2013 ingest workflow

March 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

What is ingest?

Ingest is the process of transferring images from a camera storage medium, usually a compact flash card, to a permanent location on your computer and addition to a DAM (Digital Asset Management) program.  This can be a tedious process, so the more it can be streamlined, the better.  

Using Lightroom to ingest

If you use lightroom then the easiest way to ingest your images is to use the Lightroom import module.  It will automatically detect your compact flash card when it is placed in the card reader.  The import module will allow you to:

  • Browse through the image embedded jpgs on the card and select the ones you want to import.  The loupe view has a handy feature to zoom to 100% to check the image sharpness.
  • Copy, move or just add the images to the lightroom catalog where they are.
  • Make a second copy to a backup location.
  • Tell lightroom what type of previews to render. 
  • Rename the files during the import.
  • Apply develop and metadata presets during the import.
  • Select and create the destination folder, including an automatic date folder.

This is just what the doctor ordered and it works great.  Well, it works great if you aren't in a hurry.  As you move through your images Lightroom continues to consume great gollups of RAM, and after a while it slows from a pedestrian pace to god awful slow.  If you bypass the select process, then you have to import all the photos.  A wildlife or event shooter often takes 500 to 1000 photos in a shoot to improve the chance of getting the killer shot.  Importing 1000 photos can take quite a while.  In addition, Lightoom can take hours to create 1:1 previews of the 1000 photos after they have been copied to the hard disk.  You have to wait until this is finished before you can effectively review the images.

This means that if you shoot a lot and use Lightroom then you need a way to only ingest the good shots.  Since Lightroom is such a poor performer a second program is needed to view, select and copy the photos to a destination folder.  

The gold standard program to do this is PhotoMechanic.  Once you have browsed and selected using the lightning fast PhotoMechanic there will be no going back to Lightroom.  Using PhotoMechanic, the adjusted workflow will be:

  1. Use PhotoMechanic to select and copy the photos to a destination folder.
  2. Use Lightroom import module to add the selected images to the Lightroom catalog.

Part one: the PhotoMechanic workflow

Open PhotoMechanic and select your compact flash card in the Navigator.  This will display thumbnails of all the images.  When you double click on a thumbnail PhotoMechanic will display a full size preview window.  The workspace will look something like this.

Next you browse through the images, tagging the ones you want to keep.  Here are some handy keystrokes to use while making your selects.

T:   toggle tag
+:   turn tag on
-:   turn tag off
Z:   toggle zoom
L:   lock two previews so they pan together
1-8: set color class
0:   clear color class

If you use tags then the little checkbox below each thumbnail is checked or unchecked.  This is pretty subtle, and it is easy to accidentally toggle a tag without noticing.

If you use the color class to pick the keepers it is much more obvious.  Instead of toggling tags with "T" you use "1" to set the color class to pink and "0" to clear the color class.

When you have completed the identification of the keepers the next step is to select only the thumbnails where the color class has been set.  You can use the menu as shown or just press Ctrl+Shift+1 to select the winners.

Next filter on just the selected thumbnails by pressing F2 or using the menu as shown.

You should see only the selected thumbnails.  Right click on one of the thumbnails and select "Copy selected photos..." from the context menu.

This will open the Copy Options dialog.  This is where you pick the parent folder, set the destination folder to be created and then copy the images to the hard disk destination folder.  Before we take a look at the dialog lets see how the folder heirarchy looks like in the destination hard disk.

In this folder hierarchy the destination folders are shoots in a month.  This makes the months the parent folder and each shoot the destination folder which holds the images.  We want to be able to pick the parent folder and get PhotoMechanic to create the destination folder.

In my file system the destination folder naming convention is based on the date of the shoot and a short description of the shoot: usually the location or event.



In this example the shoot date was 2013-03-23 and the shoot description is "Test".  The "Variables..." token building tool was used to build the folder name from the capture date.  "_Test" was typed in to the end of the string.

Click Copy and the keepers are all copied to the newly created destination folder.

Part two: the Lightroom workflow

Since the photos have already been copied to the destination folder, all we have to do in Lightroom is add the photos to the catalog and build previews.  Open the Lightroom import module by

  • Pressing Ctrl+Shift+I
  • From the menu: File > Import Photos and Video...
  • From the library module press the Import button on the lower left.


Lightroom continues to be an excellent application to catalog, process and print images.  However, it has poor performance in the ingest process.  We can speed this up considerably by limiting ingest to only the keeper images and making the keeper selection using Photomechanic, which excels at this.



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