Author Archives: Dave from The Longest Way Home

Travel Blog Workflow 3: Photography – processing & management

Pakistan man painting logos for a bus

A photography workflow on the road, is very different to a studio one

Photography and travel blogging go hand in hand these days. There are differences though.

I’ve read a lot about how pro’s handle their photography workflows in studio. Which is interesting. But I’ve never read about how people do it while on the road.

Here’s how I do it.

Brief overview of my photography workflow when traveling:

Some people include photo’s from 3rd party sources like Flickr. Others mix & match. Some upload directly to their blogging platform, others spend time in processing them.

All the photography on The Longest Way Home is taken by me. I host my photographs on zenfolio, and on site. I also keep multiple backups in cloud storage, and on hardrives.

I’ve documented the benefits of hosting photographs off site here in a comprehensive review of photo hosts.

Now here’s a look at this process from beginning to end.

How I “photograph” workflow:

I shoot with a DSLR in both raw and jpeg simultaneously. This creates two exact images.

The raw version can be thought of as being the negative version from an old film camera. It’s unprocessed, and quite large in size.

The jpeg version is the same image, but it’s been processed by the camera and compressed to a smaller size.

The benefit of a RAW file is that it contains a lot of information that the jpg does not. And, much like developing a negative in a dark room, a raw file needs to be processed in a similar way using software before it can be viewed properly.

A jpg can be used for viewing immediately.

I shoot with 16GB cards. I could shoot with 32GB or more. But the frank reality of travel photography when on the road 24/7 is that accidents happen. The camera could get stolen, the card may fail etc. 16GB is about right for me to not go overboard and never remove the before backing it up.

I also don’t erase the photographs from those cards until all back up workflows are finished. So yes, I have a few storage cards.

Let the photography workflow begin:

Once back in a hotel / guesthouse room I immediately transfer all the photographs from the day to my laptop and external hard drive (now there are 3 copies, memory card, laptop, HD.)

Once there I open an application to sort through and proof the days photographs. Many people use Adobe Lightroom, personally I do not.

We simply don’t have the same way of thinking, and I am not a fan of its processing capabilities.

I use my cameras own software, or ACDSee. For those not interested in processing and only in photo management of jpegs (batch renaming, resizing etc,) I would suggest Faststone. It’s free. Limited for pro photo usage, but for the very basics it gets the job done.

But for processing photos, converting RAW images, EXIF data, categorizing, batch processing and photo asset management: I would recommend you check out both ACDSee and Lightroom or Aperture for mac users (links to all of these application be found at the bottom of the page).

Selecting the Best Photographs:

made a few prints today

There is no luxury like this when traveling

With everything open, I spend a lot of time deleting images that have not come out well. Maybe, they are out of focus, the subject is wrong, or they are just plain bad. They are deleted forever.

I use a full screen mode to view each image. Then, tag the good ones. Once I go through the first pass, I do a sort by tagged images. And, delete the rest.

I usually take a break there, a meal or something.

Then I make a final assault and repeat the first step over again.

Organizing Travel Photographs:

With the remaining photographs selected, I split them into different folders. The folders are named and dated by location.

Year – Location – Sub-location – sub-sub-location-(file name)

Each photograph is given some meta information now. This means I batch insert information such as copyright, keywords, categories and special notes into them.

I then batch rename my photographs so both the RAW and Jpeg counterparts both have the same name. it starts with alpha file name, and finishes with a number in order of date time. e.g. sofia-turkey-0021

Once there. I remove the raw files, and send them to another area on my external drive where they will remain untouched until they are backed up.

With the remaining jpgs, I begin to upload them straight from that main source folder.

Uploading photographs workflow

They get uploaded into one big folder on Zenfolio first. The reason I do this, is because internet capabilities get broken up when I travel. I might only be able to upload 300MB on a given night for example.

Yet, the shoot might mean I have 8+ folders of smaller batches to upload. It might seem better to upload everything in smaller batches in this case. But, think about it this way. It’s 10pm. I am tired and want to sleep, or relax. If I upload 50MB of food photos, it will take 2 hours.

Then at midnight I need to get up and upload the next batch from street photography of say 100MB. That should be finished at 3am or 4am …

See the problem? Whereas if I upload everything at once. I can go to bed at 10pm and hopefully everything is then uploaded by the morning and I can then separate them into different folders online, as well as offline. Which, is a lot faster.

