Digital Darkroom - Saving Images

 Workflow - Saving Images


After almost 50 years in film photography, I switched to digital a couple of years ago for my nature and landscape photography, and this year, kicking and screaming, switched to digital underwater. It was very painful to abandon film housings, Nikonos and 15mm wet optic lenses and non digital strobes that worked perfectly and gave me fantasic results. But folks, like it or not, film is dying and in reality, is basically dead. I know that there are plenty of photographers out there still shooting medium and large format film - and there is something about a Velvia slide projected, that just snaps out at you, that digital hasn’t yet achieved.

The Arch at Cabo San Lucas
Taken with a Nikon D200 18-200mm lens


But for underwater photographers, film and the attending housings, and cameras are no longer being supported. That said, we have a whole new learning curve, because we can’t shoot digital with the same techniques that we did with film. In the following articles, I will try and go over some ways we can manage our digital workflow, and shooting techniques to assist you in achieving that image you envisioned. Please be aware I am no Photoshop guru, hate spending time in front of the computer, and try to let the camera do the work, like we used to with film.
Once you have filled your media card, what do you do now? The digital darkroom is your door to reach any level of creativity you wish to achieve. You need to determine your goal for your photograph before you decide on the option you take. You can take your card to a local store and use their digital photo machine to print your images, or burn them to a CD. You can download your images to your computer- use a card reader, not your camera, if possible - to email your images, put on the web, print or archive in a high quality format, backing up to a CD or another external hard drive. In some cases, you can transfer your images from a media card to a printed format without the need of a computer. These photo printers are great for people who are not computer savvy, and want only “snapshots”. These options are great for beginners, but we eventually want to do more as we progress with our photography. Let’s assume you want more….

1. I like to do things as simply as possible, so after my shoot, I use my card reader to download my images onto my computer. I am using Photoshop Elements- but it really doesn’t matter what you use, as my steps will apply to whatever you software you use.
2. I put my images in a temporary folder, where I will view them and make my deletions. If you open them in your photo browser, DO NOT do anything to them yet - especially if you have been shooting in JPEG. If you open, save, and re-open jpegs, you are compromising the quality of the image. Always use the “Save As” feature and Rename the photo to avoid changing your original file. We want to work on our images non-destructively!
3. After I have the ones I want to keep, I copy them to another external hard drive – putting them in a named folder. Name your folders so you can remember where your photos are - seems simple, but some people have problems with archiving. In future articles, I will talk about keywords and archiving folders.
4. I then write the temporary folder on to a CD for another backup.
5. Only then do I move the images to their final folder on my computer.


My images are now on my computer, a CD, and an external hard drive. Only now will I reformat my memory card. This can be done at home, out in the field, or on a liveaboard dive boat. View those images as your negatives! If you are out in the field, without a computer, another option is to use a device like the RoadStor to burn CD’s, or DVD’s directly from the card. There are many more storage products on the market today, and they are getting smaller and more convenient to use in the field. Make 2 copies for backup – then when you get home, put the images on your computer and external hard drive, after you delete your non keepers. Now, what do you do with those images on your computer? That will be the subject of the next article…Just remember, we want to K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple Stupid!

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