Digital Workflow

MrLeica Digital Photography Workflow

People have asked me several times on Flickr what is my digital photography workflow.  Here it is but I think you might be disappointed as there is no magic bullet answer!  I split my digital workflow process into 2 steps –

  • Step 1: Adobe Lightroom workflow
  • Step 2: Adobe Photoshop workflow

The process applies to any digital camera.  I have used the following digital cameras: Leica M8, Leica M9, Leica M Typ 240, Leica CL, Hasselblad H3D-31, Lumix LX100, Nikon D800.

Digital Workflow (Step By Step Guide)

Step 1: Adobe Lightroom Workflow

  1. Firstly, capture photos in RAW format in camera
  2. Remove SD card from camera and copy images to external hard drive via the PC
  3. Import all RAW images into Adobe Lightroom
  4. Apply a MrLeica Lightroom presets to all photos – usually a colour preset first
  5. If a series of photos would then look better in monochrome I apply a MrLeica B&W LR preset developed for that camera (I have multiple presets made for each digital camera I use)
  6. If I don’t like the look I apply a MrLeica B&W LR preset developed for a different Leica camera (I have multiple presets made for each digital camera I use. For example, I use Leica CL Lightroom presets for Leica CL photos and M240 presets for M240 photos etc).
  7. When editing a batch of photos (by applying say a B&W LR preset) I apply the Lightroom preset to a single photo
  8. Then highlight all photos that I want with a similar look and select synchronize settings to copy preset to all highlighted images
  9. Once all photos have a LR preset applied to them I then review all the images again
  10. Check each image for the correct exposure and adjust as needed
  11. The Lightroom histogram can be used to check for clipped highlights and shadows but don’t worry too much
  12. When I review each image if I see one of particular interest to me I will apply a colour or a star rating (see below)
  13. Once each photo is the correct exposure, and has a suitable preset I can export
  14. Select all images
  15. Click export
  16. When sending photos to models and clients I export all images reduced size
  17. For images I want to share on social media I filter all photos by the colour filter or star rating setting
  18. Of every 100 photos I might mark 1-2 images with a colour or a star
  19. Once all photos are filtered by the colour/ star I export these as full size JPEGs

Step 2: Adobe Photoshop Workflow

  1. Open image of interest that was exported full size from Lightroom (step 1)
  2. Duplicate the image layer
  3. Add a curve adjustment layers to change contrast to taste
  4. Dodge and burn parts of the image if needed such as the eyes
  5. Clone out any obvious pimples or blemish if required with the clone tool
  6. Apply localised sharpening if needed
  7. Add border to taste
  8. Export JPEG  image full size upload to Flickr

That is my usual process for 95% of the images I take.  I don’t use presets, plugins or apply excessive airbrushing or smoothing.

Wedding Photography vs Model Photography

For wedding photography editing I upload all the images to Lightroom as described but then I only select the images I want to keep before I start editing.  Documentary style (“photojournalism”) wedding photography happens with minimal interuption in an fluid and often uncontrolled environment.  As such so not every image is a keeper so it takes times to go through all the photos.

My model photography editing is the opposite and much faster.  I control every last detail; the pose, the lighting, the timing, the location, the clothing, the makeup, the expression and even the model selection.  I don’t press the shutter until I am happy with the photo and as such I don’t have to delete many images. Some photographers only give models a hand full of images for their time.  If models receive all the photos they can select their favourites rather than just the ones I like.

Sorry if you expected something more complicated!

My Film Photography Workflow

My Film to Digital Workflow (Develop, Scan, Edit)

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