How many times have you felt overwhelmed by the accumulation of photos that you've got building up -not really in order- on your hard drive? If you want to put a bit of order to your digital Lomography files and have your life made easier by labelling, why not create your own digital work flow?
All of us who have spent time in the world of digital photography know the chaos involved in organising, touching up and selecting our photos having accumulated hundreds of them after a session. Sooner or later it becomes necessary to apply a certain order, a work flow, which allows us to work with such a lot of information. And to make life easier there are several IT tools specifically designed for just that: classify, label, search, process in batch…
I think that perhaps not all, but almost all lomographers, digitalise their pictures so they can share them and work with them. The programs that I’m talking about will also be useful for our ever growing lomography catalogue. It’s true that (at least in my case) the analogue photos are not produced at the same rate as the digital ones. But after some time we’re going to have a decent amount which will start to give us a headache every time we go to look for something if it hasn’t been organised properly.
Under the name “digital development programs” we find applications that cover all stages of the process:
- Importing images and classifying them into a library, assigning labels and tags. This is vital so we can find them months or years later.
- “Development” of the pictures: cropping, rotating, adjusting exposure and colour, noise reduction as well as many other features depending on the program.
- Exporting the photographs with the desired format, adjustments and locations.
Among the most common are Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Mac and PC), Apple Aperture (Mac only) or Capture One (Mac and PC). Since I use Lightroom I will use it as an example, although any of the programs available have similar functions. Let’s look step by step at a situation in which we can use them.
The first thing we have to decide is whether we want our catalogue to contain small or medium sized images or high resolution images. With the first option the files occupy much less space although they are sufficient to be uploaded to the Internet, share them via email or make small printouts. If we go for the second option, (scanning the negatives at 1200 DPI or more, and with 24 or 48 bit colour depth), we need much more hard-drive space, but we do get the added peace of mind of having a high quality copy, just in case our negatives fall foul of fire, flooding, hyperactive children or any other natural danger.
Once we’ve scanned the photos to the hard drive (or from the lab CD) we import them from the program to the catalogue. This is a good time to assign common labels to the photos such as the camera used and film used as well as the location.
Ah, the labels! Where would we be without them? They tell us how much things cost, how to wash our clothes, and give us info on our photos. A well labelled photo is easy to find. Photos that are not assigned information will end up hopelessly forgotten. Believe me I know. As much information as possible should be added: location, season, predominant colour, whether it is cross processed, camera accessories and any corresponding experiences. Nothing is left out. Also just copying and pasting these labels will be enough to label the photos at our LomoHome.
And in the case of cameras that are not automatic, such as the Diana F+, I personally like to add the exposure parameters for each photo. Using a simple code such as “Expos Sol/Expos Sol-Nube/Expos Nube/Expos Pinhole” we can label each photo with the position of the diaphragm that we used to take the photo. The same thing applies with regard to speed “Expos N/Expos 1s/Expos 2s…”. That way we can always remember why the photo was such a disaster or a complete success, and we can refer back to it if we ever need to shoot the same type of film again.
As for everything else: with/without flash, splitzer, 38mm wide, fisheye, flash color… Let your imagination run wild.
This type of program allows photos to be touched up directly without having to resort to external software. This is very convenient because from the library we can adjust the exposure that we didn’t get quite right, reduce the noise from a very dark photo, blend the dominant colour or get rid of that speck of dust that always appears in photos that would otherwise be perfect. Also we can of course re-frame the shots. The adjustments made to a photo can be set to an entire batch, allowing entire reels to be corrected at once.
Now you have to make the decision, almost always the most difficult thing to do. Once we have decided which photos we like the most, we can start giving them attributes such as giving them a selection flag or a determined colour.
Finally we can export selected photos using settings that we can define. For example, we can export our photos in JPEG format with a certain quality and size so that they can be uploaded to Lomography.es
We also have to have options available such as printing on different formats or presenting them in a slide show.
To finish with….
In short, these types of program are an excellent alternative to folders for organising our ever growing digital lomography file. Allowing us to label, mark, classify and search through our photos, therefore improving the speed and results of searches. We can also carry out touch-ups either individually or in batches and export our photos with sets of predefined settings. A much more efficient way to work!
If you use any of these programs feel free to leave a comment telling us what you think. :)