Thankfully zenfolio allows one to have many, many sub categories (directories) which is very useful and fast to set up.

A note on cataloging photographs & an example:

Cataloging photographs, or inserting keywords in them is vital if you ever hope to locate a particular image in the future.

I was contacted by an advertiser who wanted an image on my site for a project. I simply could not find it. I knew what it was, where it should be, but could not find it. If I’d tagged it as “portraits” it would have been a lot easier to find.

It’s a simple thing to do, and it can save so much time in the future.

It doesn’t end here though it continues on in the second part of my Photography workflow while traveling.

Links mentioned above:

Zenfolio – photo hosting (use this code ” BDV-TGN-A7X ” for a $5 discount)

Lightroom ACDSee Faststone

In the next part of this workflow we will cover:

Avoid disaster –  Backing up photographs while traveling:

Final stages of the Travel blog photography workflow:

Additional processing workflows:

Meanwhile, what do you think? Do you do things differently, or can you suggest something to improve this workflow?

Travel Blog Workflow 5: Writing & Revisions

It can take a lot of work putting together a travel blog post

The photographs are uploading, now it’s time to double up and get writing.[learn_more]Take a look at my previous article on backing up and uploading photos when traveling! Travel Blog Workflow 4: Photography – backing up[/learn_more]

How is a travel blog post written? My workflow

Whether the blog post is led by a photograph or something I want to document there’s a lot more work involved than many people realize.

Where to start writing a travel blog post?

Sometimes I’ll already have a rough draft done up. Other times, I start from scratch.

I’ll nearly always start out with a title. To me, the title is the idea or the starting point of what I want to convey or document into my journals. By the end of the draft, I usually end up changing the title.

From there I get writing. I don’t spell check, I don’t insert photos, I just write.

My biggest problem is that I don’t stop. So many journal entries go way beyond the “standard” blogging word count. Which I think, in 2010/11 is meant to be around 500 -800 words.

With this done, I take a quick break. Usually to check on a photo upload, write an email and so on.

Second round of the blog post:

Next up I reread it. I will break up long sentences, and paragraphs. Clean up badly constructed sentences. And, spell check really obvious things.

I will now being inserting photographs that relate to the content, if it’s a journal based entry.

This involves coping and pasting two links. One for the photograph you see on the blog post page, and another for the larger image you get if you click it.

Then I need to write an image title for wordpress, so I can reference it. I then write an “ALT” text so that the search engines, and those with sight impairments know what the photograph is all about.

Following this, I write a description of the photograph for everyone to now a little more if need be. That’s the bit under the photo.

Finally, I place the image into the page, and make sure it’s positioning does not interfere with the main text content.

That’s a lot in itself.

I round things out with a good spell-check.

I consider this article or post, near ready. It’s saved for a day or two. Or until I get to good internet again.

Third round of my travel blog writing & revision workflow:

Now is when I come back with fresh eyes and reread everything again. Adjustments are made. Spelling, and grammar addressed. And, I may now change the title a little.

This is also where I add a meta description for search engines etc. Why I do this, is covered a little later.

The article or post is then scheduled for publication.

Publishing a travel blog workflow:

I write ahead of time. It’s not feasible to do so live.

Hopefully, and to be honest usually, I will have one more quick edit before publication.

As many of you know, I have dyslexia, and a lot of mistakes I simply don’t see. But leaving the post or article “stew” for a while helps.

MacBook

Just hitting publish does not mean I am through, there's still a lot to do

The post is then published.

It’s not over yet though …

Post published workflow:

I use a few tools to let everyone know there’s an update to my journal.

As the update goes live it triggers Twitter which is renown for bringing instant news to the world.

  1. People on twitter get a link to the post or article.
  2. At the same time Twitter then tells my facebook account about the link, and the link is published there too.
  3. While all this is going on, RSS feed readers are updated.
  4. Then an email goes out to all subscribers of my website with whole blog post or article included.

All of this stage I have set up to be automatic. But, I still check to be sure. Slip ups happen when dealing with technology. Or rather, multiple technology providers.

And, when they do slip up, it’s good to be ready and catch them.

When technology fails your travel blog

There are some really good people that follow my journey and belong to the growing community on The Longest Way Home who quickly let me know if something’s not right. Either by email, or twitter.

