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How to Edit 500 Pictures in 4 Hours: My Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow

How to Edit 500 Pictures in 4 Hours: My Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow

When I get back from a family vacation, I have piles of laundry and cards full of pictures all vying for my attention. Since we need clean clothing, laundry often wins.  But once the clothes are cleaned and neatly put away in our closets, the real fun begins – organizing and editing photos from the trip.

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After our recent vacation on the cruise ship Allure of the Seas, which took us to the Eastern Caribbean, I went through the same process with my photos as I do after ever vacation.  I always get asked questions on how I get through such large amounts of photos in a timely fashion. Here’s how!

Below I will explain step-by-step how I take 500+ photos off my cameras and in 4-5 hours have them uploaded to Flickr, Facebook and/or my personal Smugmug account.

1. Take CF card out of Canon 5D MKII – attach it to the card reader for my Mac Pro.

 How to Edit 500 Pictures in 4 Hours: My Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow

2. Import photos into Lightroom 3, organized by date and keyword coded for the specific trip.

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3. Take SD card out of Canon G11 point and shoot camera – attach it to the card reader for my Mac Pro.

4. Import photos into Lightroom 3, organized by date and keyword coded for the specific trip.

5. In the Library Module, I do a process of elimination round – I go through every photo, spending 3-5 seconds on each, and decide if I want to keep it.  If I like it, I press the P key (which is the shortcut for setting a PICK), if I do not want to keep it I click the X key (which is the shortcut key for REJECT). From our most recent vacation, I narrowed from 500 down to 330. IMPORTANT: I have the Cap Locks key on. In doing so, it skips ahead to the next photo each time I click the “P” or “X” key.

6. Once I have eliminated rejects I take them out of the catalog. Go under PHOTO – DELETE REJECTED PHOTOS. Then you get this dialog box. You can choose to Delete from Disk which permanently removes them from your computer or Remove which takes them out of this catalog.

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7. Now it is quick editing time.  I don’t usually do full edits in Lightroom since I use actions once in Photoshop. I switch to the Develop Module and work on one photo from each new lighting situation and environment. I adjust the exposure and white balance if needed. If the photo was at a high ISO, I use the noise reduction. I also let it detect my lens using the Lens Correction algorithm. After editing one image, I sync all other similar images, then move to the next one, adjust, then sync. I repeat this until I get through all the photos.

8. Now I export them so I can work in Photoshop CS5.  My process may make some cringe.  If it does, close your eyes.  I do not do the round trip from Lightroom to Photoshop and back to Lightroom. I see value in that however, I just want speed and am not concerned with indexed layered Raw files for vacation and family images.  I firmly believe that neither way is right or wrong – it is situational. Here is what I do. I go to FILE – EXPORT. it brings up the dialog box below. I pick what folder I want them exporting into, I label the subfolder, and I set to 300ppi. I then choose sRGB, JPEG, Quality 100.  You will need to decide if you prefer aRGB or another color space and if you prefer TIFF, JPG, PSD, DNG, etc. The lab I use prints in sRGB, so once in Photoshop I like to be in this color space.  As for file formats, it depends what I am doing, but for most editing, I start with a jpg, and save to other formats, like PSD if I need the layered files for future use.

Screen shot 2011 04 26 at 12.40.14 PM How to Edit 500 Pictures in 4 Hours: My Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow

9. Do you ever love something so much that you wish you were the one who came up with it?  That is how I feel about the product I use in the next step of my editing: AUTOLOADER. No joke, I cannot imagine editing without it. Now that I have you curious, I’ll explain. Autoloader is a Photoshop script. Once you set it up for a specific group of photos, which tells it where to save the photos and what action you want run, it does all the work… ok – most of the work anyway. Imagine this: you press the F5 key. Your first photo pulls up. An action that does everything you possibly wanted done on the photo runs, then it stays open with layers in tact for tweaking, masking or any opacity changes. Once you move a few sliders and make sure the photo is perfect, you click F5 again. The photo saves without you having to do a thing.  The next photo opens. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It keeps doing this until all your photos are edited, even if you need to close Photoshop and come back another day.  It even remembers where you left off.

The SECRET to my fast editing is a combination of AUTOLOADER and my BIG BATCH ACTION This is how I tackle 300+ pictures in record time.

I do one-on-one sessions where I work with photographers on creating their Big Batch Action, since this action is very individual specific. If you are interested, please contact me for more details after reading about it on the MCP Website. If you want to make your own big batch action, you would carefully stack and layer actions.  You would need to take out stops and remember to look for one action having layers that might cover another up. It can be tricky, but if you’re strong in Photoshop, you may be able to do this on your own. No matter what, always make duplicates of the actions before attempting this.

10. Remember at the beginning I mentioned getting them ready and uploaded online? Next step, batch all my photos with an action that adds my frame and logo. Using Photoshop’s image processor, in a few minutes I run every photo through an action I made that resizes and adds my logo in the corner. Then I upload to whatever websites or blogs I desire and I am done.

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pixy4 How to Edit 500 Pictures in 4 Hours: My Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow
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