A hobbyist’s workflow

Hey guys

I am just a hobbyist and therefore only manage photos in the few Hundreds per year which is why I so far organized them on a hard disk without relying on additional photo management software, occasionally uploading several photos to flickr for the very purpose of sharing them. As my library is growing larger and my brain is getting weaker, I am now trying to find a better way of organizing my photo library with the following goals/requirements:

  • DxO PhotoLab has to be the RAW converter
  • possibility to more effectively search my photo library (e.g. by keyword)
  • ubiquity - access to all photos on any device from anywhere without relying on a 3rd party cloud service

So I developed the following workflow:

  • use Qfiling app to ”import” photos to personal QNAP NAS
  • use DxO PhotoLab for RAW conversion and basic photo organization/tagging
  • use QuMagie as a web based photo viewer with A.I. assisted cataloging and sophisticated search

I will detail my workflow in the following and would love to hear you guys’ opinions on it. One discussion I would like to prevent is data safety and security. Setting up and properly administering a personal data storage (and even cloud) solution certainly requires quite some IT knowledge.

(1) Import: QNAP Qfiling

On my QNAP NAS I did set up a shared folder called Photos. When plugging my camera into the USB port of the NAS, a Qfiling task copies all stored photos to the Photos\RAW subfolder, automatically creating a folder structure based on the photos’ creation dates (which is equal to the date in EXIF’s CreateDate field), like:

> Photos
  > RAW
    > 2019-12-24
      DSC_0001.nef
      DSC_0002.nef
    > 2019-12-25
      DSC_0003.nef
      DSC_0004.nef

Qfiling can take into account several EXIF and IPTC tags for automatically building the folder structure and renaming files in batches.

(2) Cull, Tag & Edit: DxO PhotoLab

The Photos shared folder is mapped to a network drive on my computer on which I then fire up DxO PhotoLab. I haven’t yet dealt with a very large number of photos in one single folder or project and probably never will. So it leaves to be seen whether my Gbit LAN will ever slow me down to a point where editing RAW files inside PhotoLab will become a pain.

Thanks to recent updates to PhotoLab, I do not have to resort to another tool for appropriately flagging (pick/reject), rating and keywording photos. Those features are reasonably well implemented, also allowing for batch processing, even across multiple folders by using projects. Information like author and copyright are already part of my custom picture presets, therefore being automatically applied.

Developed photos are exported to a different location than the RAW files:

> Photos
  > Master
    > Christmas 2019
      DSC_0001.jpg
      DSC_0002.jpg
      DSC_0003.jpg
      DSC_0004.jpg
  RAW

Organizing photos by venue or event instead of using a year/date as the top level helped me locate a shooting rather quickly in the past even without a sophisticated search. I’ll stick to that structure for my developed photos.

Geolocation
Since neither does my camera feature a built-in GPS module nor does PhotoLab support geotagging, I thought about taking a picture at each venue with my smartphone and copying the GPS data which would have required another tool though and would have made my workflow quite a bit more complicated and time consuming. So I decided to go with keywords for locations too which has the benefit of using them in search together with other criteria in order to build “complex” queries.

(3) Catalog & Share: QNAP QuMagie

QuMagie takes all my developed photos stored inside the NAS’ Master folder (Photos\Master), putting an A.I. assisted organisation on top and making them available to any device anywhere in the world. The way QuMagie’s A.I. is able to recognize and relate faces, detect subject types and catalog photos accordingly is indeed magical. It is of course also possible to manually create albums or smart albums based on user-defined criteria.
All the face and subject related metadata is stored inside QuMagie’s database. But since it is mainly A.I. generated I wouldn’t mind the loss.

Search is quite powerful, also being able to find photos with certain people on it. It is even possible to hand it a picture of somebody and search will try to match it.
Several search conditions (including my keyword based locations from the XMP subject tags added by PhotoLab) can be concatenated either using an AND (all conditions have to be met) or OR (any condition has to be met) relationship.

While I do use sRGB as color space in my workflow, I don’t believe that the web based QuMagie would hinder me in upping my game to Adobe RGB. Today’s browser engines are able to read color profiles from both, the source and the output device, applying a proper conversion.

QuMagie perfectly complements my workflow with PhotoLab in terms of an ubiquitous photo viewer and powerful search front-end, taking into account both, the manually added and A.I. generated metadata.

Conclusion

I don’t like Lightroom’s monolithic approach and cluttered UI. Many things are done exceptionally well (some of which are probably a bit overdone and therefore not too straight-forward to use) while some are just there because Lightroom is entitled to be this all-in-one carefree package.
While DxO Optics Pro has indeed been a bit too primitive with respect to photo and metadata management, PhotoLab just gets it right for my personal workflow. But there are a thousand ways of doing things and the question where to draw the line isn’t an easy one to answer. I can see PhotoLab improving more towards (1) than (3), like an “import” of photos from the camera’s storage, automatically creating a folder structure and renaming files based on certain criteria, or improved culling with side-by-side comparison of several photos.
With respect to cataloging I would rather see PhotoLab handing it off to another application. It does not have to support albums/collections, geotagging, face detection/recognition or provide a photo cloud with apps for different platforms.

