My Photo Workflow Continues to Evolve


 

Your post production workflow – the steps you take after uploading your photos to your computer – is always a topic that is worth reviewing from time to time. As the technology, software,  and your knowledge change, you will probably find that your workflow also evolves.

A few weeks ago, I posted an article that described how and why I retired from active service the Photoshop Elements Catalog I have been using for well over ten ears. To se that article, CLICK HERE. In this post, I describe what the basic steps are after I have uploaded my images to Photoshop Elements 13. Yes, I still use PSE 13 for managing my 50K images. Since I teach beginning Lightroom classes, I have been exploring it more thoroughly as of late. In fact I even “upgraded” (Adobe’s term, not mine) my prime photos catalog to LR5. I have a few initial thoughts on the success of this, but that is the subject of another article.

PSE 13 Welcome

Here is my current workflow that uses both the PSE 13 Organizer and its Photo Editor, with Photoshop CC added to the mix when needed. The description begins as soon as the photos and videos have been imported to the PSE 13 Organizer.

1. The first thing I do is tag my photos. If the subject matter is pretty fixed, this step takes only seconds. For example, on a typical weekend of watching my granddaughters’ softball and soccer games, I may find that come Sunday evening I have 500 images and several videos on my memory card. I already have the tag structure and tags defined. It’s just a matter of selecting the right images and dragging them over to the appropriate tags.
A. If the input batch is from a trip or similar event or photo shoot, I will at least tag the images at the Category level,
and then come back later to sub-divide them into Sub-Categories, and Keyword Tags.

B. Since PSE 11, I have made use of the Events, People, and to a lesser extent Places tags.

Org Grid

2. I next screen the images using the Full Screen View option (F11) in the Organizer. I will also make use of the side-by-side display option (F12) as needed.
A. I skip over any videos I have imported at this point
B. To cull out the best photos I use the Organizer’s Star Rating feature:

1 = Delete

2 = Needs work, provides a good class example, or is member of a burst, HDR, or panorama sequence.

3 = Will most likely be included in a slide show, or DVD I plan to make at some point. Often these are not the best photos in the world from a technical standpoint, but are needed to better tell the story. I will also give the best photo of a sequence 3 stars.

4 = These are pretty good for me, and probably are the ones that I will most likely end up printing.

5 = Hardly ever awarded at this stage

After Step 2, I still have many images that have not been rated. They will remain in my Catalog.

3. I now screen the video clips that were uploaded in the grid view. I double-click on the video file and play the video in the enlarged window that appears, rather than in the full screen mode.

PSE Video Preview

4. More recently, if I have essentially completed the keyword tagging of my images, I will write them and other metadata to the image files – File > Save Metadata to Files. If I do not do this, only those images that I have at least opened in the Editor will have the tagging and other metadata written to the file itself.

5. I then delete all of the 1 star images/videos from the Catalog, as well as the hard drive. Typically from a weekend of shooting soccer and softball games, I’ll end up with in the order of a couple of hundred images. This is far too many, and I’m working on raising my standards. The percentage of keepers is roughly the same when the images are of general subjects, such as scenery.

6. Next comes editing those photos and videos that are either in a sequence (2 Stars) and those that have 3 or 4 Stars.
A. Since I almost Always shoot RAW, I will naturally do my initial editing using the ACR.
B. Normally, that is all the editing I need to do. I fact, that is my goal, for individual photos.
C. If I can do that, I do not need to save an edited version. My changes are recorded in a small .xmp file.

7. To print the photo or make editing changes requiring, for example selections or layers, I will open the image in Elements’ Photo Editor.

Alternately, I will on occasion, send the RAW image directly to Photoshop’s ACR to take advantage of its added tools and/or Photoshop itself. However, this will require that a dupe (actually a Version Set) of the RAW file to be generated, which will take up additional disk drive space.

8. The final step of my basic workflow is to periodically do either a Full Backup or Incremental Backup of my Catalog and all of the media it contains (File > Backup Catalog).

This pretty much summarizes my basic workflow. Somewhere between Steps 7 and 8, I put together my photo projects, whatever they may be.

I would love to hear your thoughts and workflow steps that you use or in PSE or other programs.

