MacWorld Shoot, Day 4

by James Duncan Davidson

Spectators at the iPhone DisplayAs I write this, it's Thursday evening and the end of MacWorld is in sight. It's a good thing too. I've lugged my camera gear all over the place and had my camera tugging at my neck for too many days. One of the hard things about this shoot is that I haven't had a good on-location work area. Instead, I've been schlepping everything to and from the hotel every day and doing my best to keep it close. That, however, is what the gig requires and so I should stop whining. Besides, we're not here to talk about those parts of this shoot. Instead, let's talk a bit about the workflow side of the equation.

After shooting 2 1/2 days, I've shot 910 RAW+JPEG frames which stack up 1820 files taking up 14.5GB of disk space. Following the import workflow I mentioned yesterday, that data is safely tucked away onto two separate drive. One drive's structure is managed by Aperture as a project and referenced files. The other, however, is organized in a more rudimentary fashion that makes sense given the workflow. Instead of a complicated deep structure, I have a simple folder/subfolder structure to organize the files by the import session. This let's me see at a glance that I have my files accounted for.


2007-01-12 10:15:09
Hey James, thanks for the insights. Based on what I read above, it seems that you don't backup the changes/processing you do in Aperture on to your backup FW400 drive. Do you manually copy the Aperture information to that drive? Am I just reading this wrong?

By the way, are you using the neck strap that came with your camera? If so, I highly recommend picking up an Op/Tech strap (Super Classic Camera Strap with Pro Loop Connectors & Quick Disconnects). I have one on each on my camera bodies. They rock for long jobs and/or heavy glass. Search for OPSSCL on B&H.

Nick WB
2007-01-12 12:16:11
James, with repsect, if you are using Aperture to its full advantage, why shoot jpeg at all? There is no advantage to be gained. The whole point if RAW is to give you the best quality and avoid the inherant problems with camera processed jpegs.
Daniel Mendez
2007-01-12 13:29:35
I am surprised you have shot so few frames. Would you not want to have other images outside of the specifications of your client for your own portfolio, library or to distribute to other potential clients? Furthermore, could there be an image that you client would see that they did not know they wanted?
Just a thought...
The N00b
2007-01-12 13:50:41
I second Nick's comment.
2007-01-12 14:49:55
There are many advantages to shooting RAW+Jpeg. If you have the disk space available, and enough cards to handle the shoot, adding the Jpeg is essentially the same thing as getting a free set of 4x6 prints back with your processed film.

If the client all of the sudden calls and says, we need a preview of the entire shoot on a DVD mailed to us overnight, having those jpegs out of the camera will save a ton of conversion time--just burn them to a DVD and you're done.

Another advantage is that you have an instant backup (albeit jpeg version) of your entire shoot, and with an automator action like "Separate Jpegs," you can easily offload the jpegs to a secondary drive.

As for shooting less than 1000 frames, I think this is just a matter of personal shooting style. Thinking back to film, 910 frames would be about 25 rolls of film. The more liberally you, the more you have to manage, edit, and deal with. If you are confident in your shooting, many would argue that the rapid-fire technique is just overkill. Taking time to compose and focus is really important. However, this is all a matter of how you like to shoot. I'm sure many sports photogs would argue that rapid fire shooting is the only way to make sure that you "got it."

Nick WB
2007-01-12 15:14:26
Sorry Micah, you are wrong. A decent RAW convertor allows you to process out quickly corrected, cropped and edited jegs that are far superior to camera produced jpegs. This is what the term 'Workflow' is all about; efficient edit, optimize and output to client. Aperture is currently not among the top 3, but rapidly improving and in good hands, can produce very good results.

BTW what role do DVDs have to play in this day and age? We have previewed images to advertising clients on web pages for years with never a complaint. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time we burnt a DVD period.

