My Workflow: trying to structure the process

Every photographer has his own way of handling pictures and using his own software tools to do so. Here I will describe my workflow.
Ingest  For managing the pictures I use Photomechanic 5. With its IPTC Stationary I fill in the Photographer’s field including copyright,  and I give a short description of the topic and the location. Furthermore,  I change the name of the picture into yyyymmdd_xxxx. The xxxx stand for a four digit counter. I expect not to make more than 9999 pictures per day. They are temporarily stored in the map Workspace with a submap with the date of the ingest.
Backup The next step is to make a copy of the NEF files to an external harddisk using Photomechanic 5. Sync Pro copies all of pictures (NEF and jpg) that are changed the last hour to my NAS.  Once a week a backup from my Synology NAS to Amazon Glacier in Ireland is made.   After the initial backup everything is automated.
GPS If the location of the pictures is important I use my own GPS. Before using it I check the time of the GPS and of the camera (especially in another time zone this is important and saves a lot of time). I then use View NX 2 to determine the location based on time matching between the exposure time and the times of the track. This is done in one command for a whole set of pictures.
5-star scan Depending on the number of pictures and the goal I use different strategies. For a photoshoot or a special trip abroad (a lot of pictures) I tried to identify as quickly as possible the 5-star pictures to submit to Dreamstime. For an album of myself of less important trips the storyline might me more important so I also include some pictures that did not make it to the 5-star category.
First processing scan The first processing is done with View NX 2. For the selected pictures I set  White Balance to the right WB, Sharpening to 3, Color Enhancement to a low value that is appropriate. Although I regularly use this tool, I am not overly enthusiastic because it sometimes freezes while processing a whole batch of pictures.
Second processing scan In the second scan I look at the individual pictures and adjust, for example, Exposure, Contrast etc. For more advanced processing I open Capture NX2, to remove dust spots, brightening/darkening specific parts of the picture, cropping etc. It has many more tools to finetune the picture. Although it does not have the most user-friendly interface, it is a very helpful tool.
Photoshop For very advanced processing, like for pictures of a photoshoot, I use Photoshop to do some magic with layers. It is a perfect tool that can do everything in often too many ways. Most of the time I search Youtube for finding the right tutorial, for example, for brightening the white of the eyes. In this case I use View NX 2 to produce TIFF files, which I then process with Photoshop and let it produce JPG.
Producing JPG With Photomechanic 5 I produce the final jpg files. For pictures that are submitted to Dreamstime I use its FTP-facility for immediately upload.
Galleries For galeries I use jAlbum. It is a very convenient tool for making simple or very advanced galeries. Many skins are available.
Final storage Most pictures are on the internal harddisk of my Apple iMac. Within the map Pictures I make submaps like Trips, Photoshoots, Happenings, Family etc. Within those maps I make submaps with a name and a date (in that order; I like pictures on the same topic to be grouped). Knowing from experience there is no best way to store files, therefore I very much rely on the search facility of Photomechanic 5. A very fast software tool.
Here is an update on this blog.

How about your background?

Vakantie Peru
Sometimes you see pictures where the background dominates the subject of the picture. The eyes are pulled away from the subject to the background. The subject does not get the attention we had in mind.
Often we focus too much on the subject and completely forget about the background. Later, when we look at the picture we are disappointed because it does not express the feeling we had when we took the picture. Somehow  it has become a mediocre pictures because the background was ignored. Here I will describe a couple of these cases.
Subject is too dark and the background too bright This happens quite often using matrix metering. Because of the bright background  the exposure in Automatic mode is reduced resulting in an under-exposed subject. Remedies are: get closer to the subject to reduce the size of the background or use a fill-in flash to better expose the subject.
Subject is small and in front of a busy background Due to the size of the subject it might be completely lost against a busy background. Remedy: look for a more quiet background.
The background is too strongly connected to the subject Keep in mind that a picture is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world, so it consists of shapes of similar color or similar texture. Imagine a person with a red shirt leaning against a red car. In this case, the shirt and the car may form one shape in the picture, distracting our eyes from the person. Another example is a lantern pole coming out of somebody’s head. Remedy: try to avoid unwanted connections between shapes in the background and the subject by using different colors, different compositions, or different positions.
So, the remedy is very simple. When you look through the view finder of the camera ALSO look at the background.
Vakantie Peru

My own shop @ Werk aan de Muur

Erasmus Bridge Rotterdam
Last week I openend my own shop at Werk aan de Muur to sell my pictures. They sell pictures from various photographers or artists, each having their own shop, and print them on different materials, such as canvas, aluminium, Xpozer, or even wood, in a number of sizes. Or just image prints to frame yourself.
It looks like an interesting concept because they bring photographers and artists closer to the public because they sell what the audience wants: art on the wall and freedom to choose.
The other interesting concept is that the photographer may decide himself how much he wants to earn for his image as a percentage of the material it is put on. A small percentage may increase the sales, a high percentage may show exclusivity. I will have to find out how it works.
They really strive for quality, for example, the pictures should have at least 9M pixels, to make sure that they can be blown up quite a bit. This means that I cannot submit some of nice pictures taken with my older cameras. Furthermore, they select some of the pictures to be part of their collection, which are presented first to potential buyers.
Until now I put 20 pictures in my shop to see how the traffic to My Shop @ Werk aan de Muur picks up. In a later blog I hope to inform you of my first sales.

Which lens to use?

IMG_0814Almost for every focal length or range of focal lengths there seems to be a lens available. Too many to buy or to walk around with.
General-purpose lens
My general-purpose lens is the Nikkor 28-300mm lens. I use it if I just want to take one lens and if I do not know what to expect. For most shoots it is the almost perfect solution, however, it is not very light sensitive. In case I really have to travel light weight I just take my Nikkor 50mm lens.
Wide-angle lens
For land- and cityscape I usually take the Nikkor 16-35mm lens, a wide-angle zoom lens, with which you can take very sharp pictures. Normally people buy a wide-angle lens to fit more into the picture (“I need a wide-angle lens otherwise it doesn’t fit!”). If you are not close to your subject, wide-angle lenses tend to but in a lot of irrelevant objects in your picture, which does not make it more interesting.
So, using a wide-angle lens means that you have to get closer. To fit more in a picture a wide-angle lens puts everything further away and you also get some distortion. I started to enjoy the lens when I realized I really had to get close, really close.
As telelens I use the Nikkor 70-200mm lens. Very sharp pictures. I use it for architectural details in cities and details in nature. I also enjoy taking close-up pictures of individuals being active in a group. This gives very natural poses. Furthermore, I use it for studio photography (a white background). By the way, it is quite a heavy lens.
For portrait photography outdoors I use the Nikkor 135mm DC. Its bokeh is perfect, it really gives the most perfect background you can imagine.
On the Web
On the website of Ken Rockwell you will find more about the Nikkor Dream Team of full frame lenses.