Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Workflow, part of Enhancing Landscape Photos with Photoshop and Lightroom.
- The title of this movie is Workflow, but of course there's not really any different workflow when you're doing landscape photography versus any other type of photography. I want to mention though, a couple of differences for your in the field workflow. Mostly related to storage. When we go shoot landscape photographs, we're usually going off to some far-flung location where there may or may not be power. And that means one of your first decisions when packing for a landscape shoot is going to be, are you taking a computer? If you are taking a computer, that's going to be more weight, more baggage, more power needs, more worrying about whether your computer's going to get broken.
But it gets you the ability to offload images to your computer. There are two approaches to that. You can either dump your cards to your computer, and then re-use the cards. Or you can dump your cards to the computer, and leave your images on the cards, so that you have basically in-field backup. That's a great advantage. Also, with the computer you get the ability to edit your images while you're in the field. Now I move two minds about that. Partly I feel like, you know what, when you're in the field you should be shooting. You save editing for later. Because they are kind of two different mindsets. And I feel like it's important to stay focused on shooting.
On the other hand, editing in the field can be a real confidence booster. It's nice at the end of the day to look at your stuff. See what worked, what didn't, and if things are going well, you feel like getting out and doing more. If things weren't going well, then you know hey, I need to redo this shot, I should do it while I'm still out here in the middle of nowhere. So those are the advantages and disadvantages of carrying a computer. If you're really going far field, you may be wanting to go ultralight. Maybe you're backpacking, something like that. In which case computer is not practical. Does that mean you have to give up backup? Not necessarily.
I shoot these days with a Fuji X-T2, which has two media slots in it. So I put identical sized cards in both slots, and set the camera to automatically record the same images to both. In my testing, there's no performance hit for doing that. I don't see a decrease in buffer emptying or anything like that. And so I get backup as I go, which is great. If you don't have two slots, or you want that second slot for something else, then consider getting a small, portable, backup device. These are hard drive-based devices that have a media slot, and an operating system of some kind.
They can run off of batteries. They weigh far less than a computer, but they still give you the option to dump your images. You can't edit on them, some of them let you view, some of them don't. But you at least know that you've got some image backup there. My workflow starts in Lightroom. I love the organizational features, it's got a great RAW converter. It's got good image-editing capabilities. And it makes it very easy to launch into Photoshop. I want to talk for a minute about organization. There are lots of different ways to organize your images, and some people get really confounded by this. I use a very simple organizational scheme.
I have these top-level folders. Images, which are my fine art images. That's where most landscape photos are going to end up. Snapshots, which are just that. Snapshots that I've taken with my camera, any number of different cameras that I have, or my cell phone, or whatever. Work, which are basically paying gigs. I have a folder for VR. Lately I've been doing some 360 stuff. I like keeping that separate. Similarly, I have separate folder for time-lapses, because they take up a lot of space. And that's it, that's all that I have at the top of my Lightroom hierarchy. So when I got on a Lightroom, Lightroom, when I go on a landscape shoot, I can come back and know that everything's going into the Images folder.
And inside there, everything is just geography. These are places that I've been and shot, California, Death Valley, England, Kenya, Mexico. I also have some events in here, here's the Mongol Rally, 2013, an event I took part in. Motorcycle rides, any time I take a motorcycle ride, I create a separate folder for that entire ride. I don't mean like a trip to the store, but like a long tour. Inside these folders, it's just time. Lightroom creates these for me automatically. Folders with, based on year, and inside of those, a separate folder for each day.
And that's it. That's my entire organizational scheme. I keyword also, so that it makes it easier to find images, and so that I can create new folders based on keywords. But this is it, and insofar as how I decide to group images when I'm importing. This is important not only because it makes it easier to find things later, but because I don't stress out when I come to sit down at the computer. I see some peoples come and start their workflow, and they go, oh you know, which drive do I put it on, and what folder, and should this go with that or this go with that? And they actually get pretty stressed out right at the beginning of their workflow.
That makes them less inclined to really sit down and commit to doing it, and just generally makes their life less pleasant. So I'm a big proponent of this scheme, of a simple scheme. Because it makes you more inclined to do your post-production work. If you've been finding that you have trouble locating images, or you're hesitant to go work on your images, than maybe your organizational scheme isn't quite right. I've been using this one for years, you might just give it a try.
- Making global adjustments
- Cropping and straightening
- Global tone and color
- Making localized tone and color adjustments in Lightroom
- Moving from Lightroom to Photoshop
- Thinking like a painter