Mastering Digital Workflow & Editing

Just because your dive is over does not mean that your job as an underwater photographer is done. When you surface, it's time to download, organize, edit and back up your digital images. For some of us, this will be a quick, 5 to ten minute process , while others will spend hours focused on a single image.

Digital workflow is  an important technique to master because, if done efficiently and correctly, it can be an easy process that will save you major headaches down the road. It ensures that your images will be safe and easy to relocate.

Of course, editing is a major part of the digital workflow, and it can be a daunting process. One of the best ways to learn editing tips is by reading step by step tutorials on specific aspects. Learning a little bit about post processing can take your underwater photography a long way, and really make them jump right off the screen!


Introduction to Digital Workflow

Digital workflow is a fundamental part of the image making process, and one that is often overlooked by newer photographers. Over time you will amass hundreds or (more likely) thousands of images. Cataloging and organizing these images becomes a key task in the process, and really should not be overlooked. It’s also pretty simple and in the long run will save you time and stress.

Often new photographers ask “what’s the best software to use?” or “what’s the best workflow process?” Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends”. This is a very subjective topic, which will vary somewhat based on certain criteria including the file types your camera records, what you plan on doing with your images (share with friends vs. print, vs. publish professionally), and your willingness, or lack thereof, to spend time dealing with the process.

One of the benefits of digital photography is the control we have from the moment the shutter clicks through the entire image output process, which is normally a printed image or web based image. With this control comes responsibility on the part of the photographer.

Generally speaking, there are a handful of steps to processing your digital images and creating the best end results. Previously, one had to use multiple programs to handle different aspects of workflow. But today, with programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, the need for multiple programs is really only for those with the most discerning eye and the most willingness to optimize the process. There are even free options.


Digital workflow is a necessity, but don’t let it intimidate you. It’s really only as complicated as you want it to be. Most of the software referenced above is available as free trials, so you can try before you buy and determine which one fits your needs. Alternatively, there are also free products that you can use such as Google’s Picasa or Apple’s iPhoto. These are fairly turnkey and ideal for the technophobe or for the casual shooter who wants to just make life easier on themselves. But remember, it’s software not magic! The best images are captured in the camera and the software is only used for refinements.