My Lightroom 4 Workflow

I was asked today about exporting from Lightroom for a project I was working on, the 2013 Phoenix Comic Con. I decided to do an explanation of how I import to and export from Lightroom 4. I will not go into my editing workflow, though I may some other time. This is what I find works best for me to get the result I am looking for. There are other options out there, but this is what I use.


The first thing I will do is create a general folder. You can see in the photo above that I have a folder that I created called Comic_Con. For the sake of completeness, to create that folder, you right-click on the parent folder, in this case Photography and select ‘Create Folder Inside “Photography”‘. Then you will type Comic_Con and click ‘Okay’. Next, we repeat this process for the city, only this time you right-click on Comic_Con.

Now that we have our folders created, it is time to import. Make sure your camera or memory card are plugged into the computer. Then, instead of clicking the “Import…” button, right-click on the folder you want to import into and select “Import to this Folder…”


The source should default to your memory card or camera, though mine did not because I’m just making an example. You can choose either “Copy as DNG” or “Copy.” In the past, I used DNG. I now use “Copy” only because hard drive space is cheap, but feel free to use either. Working our way to the right side of the screen, on the top, right-hand corner of the screen is your final location. You shouldn’t need to change this. Working down, I leave the “Render Previews” at Minimal and I “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checked.

The next option down is “Make a Second Copy To:” and then an option to choose a location. I highly suggest using this feature if you have a separate hard drive to store the files. Mine was unchecked because the photos I had imported are already stored on a second drive that is not attached to my computer right now. With my previous computer, I had a second hard drive to back up to, but I am not using that in this computer. In the mean time, I use Crashplan (which I am really happy with) to backup all of my data in the cloud and will keep my photos on the external drive until the backup is complete.

I will sometimes use “File Renaming,” but since I already chose to import into my Phoenix folder within Comic_Con, I have no real benefit to renaming. Plus, I wanted to make sure I retained the numbering my camera gave to the file since I restarted my numbering every morning.

Moving down further, I apply my copyright to every photo I import by using the “Metadata” option. If you need to create a copyright, just click new and fill in the blanks you wish to use. I fill in the sections for “IPTC Copyright” and “IPTC Creator,” but the choice is your’s to make, just be sure to save your metadata preset using drop down menu at the top of the dialog box, then click “Done.”

In this section, you can also add any keywords to your imported files. These keywords will be applied to every photo, so take care what you use. For the same reason I do not rename my files, I do not normally use keywords. However, for this project, I did need keywords so I entered the ones that covered all photos here.

Finally, for the “Destination,” I leave “Into Subfolder” unchecked. If you wish, you can check it and use a enter a folder name here. This would accomplish the same steps I did at the beginning. The problem I had was that I would forget the exact name for a folder and I would have to move files around. This way, I get the files exactly where I want them. I “Organize” By Date so that I can group my files by a common event, such as the Phoenix Comic Con and them find them by year. I use the format 2013/2013-05-31 so it will put all 2013 files into that folder. Within that 2013 folder, they will be organized by date. This is illustrated in the first photo. You may find another option works for you, but this is what works best for me.

Finally, click “Import” and Lightroom will work its magic and copy your photos for you.

Culling and Keywords
After the photos are on the computer, I will then begin the culling process. This can be time consuming, but it is important because it can save a lot of time later. For this project, I tackled everything at once. I selected the “2013” folder so I would go through all 1174 photos in one sitting. To begin, double-click on the very first photo so that it is enlarged. If you wish, hit “L” twice to remove other distractions on the screen.

Next, decide it you want to keep the photo or not. You may need to use your mouse to zoom in and out. The main thing I am looking for here is if my subject is in focus and if my framing was good. I’m also deciding if I simply like the photo. If it meets my criteria, I hit the “p” on my keyboard to flag it as a “Pick.” If it is completely out of focus or something where I must have hit my shutter button on accident, I will hit “x” to flag the photo as “Rejected.” When I am finished, I will delete all of the rejects. If it doesn’t fit either criteria, I just leave it alone. When I am done with that photo, I will hit the right arrow on my keyboard and to go on to the next photo.

