Import Workflow for Aperture 3
01 February 11
This shot of the Manics took 3 hours from this image being taken to it being with the client.
When shooting live music it is usually essential to get the final images out of your computer as quickly as possible. There are a million tutorials out there about workflows on Aperture, but very few from a Music photographers point of view. So here then is my step by step guide to workflow from getting home to getting the images out to the client.
Firstly walk in the door, I kiss my wife and say hi to the dogs. Remember without support from home you would probably not be doing this, so always make time for your loved ones first
Generally I shoot one card per show. Personally I shoot with 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro Cards. I find them very reliable, high speed cards and the 16 GB size covers me for a live show (shooting RAW on a 5D2). If you are to shoot portraits before the show or anything else, then I tend to switch cards before the show. I do this for 2 reasons.
1. To make sure that the images are kept safe
2. Because you never know what can happen to your camera when shooting a show and unfortunately it doesn’t take much to corrupt a memory card, so I always feel it is better to be safe than sorry. It may be anally retentive, but better that than lose everything.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Put your card into your reader. This will open Aperture and bring up the import screen.
Create a new project. I use the following method, which I credit to Chase Jarvis.
I label the project by the following:
So an example would be:
Again it seems long winded, but by converting to this method has made my life a lot easier when searching for a project further down the line.
This Method of Project naming really does make it easier when you have to search through hundreds of projects to find the right file.
MAKE SURE YOU USE METADATA
The most important thing to do when importing photos is to make sure you use metadata.
So many people are lazy with metadata, or just don’t bother, but a few minutes really does make a difference. In Aperture you can create a preset, which I highly recommend as it will save you a lot of time and effort. Add your metadata preset and then fill in applicable keywords for the shoot.
I have a series of metadata presets for different tasks, here I use my live music preset and fill in appropriate keywords
PRESET THE BASICS TO SAVE TIME.
Finally if you wish you can apply a preset edit to every image on import. When shooting live music I tend to apply Noise reduction, sharpening as it just saves time later on. Obviously with editing being non destructive you can change these as you wish when working on an image. Again the little jobs like creating a preset for applying on import really can save a lot of time when you need to get images out there quickly.
With all that done it is time to hit the import button. There are other options, but as I said this is how I work, and just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
It won’t take very long before the previews start to come through, I tend to grab a drink or whatever while the images start to download,then get ready for the next stage.
RATING YOUR IMAGES
I have a simple star rating system I use for rating images. Below 3 star is not going to be used, and if needed can be deleted. 3 star is a usable image. 4 star is an image that I will send to the client. 5 star is an image that will go towards my portfolio. The system is not for everyone, but it works for me.
I firstly go through my images and rate images that are to be considered with a 3 star, any that I know will make the final cut get a 4 star straight away. If they are not good enough to be considered they get 2 star and if they are blank, of my foot etc. they get one star. I do this as a first pass. I like to go with my gut instinct on image, and if I have shot a burst of frames I like, I 3 star them all which allows me to pick the best at the next stage. I work through all the photos from the shoot and then apply a filter to only show 3 stars or above.
I then go back to the first 3 star image and make a second pass over the image. This is when I check that images are sharp, pick the best ones if I shoot a series of images in a quick burst and make my 4 star selections. I then add a final pass of the images, making sure there is variety in poses, close up and wide shots, and that generally the images sum up the show. There may be a need to trim some images, and this just means changing some ratings back to 3 as required. I also tend to use this pass rate any potential portfolio selections to come back to later.
This process gives me my selection of images to edit for the client.
Processing depends on the shot but my workflow tends to be Colour correction - Exposure - Recovery slider - Levels and curves - contrast and any basic colour correction - Final tweaks. I know these instructions are pretty basic, but it really is on an image by image basis.
The main thing to do is not get caught up in editing too much at this stage. A good, well exposed colour balanced image is all you need. Do not be tempted to crop your images. Usually the image will be cropped as necessary when it reaches your client, and by not copping yourself you are presenting them with more options. Lastly only start to use advances techniques like image cloning when know you have time to spare. Do the basics, and then if you have time left you can make more advanced edits.
Lastly it is time to export your images. Again the format and size of files and method of delivery will be dictated by your client. Make sure you follow their request! If you get them images how the want first time they are more likely to work with you again, cause them hassle and you could lose a client. Export as required and send to the client.
That’s it. Computer off and relax. Advanced editing of your portfolio worthy images can come another day.
Generally this process takes me between 30- 60 mins depending on the images required by the client. It isn’t perfect i am sure, but it works for me.
Please leave an questions in the comments section below and I will answer them the best I can.