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Doing Incremental Backups in Photoshop Elements Saves Disk Space But Not Time


I have been a long time user  of  the Backup/Restore commands in the Organizer of Photoshop Elements. My general practice has been to use the Full Backup option. However, as my photo/video collection has grown (about 600 Gb and 46K items) over the years, the time to do the backup and storage space it requires have grown tremendously.

More recently, I have begun to use the Incremental Backup option more and more.

PSE 13 Bkup OPtion

The Incremental Backup builds on the last Full Backup done and only adds those files and Catalog changes since it was done. Obviously, the storage space is significantly reduced, and initially I thought the time to do an incremental backup would also be significantly reduced.

That is definitely not the case. Generally speaking, on my PC, an incremental backup takes just about as long to do as does a full backup.

Here is an example for my most recent incremental backup.

  • The first two three steps take only two or three minutes.
  • After calculating the media size, there is message with no progress bar that says that PSE is loading the previous backup. This message stayed on the screen  for about an hour and half with no other indication that PSE is even running. In fact, if you bring up the Task Manager, it shows that the PSE Organizer is not responding.
  • At this point it is very tempting to abort the process, thinking PSE has basically crashed. Don’t. It is still hard at work.
  • Eventually a dialog box appears where you click on the Save Backup button. A message appears stating that PSE is identifying incremental files and soon after, a progress bar appears.
  • In this example, it took one and a half hours or so for the Successfully Completed the Backup message to appear.

In this example the backup was about 17 Gb and took about two hours and forty minutes. I basically did not use the computer during this period. Also of note, is that I was backing up to a portable USB 3.0 external drive, but it was plugged into a USB 2.0 port on my PC. Also, I was using PSE 13.

So, using the Incremental Backup saves tons of disk space but still takes a significant amount of time. It would be nice if Adobe would add some type  of status or progress report during the time period when no real helpful information is being displayed.

I generally do two or three incremental backups before doing a full backup. To find out more about my use of the Backup/Restore commands, you can check out the link below or use the Search bar on this page to view a list of all of the posts on this and related  subjects.

https://don26812.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/photoshop-elements-catalog-file-the-critical-link/

 

 

Carbonite’s Sync and Share – A Resource Hungry App You May Not Need


A few months ago I summarized my experiences starting and initial usage of CarboniteRemember Carbonite is a popular and excellent way to back up your important files to the cloud. I use Carbonite as my doom’s day backup to supplement my local backup strategy.

Also in an earlier post, I pointed out that Carbonite does not automatically back up your Photoshop Elements Catalog. You have to manually direct it to do that, which is not difficult.

 I like Carbonite and it seems like a good product, one by the way that I hope I never after to see just how good it is. Carbonite has an optional free iPad app, Sync and Share, that allows you to access your backed up files from anywhere from your iPad/iPhone – and probably all smart devices. I installed it and also the small computer program on my PC.

To be honest, I never tried using Sync and Share in the couple months I had it on my PC and iPad. I was experiencing some probably unrelated PC performance problems and was using the Windows Task Manager to see what was going on. To my amazement, Sync and Share was using 3.8 Gb of my 16 Gb of internal RAM. That was an order of magnitude above any other program/process on my PC.

 I contacted Carbonite to verify that I could just uninstall the Sync and Share program in the normal manner without affecting my Carbonite backups. I did indeed uninstall Sync and Share and removed its companion app from my iPad. As I write this, the largest memory using program/process on my PC is only 118 Mb (OneNote), and I’m using about 22% of my total PC memory.

Task Manager

 Your mileage may vary, and there may have been steps that I could have taken to reduce Sync and Share’s use of my PC’s resources. But for me, I am sticking with the plan vanilla Carbonite that is doing what I expected.

Photoshop Elements Users – Carbonite Does Not Back Up Your Catalog


I am a long time user of Photoshop Elements, especially its Organizer to help me manage my very large Catalog of photos and videos. This use includes relying solely on its Backup/Restore commands to protect both my pictures and my Catalog file.

Recently I have begun to also use Carbonite as part of my overall backup process. I am still learning about this popular program for backing up your computer files to the Cloud.

After my system completed its initial Carbonite backup (two months in my case due to the extremely large number of files and requires storage space) I discovered that after all of that, it had not backed up my Photoshop Elements Catalog file.