Once I have gone through all of my photos, I will then go back to the beginning and edit them. To make this process faster, I will filter out all photos that are not “Picks.” To do this, near the word “Map” on the top right side of Lightroom is a drop-down menu that says “No Filter.” Click that menu and select “Flagged.” Another option is to go to the “Library” menu on the top left, select “Filter by Preset” and then select “Flagged.” Either of these options will remove any photos that are not flagged as “Picks” from your view. As a side note, if you “Rejected” some photos, even though they technically have a flag, they will not show up with this filter.

After I am done editing, I will go through my photos to add specific keywords. As I am adding the keywords, I will sometimes repeat the filter process from immediately prior to editing, except I select “Filters Off”. I do this because I might take a photo of a booth’s name before taking a good photo of the booth and this way I will have a name to add to the keywords. This is also where I am doing my final culling. I will remove some photos or add others that happen to catch my eye.

Finally, we are ready to export.


Tucson Comic Con 2011

This past weekend was the Tucson Comic Con. For the second year, my wife and I went for as long as we could. Since last year, it has gotten a lot bigger but we saw some old faces and met some new people. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to going next year. Please enjoy the slideshow here, but if desired, the individual photos may be found here.


Storms over Tucson

The other night, I was at a family party at my in-laws house. I went outside to move my car and I was greeted by some incoming storms. They were still in the distance, so I bolted inside and grabbed my camera bag. I keep my tripod in the back of my car so I quickly set it up and started snapping away. Given that the sun was setting, I needed longer exposures but since they were storm clouds, that allowed me to also catch the little flashes of lightening that were occurring deep in the clouds. The storm was too far away to catch actual bolts of lightening, but since my camera isn’t weather sealed, I wouldn’t want to do that because I would likely have been rained on.

Storms over Tucson 2 by Erik Hawkinson (ErikHawkinson) on
Storms over Tucson 2 by Erik Hawkinson
Storms over Tucson by Erik Hawkinson (ErikHawkinson) on
Storms over Tucson by Erik Hawkinson


It’s been a little while since I posted, but given the events of last night, I thought I would dig something out from a few years ago and snap a photograph of something I bought today.



Please be kind, I’m not a product photographer.

Ragnar del Sol 2011 – February 25-26

Ragnar del Sol is a 197 mile relay race around Phoenix, Arizona. Twelve person teams, split between two vans run for almost 36 hours straight. It is a grueling race, time is spent running, resting, and eating. Somewhere, there is also some time for sleep, but not much.

For the first time, I was proud to help out my company’s team by driving one of the vans. My van was the second one out which was definitely a double edged sword. On one hand, we did not start until the afternoon on February 25 so we were able to sleep in somewhat. Unfortunately, being in van two also meant we finished at the finish line instead of earlier like our first van.

It was definitely an amazing experience. While we were waiting for our second to last runner to arrive so our last leg would begin, one of my teammates remarked how it felt like we had been together for weeks. Things that had happened just 14 hours prior seemed like days ago.

Yes, there were costumes.

It didn’t help that our van smelled like it had been lived in for weeks as well. I definitely want to drive again, I’m just going to make sure of some changes to help out like bringing bins or something for dirty laundry. I’m also going to make sure to pack a little differently to save on some space. I’m definitely going to use a different telephoto lens.

I had received a gift certificate to BorrowLenses and I finally used it this past weekend. Unfortunately, I should have chosen a slightly different lens. I picked the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L. I was torn between that one or the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS. It was between those two because the gift certificate was for $100 and I wanted to be close to or under that. While I liked the f/2.8, I really would have benefited with the IS of the f/4. I had never used such a heavy lens and so I think part of the reason my photos weren’t as sharp as they could have been was because of that weight. The other thing I could have done (and probably should have done) was pay the little bit out of pocked and get the f/2.8 IS for the best of both worlds. Next year, if I don’t own one by then, I will definitely be renting either the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS or the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. There were a couple of times that I wished I had a longer focal length, but I would rather have the wide aperture.

