Photography tips – batch processing

By far, the most time consuming part of my photography is processing all the pictures I have taken.  It’s easier with my kids, since I don’t feel the need to process very many each time I bring out the camera.  Hey, I already have tons, so I just pick 5 or so of the best and process.

It is much harder when it is a photo shoot for others.  I try to have 30-40 images to show them.  That is a lot of processing.  One of the reasons I am happy to shoot RAW for sessions is that I can batch process in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) much quicker than in CS3.

I do the majority of adjustments in ACR (White balance, exposure, contrast) and then export to CS3, run a batch action and make any adjustments necessary.  As I understand it, Photoshop Elements doesn’t allow batch processing.  SO…if you homeschool or have college-aged children (or nieces)…and can get an educational discount…you might want to check it out…just sayin’…not that I would do that… 😉

My laptop can be painfully slow at times, otherwise I could probably finish processing a session in 2-3 hours instead of 6-8.  I really want a new computer. *sigh*

Okay, here is what I do when I get back from shooting a session for others or for my fantastically beautiful and photogenic-when-they-cooperate children:

1.  Download from camera into Adobe Bridge.  I just plug mine directly into the computer as I don’t have a card reader.

2.  Bridge allows me to “rate” or label my shots.  I go through and rate all my keepers as “approved” whereby they have a pretty green bar underneath them and I can sort by it.  I label both the RAW and jpg file for each shot (since I shoot both at the same time).

3.  I select all the “approved” shots that are in the same lighting situation and open in Adobe RAW.  They will all line up on the left side of the screen.  On the first picture I start my white balance, exposure, brightness, fill light, increase blacks, increase clarity adjustments.  Each one seems to take different adjustments, but I know with more experience in using it I will get a better handle on what works when.

4.  After I adjust the first one, hit “select all” and then “sychronize” (located above the photos on the left side).  This will apply those adjustments to the rest of the files.

5.  Look through them and make any additional adjustments as necessary.  When you are comfortable with them, hit “select all” and then “open images” (bottom right).  This will open them in Photoshop.

6.  I have CS3 which allows you to batch process actions.  I wrote actions for different processing situations.  The one I use for RAW is:

  • Noiseware plugin (low setting – my D50 is a low end DSLR camera that needs noiseware on the RAW images.  This needs to be run first so the program has more unedited pixels to work with)
  • Defog
  • Curves layer – slight “S curve”
  • Brightness layer – 0 brightness, +10 contrast
  • Color Balance layer – just in case – usually curves/contrast affects the colors a bit

7.  Make any tweaks as needed.

8.  Batch process an action that flattens and sharpens the pictures.

9.  Save and done!  I usually save the edited files into a different folder apart from the originals.

If anyone else has any suggestions as to how they streamline their processing I would love to hear about them. 🙂

8 Replies to “Photography tips – batch processing”

  1. I always love hearing about workflow improvements, so I will watch the comments here anxiously. For me it is all about writing actions, I love to automate things when I can! We should have an action trading week here, I’m glad to share any of the ones I have created, even though they are basic.

    I am right now playing with both Aperture and Lightroom, and making a decision about which one to get–I’m lucky, I have to get it for work, so something that would just be a luxury is now a reality. Anyone have anything to report on them?

  2. I love using Lightroom for being able to batch process so easily, or even just copy actions from one picture to another. I wish you could easily copy exact actions from one picture to anther in CS3 too…I think CS4 is supposed to have more of that capability.

  3. Andrea, I would love to…I just need the moola! 😉

    Anna, that sounds like a good idea. We should do an action sharing. Mine are pretty basic, too, but it is interesting to see what others do.

    Jaimee, I need to download a free trial of lightroom and see how it works. I have other things I want to buy first, but it would be nice to see how it works.

  4. I hear you on the new computer need, and I don’t have CS3, only Elements 5. I have been working with the trial of Lightroom 2 and love it. Need funds for computer, CS4 (coming soon) and Lightroom 2. A girl can dream.

    I need to use my Adobe Raw to at least get that much done in a batch. Thanks for the nudge.

    Multiples, eh? Well, my 3 younger boys have always been like a set of triplets. 🙂

  5. Gee-wheez, what a concept. How simply that would make things.
    I have my organizing down and how I like to group them, but to process a batch.
    Like an Ahh-Haa moment.
    I am jealous that all of you have even simply actions that you created. I wish I would share, but I have never created an action. I use others that I have downloaded- but never created my own.

  6. I have nearly the same process as you, Stacy. LOVE, LOVE ACR and CS3…they make life so much easier.

    Need to think on Thursday’s theme…hmmm.

  7. I love reading about workflow…I really need to improve in that area. I do everything individually and spend way too much time that way. I need to get better about batch processing. I have LR2 and have played in it some, but just can’t really get comfortable in it.

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