In episode #6 of the Aquatic Life podcast, Todd and Dalton talk to new underwater photographers about what to do with their images once the memory card come out of their cameras.
Some highlights included:
Make A Backup Of Your Images
Before you go down the rabbit hole of editing on your images, make sure to take a backup of everything just in case. This should be done on a 2nd external hard drive in addition to the images downloaded on your PC.
If you want to be extra careful, keep spare memory cards with you and alternate the ones you use in your camera, and don’t delete the ones on your card until you absolutely need to clear some space
Dalton mentions the SanDisk External SSD, but any flash drive or external hard drive will do. (The most bang for your buck witll be a portable drive with a spinning disk, such as a WD MyPassport, which can get you up to a whopping 4TB of storage with you on the go for under $100.)
Organize Your Images
When you do copy your images to your computer, make sure to put all of them in a folder that makes sense instead of letting the computer name the folder for you. At minimum, make sure you name the folder that all of your images for this particular dive trip. So if you are on a dive trip to Raja Ampat, make sure to name your main folder something like ‘Raja Ampat 2020’. This way, you can easily locate all of the photos that you took on your trip, regardless of what photo editing software you use over the years. (In my case, my photos would be in Pictures > Scuba > Indonesia > Raja Ampat 2020).
Post-Processing Software Options
Dalton and I both use Adobe Lightroom for our image management and global adjustments. There’s a $10 / month plan that gets you Lightroom and Photoshop, plus loads of other goodies. However, for those budget minded folks, there are lots of other alternatives, including several free options. Check out this article that discusses several of the options discussed in the podcast and more. (Links to sites such as Luminar, GIMP, Darktable and others can be found inside that page)
The term ‘workflow’ usually refers to the overall process for handling your images. The idea here is that if you use a standard consistent method, it will save you time in the long run. Everyone’s approach is different, but Dalton and I shared our normal workflows. The best practice we recommend is that before you start finding an image you like and start editing it to first go through several rounds of review:
- Initial review to find totally unusable images (blurry, blacked out, etc). Mark them as rejected and delete
- Next round to review images and pick the best ones that should qualify for image adjustment. You can use star ratings, flag, or color coding. Whatever makes sense. Also compare similar shots to find which one is best.
- Filter to show only your best shots, Then start making making global adjustments.
This is super high level for now. We will discuss our workflow in more detail later on.
Most Common Global Adjustments
This is another topic that we will dive into the details later. But, just a quick note of the most common adjustments that you will want to consider making:
- Cropping – Most images can be improved by re-cropping. Getting rid of excess dead space, removing distracting elements on the boarders, or positioning your subject along the rule of thirds are just a few reasons why cropping will make your image more pleasing
- White Balance – Especially with wide angle shots where strobe light is blended with natural light, your photos can often benefit from a white balance adjustment.
- Exposure, Contrast – From here on out, most of the main sliders can be played around with. The most often used are at the top. Slight adjustments to exposure and contrast can often ensure your main subject is properly exposed.