007. The D40x is a relatively small camera which Robin likes and the jpegs straight of the D40X remain in my opinion the nicest of the three Nikons we’ve owned.  Robin also uses a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6G DX ED VR II on the D40X.

Flash Equipment

I’ve recently been more and more interested in expanding my photography skills from using only available light to using flash technology. To that end, I purchased a Nikon Speedlight SB-700 flash unit and a set of Pocket Wizard MiniTT1/FlexTT5 wireless trigger systems. I’ll likely add a second flash very soon to complete my Strobist kit.

Bags and straps

To carry all of this equipment all around, I’m using two camera bags for different purposes:

We’ve both replaced the standard Nikon neck strap with Black Rapid straps. There are a great alternative to traditional camera straps.

Point and Shoot Digital Cameras

We’ve owned a number of smaller digital cameras over the years including a number of Canon SD series cameras. In 2013, I bought a serious new point-and-shoot, a Sony DSC RX-100 and it’s been a great camera for cycling and hiking.

Digital Darkroom

I continue to use Adobe’s Lightroom as my main digital photo editing tool; I’m up to version 6.5. I also purchased the ON1 software suite, including Perfect Effects,  for further processing outisde of Lightroom. I also added the Nik suite of photo editing software when Google made it free in March 2016. I’ve also made good use of a number of Jeffrey Friedl‘s Lightroom plugins, including  Geoencoding  Support and PhotoSafe

In 2014, I bought a new computer (a Dell XPS) specifically for my digital darkroom.  For the display, I purchased a Eizo FlexScan SX2262W color-corrected monitor and Eizo’s EasyPIX monitor calibration system. In early 2016, I added a Wacom Intuos Pro Small Digital Tablet for more precise editing.

Gear: Fitness Devices

Here are my experiences with specific fitness devices as of October 2016:

GPS Watches (Running, Cycling and Hiking)

I started out with the Garmin 305 when I took up running seriously here in Amsterdam.  The 305 was a good runner watch for its time and it helped me train for and run three half-marathons. I ended up killing it during a very rainy training run in 2012 and picked up a 610 to replace it.  The 610 was also pretty solid as a running watch. The major downside of my 610 was the wristband; I like many others managed to rip the anchoring pin through the band itself.  I ordered a replacement but found the 610 design had changed slightly over time and the new band would not fit my older watch.  Some black electrical tape fixed the problem.

In 2015, I started to read more about the new multisport Fenix 3 and thought it would be a good upgrade on the 610.  I’m happy with the Fenix 3 in every way; it’s a very impressive piece of technology and looks good enough to wear for daily use. The management of workouts, the handling of various sports and the increase in precision are all upgrades over previous Garmins.  Even something seeming unimportant as the ability to change the watch face is really well implemented and various 3rd-party developers have produced some beautiful watch faces, giving the Fenix 3 a lot of style. Definitely recommended.

Heart Rate Monitors

Like most users, I started with the chest strap version for measuring heart rate. And like many users, I had a constant battle with chaffing, scratching and communication dropouts.  I finally decided to try an optical HR monitor and haven’t looked back. The Mio works well and has proved very reliable. Its only downside is that its Bluetooth transmission distance is relatively short, so I have to wear it on the same arm as my GPS watch. I’m not going to win any fashion contest this way, but the elimination of my chaffing issues with chest bands makes this a small price to pay.

Handheld GPS Navigators

While I started out using these Garmin units for geocaching, both proved to be equally useful as navigation units for cycling.  Paired with the open-source mapping initiative, OpenFietsMap, these Garmin units will route cyclists on bicycle paths throughout Europe. I’ve always got the Oregon on my Santos when out cycling, and it’s a good geocaching device as well.

Activity Monitors

I got a Fitbit One soon after they came out and found it to be a positive influence on my lifestyle, especially around work.  Paired up with the FitBit app, I found that I could watch my food intake and energy output more directly and made some good strides in getting aspects of my weight under control.