CarboniteFiles that Carbonite has backed up and will keep current have a very tiny green circle in the lower  right corner of their file name when viewed with Windows Explorer. Here is what you do to verfy that your Catalog file has been backed up.

  1. Within in the Organizer, click on Help > System Info.
  2. In the dialog box that opens, the Current Catalog  section shows the filename of your Catalog and the path to it. Note it leaves off the file extension which is .pse12db if you are using PSE 12. The 12 is the PSE version number.
  3. Using Windows explorer, navigate to the Catalog file and verify it has a tiny green dot in its lower left hand corner.
  4. If it does not, right click on the file, select Carbonite > Back up this file as soon as possible.

Add File to Backup with Carbonite

Now the next time Carbonite syncs your backup, the Catalog file will be backed up.

As it turns not, for a variety of reasons, my Catalog is not stored in the default location. That could by why it was not backed up during the initial Carbonite backup of my system.

If you like many of my students do rely on Carbonite or a similar cloud-based or local  automatic backup program, make sure your PSE Catalog is part of that backup. If it is not, add it manually. Otherwise all of your tagging, captions, and other information that  you have added in the Organizer will not be backed up.

 

The Case for Multiple Photoshop Elements Catalogs


My general advice to my students is to use only one Catalog. Do not be tempted to organize your photos into different Catalogs. The Organizer of Photoshop Elements provides a number of ways to help you. The obvious one is to use Categories as a way to separate your media. For example, you could define one high level Category to business photos and another one for your personal photos. And then use Sub-Categories, and Keyword Tags to refine your organization structure beneath each of your two Categories.

Another possibility is to use folders to keep your personal pictures separate from those devoted to your business. Given the significant improvements made to the Folder View in PSE 11/12, this approach has some real merit, especially if you are comfortable using folders and files to organize your other documents. Even Albums and Album Groups can be used.

Any of these methods or a combination of them can be used to organize your media, so that you can find a given item quickly, without the added complications arising from using multiple catalogs.

Well, I’m afraid I do not always practice what I preach, is illustrated in the figure below from clicking on File > Manage Catalogs in my installation of PSE 12.

Blog post 12-5-13-2

I rationalize my use of multiple Catalogs in a variety of ways. After all, I teach Photoshop classes and sometimes I need a Catalog devoted to that. At some point, I felt I needed a separate Catalog just for my video files, or one just for testing. I even have a Catalog that only contains MP3 files I have downloaded over the years – this one has proven quite useful, by the way.

But by and in the large, I have more Catalogs than I need and this has made my life more complicated than need be. Granted, one large Catalog does require long back-up times when using the PSE Backup command. And there are certain dangers of putting all of those photos into the same basket.

All that being said, I recently made yet another Catalog, and it has worked out quite well. Recently, my high school graduating class celebrated our 50th Reunion, and I volunteered to produce a DVD to commemorate the reunion weekend, as well as highlighting what life was like back in the early 60s for us. As part of this project, several of my fellow classmates submitted their pictures to be part of the DVD. Additionally there were photos from our high school years, as well as Super 8 movies. All and all, I had over five hundred files from which to choose for inclusion on our DVD. The project grew to include more than seven hundred items by the time the DVD was completed.

 Blog post 12-5-13-1

I have been active on this project for a couple of months. During that time, I have also been taking a ton of personal pictures that I import into my prime photo Catalog. Using a new Catalog for the photos, videos, and music files for my reunion project made keeping everything straight much easier. I used the Backup command quite often throughout the project, since I was constantly changing the content and versions of the photos and video clips quite often. Backing up my prime photo Catalog (about 40K items) takes between three and four hours, while backing up my project catalog takes a matter of minutes.

Now that the project is winding down, and the DVD is completed, another advantage of using a separate catalog is becoming apparent. I have already begun to delete a lot of the content that I did not use to make the DVD. I will retain the photo CDs that were contributed by fellow classmates. Also, the pictures/videos that I took that became part of the project were Exported from my prime Catalog, so they are still part of that. As part of my final wrap-up of this project, I will Move all of the media in the reunion catalog to a DVD or Blu-Ray disk, using the File > Copy/Move to Removable Drive command. I will retain the Catalog, but the disk space it takes will be quite small. If I ever want to resurrect the project, it will be quite simple to get the media back.