Thank you guys! You know who you are, so smile. I really do appreciate it!

I’d like to take this time to offer any new reader here the opportunity to join in and get my journal updates via email for free. You’ll also receive my stunning top places to travel photo e-book for free too.

It’s just away of saying thank you for leaving comments, and helping out. I really appreciate the people that stop by here.

Enter your email address & get a free subscription to The Longest Way Home Travel Blog:

All email subscribers also get a FREE copy of Top Places to Travel & Photograph e-book!

(worth $24.99 but yours for completely free)

Post post publication travel blog workflow:

If there are any mistakes, or corrections I try to get to them as soon as possible. Which isn’t always easy when traveling.

Sometimes there’s nothing I can do except try to forget I misspelled Filipina for the 100th time. Or, mixed up a paragraph. Once, online, I’ll correct any mistakes.

During this time I’ll also approve new comments. Which leads too …

Comment workflow:

I run a system whereby if you comment for the first time, it will be held until I approve it.

After it’s approved, any comment you make will now show up automatically.

This helps prevent spam. Of which I also have to filter through every time I log in.

I then reply to everyone who leaves a comment.

It might take a little time, but I believe if you took the time to comment on something from my post or article, then I should show due respect and reply individually to you.

I really don’t like blogs or sites that don’t take the time to comment back.

Email  feedback workflow:

With or without every article published, there’s usually several emails that are also waiting for me to answer too.

Many people feel it more personal to email a reply to an article than leave a comment. I feel it’s important to reply to these asap.

There are other emails waiting for me too though, and prioritizing is a must.

Some are long emails describing someone’s own hopes of breaking free and traveling, or moving to a new country.

Other emails are simple thank you’s, little hello’s and people reaching out to see who’s behind the website.

I welcome all these emails with much appreciation. Again, I can’t always reply immediately. Sometimes it takes over a week, or even weeks. But, I will always reply.

The secret to getting a fast email, is to – keep it short. With longer emails I feel it’s important to reply back at length as well. So, I mark them for “when I get time!”

The irony here is the longer, more carefully scripted and heartfelt emailers often have longer to wait for a reply than the short one’s.

Again, everyone gets a reply. But I still feel this is one area in my workflow I need to find a better solution too.

Coming up next in my Travel Blog Workflow:

Both before and after publication, there’s the whole world of promotion!

Because without promotion, who would ever have known about the website or article?


Travel Blog Workflow 4: Photography – backing up

You might now come back to a place every again, so back up those photographs!!

This is the second part in dealing with Travel Photography workflow when traveling by Dave from The Longest Way Home Travel Blog.

Backing up those photographs:

With all the photographs named, sorted into folders and cataloged and uploaded. The next step takes priority over anything else. For me it’s the most important thing.

I begin the back up process. (I often do this when uploading)

Backup your photographs, I can’t say that enough

I plug in my second external drive which makes a duplicate copy of all these files using sync software. I then have a third hard drive which makes a final copy, this includes the raw images.

As I am always on the road, I do not have a permanent internet connection. And, this is the biggest, most expensive, issue with the workflow. Backing up to external drives is relatively fast. But backing up several gigabytes of data online is painstakingly slow. Average speeds of 200kb per second mean uploading easily takes days to do.

The benefit to using a photohost like zenfolio is that once uploaded, the photographs are also ready for use on my travel blog too. And, in various size formats.

One back up is never enough:

I don’t stop there though. I also use another backup service to back up my backups online. This takes yet more time, but I try to space it out as a second priority to the first backup.

Paranoid? Maybe. But let’s face it, a hard drive can break, be stolen, or get damaged easily. More so with travel. I don’t have a home base to keep the images. If I did, I would send Harddrives back for permanent storage.

I don’t see another choice in my own situation. I’ve tried burning DVD’s, but at 4-8 GB they mount up, and so do shipping costs. Moreover, optical storage has a low lifespan of about 5 years. Plus, to asks friends to constantly mind them is a burden. I switched to harddrive back ups, but similarly there are issues there.

This is why I feel that there are never enough backups that can be made.

Workflow continues during all this

During the backing up process. I will begin writing an article in draft format, answer emails, research my journey etc. So essentially there are many things going on at the same time to speed up efficiency. And, more often than not, make use of valuable internet time.

