Every once in a while, something comes along that revolutionizes things. I think Dropbox fits this category.
My mentor, Nancy Ori had an assignment to shoot hundreds of wine bottles for a product catalog. As we started discussing on how to go about doing this, we came up the following scenario:
- It was determined to setup the “set” downstairs for several reasons (including transporting hundreds of expensive liquor bottles was not a good idea). The first task of course is to shoot the images with the camera. In this case, it was a Nikon D700 and 55mm macro lens, setup on a tripod.
- Once enough shots had been taken or when card is full, the images would then have to be transferred on to the studio computer upstairs running Aperture (or store them in a Wolverine device until later) . If shooting tethered, there is a need to transfer the images stored in the netbook to the upstairs computer (via an external disk). Either way, there is a manual need to get the images off the camera to the upstairs computer.
- Like all glass projects, this project requires retouching (more about this in a later post). The idea was to have the retoucher(s) work on images on-site in the studio upstairs. Those that cannot be completed — the retoucher can copy on to a thumb drive or hard disk to work on them remotely on their personal machines. All masters to be stored back on the master studio computer upstairs.
- When and as images are ready to be shared with client, send images via email or one of the several different options — FTP, website, web hosting services, specialized photography sites (Photoshelter, Smugmug etc) etc.
As we started thinking about this, we hit upon the idea of shooting tethered and directly saving images on the Dropbox folder. A few thoughts on how this new process can benefit us:
- No need to wait until CF card is full, No need to run upstairs to transfer images back and forth b/w computers and camera. This alone is a huge time and effort savings…measurable in days!
- Client delivery is easy and seamless to manage. Each retoucher as they finish their work, simply upload their final flattened images to the dropbox folder “client”,and be done with it. As it gets processed, it gets delivered to the client in real time! The fact that it gets pushed down to the client’s computer directly is a huge plus as well. The clients don’t need to sit and wait to download their images. It is just there on their computer when they are ready to view them.
- Retouchers can be remote — anywhere in the world and will get the images within minutes of shooting! No need to wait until CF cards fills up…If you are one of those wedding photographers who are looking into outsourcing your post processing (An upcoming market –and already available as service from several offshore companies, quite cheap as well), imagine shooting your wedding and coming back home or studio to an already “prepped” and “almost developed” set of images back on your home/studio computer!
A few not so obvious benefits of the new process:
- We have plenty of backups! The originals as they are captured from NKRemote are stored on the netbook. This then gets replicated to dropbox “cloud” (2nd copy), then on to all the computers connected to this dropbox folder (Upstairs studio computer and the 2 retouchers’s machines). All happening within minutes too!
- A use of a free tool such as Allwaysync, allows us to automatically make a copy of the original image into the “Master” folder as it gets saved from by NKRemote. This ensures that no human hands touch the original folders — therefore less mistakes!
Here is how our workflow design looks like:
There will be a separate post on shooting liquor and wine bottles, which was quite an experience all by itself.
The camera is tethered to a MSI netbook running Windows XP. For remote camera control, it runs Breeze System’s NKRemote. We selected this product over Nikon’s own Camera Control Pro software because of the additional camera control benefits that NKRemote provides over Nikon’s software (such as Focus stacking, HDR shooting etc).
After using the system for a few days, we have found it to be stable enough to use for all new productions.