DPP: Part 1 ? Workflow: Assignment 1 ? Workflow: Notes on the shoot and workflow

This post records my notes from assignment one – workflow – as I went through the workflow described in my introduction here.  My aim was to produce six or seven still-life images depicting the birth and early life of a ‘jelly baby baby’.  The shots I intended to produce are recorded in this blog post.

The structure of my workflow meant that steps one to seven were repeated for each image for the series.  I’ve made notes each time and present them below collected for each step, referencing the images where appropriate.  The images are presented in this post.

Step 1 – Shoot

Before starting a shoot of the images I did some refresher reading on “high key” photography and set up a flash and studio light with some paper roll as background.  I tested the setup with a couple of shots for old camera gear I’m putting on eBay.  I added a second flash during this to get a result I was happy with.  I had to nip out and get batteries as my second flash didn’t have any as I’d used them in Christmas decorations that I’d put away.

On reflection, I am thinking my workflow should maybe include “preparation” – to ensure I’m not caught out by an oversight like that; but in this case it was of no consequence as I was at home, a couple of minutes away from a Tesco.  Some of it is just “assumed”, which is possibly why I didn’t include it.  Batteries I knew I’d be using were all fully charged, I’d obtained all of the “props” I’d need for the images and bought the paper roll background I would be using.

For each image I’d set up the elements of the image as I felt suitable, along with the camera – though for all but the first image I shot hand-held as it was easier given the make-shift studio setup (my OCA course materials box as a platform and opened so the flap supported the top of the paper roll pushed against the wall).  Using flash and short exposures meant a tripod was’t necessary anyway – and adjusting would just have taken a bit of extra time for each shot.

The paper roll meant that I could just roll it on if it got scruffy or covered in cream egg – which it did.  I could have shot in a different order than the sequence to avoid needing to do this – but it wasn’t an issue really as each shot was set up individually anyway.

Step 2 – Review in-camera and revise

Generally this involved repositioning slightly, or reconnecting the wired flash trigger for the studio light as it kept slipping out.  Not reviewing would have led to a big batch of shots that weren’t exposed correctly!

For the second shot, “Hatching”, I wasn’t happy with how close I was getting – it didn’t make the cracking egg the main focus of the image.  I considered swapping to my old 500D, to use the crop-sensor macro lens I have for it, but I’ve lost the hot-shoe that triggers my studio flash so lighting would have been an issue.  I ended up putting that lens on my 5D Mark II so I could just crop the image later myself.

For “The new family” I re-arranged the jelly babies a few times to try different poses.  I modified the lighting for “To school” and tried a couple of different arrangements for “Leaving home”.

Step 3 – Import in to Lightroom, adding basic keywords on import

On import I chose not to import images where the flash didn’t fire.  They were beyond any kind of use or recovery, so it made no sense to me to keep them “just in case”.  Keywords were added on import, appropriate to the assignment and subject.  This was a lot of repetition really, as most of it was the same apart from elements unique to the particular image.  It might have made more sense to do this later given how much the images had in common.

Step 4 – Add to a collection set

I added each import to a collection set specific for that image in the sequence.  This might have been overkill really – as there weren’t a lot of images to manage so a single collection set for the lot wouldn’t have been a problem.

Step 5 – Perform technical edit

Having removed the obviously under-exposed images, the technical edit wasn’t all that big a task.  For a couple of the images I took out overexposed images – but that was about it.

Step 6 – Add shots with “promise” to the Quick Collection

My original intention here was to ensure I could easily go through the lot at the end and perform processing, but once I got to this point for the first image I realised I couldn’t be fully-confident I’d got the images I wanted without some basic processing at this point.  For each of the images, therefore, I performed some basic editing when adding to the quick collection as it meant I could proceed on to the next image with more confidence.  Generally this was a case of choosing the more aesthetically pleasing images – where I felt the angle on the subject was slightly better (e.g. more ob the subject included, a ‘face’ more visible etc.).  The differences were quite subtle, as they were ‘setup’ shots and I’d only change angle slightly between shots.

Step 7 – Decide whether to reshoot, or proceed on to the next shot.  Start both at step 1.

I only invoked the “reshoot” clause once – for “The new family”.  Ultimately I ended up using one of the original images, however.

After the “Emerging” shot I decided I didn’t need a separate image of the jelly baby baby being removed from the yolk of the cream egg, as the single image covered that effectively.  Given how many images were devoted to the birth versus school and leaving home, it felt superfluous to the shoot as it titled the balance even further toward birth – so I was glad of being able to drop the idea.

Step 8 – Add quick collection shots to a new collection (selects).

A simple step – just creating a ‘Selects’ collection for the images in the quick collection.  Nothing of note here.

Step 9 – Once the full sequence is done perform basic processing.

Despite having performed some processing when adding to the quick collection earlier, I did some further here – cropping closer on a couple of the images and adjusting sharpness, contrast and some minor adjustments to saturation.

Step 10 – Flag preferred shots (first selects)

I flagged the best of the ‘selects’ and got down to 8 images – as differences were already subtle it’s even harder to explain my choices here – I just had a general “feel” that an image was better – and I did change my mind a couple of times.  The 8 images meant 4 shots were already decided in terms of final images, with two version still needed a final choice to be made.

Step 11 – Complete processing on the first selects

This was tidying up mainly (cloning out dust spots, etc.) and again adjusting saturation and clarity when I came back to review the images later.

I felt I’d gone a bit far with the clarity adjustments – so had a sort of dark halo around the edges of some elements in the image; which is something I do try and avoid – I tend not to touch clarity that much because of this effect, but in my original processing had “played” with it.

In my next post, which will include the images, I’ve briefly noted the adjustments made for each.

Step 12 – Choose the final shots for assignment submission

I dropped the two extra images, the other versions were very slightly better technically and in composition.  I titled them at this point (with slightly different names to the original ones).

Step 13 – Backup images to external drive

I exported the Lightroom catalogue.  I export the catalogue as that includes the RAW images, along with the Lightroom adjustments so I have a non-destructive copy; but with information on my changes stored along with it.  I then copied these across to an external FireWire drive.  That will be getting replaced shortly with a Netgear Ready NAS with 4 2TB drives in RAID-5, so there’s some resilience.  I have the NAS, just waiting to buy the drives!  I do export to Flickr too in reasonably high quality, but I am thinking I should possibly export “final” images to off-site backup, such as DropBox (which I already use for automated back-ups of my WordPress blog/learning log).  I don’t want to backup all my images, but perhaps it may be suitable for my first select-quality images or the final submission images at the very least.  That said, the originals are on my Macbook Pro – and that tends to leave the house with me, so that’s sort-of an off-site backup.

Step 14 – Delete all but the Selects

I thought I might have problems with this because of the different collections, but actually it was just a few key-presses due to the collection set including those in all of the sub-collections.

  • Go to the next post for this assignment: the images.
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