Image Sorting Workflow

Still Grinning

POTN Refugee
Joined
23 Nov 2023
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Location
Easternmost inhabited island of the UK, England
Name
Simon
Image Editing
Yes
Greetings All!

I read many (MANY) posts about people who go out for a days birding, or sports, or whatever, and return home with 1000+ (sometimes 2,000+) photos. How do people sort through so many images to pick the 20 or 30 really good ones?

For me, 200 photos is a big day, made up usually of bursts of up to 10 at a time. It then takes me a long time to find which photo in each sequence is (i) the best pose, or (ii) the sharpest, often having to go to 100% zoom to work that out. I can't believe that people are doing that for 2,500 shots...... can they? So please advise on good working practice to edit down to the 'best' shots 'quickly', or tell me to just knuckle down and get on with it!

Thanks to all, and Seasons Greetings!
 
I share your pain. I HATE culling after a shoot. I try not to shoot more than I really want, so I very rarely have more than 150 or so, and usually less, but it's still a pain and boring. I do it in Lightroom. I first mark as discards the ones that are obviously bad, e.g. clearly out of focus or framed badly. Then I look for the areas where focus is critical, e.g., eyes, and blow images up enough to mark as discards the ones that fail there. At all stages of the process, I use the stars to flag ones that look particularly promising. Then I delete the discards, ignore the marginal ones left, and do pairwise comparisons of the competitors among the best ones. All of this has to be flexible, depending on the shoot.
 
I share your pain. I HATE culling after a shoot. I try not to shoot more than I really want, so I very rarely have more than 150 or so, and usually less, but it's still a pain and boring. I do it in Lightroom. I first mark as discards the ones that are obviously bad, e.g. clearly out of focus or framed badly. Then I look for the areas where focus is critical, e.g., eyes, and blow images up enough to mark as discards the ones that fail there. At all stages of the process, I use the stars to flag ones that look particularly promising. Then I delete the discards, ignore the marginal ones left, and do pairwise comparisons of the competitors among the best ones. All of this has to be flexible, depending on the shoot.
That is pretty much how I do it too. And like you I HATE it!
 
Well, thanks Levina and paddler4 - that is exactly what I do, and I hate it too! Which is why I usually limit myself to 200 ish photos (my bursts are usually actually shorter (as short as 1 or 2 often), unless it's BIF...), as that reduces the culling time. Really hoping 'Jeff USN photog' will comment, as he is one who often shoots 1000+ in a day!
 
I use photo mechanic to look at the images directly on the card. I 'tag' an image if I want to pull it into lightroom. Even though I shoot RAW I can go through the images as quickly as I can hit the arrow key, there's no delay loading them as photo mechanic uses a preview of the file and isn't loading the raw file itself. With my Sony RAW files I can't even zoom in to check focus because the preview file in photo mechanic is too low res. Once I've gone through all the images, I select only the ones that I've tagged by hitting 'view > tagged' and only those are copied to my hard drive and imported into lightroom.

I think the issue with too many keepers (especially photos of people) comes when people are just looking for a shot that's sharp and in focus. But that shouldn't even really be a consideration when culling shots. All that matters is whether you were successful at capturing the expression / gesture / composition - whatever the reason was that you hit the shutter in the first place, and this comes down to intentionality.

When you've been intentional every time you press the shutter you can tell immediately, as soon as the image flashes on the screen, if the photograph was successful or not. So culling happens as fast as you can hit the arrow key. Yes it sometimes works out that after you get an image into lightroom, you realise it's not quite sharp or you slightly missed focus. With a good image though, and especially when a person is the subject, that truly doesn't matter.

To put the above into context, I have the ability to shoot 10,000 frames without changing cards. So when I'm out birding, using burst mode, I can end up with a lot of shots and yes I have filled that card on occasion... but again, as soon as an image flashes on screen I know immediately if I was successful in capturing what I intended to catch. There's no other consideration and culling happens as quickly as I can hit the arrow key.

The only time culling was ever an issue for me was when I wasn't being intentional with my shots. When I was just photographing and hoping that if I took enough photos, I would eventually capture something good. Then I had to slow down and really examine each shot, because I had to work out whether there was something in each shot that might be worth saving. That doesn't happen any more so culling is a breeze.

