All the rest is noise

Workflow, software and happiness

There always seems to be a lot of noise on the Internet about what is the best this (cameras and lenses) and that (photo processing software). While I do weigh in on my camera/lens preferences, I have stayed out of the software rants, I mean reviews. Many seem ill-considered and some of them just over the top, and I didn’t want to add to the noise…

Well, now I guess I’m going to add a bit.

Exposure variations

Adobe the company versus Adobe software

Despite my previous affiliation with Adobe (package designer and art director, evangelist and promoter), I am not a particular fan of the company or their policies. The introduction of the Creative Cloud model is irritating and sometimes cumbersome. However, I continue to rely upon their software in my design job and Lightroom is the bedrock of my photo cataloging and post processing. It is safe to say that my work would be significantly different, if not actually impossible, without Adobe software.

Exposure variations

Lightroom for better or worse

Lightroom’s cataloging features work well for me. In fact, I find the UI to be perfectly fine. I know there are those among us who struggle with it. Given that I don’t, it’s difficult to understand those struggles. Like all software, one needs to learn how to use it and then things like the UI tend to fade into the background as you get your work done. I will acknowledge that it might not be that easy for others, but it isn’t that difficult, either.

Really, the main complaint of LR that I have, aside from the Creative Cloud business, is the import speed. Well, actually, there is no “speed” when it comes to importing files into Lightroom. And the situation has gotten worse with the latest updates to the software. My solution has been to preview and tag images for import in Photo Mechanic first, while LR starts up. Then I only import the photos I have selected into the LR catalog. Given that I may be selecting 30 shots from a few hundred, the difference in speed from reviewing images to importing into LR is significant if I don’t have to import the entire shoot into LR, before I can even start making selections. This import process has saved me loads of time and allows me to turn around photos rapidly, in a few minutes, before moving onto photographing my next event. I do synch the folder after I’m finished with editing and delivery of the selected photos. That way, LR has the other photos from the shoot in the catalog, but that import can take place after the critical work is complete.

As a Fujifilm X-camera user, I have had my own struggles with LR and the x-trans RAW files. I have never been dissatisfied with the actual processing of the files, once one learns the proper sharpening settings. The problem is down to performance. LR remains slow at processing the Fujifilm RAW files. Much slower, it seems, than comparably sized RAW files from other cameras. Given that I use 90 per cent JPEGs rather than RAW files, this is less of an issue. Overall, I find the Develop module of LR to be great. The features I need are all there and I am quite proficient at using them.

Beach DE

Is there a better way?

I have been tempted by another. Well, I thought that I would see what all the fuss was about. In fact, I tried it twice.

In the past year, I have heard from a few fellow X-photographers that they had switched to Capture One. And, there are countless comments on forums and the like claiming the huge benefits of processing RAW files in CO over other software. After using the software, with two different versions, for a couple of months, I have to say that I’m underwhelmed.

Perhaps it’s a matter of taste (I’m being generous here), but I don’t see any improvements in the RAW processing in CO over LR. In fact, I find the results distractingly worse. I think that they look like out-of-camera Canon JPEGs, with over saturated colours and sharpness that screams “over processed” digital photos! I much prefer the output from Lightroom, with the aid of the Fujifilm camera calibration film options.

I know, the first response that anyone can make to this statement is that I don’t know how to use the software. To argue with that type of response is pointless in this forum. Unless I am sitting down with you, working on files in the software, we will never be able to determine my proficiency with the software. However, since I earn my livelihood with photography, I can safely claim some level of proficiency with post-processing photos, no matter which software I use. So, take my comments for what they are, my opinion and observations.

Beach DE

Happiness is in the results

In reality, my favourite photo processing happens inside of the X-cameras when producing JPEGs, using the available film presets. I rely upon this processing to get me 90 per cent of the way home, with 90 per cent of what I shoot. When I do use the RAW files, I usually select one of the Fujifilm film simulation modes in the camera calibration panel and then make any additional edits. And, processing JPEGs in LR is relatively fast. So, the combination of X-trans JPEGs (plus a few RAW files) and Lightroom, works well for me. Very well.

So, how does workflow and software relate to happiness? It comes down to the path you choose and how one walks along that path. Like cameras and lenses, it’s best to use the workflow and software that makes the experience a positive and rewarding one. If something works for you, great. Keep on doing it. For me, no software is perfect. However, I have a job to do, so I adapt my workflow to best utilize the software I have available to me. Some things are worth complaining about (the new importing dialogue in LR), but I don’t find it worthwhile to spend too much energy on rants. In fact, I’ve spent too much time on this one…

Just concentrate on shooting what you like, with the equipment that makes you happy and spend less time on the rest. It’s just a lot of noise.

All though these images don’t have anything to do with the text, I thought that I would include some visual distraction. Double exposures created in-camera with the Fujifilm X30.

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