Putting it all together (Workflow pt. 6)

Camera, Images, Action !!

To paraphrase a well known saying. If you have followed these last few posts you will know that we are sending images from Lightroom Mobile to ShutterSnitch where we have configured Metadata & FTP locations to send the images to. Now lets tie it all together.

Accessing the gear icon for the actions.

The sliding arrow points to the action that will be applied to each image as it arrives in the application. So what does this particular action do?

That action on my system, changes the file name to suit the destination (I wont break this down – it should be self evident once you add this task to your action) then it applies one of the Metadata presets (as I showed a few posts back). Finally it exports to the FTP location.

The clever bit being that if the send to the location is a success , the action “Sent Alamy” is also run. What does that do?

It applies another Metadata Preset (one that only sets the rating and label).

Then it moves the image to another collection “ALL SENT”

This (hopefully) leaves the initial collection empty as all the images move out of it as they are sent. Any that do remain need re-sending.

The final 2 images of this post show Lightroom and ShutterSnitch sitting side by side on the iPad screen (use the 3 dots to set up split screen view) allowing editing to continue as ShutterSnitch sends.

This post ends the workflow as it is on the iPad itself. The next post will start to look at how I work on the desktop, moving the images off of the iPad, consolidating the images in the main library and other processes that have really advanced my workflow. (Beware – Lightroom plugin’s ahoy!)

Any comment or questions – get in touch!

Quick FTP Setup of ShutterSnitch (Workflow pt 4.5)

This post is just going to be a very quick How To configure sending images to an FTP server.,

I mentioned previously that the key to this app are the Actions and this is where we need to head to configure sending. Use the gear icon in the collection to access then click Edit.

Create a new task

Name it then click + at add a task

The only task we are going to add (at this stage) is to Export to a Location

Next the list of available locations are listed. (So we can define a number of locations – have listed a number of agencies, folders etc). Click Edit to create a new one and the green + next to FTP.

Enter the FTP details required (probably provided by the agency, client etc).

Note we can configure particular processes to happen as part of the sending task for example sending a re-sized version of the image or kicking off additional tasks if the send was successful.

The next post will put the metadata and sending posts into an action that handles the image as it arrives in ShutterSnitch.

I look forward to your comments.

Have You Meta data ? (iPad Workflow pt 4)

This post is a duplicate from one a few years ago but with some additional ideas for using collection names with a few more examples showing how flexible the system is.

From our last post we are at a point where we have exporting images from Lightroom to a collection of images in ShutterSnitch with key information (main image description) in the title field.

Note: I have totally skipped actions which ShutterSnitch may apply to arriving images at this point – if you have actions defined, for the sake of setting up the MetaData, ensure “Do Nothing” is selected. This will make sense later.

The first issue is, where do we start with our data? Can we start with Photomechanic? The answer to this is yes we can. I export the XMP from PM into Dropbox and then on the iPAD, export the file into ShutterSnitch.

Note: If starting from a Photomechanic template, the variables will need replacing as the syntax is different.

Select file in DropBox / Export / Copy to Shutter / Create a Preset

The i Icon on the top toolbar switches ShutterSnitch to the Metadata Editor.

The Metadata Editor

As shown in the above images there are a number of options along the lower screen. The left-most tool is the Preset Editor

The choices are just to select a preset or use the Edit button to edit the presets available (the usual iOS left swipe to delete) or click to edit. Hold down to duplicate an existing preset.

First a basic preset of mine (from a Kermode 3D show) where the caption is automatically built from the Title (as added in Lightroom) and a number of other fields. For this show I know the location and all the other details. The only things that change are the subject/person. In the image (Title) and the Date.

The blue circle tick to the right indicates wether the field is applied in the preset, so as we are using the title field from Lightroom this is unticked next to the Title/Object. Notice the %%titleObject%% – this is a variable .

There are far fewer in ShutterSnitch. They may be accessed from the tool hi-lighted above. Below is a typical preset driven by the Title/Object Name field with the date automatically added also.

Headline, Caption, Keywords and other metadata in the preset.

