Category Archives: Featured Article

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?

SEO for photography logo

What is SEO? And why should I care?

???

Is search engine optimization like another language to you?

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of making you website, and or content, visible to search engines. Without it, no one would find you website other than by word of mouth. Which is not good if you are looking for exposure!

The main search engines in the English speaking world are, Google, Yahoo and Bing. The later two are now using the same resources to deliver their results to you.

How does SEO work?

Before you understand SEO, you need to understand search engines. Search engines crawl the internet looking for content, which for the most part comes in the form of text. Text is easy for these automated programs to understand, compute and tell another program what score the content is worth having.

Why score content?

It the same as a book, or magazine article about. One may be well written, the other poorly. If both are about the same subject, then which one are you more likely to choose? The one with good content right?

So you look to reviews, recommendations and maybe even to book charts to make your decision.

Search engines do basically the same thing.

How do search engines tell what’s good or not?

There are several ways. Content, is it relevant to the subject? Are there other sites linking to the article that also have good relative content. Are there people mentioning it on social media, or subscriptions?

All this tells a search engine just how good, or not so good your content may be. And so, it gives your content a rank.

The higher the rank, the more authority your article will have over someone else’s with a similar subject.

Improving your SEO

In magazines and in many form of literature we doing things to highlight a point. We make headlines. We embolden subheadings, and we highlight areas.

In SEO, we need to do the same for the search engines. Who, or course, have their own language. They don’t visual read or look at our sites. They scan them and read the text. So making a heading red, to the public is nice. But, to a search engine it looks like style=”color: #99cc00;”>red. Big difference.

It does not see the color, it see’s the code.

Code your site for SEO promotion

So if you want to tell a search engine what your article or photograph is all about, you need to give it a code title.

Then, a description. This is a good start.

But, to continue on if you have more content, you should label something and headlines, or sub-headlines.

If all this sounds like work, well then, it is. But, there are many easy ways to do all this without getting technical that we will cover later.

Inherent flaws with SEO

This is, again, a basic overview of SEO. There are other contributing factors. For those with maybe a mathematical mind, or statistical background you might be frowning a little here. Can’t all this be gamed? The answer is of course, yes.

However, search engines are constantly evolving. And, this is the best system we have to work with up to know.

Do you need to care about SEO?

No not at all. Many programs out there that put content on the web automatically do a lot of this for you. But not all, and not so correctly.

If, however,  you do want exposure. Then you’ll need to place SEO in a priority marker along with the rest of your content.

It’s the best we have to work with for now, and we just have to go with the flow.

Sadly, many people, photographers in particular over look this. And a lot of great photographs, and articles slip by the Internets way of catching it all. Hopefully, in the series of upcoming articles, we’ll be able to tighten the net a little, and get your work seen a lot more.

SEO for photography logo

SEO for photographs – html guide

taj mahal

Example of an image with alt and title information

How do make your photograph’s Search Engine Optimization friendly on a static website?

What’s a static webpage?

Let’s be clear firstly about a few things. A static page in this instance is a html webpage. It’s not referring to WordPress, blogger or any blogging type of site.

Does everyone agree on these SEO methods?

The second this is that there are many people who say yes and no to somethings within the realm of SEO. And, yes and no to other things. In other words there’s no 100% the same method out there. However, there are some standards that even the search engines say you must do, and, a little more too.

List of SEO requirements for photographs

  • Use both an “alt” tag attribute and a “title” tag attribute to describe the content.

These are two of the most important things you must do with your images. They tell the search engine, what your image is, and describes to the search engine what’s in the image.

What’s the difference between “title” text and “alt” text?

Title text tells the search engine about what’s in the image, the context of the photograph. It should be written just like any other sentence describing what is going on in the photograph. The text also shows up when you mouse-over an image, which can be a nice affect.

Alt text (Alternative text) is used if the image cannot be displayed for some reason. It should be short, and basically name the image.

  • Make sure the image filename describes the content of the photo

I am not a huge believer in this, as I think search engines are smarter than that. That said, is certainly can do no harm.Use hyphens to separate the words describing the photograph in the filename

abedofroses or a-bed-of-roses or a_bed_of_roses? Again, I think search engines treat all of these files names the same. People however, will prefer to associate a name with hyphens in general.

  • Place all photographs in a folder called “images”

Search engines crawl methodically. I think keeping all you photographs in one location makes sense for organizing yourself more than for SEO purposes. For that reason alone, I would keep them all in one folder. That folder can then have many sub folders.