@daniel.b,

it’s like Monty Python and the Holy Grail…not always so funny, but …

Im also hobbyist and my workflow is similar to yours
(1) Import: from SD-Card to local SSD into Folder named yyyy-mm_“title or theme of the session”
(2) first look, and delete bad ones with Fast Raw Viewer
(3) backup to Synology Nas
(4) edit, develop wit DPL3 elite
(5) Catalog at the moment in LR classic and like other guys here still searching, or waiting for the next version of Photolab :grinning:

best regards

Guenter

With respect to culling, Fast Raw Viewer is indeed better than PhotoLab. I would love to see PhotoLab improve in that direction.

Synology Moments is the equivalent to QNAP QuMagie. Also worth taking a look at…

Hi Daniel,

thanks for the info, but at the moment I have not the time to check any programs. I take a quick look at https://www.synology.com/de-de/dsm/photo_vs_moments and after that comparision maybe photo is better for me. We have had a discussion here about Excire foto and other stuff, and what is always discussed is “hierarchical keywords” and other stuff.
But maybe I will check the synology solutions a closer look in winter (european winter not australian one :dromedary_camel: :grinning: )

Same here, hobbist.

  • Import in a special import folder on shootingdate. ( move oocjpegs to it’s sub folder inside this folder)
  • Culling with FRV which creates a XMP for the rawfiles.
  • deleting all oocjpeg’s i don’t need (i shoot raw plus jpeg so i can wifi from camera to smarttv and see quick my catch of the day on a big screen.)
  • Use bridge free for adding tags and keywords.
  • open DxOPL to develop the images and fine culling at the same time. When satisfied export with a suffix in a export folder with (shootingdate_location/event)
  • move this folder to my network folder to watch the result on smarttv
  • make changes if needed and then move folder in photo archive.
    Cleanup raw folder and move this to raw archive. (create a sub folder dopfilebackup in side and copy the dopfiles to there. (if a dopfile is molested/ unwanted changed i can delete that en replace.)

Photo archive has three places in my network and one on external disk.
Syncback profides mirrors hierachical one’s a month or by command.

I too am a simple amateur I:

  • remove the card from my camera and insert it into a card reader
  • use Explorer to copy the RAW & JPEG files to a hierarchical folder structure on my data drive:
    \year
    \quarter
    \YYMMDD
  • use Google Picasa (I know it’s not supported any more but it still works on Win 10) as a catalogue
  • use PL as a RAW converter
  • use Affinity Photo, including NIK plugins, if necessary
  • print using an ancient version of Photoshop (CS2, which contrary to what Adobe says does work on Win 10)

stuck

The combination of PhotoLab and QuMagie handles hierarchical keywords well enough for me. QuMagie might however read XMP-dc:Subject rather than XMP-lr:HierarchicalSubject, effectively not displaying the hierarchies. One can still search for parents and children with the desired set of pictures being found.

Start your workflow whatever that will be with renaming the images. I use a constant, the date and a sequence number. I also add keywords at that time to the file.

George

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I use the fastest method of all to do my culling… I don’t cull. At all. I generally shoot more than the OP and always RAW and I’m still a way off filling my 1TB SSD that is set aside for photos.

For completeness, my process currently is:

  1. Import into LR (which automatically populates YYYY/MM folders)
  2. Keyword in LR (nothing else will do it as well for me) including writing them to the DNG files.
  3. “Send to DxO PhotoLab3” those photos I wish to process
  4. Process in PL3
  5. Send to Lightroom
  6. Export from Lightroom to a designated folder as full-sized TIFFs
  7. Hazel sees the TIFFs and uses ImageMagick to downsize, watermark, and convert to JPEG.
  8. I manually upload to Flickr

Another Hobbyist here with a similar workflow.
A structured folder system consisting of:

TOP LEVEL

  • Family members\year\year-month-event
  • Recurring events all get a folder at this level.
    eg Christmas, my 4x4 club, family holidays

under each trip/event then sub folders:
\as shot
\Processed
\HDR TIFFs (for interim HDR processing)

On arrival home, fastStone image viewer does my import and file renaming for Date-Time-## (for bursts of multiple photos in a second)
This gives every picture a unique file name.

I have a video that shows some of this flow if is of interest:

I also have the QNAP and like the Qmaggie picture function locally, but, not brave enough to let it face the internet. I am inspired to look a bit more into the Qmaggie searching features.

cheers

Justin

my work flow could be compressed in one application if that would support the key features:
first culling and view of quality:
key features:

  • Edge detection & fine detail view (does my object float in focus)
  • quick screen sharpening to see if it is ok. (USM)
  • shadow boost/ highlight details (quick presets which shows details in shadow and detail in highlight by exposure presets
  • over under exposure warnings
    in blinkies and numbers (%)
    RGB channel image inspection
    looks like this
    so i can see where the focupoints are if exposure is ok.
    (produces also a XMP file when star rating is involved)
    then Bridge:
    mainly
  • xmp writing/editing
    iptc/exif/xmp tagging and creating “projects” if i like too.
    if i select and "open"then DxO get started in a project modes:

If DxOPL has this kind of features in there PhotoLibrary modes i wil use them.
until then i have this set up.

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