When I unfortunately lost my FitBit in the summer of 2015, I decided to move to the Charge HR, which includes an optical HR monitor.  While I don’t use it during fitness activities, I have found the HR measurement, especially the resting HR calculation to be very valuable to assess my basic health (am I getting sick? have I over-trained?).  I also like the auto-calculation of sleep intervals; it works well and it’s one less thing that I need to remember to start and stop on the FitBit One.  The only downside of the Charge HR was a bit of chaffing on my forearm in the early days, the shorter interval for recharging (the One would get a week or more out of a charge; the Charge HR got 3 days maximum).

In September 2016, I replaced the Charge HR with the brand-new Charge HR2, as I managed to delaminate the Charge HR sensor from its integral wrist band after a year of fulltime use.  I really like the new larger display and the new band attachment system; this should fix the delamination problem.

Software

SportTracks 3 fundamentally changed how I tracked my fitness and outdoor activities.  The ability to analyze the GPS and HR time series captured by GPS watches made detailed analysis of my training very easy. I can also summarize a variety of activities, answering questions like how many cycling trips from Amsterdam and what is the total number of miles I’ve run in a year.

While SportTracks is fundamentally powerful, it is the capability for others to develop plugins that yields some of its most powerful functionality. I use the following plugins almost everytime I used SportTracks:

  • Elevation Correction
  • Calculated Fields
  • Training Load
  • Weather
  • GPS2PowerTrack
  • Dobrou Extensions (stopped working in 2015)

I used Garmin Connect account to manage my Fenix 3. In addition, I have a SportTracks.mobi account to get the workout information from Garmin Connect to SportTracks 3.

Like the Fenix 3, SportTracks gets the highest recommendation from me.

Adventure Sports Workshop Wrap-up

Visit the photo set 2016: Adventure Sport Photography Workshop on Flickr.

It’s been a week and a half since I’ve been home from Viewfinder Center’s Adventure Sports Photography Workshop. The workshop exceeded my expectations in almost every way. Many thanks to Dan and Janine Patitucci, the workshop instructors, and the other five attendees for a great experience.

Although the weather was less than stellar, we did get three shooting sessions in and learned how to make strong images of people in the great outdoors. We spent the rest of the three-day workshop in deep discussions about photography theory, Lightroom, and the complexities of running a photography business in 2016. The experience has really helped to shape my plans of moving Station Studios from a hobby to a second-career business.

Adventure Sports Photography Workshop

I’ve been putting a fair bit of effort in recently to improve my photography. There is a lot you can learn from YouTube but in many ways hands-on workshops are the best. One area of photography I really enjoy is documenting the various cycling and hiking activities I do (like the photo above my sister and her husband hiking near Zermatt).  So when I  saw the announcement of Viewfinder Center’s Adventure Sports Photography Workshop in Switzerland in September 2016 in March, I pulled the trigger.

I’ve been following the workshop’s instructors, Dan and Janine Patitucci, for sometime on Twitter (@patitucciphoto) and have seen several of their workshops come and go over the past few years . With our time in Europe looking like it will come to a close in the next year or so, I figured I better jump in this time.

Two and a half days immersed in outdoor photography is great to start but the workshop location of Kleine Scheidegg at the foot of the Eiger looks spectacular!

I’ve also made a short album on Flickr of my favourite photographs taken while hiking or cycling:

Visit the photo set Outdoor Pursuits on Flickr.

Gear: Santos Travelmaster

Visit the photo set Travelmaster 2.8 Alu on Flickr.

Although I continue to do a lot of cycling these days, I’ve found that my aspirations as a cyclist and my current inventory of bicycles are not necessary aligned. At the beginning of 2012, I had the following bicycles in my collection:

  1. a 1992 Trek 2100 Road Bike
  2. a 2001 Norco Rush Mountain Bike
  3. a 2008 Batavus Blockbuster Dutch City Bike

None of these really fits with the type of riding I am enjoying most these days: long touring rides exemplified by my trips to Marken, Zandvoort, Alphen aan den Rijn and Muiden. So for the last year or so, I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a touring bike to replace my road bike.

