Photography is an awesome hobby. You can find my photos on my SmugMug site.
Displate (Affiliate Link)
Because the prints are awesome, I’ve uploaded a bunch of my photos to Displate. You can see my profile here: David’s Displate Profile If you purchase anything through that link, I get a small commission.
Note: I plan on reevaluating some of the pics in my Displate galleries. Go find the pics on SmugMug before you buy to make sure they look good zoomed in.
Tools and Workflow
When I upgraded to a Sony a6500 and was able to shoot raw images, I found that Lightroom 5.7 could not read the .arw format Sony uses.
I looked into upgrading Lightroom, but I had previously had a very negative experience with their user forums, and their subscription plan is ridiculous. I have no intention of using software to organize my files that will stop working if I don’t keep paying for it.
So I spent a really long time trying to find something better. The thing is, Lightroom’s metadata management is the best I could find. Every other program either didn’t offer support, or was extremely clunky. It was a frustrating search, but I eventually discovered a very good workflow.
I import photos off of my Sony a6500 with Capture One for Sony. There is a free, stripped down, version for Sony camera owners. It is a really good tool for importing, I can have the files organized into the folder structure I like, as well as renamed. Since Sony’s directory structure is a bit odd, it is essential to have tool that can both copy them to disk, and then remove the files from the sd card.
I initially was using Shotwell on an Ubuntu vm. But it just wasn’t a very good workflow.
Another part of this step is to copy the raw files to an external hard drive.
Converting to DNG
This is the piece that saved my bacon. Lightroom 5.7 has full support for Adobe’s DNG format. And Adobe released Adobe DNG Converter for free.
So I use that to convert my imported photos to DNG from ARW.
Move into Lightroom 5.7
Once converted, I use Lightroom’s import tool, with the move option selected, I import all the DNG files.
I make sure to add basic copyright info here as well.
The next step is to reject any photos that aren’t very good. I use bracketing to take 3 different exposures for each shot. So I end up with about 3 times as many photos as I need. So I end up quicky flicking through them and hitting ‘x’ to reject the ones I don’t want.
Edit -> Select by Flag lets me select all the rejected photos and then delete. Since I have my raws all backed up, I don’t have to worry about possibly losing something I might find useful years from now.
Next is basic metadata management. And this is the step that has kept me using Lightroom 5.7. I use tags/keywords extensively. Any possible combination of words that describe a photo I can think of gets added.
I also have taken to keeping collections based on broader categories than I get via tags. You can see that reflected on my SmugMug site.
One step I haven’t fully integrated yet is adding titles and captions.
Now, here’s where my long search for a good alternative to Lightroom benefited me the most. I found Luminar and Aurora HDR from Skylum software.
Skylum has created “AI” tools that make developing your pictures much much easier than any other tool I’ve used. A lot of the time I just need to adjust a single slider a little bit to get my picture to go from “Nice pic.” to “Wow. Nice pic!” It honestly feels like cheating at times.
You can see how well it works in my most recent galleries on SmugMug. Judge for yourself whether it’s good, or not. Oh, and I’d love some constructive criticism if you feel like dropping me a note. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to check out the tools for yourself, here is a Skylum Affiliate Link.
The actual process ends up looking something like this:
- Basic cropping/leveling in LR.
- Export to Luminar or Aurora HDR with Lightroom Adjustments
- Make my edits and click blue “Apply” button.
- A TIFF file is exported back into Lightroom and the metadata from the original photo is applied to it.
I’m still refining this step, but it boils down to:
- General Lightroom collections for broad categories like Lighthouses, Rocks, Waterfalls, Mountains, etc.
- SmugMug plugin plus Lightroom Smart Collections for published photos.
- So, a smart collection per broad category collection that selects based on if the photo is in the proper collection, and if it is a TIFF file.
- The plugin then uploads JPEG versions to SmugMug in the appropriate gallery.
Anyway, that’s a broad overview of my photography hobby. If you read this far, thanks!
I’m very much an amature, but I hope my shared photos are enjoyable.