How to write ALT and Title text for Photographs

Here is an example of the HTML source code of an optimized image of the “Taj Mahal” logo photo and how it appears on a web page:

< img src=”taj-mahal.jpg” border=”1″ alt=”taj mahal” title=”taj mahal in black and white ” width=”300″ height=”225″ >

In the next post in this series, we’ll cover Photograph SEO for WordPress

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

SEO for photography logo

SEO for Photographers: That dreaded thing call flash … or is it?

Flash on your website

Flash on your website

Flash in layman’s terms is similar to video. I allows you to stitch together a series of photographs, images, text or just about anything into a nice package that can look fantastic on a website.

The downside to flash for photographers:

Ever come across a great photography site that looks fantastic. The images flow wonderfully. The how site is easy to navigate, it’s a great experience.

But why then is it not on the top of any search engine?

Simple, search engines don’t understand flash. It’s like showing a blind person a book, without Braille. They know what it is, but can’t work out the content.

Braille to the search engine comes in the form of text. And, flash has none.

SEO and flash, can they get along?

Not really. Search engine’s simply can’t see Flash, and, probably never will. Trying SEO on a site built on flash is a virtual waste of time.

Should you dump any notion of using flash?

This depends. If your website is entirely made from flash, and nothing else there are two things that will happen. The search engines will glance over it, and all you content will not be recognized. You will give the majority of your users an nice experience.

If all you are doing is putting up a portfolio to show clients, then go for it.

If you are trying to get as much exposure for yourself on the internet, then you will have to give a website created solely on flash another think.

The future of flash?

Html5 is a code that’s is being seen as the end of Flash. Or at least the end of the need for flash. The argument continues on. Html 5 is new, and while it is, and will be adopted by all, there is still life in flash for a long time to come.

Can you have the best of both worlds?

Yes, you can have a portfolio site that’s made from flash, and have a text version of the site as well. There are pro’s and con’s to this. Including more work, but it can deliver the best of both worlds and is worth a consideration.

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)

SEO for photography logo

SEO for WordPress photographers

WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging software. It’s free, easy to install, and comes pretty much ready in terms of SEO your posts.

For your images and photographs though, you’ll need to add a little bit more.

Here’s how to use SEO for your photographs on WordPress:

Wordpress screen of image upload

Take a look at this screen capture and see the areas you should fill in

  • Note the File name: its Tibetan-Monks-Nepal.jpg

Having the file name describe the image, is said to improve it’s SEO.

  • Title – Tibetan Monks – Nepal.

Short and sweet, this gives you reference on WordPress to what the image is.

  • Alternative Text

This needs to be filled in. If the image does not appear, the text well.

  • Caption

This is what will appear beneath the image as it is displayed on you post. It’s a good place to throw in some more references to the image. But, equally so you can write anything you want in here.

  • Description

Here is where you will write a longer description of what the image is all about. This is basically the same as describing the image to a friend over the phone. Only in this case, the search engine is the one who is listening / reading.

Five points to remember for SEO on WordPress

These 5 points will all greatly aid in SEO for you photographs. Which will help greatly in getting your images indexed, and searched.

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.

2012 Photography Review

From new cameras to citizen journalism – 2012 in Photography


New Cameras that hit the spot in 2012

Both of the main players unleashed some major new updates to their arsenals Canon_5D_Mark_III

Nikon pushed out the Nikon D800/ENikon D600 while Canon launched EOS 650D / Rebel T4 and the long awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Olympus focus on PEN cameras and Sony continued to try for hitting gold with their A series.

The winner? Well, it’s hard not to give it to Canon with the superior 5D M3

Social Media and Photography in 2012

2012 was dominated with two key players in photography. Pinterest and Instagram. Both of whom blazed a trail throughout the year only to stumble in popular opinion when it came to privacy.plus-badge

Pinterest won with retail, but lost with photographers. Instagram charged ahead the whole year only to be snapped up by Facebook and stumble terribly with a controversial privacy policy update that’s been reversed.

The winner? Google+. There’s no taking away the fact that many photographers moved to Google+ in 2012. With wide screen options and galleries not to mention Hangouts Google+ became the IT social network for photographers in 2012.

Photograph of the year 2012

It making a choice for photograph of the year we went for a mix of social, journalism and cold hard reality.

Massoud Hossaini from Afghanistan captured a Shiite woman standing among the dead and injured, after a bomb blast at the crowded Abu Fazal shrine in Kabul, on 6 December 2011.

For us this continues to hold as a photo of the year throughout 2012 and leading into 2013.

 © Massoud Hossaini

© Massoud Hossaini