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Jardine: A Workflow Essay Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

8 October 2014

We had a nice leisurely dinner at Pisces tonight, the simple fusion feast graciously served by Michael Corey who really turned our evening around with a side of restrained humor.

We rode home in a reflective mood, wondering if we'd enjoy the company of any of the photographers whose personal blogs we follow as much as we enjoyed Corey's tonight. Maybe, maybe not. There's something opaque about blogging.

We dutifully checked on our backup when we got home. It had finished successfully. So we looked for any late news. Nothing.


But we did find an essay by Lightroom guru George Jardine that caught our attention. We took off our jacket and leaned back in our chair to read what George had to say.

Fortunately, we can rely on software to move those images for us, making the task a little easier.

He'd been asked to write about digital asset management and to keep it to about 400 words. A word count made sense in the days when publishers bought paper but on the Web it's either a budgetary concern (payment by the word) or imitation expertise ("people only read short stuff"). But George had at it.

One thousand one hundred words later, he realized his topic was too expansive for the assignment. But he wanted to publish it anyway, so he put it up on his site as A Workflow Essay On DAM That Never Saw The Light Of Day....


"Workflow is hard," he begins. He quickly qualified that to explain he was not talking about image correction but what we call ingestion, the import of images from a camera to our hard drives.

Fortunately, we can rely on software to move those images for us, making the task a little easier. Maybe Lightroom itself or Image Capture or some utility included with the camera we bought.

That not only copies the image files for us but may perform a few other routines at the same time like adding a copyright notice to the Exif header.

But often that doesn't handle everything we want to do. So we add a step here or there. Which might be something as simple as making copies of the files or converting their format or renaming them.

But it can get complicated too.

George, it turns out, has it complicated. First, he travels. And second, he shoots with more than one camera at a time. So he worries about GPS data and syncing camera clocks, which tend to drift.

That, by the way, is 400 words if you're one of those readers who needs a nap now. For everyone else, this is where the plot thickens.


To maintain his sanity, George "developed a system of creating and applying time zone offsets and clock corrections that can be made more or less 'automatically' by simply photographing a synchronized clock on my phone or computer screen at the end of every camera card that I shoot."

This system is a script without a fancy user interface (the part that usually stops otherwise intelligent people cold) that simply displays the clock image and asks him to type in the time it displays before asking for a folder name to write the images into.

It figures out the clock adjustment required to sync each image and even makes backup copies with checksum verification.

Just exactly what he wanted. He explains why in his essay, which makes an excellent excuse for a nightcap, we found.

But the reason we rolled up our sleeves tonight to tell you about it is to applaud that fusion feast of codifying how you ingest images into a script that repeats the process precisely and accurately for you every time. Works for George, works for us, worth a shot.

It can really turn your import process around from drudgery to something rewarding. You know, so you have time to read more than 400 words on a subject.

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