I am in awe of my teammates, especially the ones I rode with. We all supported each other and, through the weekend, I saw attitudes change. One runner went from (half-seriously) trying to give away each of her legs to saying she wants to run it again. Even I was nervous about being out there with them. I had no idea what was in store for me but by the end of the weekend, I was ready to commit to helping next year.

Even though I know it will be another tiring weekend of being in the cold, lacking sleep, and being in the cold, I’m ready to help again because it was just an excellent experience that I cannot wait to have again.


Product Review: Black Rapid RS-4

Last Friday, I received a couple of packages. One of them was my brand new Black Rapid RS-4 camera strap. I’ll be covering the other at a later date. So, now, I present the Black Rapid RS-4.

Since I had watched some of the videos on the Black Rapid site, I had an idea of where to begin. First, I removed the FastenR-3 from the ConnectR-2 (more on that in a bit). I simply screwed the FastenR into the tripod socket on the bottom of my camera. I made sure it was nice and tight so the rubber washer is compressed between the camera and the FastenR.

The rubber washed appears to be designed to increase friction so that it it unlikely the FastenR will free itself from the camera. Also, since the ConnectR swivels, there is little reason for the FastenR to move. Given that the strap is connected to the bottom of the camera, it goes without saying that your camera will hang upside down. While it can be unnerving, I screwed the FastenR so tight that it is actually difficult to move. A tip I learned from the Black Rapid Setup and Tips page, is to wet the FastenR prior to attaching to the camera to increase the bond. Since I learned this tip after I had already attached it to the camera, I decided to leave it alone for the time being.

The ConnectR is simply a D-ring that will swivel as well as slide along the strap. The ConnectR is actually one of the few complaints I have about the R-Strap. For the most part, it is fine, but the locking mechanism concerns me. As you might be able to tell from the above picture, it is unlocked. The wide part near the strap should be more towards the camera to prevent the hinge from opening, but simple jostling around in my bag seems to be enough to the loosen the lock. Instead of screwing into the locked position, I think I would prefer a spring that constantly forces the lock closed. Only time will tell, but I think I am more concerned about that lock than the FastenR unscrewing from the camera, but I do want to emphasize that it is a minor concern and does not deter me from using the strap in any way.

As you can see in the above picture, there are two sliding clamps on each side of the ConnectR. Black Rapid refers to these as bumpers. I will say that the inclusion of a second bumper was a surprise, since I had not seen it mentioned in any of their product videos. The purpose of each bumper is different. One bumper will be behind you, the other in front. When you are setting up your strap, the one in the rear is supposed to be right up against the ConnectR. If your strap happens to slide when you raise your camera to take a photo, when you let it go back down to your side, this bumper will catch the camera and slide the strap back into position. The front bumper is more for storage. I like to keep it next to the ConnectR, as shown above, while my camera is in my bag. That way, I don’t have to worry about the strap moving much and simplifies getting the it out of my bag and onto my person. Once on, I move the bumper up to the shoulder pad. It can be used to direct the camera so it will be slightly behind you, but after trying this, I decided to just let it hang freely. Leaving the bumper down and locked makes it harder to bring the camera up quickly, and Black Rapid is about speed.

The shoulder pad of the RS-4 has a simple pocket for extra memory cards or batteries. I must admit, I haven’t utilized this at all yet, but it is nice to know that it’s there. The strap is much more comfortable that the strap that came with my camera. The pad is straight, though if you would prefer a more ergonomic pad, the RS-7 may be a better choice.

So, other than the locking mechanism on the ConnectR, was there anything at all to dislike about the R-Strap? Not really. I was surprised that there were no directions shipped with the strap. However, if you go to the Black Rapid website and find your strap on their product page, they include product videos for every strap. The only exception is for the RS DR-2 Slim Double Strap, but I’m assuming the directions are similar to the RS DR-1 Double Strap, so you should be able to look there. After messing around with my strap and having a little difficulty getting it set up, I watched the video for the RS-4 and that answered most of my questions. The only thing that threw me off was that front bumper. Since it wasn’t in the video, I had to watch a different video to get an idea of what it was for. I also wasn’t completely sure if it should be locked down always. That’s when I turned to Twitter.

