What’s your workflow for transferring, organizing, and uploading digital images?

Just curious what steps people take to get their photos off their cards
and on to their computers, renamed and organized into folders,
captioned, and uploaded to one or more services like Yahoo! Photos and

I’m in the midst of doing this now for a recent trip and every time I go
through this, I find the process to be grossly inefficient and
aggravating. I think if I just picked one tool, like Adobe Photoshop
Album or Picasa or iPhoto and trusted it to do everything, it would be
easier, but I hate the idea of being locked into something or losing
them to a drive failure and so I like to have the photos on my computer
(and backed up to an external hard drive and DVDs as well) and uploaded
to Yahoo! Photos and Flickr for sharing and blogging.

Some questions:

1) Getting the images off the card on to the computer – do you let a
program like Picassa, Adobe PSA, iPhoto, etc… do it? Or do you just
copy the files manually? I’m a bit nervous about letting a program do
it, because a lot of these programs seem to import your photos into a
proprietary database (e.g.: a M$ Access db in the case of Adobe PSA) or
some directory structure where I’m not quite sure where they are. Maybe
I have a deep-rooted psychological fear of trusting software from my
numerous bad experiences with software or from the fact that I write it
for a living and I know how shitty it can be sometimes… But I
digress… The problem with copying manually is that my camera, a Canon,
uses an irritating directory structure/filename convention on the card.
The photos are split between several directories, 100CANON, 101CANON,
102CANON, etc.. and are sequentially numbered. When I’m going through
the photos in something like, say, Picassa, it’s much easier to have the
files in a single directory or one for each city. So if I copied the
photos from the card manually, then I have to do this little cut and
paste job for the 5 folders x the 3 cards that I typically fill on a 2
week vacation. And if I put photos from all 3 cards into the same
folder, then I risk name collisions because the filenames are just
IMG_(serial #) rather than something sensible like a date and time stamp
that would never collide (my current workaround is to copy the photos
into separate folders for each card). Should I write a Perl script to do
this shuffle or should I let go of my fears and trust Picasa or whatever
to do a good job?

2) Doing some light processing of the photos – light because I’m not
talking about messing around with PhotoShop or GIMP for hours. I’m
talking mostly about rotating the sideways ones and bumping up the
brightness here and there. In the past, I’ve done this with IrfanView;
last night I tried using Picassa which I mostly liked. An irritation
here was that I rotated all the sideways photos in Picasa, but then when
I went to upload the photos, discovered that they truly hadn’t been
rotated on the disk and so I had to rerotate all of them in Flickr and
then in Yahoo! Photos. Picasa seemed to keep the rotation as some form
of meta-data separate to the file, like it was afraid to touch my photos
(any basis for this? Isn’t a 90 degree rotation lossless and
reversible). I experimented too briefly with IrfanView which I thought
worked well in the past, but last night when I tried to save the rotated
photos, but it also doesn’t want to save over the original without
prompting? What am I missing here? Why are these programs so paranoid to
touch my photos?

3) Captions – Picasa lets you add captions to the photos, but isn’t
caption data specific to each program (or does it go in a standard place
like the EXIF header – mmmm, that would be nice)? So if I do all my
captions in Picasa, I have to redo them all over again for Flickr, and
then again for Yahoo! Photos? Is there not some standard XML format for
associating captions with pictures or should I just do something simple
like rename all my files so that the filename is the caption – although
sometimes my captions are a bit of a story rather than a simple name
like “Barcelona”.

OK, sorry if this came off like a rant. I’m just looking for an easier
way to do things. The way I see it, this is not a problem with the
individual tools – Picasa, Flickr, and Yahoo! Photos are all pretty
slick – they just don’t always play so nicely with each other – or at
least I haven’t found the way to make them play nicely.

One thought on “What’s your workflow for transferring, organizing, and uploading digital images?

  1. I copy from memory card using Windows Explorer to folders named by month e.g. 2005/07/. I then rename individual files to e.g. “2005-07-01 Zoe BH at zoo”. I don’t take vertical pictures (since I display them on my TV), so no rotation issues. My latest generation of cameras have good flash, so no brightness issues, though M$ Photo Editor (or Adobee PhotoDeluxe) stand at the ready. The folders are then cycled in a 24/7 Samsung DLP slide show running on my 1998 vintage Gateway multimedia PC, which also is my web/ftp server and radio station. I used to make distant family access the photos through apache directory indexing, but in 2004 I started bulk-uploading to Y! Photos and now share them that way.

    My biggest current wish here is to have a nice way for my 24/7 media show to incorporate both my DV-AVI video clips (avg 1-2 mins long) with the photos. Also nice to have would be a semi-random playback mode, in which every minute or three the show switches to another point in history, but otherwise stays linear. Random is too random, and strictly linear is not random enough.

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