The New Manual DSLR Project

Hi, and welcome to my blog. The Manual DSLR Project was started March 30, 2010 with the intent of devoting one year to learning how to use my Nikon D300 in manual mode. I invited you to join me as I took this journey. You celebrated with me as my fingers began to remember which wheel adjusts the shutter speed and which controls the aperture settings. I was brutally honest in sharing my mistakes.

A year passed quickly...and I achieved my goal of demystifying the manual operation of my camera.

While the Manual DSLR Project was intended to be bound by time (one year), I am eager to keep the conversation going. So look for additional posts on anything related to photography. And interact. Let me know if you are reading the blog and find it useful.

All the best...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Workflow Using Lightroom 3 - part 1

We are 288 days into the Manual DSLR Project and I am feeling pretty good about my ability to use my D300 in manual mode. The adjustments are becoming more natural. Muscle memory is taking over and it is almost like the camera is becoming an extension of my body. Okay, that sounds a little weird, but you know what I mean. I am no longer having to think about "increase shutter speed" or whatever. In the true spirit of Nike... I "just do it". Mission accomplished? Yes. To some extent at least.

Like any self-improvement project, overall improvement is the goal. And since I have been shooting more I have fine tuned my editing workflow as well. This process started when I watched a Chase Jarvis video outlining his workflow. Suffice it to say that I am not Chase Jarvis, nor do I have have his budget. So I adapted my own workflow based on my needs and resources. We will take a few minutes to talk about that today.

Once I have images on a card, I use a CF card reader to plug the card directly into a USB port on my MacBook. There is already an external hard drive hooked up to the computer with a Firewire 400 connection. I open Lightroom 3 and tell it to copy the files on the card to my hard drive. In addition, I have it to send a duplicate to a folder on my external hard drive.

Once all the files are imported, I go through my first weeding process. Since I have it set to automatically eject my card after import, am free to remove the card and set it aside. I will format it in the camera later.

I now move from the Library module to the Develop module in Lightroom. I now go through a quick rating of the images. If they are usable, I mark them with a 3. If they are no good at all and I plan to delete them, I do not rate them. If they are part of an HDR series of bracketed shots, I mark them with a 1. While this is different from most rating systems, it works for me. It it is a marginal image that I might use in a pinch, I'll mark it with a 2.

I can now filter for 3 stars for higher and begin to select the best images by upgrading them to a 4 or 5 as appropriate. Once I have the photos that I am going to post process, I will begin to tweak them as needed. More about that in part 2 of this post.

For now here is a photo of our cat, Zeke, who was kind enough to model for me as he took in the sun through the library window. If you look closely in his eye you can see a reflection of me taking the shot. (See photo below).

This image was shot in Aperture priority at f5.6, ISO 400, 1/6 second. After I took a few of these at slow shutter speeds I changed to ISO 1600 to shoot the rest. Again, while this project is about learning manual mode, it does not stop me from using whatever set of tools I feel necessary to get the shot. In this case, a jittery cat calls for Aperture priority.

Hope you enjoy. Look for part 2 coming soon.

All the best...Mike

1 comment:

  1. Great post Mike! It's interesting to see how others do these things. I'm always looking for tips to improve my own workflow.
    Keep it up! :)
    // Simon Wallerstedt