This December, I’m taking some time to work on a few fundamentals before heading into a busy schedule of event shooting next year. One of the things I’m working on is a way to let other people “tap” into the stream of photographs I’m shooting in a form that they can use. I’ve been hesitant to do this for a while as I’ve always wanted to put my best foot forward. But, at the Web 2.0 Summit, various news outlets were wanting images now and it simply took too long to get them usable images with a pure RAW workflow. To give you an idea of the problem, the Web 2.0 Summit is a single track conference where there is always something going on. Every speaker is important to capture. And there were lots of “must get” shots around the conference. It was hard enough being in three places at once to shoot, not to mention download cards, edit, and upload selects.
As good as Aperture is, it’s not fast enough to handle an event like this as a single shooter. Editing 12.8 megapixel images on a MacBook Pro still takes time, up to a few seconds a pop to do the decode. And exporting JPGs of several hundred images takes even more time. Of course, you can quite honestly question my sanity for trying to do an event like this as a single shooter, and you’d have a point. Next year, I’ll be looking at bringing assistants and maybe even second shooters to the job. But, that doesn’t change the fact there are some outlets who will want to have fast—almost realtime—access to the images being shot. And the my client will want me to enable that access. On the other hand, there’s no way I’m not using a RAW based workflow to process my work, expecially to hand off final images to the client for later use.
To address this, I’ve been experimenting with a RAW+JPG workflow. That is, setting my camera to write both RAW and JPG format files for each image captured. Then, I can import the files as usual into Aperture for sorting and ranking and the like, and then also push the JPG images out to a location where trusted third parties can dig through them. This will let me continue on with business as normal while letting trusted other people have access to whatever they need. And, if an image that they wanted to use isn’t quite usable in JPG form, then it’s just a single RAW file that I either need to cook or just send to them so that they can process it for their needs.
The good news is that it turns out that Aperture deals with a RAW+JPG workflow just fine. In fact, Aperture will pull in both image formats into its library and treat them as a single image for the purposes of organizing and making adjustments. When you move them around, Aperture will move both the RAW and JPG files in its library. If you delete an image, it will delete both the RAW and JPG files. In short, it works just as you’d expect it to. Neat. This will let me do all my file management from one source, but will give me (and others) access to more immedate JPG bits.
Based on this, the current exercise I’m running through is to import RAW+JPG images from CompactFlash using Aperture into an external location. Using Aperture’s ability to organize externally referenced files into subfolders, the images are then organized by year/month/day. From this directory structure, I can then setup a periodic rsync script to push the JPG files, complete with directory structure, up to an external server. Next up is to work the scripts a bit to possibly query Aperture for the ranking of the images and automatically keep a remote JPG repository in sync with just my 2-star and above shots. There’s a lot more exploration to go here, but I think that I’m on to something that will work for me.
So far, so good. Now, the big trick to getting this workflow to work is to nail white balance at the time of shooting rather than in post processing. Luckily, Derrick turned me onto the ExpoDisc. Learning how to use this tool effectively and quickly, and getting lots of practice using it, is one of my other tasks this month. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be dry running this workflow out and work out the kinks. By January, I’ll be ready…