Back in November when I was first really thinking about getting a Black Rapid strap, I asked a friend on Twitter how they felt about the strap. Since I used Black Rapid’s Twitter name (@BlackRapid) in my tweet, they knew I was asking about them.  I must praise them in this area because LaRae, their “social networking gal”, immediately offered to help me choose a strap or answer any questions I might have. She answered the one question I remember I had at that time. When I placed the order for my strap, I was excited and so I Tweeted that I had ordered my @BlackRapid strap. A few days later, LaRae asked if I had received it (I hadn’t yet) and if I had any questions. When I did get it, I had a little trouble with the front bumper. She answered me within an hour or so of my question and even offered to give a consultation via Skype. Since my only question was answered, I turned her down but I was very impressed with the customer service. It was very hands on and friendly. It made me feel like they valued my business, which is something that can be hard to find at times. So, thank you very much, LaRae.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Black Rapid RS-4 R-Strap. I’m still getting used to it, since it hangs quite differently that my old strap but I’m getting better at it. While I was practicing with it, my wife compared it to a quick shooter practicing drawing their gun. Honestly, I agree with her. I can’t say it is faster, but it definitely feels that way. Plus, since it hangs by my side, it doesn’t swing as much while I am bending over or moving around a lot. It also does a good job of hugging my side while maneuvering through tight spaces, like crowds. I would definitely recommend Black Rapid to any one I know and would definitely buy from them again.

Disclosure: I have received no compensation for this review. I bought the camera strap with money out of my pocket.

Thoughts on a Tragedy

This post does not really have anything to do with photography, but I still wanted to write it.

Every few years, I experience something that I think will be with me forever. I remember sitting in front of the TV on February 1, 2003 and seeing the loss of the Columbia. In late September of 2005, I was following my wife’s car with two cats howling at me as we evacuated Houston before Hurricane Rita made landfall. This past Saturday on January 8 of 2011, tragedy struck Tucson.

As I’m sure everyone knows, there was an attack on a crowd of people who gathered to meet US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, the target of this attack, suffered a point-blank gunshot wound to her head. As a write this, she is improving but is not out of danger yet and the extent of brain damage she sustained is not known.

Six people were killed that day and fourteen others were injured. Among the killed were a federal judge who just happened to stop by to say hello and a 9-year old girl who had just been elected to her student council. Given that I have a little girl of my own, that was difficult for me to handle.  I hope I never have to experience their loss.

While I have never been to the Safeway where the shooting occurred, I have driven by it numerous times. It is, at most, a fifteen minute drive from my house. Since she lives near there, one of my coworkers learned of the shooting by driving by shortly after it happened. My wife’s coworker knew one of the victims and the child of one of her friends had a class with the alleged killer at Pima Community College. To paraphrase my wife, even though Pima County has over a million people, it’s still a small town where there are few degrees of separation. When something like this happens, it affects everyone including me.

Those who know me know that I often have thoughts like this:

I would love to go to [insert someplace] because it would be amazing to take photographs there.

After things became sorted out from the original chaos, vigils were being planned for that night. After hearing of the gatherings, my first thought was that I wanted to go and take pictures. However, this time it was different. Normally, when some disaster occurs, I wonder what I can do to help but there is often little I can do. In a case like this, money wasn’t needed and there was nothing I could volunteer to do. However, this time I had a camera. I wanted to document the feelings and faces of those affected by that day. Photographs are amazing things: snapshots of time, memory, and emotions. It could have been my way to help. Unfortunately, I work my full time job on Saturday nights and I didn’t ask if I could call out. I should have but I didn’t and it really made my night difficult. I like my job but I wanted to do something. I also did not attend the memorial service that was held yesterday at the University of Arizona campus. I was alone with my daughter when I happened to drive by and saw the line was already quite long. There was still more than 6 hours to do before the event and was not prepared for such a wait.

I haven’t listened to the speeches yet, but I look forward to hearing them. My wife told me that she was very touched by President Obama’s speech:

They believed — they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here –- they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.