And the next example is the template I used at Glastonbury this year. Note. That I have brought the %%colname%% variable into play (Collection name). This gave me the simple solution for ever changing locations (or events), multiple image collections, one for each stage or location, sending images from Lightroom direct into the correct collection building a complex caption.

Hint: As we are driving the Title / Object Name from Lightroom, all of the above preset(s) could be applied to all images when selected and a quick check as you flick through will reveal all of the fields set. Alternatively they could be applied through an action automatically as the image(s) arrive from Lightroom (hint!)

Once the preset is created, other tools are available in the editor. Quick select strings (which are field sensitive, so create them in the Title field if that is where you plan to insert them) may be created and selected.

This enables a list to be built, maybe copying and pasting from a website before the event

Use Split Screen on the iPAD to Copy/Paste into Quick Select Strings

The final options are Shortcodes.

Press and hold to edit the available lists. Creating new Sets and editing are fairly straightforward.

In use Shortcodes are slightly less usable than in Photomechanic as after entering the code (however many letters you use), the Icon (tee-shirt) needs a quick click for the software to expand the code to it’s full length. Shortcodes do, however save on spelling errors and incorrectly titled subjects.

Once the metadata is added the images can be sent (most likely using FTP ). The next post will look at configuring the FTP before we start putting it all together in an action that automates the whole process.

More Soon. As ever – let me know what you think.

Mobile Workflow Overview

I mentioned in my last post that these writings would be more about my workflow, thoughts and practices and less about camera equipment reviews.

The next few posts will revisit my mobile workflow and the use of the iPad as a very serious tool (laptop replacement), starting with this very basic overview.

A very poor iPhone image of my iPad in its keyboard case

My mobile (travel) kit consists of;

  • IPad Pro M1
  • Gold and Cherry iPad keyboard case
  • Apple Pencil
  • Apple Magic Mouse (Series 2 preferred)
  • Lightroom Mobile (Adobe photography plan inc. Photoshop)
  • ShutterSnitch
Lightroom Mobile & ShutterSnitch running in a split screen

One of the key improvements over the last couple of years of using the iPad has been the multitasking (various split screens, slide over etc) and later posts will show how the applications can work together in a similar way to a full blown computer (mac or otherwise).

The workflow outline:

  • Create Collection in Lightroom for job
  • Import from memory cards direct into collection
  • Select and edit photos in lightroom
  • Add titles
  • Create a collection in ShutterSnitch for the job
  • Share images to ShutterSnitch collection which completes the captioning and sends via ftp
  • Archive the images
Lightroom during the image selection and editing process

The next post will start to detail the intricacies of using Lightroom efficiently and outline some possible pitfalls (there are a few!).

Until then.

New Way Forward (and Cannes)

It’s fairly obvious I have been neglecting this blog. Actually thats not true. I have not been neglecting it, I have been avoiding it. The question is why and what do I want to do about it?

I might be a poor writer but I do enjoy it (it took me 5 or 6 attempts to pass what was the English Langage ‘O’ level when I was at school (scraping through as I took my final ‘A’ levels). I also enjoy passing on knowledge.

When I started this page, it was the early days of the Fujifilm X-System, the early days of mirrorless and this place seemed the ideal place to put down my thoughts and experiences, passing these on so others (you dear reader) can learn from my errors and not make the same mistakes. Well that was something like 8 years ago and the technology world has changed as has the camera market with most of the manufactures having mirrorless products. Online review sites have exploded with video review sites getting far more views (and influence) than written sites with the actual experience of the reviewer seeming to be way less important to both the manufacturers and viewers.

Fujifilm has just announced the X-H2, it sounds like a very capable camera which I have not seen. The reviews are promising and so I have one on back-order with my supplier and if what I read is true, it will put us X-system users back on a more level playing field when it comes to Auto-Focus performance. However, when I get it, I wont review it. I might comment on some technology that makes my life easier but I will no longer review any product because basically, what interests me is what makes my job easier, faster etc.

