Thursday, April 21, 2011

Naming Convention for Storage

So, first things first.  The 'before you press the shutter' time.  This is the time you should really have a look through your camera's manual.  Depending on the make of your camera, you should be able to set up your name and copyright info into the camera.  What does this do for you?  It will embed your information into the EXIF data of your images.  Regardless if you are a seasoned pro, or a casual Guy With Camera (GWC), this is always good practice.  Unfortunately as of this writing, Flickr and Facebook strip a fair portion of your EXIF data out so you will have to decide if you want to post your images to places that do this.

So, a little about me and the way I shoot.  I am married.  My wife and I have a networked drive where our images are stored.  She does not have any kind of RAW viewer installed on her machine.  She doesn't want it.  She doesn't care.  She does, however, want to be able to see what is in the image files. I shoot in RAW.  I view and sort using Adobe Bridge.  I process the images that grab me, the ones I like.  Which is maybe 10% of what I shoot if I am lucky.  All of that being said, I found that I could set my camera to take a RAW + small jpg of each file.  This allows me to do what I want and not have to add the human element in to have to remember to convert all of the RAW's into a small jpg.  Done and done.

A little more pre-work.  I have ONE folder that I put all of my photos into.  Really?  Only one?  Yes.  so I know that all of my photos are there and I do not have to go hunting through any storage device to find them all.  I call this folder 'Images'.  In that folder, I have the next set of folders: '2004', '2005', '2006' and so on.  In each year folder I have 12 folders: 01 through 12.  Yes the 0 is important here as it keeps those folders in order.  I am a little OCD that way.

"I have shot a bunch of photos now I am ready to get them into my computer, what do I do"?  Many people use Lightroom to import and handle their images.  I am not that person.  I use the software that came with the camera.  With this software I can operate my camera tethered or for this writing select and download my photos.  I will use the interface to select the photos I wish to load into my computer.  Another interface will come up asking me how I wish to name my images and where I want them stored.  Here is the cool part - today's date is 04-21-2011.  I will browse to the 2011->04 folder in the 'images' folder and press download. Part of the last interface is about the location - here is where I will select 'create new folder' making sure I am in my 2011->04 folder.  I will name this folder '20110421 - "brief description"'.  Now invariably I will have a few one offs that I will have taken through the month.  So in the 2011->04 folder I will also have a folder named '201104' which is the catch all for all of my non-shoot shots. You know, kids, family, dogs...

So, now I have a folder here: Images->2011->04->20110421 - Mary Jones Senior Shoot.  I will now fire up Adobe Bridge.  Direct it to look into that folder.  I can chose to suppress the jpgs to cut out 50% of my culling files.  Under each file, there are five blank stars.  I assign a star level to all of the RAW files I have in there.  I have come up with this system and it works for me: 5 stars = These are the best of the files I just shot. 4 stars = these might be cool, worth another look - likely similar to some of the shots in the 5 star range.  Maybe call them back ups if you will.  3 stars = files that need work - ie, I like the head on this one image, but the body in this one. 1 star = major focus or exposure issues - completely without value.  I do not use 2 stars right now.  I am reserving that one for growth and expansion.  I may need that category some day, I just don't need it now.

Now I will pull in the 5's and work them.  These typically only need minor adjustment.  Levels, curves whatever.  When I am happy with that file, I will "save as"... Now remember, in this file I have all of my original files in RAW (in my case, CR2 as I shoot Canon) and jpg.  When I am saving this file, given that I just edited it in Photoshop, I will save it as a PSD.  I do not have to worry about over writing my similarly names files.  For example, I will have 'img_1234.CR2', 'img_1234.jpg' and now 'img_1234.PSD'.  But now I want to post this to the web and maybe print this...

I handle printing and web posting, as far as naming goes in a very similar manner.  After I have watermarked my images (you do watermark your images that you post on the web, right?), in Photoshop I will use the crop tool.  I will set the size like this: 1024PX on the long side and 683PX on the short side, with 72DPI. I will crop, almost always, the whole photo.  Then I will 'save as' 'img_1234_web' and select jpg then select quality of 12.  Remember, because I have a SOOC shot as a small jpgresized that photo to 72 DPI, I can't print at 72 DPI".  And you would be almost correct. You could, you just really don't want to. I go back through history to just before I cropped the image for web and recrop it for whatever size I want to print this.  I will change the size to 10 IN in the long side and 8 In on the short side, with 300DPI. I will save this as 'img_1234_8x10' and select jpg for file type, 12 for image quality.  If your printing house uses a different file type, by all means save it as that instead.  Want a 4x6 or 5x7, go back and do that.

So now I have in my folder:
Of course, I do not always print all of the files I process and when I do I don't usually print all of the sizes, so I don't always have 3 files for each of the "keepers".

And that is pretty much it.  Feel free to use any or all of my suggestions.  Oh, and for all of you Lightroom People, I have watched a lot of videos on it.  I really like the key wording aspect of it.  I will very likely in the not too distant future start using it.  It is just that every time I have that spare $200 in my pocket, it usually gets sucked into another direction.  One day!

Got a question, leave me a comment.


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