James Duncan Davidson
2007-01-12 18:06:09
KG: You are correct. I don't back up anything I do in Aperture to the FW 400 drive. I probably should Vault out my library to keep the edits and ratings, but I haven't yet been doing that. Instead, I've simply been relying on the FW400 drive as a "oh crap" safety net.

And no, I don't use the stock factory straps. The first thing I do for any new camera is thrown on an Op/Tech strap. They totally rock. But, even so, a full day with the 5D and 70-200 f/2.8 lens will make itself felt. I should look into the wider Op/Tech straps--right now I'm using the narrower ones on my camera bodies.

Nick WB: If I were only doing photography for the love of the art, I wouldn't have any reason to shoot RAW+JPEG. And, even as a pro, I've resisted doing so for years. But, I've now run into several situations where RAW+JPEG is a perfect solution. As Micah pointed out, if I need to give an AD or a news editor a quick full dump, nothing beats drag and drop onto a DVD, FTP site, or even a scripted rsync over ssh to a client's hard drive. Even the best RAW converters aren't always fast enough.

I've talked about this a bit in a previous blog post:

I'm sure that I'll talk about this more in a future posts as there is more to this issue than meets the eye. On the other hand, I don't recommend that anybody bother shooting RAW+JPEG unless they have a clear and present need to do so. Every photographer has a different set of needs and you have to make very clear decisions about what is right for your circumstances.

Daniel: Every photographer shoots a different number of frames. Some people are amazed that I shoot so much. Others are amazed I shoot so few. In my own work, I notice that when I'm not sure of what I'm doing, I'll shoot more. When I know exactly the kinds of shots I want, I'll shoot less. But, in any case, I try not to subscribe to the "Pray and Spray" school of thought. That leads to spending way too much time in post production doing edits. Instead, I try to actively edit my work before I even press the shutter release. The smarter I shoot, the faster everything else flows.

Without a view into my work, you can't really assume that I haven't gone outside the scope of my client's brief based soley on my frame count. In fact, the images above are most definitly from outside my client's brief--there would actually be a problem if I published the images I'm taking for my client in this kind of situtation at this time.

2007-01-12 18:13:27
Yeah, I've never felt the need to shoot RAW+JPG either, but that's not to say good reasons don't exist. One example is maybe the customer wants a CD/DVD directly after the end of a job, and maybe you don't have time to convert 600 RAW files to JPG. Really though, it's what works for you that's important. (Looking for a good analogy ... failing due to intoxication).

With respect to burning DVDs of proofs, it's all about what the customer wants. Some want DVDs, some want hard drives (usually on larger jobs), some want web, and some want a combination.

2007-01-12 18:25:11
Oops! JDD's reply wasn't up when I wrote that. Oh well.
Peter Frings
2007-01-13 03:44:17
Note that there's another Aperture thumbnail glitch that is far more dangerous in your workflow. The thumbnails are not always correct: in some cases, pictures get a thumbnail from another picture. (there several people reporting this on Apple's discussion forum).
I've had this on several occasions, and fortunately I had not yet deleted the rejects. Since then I have never trust the thumbs -- which is too bad -- and now I always use the view.

(this is on Aperture .1.5.2 -- see e.g. )

James Duncan Davidson
2007-01-13 14:08:23
Peter: Oh jeez. That's a bad bug. Hrm..........
Erik J. Barzeski
2007-01-20 11:12:34
Good insight. It seems to me using the vault would be ideal, especially since you can do so at a later time (i.e. cull on the show floor, sync the vault when you have time to plug in your FW drive).

If I'm not mistaken, most Canon dSLRs use the JPEG (the embedded one in the RAW file, not the JPEG you shoot) as the "preview" image on the LCD, and perhaps even to display the histogram. One trick I've seen mentioned is to set your "Picture Styles" (or your individual settings if you don't have the Picture Styles) to your likely post-production edits. Some even over-sharpen the JPEGs a little because it helps make the focus (good or bad) more apparent when viewing on the camera's LCD.

Is anyone else annoyed that the comments are listed in newest first?