So, there is a time and place for using multiple Catalogs. Just don’t overdo it as one could argue I have.

An Aside: As of right now, my initial backup to Carbonite is 56% complete with about 7,550 files to go. See my prior post on this subject.

 

I’m Giving Carbonite a Try


11-10-2013 6-44-56 PM

If you have followed my blog, you know I have a large collection of pictures and videos that I manage using the Organizer of Photoshop Elements. And I use its Backup/Restore commands to back up my media and the Catalog itself. This has worked well for me over the years. I’ve even described my process in previous posts. Here is the link to one of those posts.

https://don26812.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/photoshop-elements-catalog-file-the-critical-link/

You can find other related posts by searching my blog using the “Search My Blog” text box located further down the page in the right hand column.

I also use an old program called Karen’s Replicator for periodically backing up my other important folders and files. It also has worked well for me.

A couple of weeks ago, the C Drive on my “business” computer (in contrast to my “photos/videos computer) went belly up. This computer contained the data I use in Outlook and Quicken. Because of the crash and my frequency of using the Replicator program, I lost about three days of not-too important data. For some reason when I restored the Outlook data, some data was missing. I think it was more my improperly using the Outlook restore steps rather than the quality of my Replicator backup.

But the whole episode got me thinking about my backup process and whatever vulnerability I have in this area. I decided to give Carbonite a try. I won’t really describe it here, but you can click on the link to find out more about it. Suffis it to say that it basically provides unlimited backup storage on the cloud for $60 a year for a single computer and its internal drives. For additional features and multiple computers, higher price options are available.

I started my initial backup of my photos computer yesterday, which will be about 450 Gb. If I did my math right, considering what has been backed up so far, it will probably take most of a month to complete. But after that, it will only take a few minutes a day to keep the backup current.

While it is doing the initial backup, I have not noticed any measurable slowing down of my computer. I continue my normal backup practices using Elements and Replicator, so I am not too concerned with the length of time the initial backup takes.

Reviews and a few friends that have been using Carbonite have been positive.  I do know that the company has been around for a significant length of time. I’ll keep you posted regarding how the initial backup is progressing.

Comment and let me know what your experience has been using Carbonite or a similar cloud-based product.

Critical Photoshop Elements 11 Back-up Files Gone Missing


As I have stated several times in previous posts of this blog, I back up my photo and video collection using the embedded Backup command that is available in all versions of Photoshop Elements, including PSE 11.

This command and its counterpart, the Restore command, have worked well for me over the last ten-plus years or so. My Catalog currently has over 36,000 items and takes hours to back up to a USB 3.0 external drive. It is my key protection in case disaster strikes.

Back-up Folder Contents
Recently, as is my normal practice I took a quick look at my most recent back-up folder as I was preparing to do a full back-up. A back-up folder generally consists of a series of JPEG images (your photos) that have each been renamed in sequential fashion, beginning with the letter “B”. These files are your full resolution images, which can be opened by double clicking on them.

If your Catalog also includes videos and audio files they will be included in this series of renamed files. There will be most likely a series of .XMP files that contain information about the media files.

At the bottom of this list, there will be two additional files, the catalog.buc and the backup.tly file. These are extremely important. These two files are used to reconstruct your Catalog during the Restore process. Without these two files, all you have is a bunch of photo images that contain little or no information to help you identify them, other than your memory.

The figure below shows a small part of one of my back-ups.

clip_image002


Missing Backup.tly and Catalog.buc Files

When I looked at my last back-up folder, the backup.tly and the catalog.buc folder were not there! That full back-up would have been of little use in restoring my catalog if I had needed to do that.

I have no idea why these two files were missing. Perhaps I shut down my computer while the back-up command was being completed in the background. I had received the PSE 11 message saying my back-up had been completed successfully.

I Now Check for Them

I also looked at other full back-ups I had done with PSE 11, and they all contained these two critical files. I am confident that the program worked properly. But I have now added a new step in my back-up/restore workflow. Once I back up a Catalog, I check to see that there is indeed a .buc and a .tly file listed.