I’m revved with anticipation about MacWorld. But it’s not for the same reason that most of you might be. Sure, I’m looking forward to the iTV, some sneak peeks into Leopard, some new hardware, and maybe a new phone. But, what’s really fueling my excitement is that I’ve got a`n awesome photo gig lined up to shoot some material for a client at MacWorld. I simply can’t wait to get on with it.
For this shoot, I’ll be using Aperture as an essential part of my workflow. And, I’ve decided to take you behind the scenes as I work this gig and provide day-by-day postings throughout MacWorld. My hope is to offer you a glimpse into what it’s like using Aperture in such an environment and document some of the ways in which I move through the mountain of data that comes off of my camera while working such a gig. And maybe, since this is the first time I’ll be writing about workflow publicly while in the heat of a shoot, I’ll identify some areas in which my own workflow can stand a bit of improvement.
Today, being the Sunday before MacWorld, my thoughts are all about preparation. Of course, I’m thinking about the camera equipment I need to have, as well making sure that it’s all clean and ready to go. Just as important, however, is the computing part of the equation. I used to show up with just my laptop and a card reader, but experience has taught me well to have a few more things with me.
Here’s my checklist for the computer equipment I’m bringing along to MacWorld:
- 17″ MacBook Pro, it’s the best mobile system going for running Aperture on. I’ve found the big screen to be lovely for editing images on and the system pretty much travels in my bags just like my previous 15″ laptops did. It’s the older Core Duo model (not the Core 2 Duo), but it gets the job done.
- External FW 800 100GB drive, for storing my primary Aperture library on. Putting the images on a secondary spindle means that Aperture doesn’t have to fight any disk accesses the system might be doing, especially to virtual memory. Every little bit helps when you’re trying to move fast in a portable setup that’s limited to 2GB of memory. The drive I’m using is the LaCie drive I wrote about in November on this blog. So far, it’s working well.
- External FW 400 100GB drive, because you don’t know when a drive will decide to stop working and you never, ever, ever want to lose the RAW images for a shoot. Clients tend not to like that. The best bet is to duplicate the images as soon as they come off the Compact Flash cards.
- Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display 2, for updating the profiles on my system when I arrive at my hotel room. I’ve become fastidious with color profiling in the last few years and even though the 17″ MacBook Pro display gamut isn’t that of a Cinema display, having a good profile maximizes its utility when editing images. I certainly don’t want to hand off images to my client that have some odd color tinge to them because I wasn’t taking advantage of all that ColorSync has to offer.
- Lexar Professional FW CompactFlash reader, to get images off of the flash cards and into Aperture and onto the backup drive as fast as possible. I’ve owned cheap CompactFlash card readers before and they are no fun. Spend the money. Get the good stuff. Trust me on this one.
- A power strip. Hotel rooms are infamous for only giving you one plug when you need three or five. It’s no fun juggling plugs to get everything charged up before the next morning.
- DVD blanks, just in case the client wants to get copies of the images right after the shoot to take with them.
- Mac OS X Tiger, Aperture, and Photoshop installation disks and serial numbers. You never know when a system will go boom on you and you’ll need to reinstall. And you’ll certainly want to be able to get up and running on a new system if your current one gets run over by a truck. These things do happen.
- Power Supplies. You’d laugh if you knew how many power supplies I’ve bought because I’ve left one behind in a hotel room or at home. Ok, I’ll spill the beans: at least 4 or 5 a year over the last few years. It’s just my way of contributing to Apple’s bottom line. So, now I seriously check and double check for my power supplies before leaving home.
- Last, but not least, my iPod. I can’t edit photographs well without good music. Sure, I could use iTunes, but I’d rather give Aperture as much of my system resources as I can. That way, I can let the CPU spend all of its time opening up RAW files instead of spending a bit of time decoding an AAC stream.
That’s pretty much it. That’s my mobile Aperture workflow platform as of January 2007. Now, let me ask you: What do you take on the road with you when you go on a photo shoot? What little bits and bobs do you find essential?