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Alamy QC Workflow from camera to upload

Over the last couple of weeks I have been uploading the images that I have been shooting over the last few months of my travels around Australia to the Alamy Stock Library.

I thought that in this post I could share my workflow from loading the images from my camera to my computer and all the way through to the upload to Alamy. This includes the process to edit the images so that they are ready for Alamy’s stringent quality control.

Most of my photographs are shot with my Canon 5d Mk2 shooting using its RAW format. To process the images I use my MacBook Pro with Aperture 3 and to do the final edit the images Photoshop CS3.

First of all I need to get the images from the camera to my computer, at the same time I add my IPTC Metadata and keywords. To do this I connect the camera via USB cable to my Mac and open Aperture. When Aperture loads I select the import option on the top left of the application. This opens up the import interface and I can select all the photos I wish to import.  When the images are selected I can then use the import settings menu on the right hand side. I have set up my Aperture so that all my Australia Images have their own library and each shoot has its own project. This import will go in as a new project. I enter all the information including the caption and keywords, which will correspond with Alamy’s caption and keywords.  Having pressed the import button it is generally time to hit the button on the kettle and make a brew whilst Aperture imports and processes all its thumbs and the metadata.

The next stage whittles down the images until I have the images ready to export. To do this I use Aperture’s star rating.  My first sweep through the images is the first star sweep. All images that I want to keep get one star. On my first sweep I am only looking at getting rid of only obvious no goers, ie. out of focus, poor exposures or accidental exposures. (of course I never normally have any of these!) The second sweep through the images I do in full screen mode and I only two star the images I definitely want to send to Alamy.

Alamy Workflow from Camera to Upload

Third star sweep leaves only the images I want to send to client, or in this case Alamy.

The third sweep through is for editing.  All the two star images are checked so the exposures are aesthetically correct, cropped and the white balance is spot on.  At this stage it is also a good idea to have another look at your keywords and add any others you wish to add to individual images. I then export the images as Jpegs at original size to a folder on my desktop. Its now time to do an in-depth edit with Photoshop.

Exporting from Aperture, Jpeg original size, Don’t forget to add a custom file name, I always add the master file name also for future reference.

When the files have opened in Photoshop the first thing I do is check the levels. When the levels box opens I use the histogram and pull in the edges so that the sliders are in to where the histogram shows data. If there is a significant change to the image I then use curves to make it aesthetically correct.  The next thing I sort is the image size.

Finder always shows a compressed image size. Make sure you check the true file size in photoshop.

In finder some of my cropped images show up as 16mb on disk which is below Alamy’s 17MB minimum for upscaling but this is a compressed size.  To get the true size go to image size in photoshop and it will tell you the true image size. Alamy’s minimum file size is 24MB but you can upscale a 17MB file up to 24MB. Normally my camera punches in at around 60MB with an image size of 5700×4000.  Alamy thinks that the bigger the better and are happy to accept files as big as your camera can make and if I were sending in the images on DVD I would probably send in the images at full res but as I upload my images I reduce the image size to 4000×2667 which gives me a file size of 30.5MB which uploads a lot quicker!

Change the image size in photoshop to make you image just above Alamy’s 24mb minimum file size.



All is not complete though and the next stage is crucial – you have to inspect your image now closely for any imperfections.  Zoom all the way in to 100% and scroll across the entire image carefully looking for any imperfections. Some people find it easier to increase the contrast in the image for this step to make the imperfections show up clearer but I rarely do so.  Imperfections normally come from dust on the lens or sensor or alternatively from digital noise, I then check that the colour profile is still set to RGB colour save and close the file. I then get online and upload the file to Alamy.

ALWAYS zoom in to 100% and check you image for any imperfections which may occur anywhere on your image

To see my Australian Stock Images on Alamy visit my Alamy Homepage.

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