I'm not sure if that helps, but as someone who used to have the same issues with culling I can honestly say it's not a concern anymore.
 
I’m not a big fan of culling either but something that I need to do. I use LrC but I always pre-cull before importing using Canon’s DPP. I get rid of quite a few files.

I do this right off the card. Select all images, Quick Check, Full Screen. Scroll through and press X for unwanted files. Exist Quick Check, Select Rejected files only and move them to trash.

Quick Check shows RAW files as finished JPEGs so they are sharp and contrasty. DPP’s scaling algorithms are very good also. Best part is it’s free.
 
Select all images, Quick Check, Full Screen. Scroll through and press X for unwanted files. Exist Quick Check, Select Rejected files only and move them to trash.
That’s exactly how I do it too, DP. Except I first download all images to the Mac using EOS Utility and as I linked it to DPP, it opens after download is complete. Works for me.
 
Interesting. Is it more efficient for some reason to do it in DPP than in LR?

I haven't used the EOS utility for this for a very long time. I use a card reader to move the photos to wherever I want them, almost always a new subdirectory, and then sync LR to import them. LR lets me set the size of the thumbnails to taste and to blow up to whatever magnification I want with one click. The keyboard shortcut X flags whichever image is selected as a reject. You can at the same time add a marker (star ratings or colors) to flag positive ones. (I do this with big sets. I use 5 stars for "seems like a definite one to edit", 4 for "pretty good chance", and sometimes 3 for "meh, maybe". At any point, hitting ctrl-backspace eliminates all of the ones marked for deletion, giving you the choice or deleting from disk or merely removing from the LR catalog (which I never do). Is DPP better than this? I've never tried it, despite having owned 6 (!) Canon bodies.
 
I often shoot 1,000 plus photos at an athletic event. Yesterday I shot two basketball games and ended up with over 3,000 photos to look through. I don't always like it but it is the only way I know to get good sports photos and I don't shoot nearly as many as some top pros I know.

I import them all into Lightroom Classic. It can take a few minutes, so I go do something else for a bit.

Then I quickly go through the photos in the LRC Library module. It draws previews pretty quickly. I give the photos I like a 2 star rating. I can go through 1,000 photos in about 5 minutes. Sometimes I have to go back and either give stars or take them away but it is quite amazing how quickly your mind works and processes a quick glance at a photo. After doing that I filter for photos with one star or less, select all of them and press the X key, which makes them for deletion. After that I delete all the no star photos. There is no going back.

I apply a LRC preset that uses the Auto button from the Tone panel along with a mumber of other settings, which gets most of the processing done.

Then, depending on the final goal which sometimes is provide a lot of photos like for game galleries where I want to have photos of as many players as possible, or sometimes get the photo count down a lot, like when I am providing a 10 or so photo gallery for the local news website.

If it is provide a big gallery I just go through them and crop and straighten. If I see a bad one, I hit X on the keyboard which marks them for deletion. I bump the overall exposure up or down a little bit to taste. When I get to one that I can get a good white balance for an indoor venu, I fix it and sync that setting to all the photos.

If I am trying to find the best 10 photos I go through them again to find the best. I rate the better ones with 3 stars. If there are still to many, I go through the 3's and rate the best with 4 stars. That usually gets me to a number I need.

I can do all of that in 45 minutes to an hour. I do this very often as I shoot a lot of athletic events.

Of course whan I'm doing more special photos I narrow it down even more and then do much, finding the 5 star images, and doing more extensive processing if necessary.
 
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In the mid 2000's I used to use Pixort to go through my 20D files, but when I upgraded to a 50D the RAWs were no longer recognised and it didn't look like an update was coming anytime soon. So i went Googling, tried Photomechanic but didn't like the UI and came accross BreezeBrowser Pro. It's instantaneous flicking from 1 file to the next and you can either give a file a rating from 1 to 5, or just tag it.
I can come away from 26 hours of competition on a weekend with approx 28K of images, will take me approx 4-5 hours to go through tagging them.
 