Final stages of the Travel blog photography workflow:

I usually choose which photograph I want for a travel blog post online. I select different sizes of a photograph to appear on a blog post or gallery that fits inline with any text. Again, Zenfolio allows me to select many sizes for a single image.

Titles, descriptions I’ve added in ACDSee or Lightroom will be imported automatically by Zenfolio. Including keywords, descriptions and titles to all photographs for my travel blog. As mentioned Zenfolio allows me to choose many different sizes to insert into a post. What’s more, due to this if a reader on my travel blog clicks on an image, they get a large version presented to them as well!

Additional photo processing workflows RAW vs Jpg:

Not all raw photographs remain untouched. I also use some for HDR processing, or if there is a serious correction problem that needs to be attended to. An example of corrections that can be made with raw files would be white balance.

5x 2TB WD HDD

Portable Hard drives can help you with backing up on the road

In the Philippines night food stalls and the streets are all lit up with dull yellow lighting in some places, and harsh florescent light in other places. Or worse, some hideous mix.

This can make a photograph very washed out or completely distort the colors. Processing the things like white balance with a raw image can help with this immensely.

Processing raw images takes quite some time though, especially when mixed in with everything else. Generally I only do this, if it’s a fixed photograph I want to work on.

Jpeg or RAW for a travel blog?

Firstly, as mentioned in the previous article. RAW files need to be processed first. They cannot be viewed directly online.

Many will say you can do a lot more with a RAW file than a jpeg image. And, they are correct. But, for me. The amount of time in the day or night simply does not exist to process all my RAW files into jpg and then upload them.

So, for nearly every image you see on The Longest Way Home. It’s a jpg taken directly from the camera with no processing. RAW’s are kept on separate backups, and used if an advertiser or client is looking for something specific. Other than that. They sit there.

Jpg’s are easier to use when on the road 24/7. Again, just be sure you back them up.

Links mentioned in this article:

Zenfolio photohosting (use this code ” BDV-TGN-A7X ” to get a $5 discount)

Lightroom

Review of online storage providers

Coming up next on my travel blog work flow: Writing & Revisions workflow

Travel Blog Workflow 1: Why?

What’s a travel blog workflow?

workflow

The Longest Way Home Travel Blog, how it’s all put together may help you too!

A workflow is the process from beginning to end of a subject. In this case, how I write an article for my travel blog on The Longest Way Home

Why write about my travel blog workflow?

Several reasons –

– I don’t think many people realize just how much work, time and money goes into producing a single blog post.
– It’s something I would really like to read about myself, and learn from.
– My workflow may be very different to others, it may help their own process.

Twitter mail via tarpipe

Having a workflow can help you work a lot better

– Comments left by people may offer suggestions on how I can improve my work flow.
– In some circles there’s a veil of near secrecy on this subject, some people even try to make cash out it.
– It’s always nice to see how someone else does something you like.
– It will give you an indication on how I work, and maybe think.
– It will serve as a reminder to me, that in 2010 this is how I was doing things. It’s certainly very different from 2008 e.t.c.
– It’s all part of my learning, and documenting my progress on this journey.

My workflow can help you in putting together your own!

The vastness of a travel blog workflow:

I’m going to break this down into several articles. But the one thing I’d like you and I, to consider is that by the very nature of travel, things change on a whim.

Maybe it’s a rainy day, maybe I don’t have internet, and maybe I need to get something written quickly, or maybe …

And, so it goes on.

But for the main part, I will be documenting and covering an average and not so average travel blog post from beginning to end.

This is all sounding very professional?

Yes, it is.

2 years ago I was writing and photographing on a sub domain. No one knew about it. As in, zero. It was my personal account and record about this journey.

Then a few came across it by accident. Word spread.

Now, several thousand people read about my journey and life every week.  And, many more join everyday.

That’s not something I planned. But it is something I’ve had to address.

From hosting issues, to improving my own learning curve in web development and off site publishing. From working on improving my photography and writing skills. To moving ever closer in completing this quest; it’s all been amalgamating and amassing into what we have today.

And, it continues to develop.

New sets of skill have been learned, lessons have been learned and new goals set. The journey is ongoing no matter what people may conclude. It deals with aspects of moving and searching for a life and home that’s not been done anywhere else.