I had seen several riders on Santos touring bicycles here in Amsterdam and was intrigued. I visited their website and found that one of their main dealers was De Vakantiefietser here in Amsterdam. Robin and I stopped by the store one Saturday in January 2012 and I tried a whole range of trekking/touring bicycles from Santos, idworx and Koga-Miyata. In the end, I preferred the Santos, especially because it featured the very low maintenance Rohloff/Gates Carbon Belt drive system. In this system, the typical derailleur is replaced by a 14-speed gear system internal to the Rohloff hub and the chain replaced by a carbon-fiber belt. No chain lubing issues and the gears are safely tucked away from rain, dirt and mud.

Setting the Specifications

The staff at De Vakantiefietser took me through a through fitting process to choose the frame size, handlebars and saddle. Finally we spent about 45 minutes at the shop computer selecting the various components. This is what I ended up specifying on my bike:

Travelmaster 2.8 alu Custom-built Gates Carbon Belt Drive-Rohloff

FRAME: Custombuilt Travelmaster 2.8 aluminum, mens 53cm
GROUP: Gates Carbon Belt Drive, Rohloff Speedhub Derailleur 500/14
FRAME COLOUR: Gun Metallic
LETTERING COLOUR: Silver
FRONT FORK: Santos Travelmaster
HEADSET: Santos RVS

***HANDLEBAR & SADDLE***
HANDLE BAR: Trekking
STEM: Aluminum, black, 120mm
GRIPS: Ergon GR2 with bar ends
SADDLE: Brooks B17 Special (replaced the original Terry Liberator in May 2013)
SEATPOST: Santos alu, black

***GEAR SYSTEM***
REAR DERAILLEUR: Rohloff Speedhub Derailleur (14 speed)
CRANK & BRACKET: Truvativ FiveD Crankset
CHAIN: Gates Carbon Belt Drive
PEDALS: Shimano 530 combination pedals (SPD and normal)

***BRAKES***
BRAKES & LEVERS: Magura HS33 hydraulic

*** WHEELS ***
FRONT WHEEL: [28V] handmade with Shimano dynamo hub, black (36g)
REAR WHEEL: [28A] handmade with Rohloff hub (32g)
TIRES:  Schwable Marathon Supreme 42mm

***ACCESSORIES***
LIGHTING: Busch & Muller LED headlight (60 lux) + Spanninga Eclispe LED rearlight
REAR CARRIER: Santos TravelRack black
FRONT CARRIER: Tubus Ergo black
FENDERS: SKS black
LOCK: Axa Defender with anti-theft chip
BELL: Compass bell
KICKSTANDS: Tubus Lowrider front, Pletscher back

The colour scheme is in honour of my Dad’s favourite car: his Nissan 300ZX in gun metal gray and silver lettering.

My order went in on January 14 and the staff at De Vakantiefietser indicated that the delivery time was about six weeks, which was no big deal giving the cold and snowy weather we’ve had the last few weeks. Imagine my surprise when the shop called on February 1 indicating it was ready to be picked up. The weather was poor on the weekend of the 4th and the big Cycle and Hiking Show was the weekend of the 11th so it was the 18th before I could pick it up.

Update: September 2012

I’ve put about 1000 km on the bike and I’m completely satisfied with it. It is much more comfortable than my road bike for long distance cycling. A good example is a metric century ride (100 km) I did to Utrecht  in June 2012.

Further Outfitting

In May 2013, I purchased a number of components in preparation for more long-distance touring:

REAR PANNIERS: Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus
FRONT PANNIERS: Ortlieb Front-Roller Plus
HANDLEBAR BAG: Ortlieb Ultimate 5 L Classic
GPS: Garmin Oregon 450