Wildlife Photography: What’s on my computer?

As a follow-up to my previous article “What’s in my camera bag”; I thought it would be beneficial for others to know my computer setup and the programs I use daily for processing my images.

I have three computers; two laptops and one desktop. One laptop is an Acer that is used for uploading images to Dreamstime. Because I am working on the Russia/Chinese border and because I am working in the field; normal hardwire internet connections are not available to me. I do have access to USB wireless type cards but these can get very expensive as they bill based on megabytes transmitted. China has an internet USB card that is a one-time fee for yearly usage (allows 5 hours a day of 3 G access for about $250/yr.). For image review, I use either my MacBookPro 13” laptop or my 27” iMac i5. I much prefer the iMac because of the size and quality of the screen but I can not transport this beast in the field so I frequently use the MBP when away from my home-base.

When I first load a flashcard on my computer, I use a program called “Photo Mechanic” to sort the good from the bad. This is a fast program made especially for sorting images; it does this task well. Once I have sorted my images; the good ones are labeled with a unique name and imported in a program called “Aperture”. Aperture is a Database Asset Management (DAM) program that also has the ability to do routine edits of the images.

After importing into Aperture, I again sort my images and select the ones that will get processed and uploaded to Dreamstime. Typically, if I save 50 images (I will typically save less than 10% of the images I shoot; I am not a prolific shooter but I am an aggressive editor) of an animal, only one or two will be processed for DT; it is a lot of work to get the 50 images but DT does not want duplicates (owl looking to the left, owl looking down, owl sleeping, etc). The extra images are of value for my other clients (magazines, articles, etc) that request more of a selection than is available on sites such at DT.

Aperture can do much of the basic processing (conversion from raw), dust spotting, white balance, levels and curves, etc. but can not do more advanced tasks. For the more advanced processing work, I use Photoshop CS5.

All images are backed-up on multiple hard disks. I have three separate hard disk copies stored in my studio and one complete set of images stored in a second city in Russia. I also have a fourth copy stored in America. As a professional photographer, our images are our retirement program; loss of our images is loss of our means of support.

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February 25, 2011

Sobek85

I Use Apple Aperture. Love it, best photo management and editting tool ive used.

January 27, 2011

Scottysally2

You have a great system worked out, and great images. :)

January 25, 2011

Egomezta

Amazing as the photography equipment you have... I will have to add some more stuff to my Santa's list for this year...

January 25, 2011

Sobek85

Some beautiful shots. well done

January 25, 2011

Visceralimage

Meryll; you are correct; that is part of the reason I gave up a high paying career as scientist. Life is about so much more than chasing money.

January 25, 2011

Meryll

I am sure shooting wildlife in real nature under all weather conditions must be hard work but much much more amasing and rewarding than sitting in a office for hours day by day... You are lucky man ;-)

January 25, 2011

Fultonsphoto

Great PF and tips, thanks for sharing.

January 25, 2011

Infotrontof

Great info..
My main tools are Lightroom 3x, Photoshop CS5 and ******** for keywording..and uploading as well

January 25, 2011

Melonstone

Reading this confirms my amateur status! I use.....nothing more than Bridge for sorting...and I'm useless at ruthless, but trying desparately hard to get harder with my editing. Love your shots - the comical owl above is lovely.

January 25, 2011

Mariaam

Great article! Thanks for sharing.

January 24, 2011

Visceralimage

Brad; you must be doing something right, you are one of four photographers I call favorite. Best to you.

January 24, 2011

Bradcalkins

Whoa - you are going for the record on useful blog posts! I need to take a lesson from you on ruthless editing - I tend to keep too many shots of the kids... I feel sorry for my kids when they try to go through my photos and surprise me with a slideshow on my 25th wedding anniversary :)

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Photo credits: Moose Henderson.