In the mid 2000's I used to use Pixort to go through my 20D files, but when I upgraded to a 50D the RAWs were no longer recognised and it didn't look like an update was coming anytime soon. So i went Googling, tried Photomechanic but didn't like the UI and came accross BreezeBrowser Pro. It's instantaneous flicking from 1 file to the next and you can either give a file a rating from 1 to 5, or just tag it.
I can come away from 26 hours of competition on a weekend with approx 28K of images, will take me approx 4-5 hours to go through tagging them.
Wow, 28K images! That is a lot. How many do you end up keeping?
 
I mostly use fastrawviewer. It does accurate and fast raw previewing and has a focus peaking like display mode which easily indicates soft images. Very quick to cursor through images hitting del to reject one at a time or hold shift while cursoring to select a bunch to be rejected. It has an optional advanced multiple selection mode which is more capable that typical file management programs, however, it takes a bit of getting used to.

Sadly not free and a 25% off sale is supposed to have ended yesterday.
 
Everyone here is overlooking a very useful tool for the first pass of culling. Drum roll please, have your assistant do the work while you relax elsewhere.

:)
 
Sorry. Okay seriously.

After copying the images to my PC I make a first pass of the jpg files using the Windows Photo Viewer or whatever it is called now. Jpg images load quickly and the viewer doesn't have to process them like it does a raw file. This lets me easily delete the blurry, or bad, or whatever shots. I can even cull down a multi-shot burst. After 1 or 2 passes doing that I then delete the same file names in the matching raw file folder for that shoot. Only then do I import the remaining raw files into LightRoom Classic and move on. I feel like limiting the LR import keeps the LR Catalog from swelling needlessly.
 
Sorry. Okay seriously.

After copying the images to my PC I make a first pass of the jpg files using the Windows Photo Viewer or whatever it is called now. Jpg images load quickly and the viewer doesn't have to process them like it does a raw file. This lets me easily delete the blurry, or bad, or whatever shots. I can even cull down a multi-shot burst. After 1 or 2 passes doing that I then delete the same file names in the matching raw file folder for that shoot. Only then do I import the remaining raw files into LightRoom Classic and move on. I feel like limiting the LR import keeps the LR Catalog from swelling needlessly.
I do much the same except for the LR part. jpegs parse so much quicker but when I delete the jpeg, I get the raw at the same time. I'm a pretty selective shooter retaining many of my film habits. I know digital is in essence free, but rarely do I come back with over 100 images so I don't have many to go through.
 
OK, it seems that mostly the consensus is knuckle down and get on with it! It takes me time, but maybe I'm just being too fussy staring at the pixel level of 5 or 6 shots to really determine which one is sharpest when they are all pretty close, even though the photo is unlikely to be seen at bigger than A4 size....

I'm also going to spend more time getting to grips with Quick Preview in DPP, as that is my main (free) resource in this regards.

Thanks to all for your input- it has been very interesting!

(@Bobtographer - Editing 28K photos..... I can't even begin to think how long that would take me - my 5D4 was traded in after 4 years with 10k shots on it!)
 
(@Bobtographer - Editing 28K photos..... I can't even begin to think how long that would take me - my 5D4 was traded in after 4 years with 10k shots on it!)
I will inevitably get a message from a dance mother asking if the photographs are online yet 20-30 mins after the comp finishes on a Saturday night..
I get the first 14K culled and edited by the Wednesday and the 2nd done by the Friday

On the subject of shots, I made the mistake of looking at the shutter count on my 7D2 in FoCal, after a discussion in the 7D2 Owners Club, it was over 750K so I started looking for a new body :ROFLMAO:
 
In Lightroom, I quickly go through everything from the day and mark the "maybes" with 1 star. Then I filter to show just the 1-star photos and mark the better ones with 2 stars. I repeat until I'm happy with the set, usually at the 3-star level, but sometimes 4-star. I may also demote a photo as I process them and decide something wasn't as usable as I'd hoped.

When everything is processed, I delete everything that didn't reach the highest star level. When I shoot my daughter's soccer games, I may discover at the end that I didn't have anything of a particular player. Having access to the lower rated files lets me go back and try to find *something* to include, even if it's not the best.
 
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