Photo Editing Workflow

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Eastern Phoebe
(of the 2 dozen or so photographs I took of this bird, I kept 3)
If you're like me, you'd much rather be out taking pictures than at home in front of your computer editing them. For me, this means two things: 1) get your exposure and composition right in camera as much as possible and 2) get a workflow that allows to store and edit your photos quickly.  Different people have different budgets, different software and different personalities, so there's no one workflow that's perfect for everyone.  But generally speaking, there are some basic steps that ought to be included in any process.  What we want is to get your your photos on your computer, make adjustments to get your photos looking as good as possible, and delete those photos you'll never use.  Believe it or not, that last part is the toughest.

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Eastern Phoebe
(Key Words: FL Locations | Lake Lotus Park | and | Birds | Flycatcher | Eastern Phoebe)
On average I take several hundred photographs on any given morning of taking pictures.  So for me, having a standardized workflow is essential to maintaining a usable library of photographs.  Here's the process I go through using Lightroom CC.  With some modifications, you can make this work with your photo management software as well
  1. I load my photographs onto my computer.   This takes a little bit of time, so if I'm busy, I'll walk away and do something else for a while and come back.
  2. I scroll through every photograph and rate it.  I have a flexible scale for rating photographs between 0 and 5 stars.  A 0 means I won't keep it.  A 1 or 2 means I'm not likely to, but I want to come back to them to be sure.  A 3 means I expect to keep it. A 4 means I will definitely keep it and expect to display it somewhere on line.  A 5 means I will definitely keep it and definitely display it, maybe even print it.
  3. I add keywords to label each photograph I rated.  I give each a keyword for the location and subject.  Since many of my photographs are of birds, I have a hierarchical system.  For instance, under the category "Bird" I have categories for groups of birds, like "Shorebirds."  And inside of that category, I have a keyword for each species, like "Dunlin."
  4. I review/edit photographs rated between 4 and 5.  I want to make these photographs as presentable as possible. Occasionally, I'll think better of my original rating, some 4's may be upgraded to 5 and or demoted to 3.
  5. I review/edit photographs rated between 1 and 3.  Here I'm interested in seeing if there's anything salvageable in these photos.  Some may be upgraded to a 4 so that I'll keep them.  On occasion, I'll also decide to keep a poor photograph simply because it's my first of a particular species, and I'll rate it a 3.
  6. I delete all photographs rated between 0 and 2, and many rated 3.  My goal is to get down to just the photos I intend to use either artistically or for eBird documentation.
  7. I convert all the remaining photographs to DNG files.  These take up less space, and Lightroom can store the edits in the EXIF data of the file.
  8. I move the photos to a portable hard drive and back it up to another drive.  I learned this lesson the hard way.
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Eastern Phoebe
(I gave the first photo a 5 rating, and the second two a 4 rating)
You will likely need to modify this workflow to suit your own software and needs, but this works for me.  What I like about this workflow is that I have many ways to find photographs I want again.  Suppose I remember I took a photograph of an Eastern Phoebe at Lake Lotus Park.  All I have to do is open up Lightroom and filter my keywords to find it.  And because I deleted all my bad photos, I don't have to wade through all my bad photos to find the one that I want.  Or suppose I want to do a presentation of wading birds at Viera Wetlands.  It will be easy for me to find all of my wading bird photos from Viera that I gave a 5 rating.  This simplifies the way I would go about presenting photographs for specific purposes.


  1. Thanks for letting us know about this photo editing workflow that are pretty much effective though outstanding. So we should follow this workflow for saving our time. Thanks once again


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