Like any other photographer, I find processing tedious and time consuming. Yet, there is a sense of satisfaction when a folder of images is finished and ready to go on the market.
I don't look at processing as simply moving sliders in Photoshop to get the color and exposure right. That's just one part of processing a photo.
Let's take a look at the photo of a yellow-billed cuckoo that you see above. Somethings you see and somethings you don't see. Here were my processing steps:
- The image survived my initial cull.
- The file is named with the name of the species, my initials, and a four digit number.
- The image is processed as a batch with all the similar shots.
- With the image enlarged to 100%, it is rated with *, **, ***, ****, or ***** stars. One star means that I can keep the image but it's pretty bad. This is usually because I've never seen the species before or unusual behavior. Two stars means it's okay but still worth keeping. Three stars means I did a good job and the image is marketable. Four stars means I did a really good job and I'm pretty proud of the image. Five stars means I am thrilled with the shot and consider it one of my best.
- I add metadata in the Description field that tells me and future clients what's going on in the image. For the image above, "Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus, feeding on fall webworms, Hyphantria cunea, in a mulberry tree, High island, Upper Texas Coast, in the spring"
- Then I keyword the image. These would be: Yellow-billed cuckoo; Coccyzus americanus; spring; feeding; fall webworms; Hyphantria cunea; mulberry; High island; Upper Texas Coast; Texas.
- Keywords help future clients find the image on the internet or in my public database. Someone needing a photo of a yellow-billed cuckoo can find the shot. Someone looking for a photo of webworm infestation can find the shot. Someone looking for a photo of a bird in a mulberry can find the shot. I have to think about the needs of a variety of clients.
- I consider the image finished only after all the steps have been completed. Then I can send the file to the database and offer it to the market.
Is all this necessary even if you're not a professional photographer? I think it is.
- Rating each image helps you find your best photos at a moment's notice. Simply sort them by the stars in Photoshop or Lightroom or query by rating.
- Description tells you what's going on in the photo. If you post your images on Zenfolio or SmugMug then the description shows up right under the photo so viewers can see the information. Very nice touch.
- Keywords help you find images and help your images show up on web searches. No information, no search results.
A lot goes into processing an image. It's not simply about color correction and sharpening.
Check out my YouTube video tutorials on Photoshop if some of the software terms don't make sense. Photoshop and Lightroom are not that hard to learn and make processing images easy and efficient. Maybe even a little fun, too.