If you want reviews stick to the sites that make reviewing part of their business. They get large follower counts, large followings means free review kit and good advertising revenue. How good they are as photographers, how deep their experience of photography and the “sharp end” of the photography business has very little to do with a good review site (and as far as the manufacturers are concerned, the only real measure is the number of followers). If this sounds like a gripe, it’s not. I get it. Who cares that I (or other photography writers) shoot more images in a month (or maybe even a week) and get them published around the world. That does not matter if only a few hundred of people know.

So I am going to stick with the “sharp end”, what counts. How do I work? What are my business practices? Can I improve how I (and you) work?

The next few posts will be about my new mobile workflow and the use of (the rather fast) M1 iPad Pro . In the meantime, here are a few of teh 6000 images I sent out from 10 days in Cannes, all shot on Fujifilm and edited/sent from the iPad.

Direct Import from Cards in Lightroom Mobile

At last! Its been a long while coming but finally we can import images directly from a camera/card into Lightroom Mobile on an iPad!

Apple’s iOS13 update opened up the Files application, allowing users to access data on external devices such as USB sticks, Hard Drives and of course Cameras/Cards. It took Adobe a little while to catch up but during December, Lightroom Mobile 5.1 was released which added the ability to browse locations in files.

Much of the information I have seen online says that it is possible to access the card directly from the import button after inserting it however I have not found that to be the best way to work. My workflow is to import the images directly into an Album for the project.

Add photos from Files into a specific album

Selecting from the Album Options … I Add Photos and select From Files. This enables the location to be selected, normally the Untitled USB device, browsing down to a lower folder. Once all the images to be added have been selected, click Open.

Preparing Import!

Lightroom then looks as though nothing is happening but take a look at the cloud icon where the sync progress is displayed…

It takes a while to prepare the import and then, one by one, they start appearing!

Hey Presto!

It’s a very simple process, one that is not the most obvious way of importing the images but it makes a huge difference to the iPad workflow, now mimicking more closely typical laptop workflows.

It means less reliance of the iOS native photos app and less housekeeping required on the iPad. In fact with the other updates in the latest Lightroom Mobile (major changes to the Export function , which I will detail in the next post), the photos app may be bypassed completely. Stay tuned!

IPAD (Pro) Workflow

Its been quite a while since my original iPad workflow post. Software has improved and the speed of the iPad Pro has totally changed the game so of course, my iPad workflow has moved on quite a bit.

The first stage of my workflow continues to be ShutterSnitch.  In my opinion this is still the fastest, most reliable method of using the WiFi connection to get the images from the Fujis on to the iPad. When I am sending just a few images (or sending a few at a time as a job progresses) , I can select on the camera and transfer individually via WiFi with ShutterSnitch instantly saving the images to the iPad Camera Roll. The problem comes when I have Job that involves many hundreds of images, all of which have to be looked at, selected then basic edits made, metadata (caption etc) added and sent. WiFi is just not fast enough for this many images. This is the problem I faced when travelling to Cannes for the annual film festival.


As I was flying and would also be carrying my kit most of the day I really wanted to keep weight to a minimum so I decided to stick with the iPad and develop a workflow that would work.

My iPad is a 256GB/4G model and so has more storage than my old MacBook, even so I was paranoid about storage at the start and wanted to ensure the iPad only contained the images that were  “keepers” so my workflow actually started with the camera configuration. I decided to shoot JPG only on to 64GB cards in both slots – slot 1 as the primary storage and slot 2 for backup. At the end of each job (or day) I would ingest the images to the camera roll from the slot 1 card using the standard apple camera connection key. The card was always wiped after ingest. The card in slot 2 remained in place, building a backup of all the image files, only being switched out to my suitcase as it became full. (Note: RAW image files could be used but would be slower).

When working on a full Laptop/Desktop it is common for most press photographers to use Photomechanic to select and caption first before transferring only their “keepers” to their editing software (photoshop or Lightroom). Because of the way iOS protects files and stops apps interacting on the same data, my workflow is actually the reverse. I use Lightroom mobile to select and edit before captioning and sending in PicturePro.

Lightroom Mobile (on Creative Cloud).