What I write is happening to me. How I go about it, I now wish to share.

Why write about it here?

The Longest Way Home is about my journey, and while some things may overlap. The workflow was meant to be only a single article, but then it moved to 3 then 5 and so on. I don’t think the majority of the readers on The Longest Way Home want to know this.

It will get a mention at some stage, but, for now it is here on FotoArk, a travel & photography magazine. Which makes more sense for this subject mattter!

The series is currently running at 8-9 articles.

Travel Blog Workflow 1: Why?

Travel Blog Workflow 2: Concepts

Travel Blog Workflow 3: Photography

Travel Blog Workflow 4: Photography 2

Travel Blog Workflow 5: Writing & Revisions

Travel Blog Workflow 6: Promotion

Travel Blog Workflow 7: Advertisers, comments, and emails.

Travel Blog Workflow 8: The Cost

Travel Blog Workflow 9: Income Generation

 

This is by no means an exact episode list! I might double up a few, or add something. But everything here will be mentioned at some stage.

But that’s what’s coming up right here, right now on FotoArk!

Want to get all of these workflows for free? No problem you can either have them delivered to your via email here. Or, just follow FotoArk on Twitter (I suggest you set up a list with just  fotoark on it)

Travel Blog Workflow 2: Concepts

 

Mural inside Sofia in Turkey

 

Where does the idea for a travel post or article come from?

So where does a travel blog post idea come from? Well, in my case it’s very easy.

First and foremost, I write about my journey. Which can be broken down into things like:

People

Places

Feelings

Incidents

and, is this a good place to live?

I also write about particular places I’ve been or currently am in, from a visitor or tourist’s perspective. But, relate it to my own journey.

There’s more too it than that:

I also like to focus on certain aspects of a country in relation to my journey. Maybe how I relate to the society, or the food, or how what it’s like to work there.

Hence, articles like my Food from The Philippines, or Seeing the Unseen started. Or, how individual ones like dealing with religion are written.

Moreover, I might also want to cover an angle no one has yet touched on in a country before.

Last but not least, there’s the photography aspect of things. Maybe there’s a place, event or situation I’d like to photograph. Here, the camera takes the lead and the writing follows.

So, for me, these are a the things that bring about the concepts of my travel blog posts.

Which one I choose, determines my workflow.

Multiple concepts, 2 workflows, one travel blog:

Design Assignments 2010 Higher Grade Product Design * Rasheeda

Concepts need to happen to form the bigger picture!

For the purposes of this series I will touch on photography taking the lead, and articles about finding home.

Each one melds together at some point, but each one seems to have a different work flow. At least, for now.

Travel journal workflow:

Here I write about my journey to find home. In each place I go whether it be a country, city or area I write down my experiences and thoughts.

Both get written into two forms:

  • Online travel blog
  • Offline hand written journal

Online I will usually write about a situation, and relate it to my physical whereabouts. In other words, if I am visiting a place.

Rough and ready, a first draft can contain excerpts from my off line journal as well. It’s then expanded upon, and photographs added.

Offline, I write more about the personal events, personal feelings, rants, raves and everything else not suitable for general viewing. All this, has, culminated in many, many, journals. A batch of which have been edited into a manuscript.

Photography workflow:

This is when I am out and about. The camera rarely leaves me. I use it to document my journey, and the places I’ve been. But then, as in life, I’ll spot something special.

Maybe it’s a man on the road begging, or someone painting something. Here, the camera leads. And, I will document the event.

This is where I enjoy photography so very much. For it gives me an insight into the real country I am traveling in.

From there comes the workflow of the photograph telling the story, with the words following.

How easy is it to think of concept or photograph to write about?

From a conceptual, and creative stand point this is the most enjoyable. It’s creativity, story telling, and documenting at it’s most raw.

But like anything in it’s most basic of states, it needs refining to be presentable. And, now the really hard work begins.

Concept travel blog workflow summary:

There are two main areas here that lead to a post:

1. Written idea – life, the journey, the situation, the journal etc  – get put into hand form, and first draft online.

2. Photograph – an event, a photograph that tells a story, real life situation I find myself in, places I’ve been – first draft written around this

Coming up next: Part 3: my travel photography workflow – I’ve taken the photograph, but now I’ve got to manage it, process it, back it up, and publish it. All from the road, not an easy task.