HDR Processing – What comes after a shoot?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, Photography, Photomatix, Photoshop, RLC Design, Tech Tips Leave a Comment

lrwindowLast week I wrote about my setup for HDRs while in the field.  Today we’ll talk about the next step, but not the final step.  See, first you’ve got to import, sort, and select!  Then you get to the fun stuff!

It seems that I’ve personally got a very normal pattern.  Somewhere in the range of 100 shots at each location catch my attention on a given day.  But with HDR it’s not 100 unique photos.  The quantity of pictures could range from 300 – 600 or more.  Remember, each HDR consists of at least 3 exposures.  When you total it up you’re left with a ton of photos on your card!

At the end of the day you come home and of course you want to take a closer look through your captures.  Years ago I’d use Mac’s IPhoto, but today it’s Photoshop Lightroom 2 for me.  And it couldn’t be more useful for working with photo series for HDR creation!  Plus it’s management functionality is spot on!

When sitting down to offload it’s a pretty straightforward process:

  • Break out the CF card and pop it into my Sandisk card reader.
  • Wait for Lightroom2 to start up.
  • Create a custom label for the next series of photos that I’m importing.
  • Start up the Import.  Wait for a while, as 600 shots takes a little time in uploading.
  • Once uploaded create a custom collection for the particular series.  The recent Vulture shots have a collection labeled “Vulture” and it’s a subset of a collection I named “Ghost Towns.”  Pretty easy to organize!
  • Copy the imports to the new custom collection.

lrcollectionAfter the import is complete the rest is pretty straight forward.  Sort, select, reject.  Lightroom2 makes that pretty easy as well!

Lightroom2 allows you to flag photos as Picks or Rejects.  You can get more complex than that, create a hierarchy of levels of satisfaction with a 1 – 5 star rating system, or you could color code your shots as well.  But who needs that for the first pass through.  In my case I quickly flick through the photo series and flag things as picks or rejects.  The first go round is usually pretty good at sorting the really bad from the somewhat interesting!

Once I’ve completed a first run through on the whole batch of imported photos the next step is pretty simple.  I filter the photos in the collection and only display the picked images.  Those images that were rejected along with images that weren’t flagged one way or the other are no longer shown.  That leaves only the picked images showing up on the display.  Much easier at that point to make your next round of cuts and selections!

Normally it’s after the first round of sorting that I’ll pick a few photos to process right away in order to share on the blog.  They’re not necessarily the best of the best.  Just the first ones that initially jump out.

On the next post in this series we’ll talk about going from Photoshop Lightroom2 into my HDR processing software and the generation of the HDRs.  The final post in this series will talk about the HDRs after completion, cataloging them, and using Photoshop where needed!

Watch for the next post on Thursday!

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