Back in the days when film was the only way to record an image, pro and advanced amateur photographers had a workflow though it wasn’t called by that name. Actually, the process didn’t have a name. We were just doing photography… taking our images with our film cameras, developing the negatives and printing the results.
With the development of high tech equipment, high-tech catch phrases followed. So now instead of doing photography, we have our workflow. All in all, the processes in both film and digital photography are similar though in digital, different tools are used in post-capture and they allow greater flexibility.
With film photography there are three steps to the workflow. First, you capture the image with your camera of choice. Second, you either develop the negatives using chemicals and tanks or you send them out to a professional service to have it done. Third, you choose which negatives to print, enlarge them and then print and develop the results using chemicals in trays or tanks or again, have a professional service do this for you.
With digital photography you have the same three steps though the second and third processes differ greatly in the tools used. First you capture the image with the camera of your choice. Second, you “develop” the RAW digital image using special software and a computer with a calibrated monitor and then possibly use another piece of software for image enhancement. Third you choose which images to print, interpolate to the size you wish to print to and then print, most likely, using an inkjet printer. Of course one can shoot jpegs and essentially let the camera do the processing and then get a professional service to make your prints. In this article and in those to follow in the series, I will concentrate on the do-it-yourself process.
I’ll skip the first step as there are many books and classes available that teach how to use a camera though I would like to suggest that you pick up one or two books that touch upon the creative use of a camera, especially in the areas of composition and the use of light.
Since I work predominately with an Olympus E-1 camera, in the second step my examples will come mainly from the use of Olympus Studio software for RAW conversion. Adobe CS2 is what I use for image enhancement. There are many 3rd party RAW converters out there as well as programs for doing image enhancement. I will focus on Olympus Studio and CS2 not because I feel these are the best choices, but because they work the best for me.
In the third step my examples will come from the use of Qimage printing software along with a Canon photo inkjet printer. Once again, the combination works for me.
In future articles on this subject, my purpose will be to present a basic introduction to the second and third steps in the digital workflow. Hopefully you will be able to come away with an understanding where you can then apply what you’ve learned to your own process and be better equipped to make the software and hardware choices that meet your needs.