Batch Processing Photos
Shave Hours From Your Digital Photo Workflow Using These Methods
Please Note 2021: I am aware that the processes on this page are a little dated now but the principle is still the same. I will however, be updating the videos once the entire site has been updated. Thanks : )
Batch processing photos - It’s a love/hate thing
Ever since I learned about batch processing and what it did, I have had mixed feelings about it. I do understand the time-saving benefits that batch processing offers. However, there have only been a few areas in which I find it most useful until recently.
I have always been a stickler for tweaking, poking and prodding each image to the max. This becomes mighty tedious when processing up to 1,000 images from a wedding, but it is worth it for me.
The reason I do this is because no matter how pushed I am for time, I find it very difficult to “wash over” each image with the same process. Sure, there are times when a batch of 5 or 6 can be automated, but the whole lot? Never!
For me, each photo I take may have minor and barely noticeable differences. Differences in white balance, light, shade, colour etc, and needs that personal touch to get it just right. There may be items or artefacts that I want to remove or clone out. Maybe slight changes made to the alignment that simply cannot be done via the batch processing “process”.
Each image is unique to me and batch processing them may alter some aspects beyond what I am trying to achieve.
Converting images to black and white?
Even batch processing a bunch of images to black and white needs to be done separately in my opinion. Each one will have differing tonalities and shades. You run the risk of blowing out the whites or darkening too much in some images if you are not careful.
Also, unlike some photographers, even if I am just giving out proofs to someone, they have to be fully processed. I can’t bear the thought of giving a client sub-standard, batch-processed images. Handing them over whilst explaining that the final photos will be “much nicer”.
However, there are some times when batch processing can save me so much time without using up too much PC power. These are a few programs I use to speed up my workflow when batch processing certain requirements.
Batch processing photos using Canon DPP
I use batch processing in DPP for setting the WB, sharpness, levels and curves for a number of very similar images and converting RAW to JPEG. You can also resize and rename the RAW files whilst converting to JPEGs saving even more time.
This short video below outlines the benefits of batch processing photos within DPP (Canon’s Digital Photo Professional). This is for the 4 most used actions for my personal workflow:
Batch Processing Photos in ACDSee Software
ACDSee is a great program for viewing and managing your images. It does have RAW functionality as well as other manipulation functions but I generally leave that to Photoshop and Lightroom.
Any time I open an image for viewing, ACDSee is the default viewer I use. I particularly like the ease and speed in which I can scroll through my photos. This next short video simply shows how to rename and resize images quickly.
Batch Processing Photos using Actions in Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is great for other batch processes that I use for large tasks. I just happen to use it for the following but obviously the possibilities are huge with such a powerful program:
You can also use the Actions in Photoshop to batch process special effects, colour conversions and just about any other alterations. The following video shows you how to batch resize for web and add a watermark to the resized images.
Beware of this when batch processing
Beware: Whilst batch processing can be time saving, it can also have the opposite effect with dire consequences.
I once “batch processed” around 500 original images incorrectly by mis-naming them during a moment of temporary lack of concentration. Without going into too much detail, it meant I had to go back to the original RAW files and rename each one individually. This was to match the images I had already given to a client.
It took a good 4 hours to get back to where I was so I recommend using due care and attention when batch processing original files.
So, I have learned to live with batch processing and am continuously learning new ways in which it can help speed up my workflow. The only way to discover how to batch process is by learning, reading and testing to see what works for you.
One product I simply cannot do without when processing images through Photoshop is MikeD’s Autoloader. You have to check this out!