Underwater photography by Andy Kirkland

C5050Z – workflow overview

The Olympus C5050Z was discontinued a few years ago, and has a few limitations – particularly in terms of card size – so I dive with 2 x 512mb cards (giving a total of 1gb). This was usually enough for a day’s diving.
One of these cards would be an XD card in a CF adapter, loaded into the CF slot.

As I shoot in RAW mode, the output files are a fairly consistent 7mb (as opposed to about 3mb for a high-quality JPG).

So at the end of each day’s diving, I’d burn the images from the cards to a stand-alone CD burner, with a CF slot.

I initially used Olympus’ CAMedia Master software (supplied with the camera) to correct white balance, but then Adobe brought out Photoshop Elements (“PSE”) – with a much better user interface and RAW conversion, so I went with that as a “one stop shop”.
The converted RAW files are saved as Photoshop files (.PSD); typically these are now 28mb (although 14mb in 8-bit format).
(as an aside – I found that when I was using JPG format, introducing new layers to adjust the white balance resulted in much bigger files – up to 80mb).

The ability to “tag” files with keywords also became relevant, and PSE’s functionality worked well here, with the ability to drag & drop keywords, and to import / export between catalogs.
So first I’d delete the rubbish photos – out-of-focus, subject disappeared etc.
Then I’d tag photos with the dive number and ID the fish, adding keywords if appropriate.
At the same time I’d tag them with a “star rating”:

  • 5-star – Will end up in the Gallery (portfolio)
  • 4-star – Probably ends up in the Gallery
  • 3-star – OK for web publishing
  • 2-star – Not quite there
  • 1-star – For personal interest only

I’ll get prints for 4 & 5 star photos to 8″x10″; 3 star will be printed to 7″x5″.

In the meantime, I’d load the dives into Suunto’s Dive Manager (v1.6) from my Vyper dive ‘puter and enter details such as the site name, buddy, dive centre and boat. Depth and time are picked up through the interface.
Once all of this is entered, I export the logs and load them into a MySQL database.
There are more details of how I’ve done this here

Back to Photoshop, and the 3-star + photos are exported as 640×480 JPGs to a separate folder, Maximum quality. These are now typically 300k, and the export process “cooks” the tags into the output files.
Exifer is used to redate the photo files according to the EXIF date taken.
IrfanView is then used to build a “slide show” file from this folder (in date sequence), and this is saved as the source for the JAlbum project.

A new JAlbum project is then set up.
I’ve modified a skin to pick up the dive details from MySQL, and to process the classes of tags separately.
This applies a copyright watermark to the files, and creates the web pages (including thumbnails). I reduce the quality a bit at this stage to about 85%, so the output files are typically 100kb. Not everyone has broadband yet.

Then I create a new web folder, and ftp the files up the pipe …

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