There are a number of key settings / stages to make this reasonably quick.

Mobile data: Ensure “sync on mobile data” is turned off.  (Tethering to a phone brings a whole different set of issues as you really do not want LR to try and synchronise all images until back at base).  An iPad on its own 4G connection is a real advantage here and simplifies the sending process.

Collections: Keep a collection per job or day.

Auto Add:  Use the … next to the collection name to enable Auto Add to the relevent collection.

Switching to split view with the photos app running next to Lightroom as the images ingest from the card, they will be added too Lightroom at the same time (see you can multi-task on an iPad).


Speed Flagging: This enables images to be picked or rejected with an upward or downward swipe whilst in the editing screen.


Once the images are ingested, the card is cleared and put back in the camera. I switch to single image view and enabled a filter on the collection to show only unflagged images. I then swipe down to reject, skipping those I am not sure about until i get to the first image I want. Before I swipe up to pick it, I complete the basic edits – crop, curves, levels etc. and then holding the finger (or pen) on the screen I use the pop up to copy the settings (all settings excluding crop). Only then do I swipe up. The process then continues, swiping down to reject and pasting the edits, (hold down again), cropping then swiping up to pick going through all of the images.


Once at the end I know I have all the selects and rejects. I switch to the “All Lightroom Photos” selection, set the filter to “Rejected” and delete all the images.

The next stage is surprising! I go to the camera roll and delete all the images  just ingested (it’s ok! They are held within Lightroom now – its made copies in its database).

I now export the images from Lightroom to the camera roll (this is a slow process as there is a limit on exporting 15 at a time), selecting the maximum size option.  This leaves just the edited selected images on the camera roll ready for captioning and sending.

PicturePro

In PicturePro I make extensive use of base templates. Upon opening the correct image folder / date should be selected.


Load the metadata editor on the first image and load the relevant template and edit the data to suit. I then copy the data before using the save and next button, paste in the data from the last image, tweak and move on.  Each image that is annotated has a small icon on its lower centre (in grid view).


Once done I select the annotated images (hold to select a batch, double finger tap to add single images to the selection) and export using the FTP panel, resizing, renaming and saving the images in relevant folders as they are transmitted. Each image that is exported has a small icon on its lower right (in grid view).

Once Back at Base
PicturePro has stored all the captioned and edited images in folders which can be accessed via FTP. Lightroom will synchronise all the original images, with edits via Creative Cloud to the desktop machine. (But no metadata on them). I add the PicturePro images to my Lightroom to sit alongside the originals which I leave uncaptioned because I know I can find them via the captioned exported versions.

Conclusion

There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to this workflow. I find the iPad an extremely nice tactile thing to use, using the Pencil and Keyboard I can work on my lap, on the floor, seat, basically anywhere, much easier than if I were balancing a Laptop. Using the pencil on the image itself as a tablet is a joy with the keyboard folded back out of the way until needed for captioning. Batch editing is minimal though, I cant apply the same edit to 100’s of images in a single manoeuvre but I dont see this as a huge issue as I normally have to look at each to crop it as I want so pasting the settings as I crop does not really slow me down. Its always pointed out that iPads have no colour management. Correct, the screen cannot be calibrated but its a mobile platform, it’s not used in a nice controlled environment. Every day I am out shooting and editing in different light with differing ambient levels and colours, so is this really the issue many flag it to be?

Comparing the captioning between PicturePro and Photomechanic the main loss again is batch processing. In PicturePro I do have to check and paste the metadata into every single image but this does have the advantage of ensuring I think about every caption.  At the time of writing PicturePro doses have one or two issues. It will crash every now and then but with this workflow I do not lose any work – its more just having to restart the software (which is almost instantaneous). PicturePro also has image editing which I have used in the past for small batches when I need to be very fast but a bug affecting only the iPad Pro means I am waiting on a software update before I can do this again.

This post has been a long time coming, the workflow has been tweaked and will continue to be but it was working this way that I sent almost 3000 images over 10 days from Cannes so I think it works. let me know your thoughts, comments , questions.

Julie