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Organizing a Digital SLR: An Amateur’s View

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Lately, almost anyone can afford a digital SLR (Digital SLR) camera. The purchase may be prompted by different motives – the desire to impress people around, the prejudice that professional equipment hides inside the settings "to make a cool picture", "to make a very cool picture" and soon will shoot without a photographer at all. Maybe you’re sure you’ve outgrown the average "soapbox" and are ready to play around with different lenses, white balance settings, exposure settings, etc. I hope we all honestly admit that we chose the latter option : then let me give you some advice.

The question "a good soapbox or a simple DSLR" is not as obvious as it seems : on this topic has been broken a lot of copies

As an amateur photographer to amateur photographers, I’d like to share my perspective on how to organize the workflow and what tools are best to use – hopefully it will be helpful to someone.
The main idea is. Divide the process of working with photos into steps, on each of which use a separate tool (program): this will greatly simplify and facilitate your life. Let’s highlight reviewing and deleting bad frames, editing and cataloging.

View

So, you’re back from a trip, from a photo shoot, just took a few shots. Let’s use an easy and simple program that will not waste time downloading the editor, the image database and unnecessary components: now we just look and delete the bad shots.
If you have enough thumbnails, download Microsoft RAW Image Viewer (for Windows XP) and also the appropriate codec for your camera ( download page ). To view individual photos, I would recommend FastStone MaxView because it is fast and correct, but not IrfanView. The other programs can hardly be called easy, and the software which comes with the cameras is often considered by the user as a completely incapable fool.
Delete only shots that are unsuccessful in terms of composition – the rest can be saved, especially since there will be a lot of wrong shots in the beginning, that’s normal.

Editing

Let’s start by importing from RAW files
There are many programs out there – paid and free, handy and not so handy. For free, you can get the fairly friendly Raw Therapee here The only downside to this program is the lack of "Make it awesome" button. batch processing files, in the coming version 2.4 they promise to fix it : I bet this is not the most important thing for an amateur. My case Raw Therapee Is doing just fine. Of the free alternatives, we can mention in passing UFraw but the usability of its interface leaves a lot to be desired.
Of the paid alternatives, the best known and most accessible is Adobe Camera Raw , a simplified version of which comes with Adobe PhotoshopElements. Given the low price. 1495 rubles , you can also consider this option. You’ll get a combine: a simplified version of Photoshop (with the filters most needed by the home user) and a photo cataloger. If you decide to learn Photoshop from the available online reference books or "Digital Photo" magazine and actively use the preinstalled filters, this option is preferable. The disadvantages are the program’s heaviness, the questionable convenience of the built-in cataloger, and the lack of RAW batch processing.
What we want to correct in the editor ? Make the portraits prettier, add some simple effects, and take out some little annoyances. It doesn’t take much to do that.
Allow yourself a licensed Photoshop can any student The rest of us, with our conscience in a corner, can equalize our rights by simply stealing it. The necessity of Photoshop is a big misconception, which I would like to dissuade you from. How necessary is it for the average amateur photographer? This is a powerful and not easy to master product, in most cases its application is "out of the cannon against a sparrow": a lot of its functions remain unused and even unexplored.
Happy GIMP fans: a lot of its functions remain unexplored too, you need a much simpler tool.
There are two options :
The first one is ArtWeaver or Paint.NET For amateur processing we have parity: both programs have a similar set of features, Russian interface and fairly uncomplicated to use. However, certain nuances of Paint.NET or ArtWeaver can bias the choice in one direction or another. I personally preferred ArtWeaver – it seemed to me more convenient, and the ability to use full-screen mode (with a resolution of 1280×800 is important) was one of these nuances of choice. The advantage of these programs – low resource consumption, free and relatively easy to use. Minus – the lack of artistic filters and numerous how-to on the intricacies of use.
The second option is Photoshop Elements By version 6.0, it has evolved from a free camera app (Photoshop Album) into a friendly, yet reasonably lightweight version of its parent. In the arsenal – a set of filters with special effects, a little trimmed "adult" plugins and powerful functionality to publish photos (eg, creating galleries). There are plenty of tutorials and instructions on Photoshop, the kit has a good Russian-language help. Minus – resource-intensive program.

Cataloging

How many photos have you tagged? And how many photos have you rated on a five-point scale? I think you want to look at, remember what you see, show the footage to family and friends. Tagging and rating should be unobtrusive and optional – be guided by that when choosing a program. I suggest to arrange your processed images in lighter formats (PNG, JPG) in the hierarchy of Figures \ [Year] \ Event: while RAW files should be saved on disk and placed on the shelf, you should not keep such big files in a photo album. We have already edited everything, so the last thing you need is complex processing tools and displaying unnecessary service information : stop at Google Picasa or Windows Live Photo Gallery Both have a moderate feature set, and are convenient and logical. Looking ahead: Live Photo Gallery can upload pictures to Flickr and MSN Spaces, and also creates panoramas of several photos well, but Picasa is a bit faster and can create collages. You can generate galleries with anything from these programs , create panoramas with Hugin : except for your personal preferences, Picasa and Live Gallery are generally the same.
P.S. Let me explain why I propose to organize the process this way, because you can use Adobe Lightroom, ACDSee PhotoPro, Paint Shop Pro and many others. "Combines" most often take a long time to load, offer staggering functionality in pursuit of customers, and besides, cost completely unreasonable money. Photography is not a way for everyone to make money: be lenient with those who are only passionate about it. Not everyone knows about color calibration, CMYK and other clever things, and everyone wants beautiful photos. The described option is a handy way to organize and simplify the work of a non-professional.
UPD: Commentary About useful literature, take note.

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