Image Management for Photographers #1:
Welcome to the first issue of image management "how-to" series. The request we get most often from our readers and by DigitalPro users is to provide more information on effective ways you can manage and catalog your images--and for those of you who use DigitalPro how to take advantage of all the features we've built specifically for digital photographers.
So we're going to be publishing a series of special newsletter issues chock full of tips and techniques. They'll often rely on the features in DigitalPro for illustration, but should be of use to anyone with a lot of images to organize. In this issue we'll start with the most timely of topics--learning about some of the newest features in DigitalPro 5 which was just released last week.
Photoshop is the gold standard of image processors. So what better tool to use to do your image conversions? With DigitalPro 5 you can now unlock the power of Photoshop directly from DigitalPro. When you choose to Convert images in DigitalPro you can opitonally choose to have the processing done using your existing copy of Photoshop instead of by DigitalPro's own processing engine. You can also select an action to be run on each image during the conversion. All the flexible conversion options you're used to with DigitalPro are available this way, so you can choose which engine is right for you when you do the conversion or save a conversion preset.
You can also use Photoshop to create your web galleries and contact sheets directly from the File menu of DigitalPro 5.
One of the most unique features of DigitalPro is that it automatically catalogs your images 'on the fly' whenever you load them or even browse them. In the background it automatically creates a powerful catalog (kept in a low-profile, high-performance database under the covers) that you and it can both use to work with collections of your images later. The key to unlocking the full power of the catalog is the Image Find dialog.
Wildcards: In DigitalPro 5 the Find Dialog has been greatly enhanced. You could already find images that belonged to multiple collections or had multiple keywords, but now you can choose to find images with any of a set of keywords in addition to those with all of the keywords. And the same for collections and categories. Even better than that you can use wildcards in your text search fields. So to find all of your images with "Clamming" and then "Bear" in the caption you can look for "Clamming%Bear". Using "_" matches any single character. Cool, huh!
Any or All: You can also limit your search to only GPS tagged images. I love that feature for reviewing where I've been on a trip. Often I only have the GPS hooked up for certain shots when I want to remember the location. By combining a date range search with the GPS only checkbox I can quickly find just those images I want to scout on a map. In DigitalPro 5 we also tie directly to Google Maps, so you can simple click the small GPS "InfoIcon" and then the Map It button to see where in the world your image was taken. DigitalPro 5 also records the compass direction (in addition to location) if your GPS and camera firmware support it.
Filtering, Sorting and Grouping: Most users don't realize that the power of the Find dialog doesn't end when you run a search. Once you get the search results in the "spreadsheet" display on the form you can sort and filter your results by many different values. For example you can filter out a a particular camera model or location from your results simply by using the filter mini-icons on the spreadsheet. Similarly you can sort by any of the columns or combine filtering on multiple different columns with sorting. You can even group the images based on a particular column or columns by dragging a column header to the top of the spreadsheet.
Remember that even without going to the Find dialog you can display all the images belonging to a particular keyword or category by simply double-clicking that category. And now you can quickly find all the images taken the same minute, hour, day, week or month by quickly right-clicking on any image on the Light Table and choosing the appropriate Find command.
Moose's Picks: In DigitalPro 5 we've also added one of Moose's favorite new features, Sort By Camera, which sorts all the images on the light table by camera model and serial number. Another feature that works well with Moose's workflow is the "Working Directory." Once you've set a working directory in Options then whenever you go to edit an image it copies it to your working directory first. That way if you have a higher-performance local drive you can work on your images on that drive instead of your slower server or network storage location.
EXIFTool is the unquestioned gold standard for showing just about every piece of information about an image, no matter how carefully it has been hidden away by the vendor. It has support for hundreds of different cameras and raw file formats. Thanks to the generousity of its author, Phil Harvey, we've been allowed to include a fully functional copy of EXIFtool with DigitalPro 5 and have integrated it directly into our Image Property display. You'll see a new tab Show All Image Data which will display all the known meta-data for your selected image.
DigitalPro 5 also integrates Adobe's XMP library to fully implement XMP for Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files. This guarantees the highest possible level of compatibility for meta-data with Adobe products including Photoshop and Lightroom.
DigitalPro 5 has full support for Vista and the Vista Aero Interface. It is also fully supported on Vista 64-bit. DigitalPro's native threading model integrates seemlessly with Windows hypter-threading support and multi-processor support to provide you with optimal performance across the windows product line. We've also added a fun new "Summer" skin to the product as well as "Valentines", "Summer" and "Mac" skins.
DigitalPro 5 now uses the industry leading embedded SQL database (SQLite). The database tables have been overhauled so they are now easy to read for users who want to use their own SQL tools to run reports or perform other operations on their image data. The new database is also substantially faster than our older database engine and has plenty of room to growth. As always there is no limit on the size of your DigitalPro image catalogs. The new table layout also guarantees that you'll always be able to get at your image catalog. We don't believe in proprietary database schemas or vendor lock-in that so many other asset management products do. It's your data after all!
We've added export and import functions for your Keywords and Captions to DigitalPro 5, so you can easily move them from one machine to another or seed a new catalog with your existing keywords or categories. Captioning of TIFF files is also less resource intensive than before. The keywords and collections interface has also been improved to make it more useable.
DigitalPro 5 adds the ability to review what you've been up to, making it easy to forward a report of new subject matter to your stock agency or simply for your own use. The new Catalog->Recent Activity Report quickly highlights any folders where you've placed images in the last week, month or 90 days. Even more powerful is the Image Copyright Tool we added in DigitalPro 4.3. By simply clicking Tools->Submit Images for Copyright DigitalPro will allow you to not only create a list of images you need to submit to the copyright office (once you've used the tool it remembers the images you've sent in previously and only looks for new ones) but it actually generates the small thumbnails that are needed and bundles them together into ZIP files for submission. You can even use the tool with online copyright submission (if you have registered for that with the copyright office) by telling DigitalPro to break the ZIP files up into small enough chunks to upload. No photographer in this day of the web and easy rip-offs should forget to submit their images for Copyright and no tool makes it as simple and easy as the one built in to DigitalPro!
Zip & E-Mail: Also easy to have missed, DigitalPro 4.3 added the ability to optionally ZIP, password protect or email converted images anytime you run a batch image conversion.
We've also added two advanced features in DigitalPro 5 which are unsupported. The first is background writing of image tags and other metadata. This greatly speeds up the user interface when you caption images as the writing takes place as time permits. The reason we don't make this the default is if you open and edit those images in another program while DigitalPro hasn't written out your new data there is a possibility of a conflict and the loss of some of your changes. The other is a powerful custom report designer so you can build your own catalog reports (of course you can use any SQL-based report writer if you want).
DigitalPro 5 also lets you see the thumbnails and metadata for images which are not currently online. This is a very simple and very powerful way to browse offline catalogs of images--without needing any special offline catalog or processing. In fact it completely replaces and obsoletes our older "offline cataloging" facility.
We've also cleaned up the user interface and in particular the main Toolbar in DigitalPro 5. Along with many other small updates and changes the product is easier to use and faster than ever.
--David Cardinal, Pro Shooters LLC, Contents Copyright Cardinal Photo 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Remember you can always download the latest version of DigitalPro, including a 30-day free and fully functional trial, at ProShooters and you can always purchase it from our online distributor, WRP.
If you have feedback on this article, topics you'd like to see covered, or tips you'd like to share with other photographers please feel free to post them to our popular Digital Photographer Forums on nikondigital.org.