Nature Notes

December 28, 2008

Organizing Your Photos

Filed under: Processing Tips — Tags: — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am

After submitting some images for a new field guide, I was pleased to have a half dozen accepted, my next step was to send the publishers full size files. Now I had to find them. Some were on my internal hard drive, some were on an external hard drive and perhaps they were on some of the many CDs and DVDs I had in my office. I finally found them after hours of work but I realized I was in an organizational mess.

I had a copy of Lightroom and I had Bridge with my Photoshop software. Both pieces of software had excellent search and keywording facilities if I could set them up right. Here are the steps I took.

Get all of the images accessible on my computer.

Storage in the form of large external hard drives has become very inexpensive. I found I would have plenty of space for eight years of photography on two 500gb External drives. To this I added a 1 Terabyte drive to regularly back everything up to. It would be easy to add additional memory to the system as I needed it if I had things set up in a logical and consistent manner. That was the next step.

Setting up a Logical Directory System.

The next step was to move all the files into a logical system of folders. I decided to use the date they were taken. I set up a folder for each year (eg. 2008). I then set up 12 sub folders, one for each month (eg, 2008-03) Under each monthly sub folder I set up a daily sub folder for each day’s set of images I had (eg. 2008-03-22). This took me many weeks, working a few hours at a time, but it worked like a charm.

The default sorting for my computer operating system automatically was from oldest files to newest files, and when I loaded them into Lightroom or Bridge, it maintained this order. Have a look at the folders in the Lightroom screen shot above and you’ll see it is automatically in this order.

The only thing I added to the this structure was that on the daily folder names, I would often add the name of a place if I had gone away, for example Amherst was added to the 2008-12-11 folder. This serves as an easy visual reference to a special days shooting.

After each new days shooting, it was an easy matter to download the files to a new daily folder, and use Lightroom or Bridge to upload the new folder with its contents.

My next step was to have a system of rating and keywording.

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  1. What a delightful way to adquire basic knoledge from my pov. Can not wait to get a hold into the digital realm to start using it with effcacy. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Oscar — December 28, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  2. You’re welcome Oscar, thanks for the comment.

    If you start off in digital with a reasonably good workflow you’ll be ahead of the game for sure.

    Cheers, Harold

    Comment by Harold — December 28, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  3. Hi Harold,

    My system is to transfer the RAW file and the accompanying tiff or jpg from My Documents on C drive to my external hard drive as soon as they are processed. The processed file retains the same file number as the RAW so I can find the original in the folder quickly. I catalog them by bird group and find this is a quick way to relocate images.

    Comment by Laure Neish — January 20, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  4. Hi Laure:

    That sounds like a good way as well. The important thing is to have a system that works for you.

    For too long I had things all over, and could never locate a file without a search.

    Thanks, Harold

    Comment by Harold — January 20, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  5. It seems out of character for you to be disorganized Harold. ; ) Not that I know you personally LOL but with such amazingly perfect photos I thought they would all be tucked away and catalogued like valuable gems. I can feel the feathers on your Snowy Owl ! Dang, I want to see one soon but they don’t seem to be in our area.

    Comment by Laure Neish — January 20, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

  6. You might get one this year, as they seem to be coming farther then there usual range. Perhaps one will be reported on your Rare Bird Alert line.

    Cheers, Harold

    Comment by Harold — January 20, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

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