Politics aside, Gabrielle Giffords always seemed like someone that would just be great to meet. Especially since Saturday, I have heard amazing things about her personality. From what I can tell, she loves life and is always upbeat. While I fear the opportunity may be lost, I would like to meet her one day. It won’t be soon, but it is something I hope to do.

There is more I could say. I could say something about how the recent political climate from both sides of the aisle has left a sour taste in my mouth, but there are those who are taking it down a notch*. I could say something about the horrid comments left on some of the articles I’ve read, but I’ll take the same advice I gave my wife: Don’t read them!” I want to finish on a positive note, so I am going to close with just this quote from President Obama’s speech:

All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.


*- Please note that while these links lean left, they are the ones that the Wikipedia article linked to above used as references. I will gladly add more. Just post them in the comments below and I will add them to the article.

Chicago in Winter

Over Christmas, my family and I traveled to my hometown, in the suburbs of Chicago to spend Christmas with my side of the family. It was the first time my daughter would be spending Christmas in Chicago as well as her first time seeing snow. I was really excited for this trip.

One of the things we did was take my daughter to the Chicago Children’s Museum with my sister. The museum is at Navy Pier, right on Lake Michigan. When we arrived, it was a dreary day with rain that could start at any moment. Before going to the museum, we took a quick walk up the pier. One of the first shots was this, looking out into the late:

Lake Michigan

Parts of the lake we frozen over, it looked like a mini-Antarctica. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to those parts of the lake. Over by Navy Pier, there was a little bit of ice but it was not completely frozen.

When it was time to turn around to go to the museum, this is what I saw:

Low Clouds over Chicago

I loved seeing the skyscrapers disappear into the clouds. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work so high up and yet not be able to see anything.

Anyway, one of the cool things about the Children’s Museum, aside from watching my daughter have a ton of fun running around, was that it was at the edge of Navy Pier that was closest to the city. So, some of the windows face the city, allowing for some nice unobstructed views.

Into the Clouds

It was a fun trip, though not totally uneventful (but that is a story for a later time). I have many more pictures to share and will be in the next couple of weeks. Until then, here is one last shot of the Chicago skyline seen from Navy Pier.

Disappearing John Hancock Building


Hello 2011!

I obviously haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been on vacation and I didn’t have the time I’d hoped that I would have to blog. My plan was to get ahead on some of the topics I had hoped to cover, unfortunately, being around my family has kept me pretty busy.

Another things that kept me from posting is that I neglected to bring my portfolio with me. As a result, I didn’t have any photos ready to post. Sure, I could post some of the pictures I’ve taken since I arrived, but my laptop is far less than ideal to do photo editing on. On the plus side, I did take a lot of photos, so I should have plenty new material coming in the next few weeks.

One of the few photos I have had time to process.

Anyway, I’m planning on returning (or beginning, depending on how you look at it) to my regular blogging schedule with start of the new year. What better way to begin than to publish my New Years Resolutions?

While I am not unique in this regard, it is important to me that I make my resolutions public. It might just be the thing that gets me to remain accountable to my goals. So, what are my resolutions? I actually have just one:

By the end of 2011, I will have at least one paying customer and one customer referral.

It seems simple, doesn’t it? I wanted it somewhat simple, but there are still challenges with it. It will require me to improve everywhere. From customer interaction as well as service, to my skills as a photographer, it will force me to get better.

You might ask why I didn’t set a more ambitious goal and that would be a reasonable question. While I certainly would not argue if I exceeded my goal, I’m not entirely sure if I will have time. My current position requires me to work on weekend afternoons and I cannot adjust my schedule. Still, I have Saturday mornings as well as all day during three weekdays. That should give me ample time to practice, network, and work on post processing.

So, now that I’ve shared my resolution, why don’t you tell me yours?

Top Shot Tuesday: Hot Rod

Hot Rod Engine

This was shot at the 4th Avenue Street Fair in Tucson, Arizona. The hot rod was being raffled off to benefit Cops 4 Kids and the Special Olympics. I’m personally not a fan of hot rods, but I did like this shot.

What was your top shot from the past week?