Repetitive Tasks and Batch Processing
As with much computer work, you may find that with digital photography you do a series of steps over and over. If you can isolate which steps are common to a task, you can speed up your time in the digital darkroom.
When working with hundreds of pictures, your hand often goes through the same mouse motions. This can cause repetitive motion (carpal tunnel) problems. To avoid this, take your hand off the mouse often. Also periodically put your hand inside a rubber band and push your fingers out against the tension of the band. This exercise can help prevent problems.
When you must make the same corrections, write down each step in order. Since you are working with digital media, each setting should have a specific number that you can input or assign to each change. For example, the sharpness setting might have a number range from 0 to 100 that you can set. If you are using a mouse, you may find that you can do the same series of steps with keyboard strokes instead and this can make the process go much faster. It may also help with repetitive motion wrist problems. Write down the series of keystrokes in your notebook. This can be useful later for developing macros or redoing the same corrections.
When you find yourself doing the same series of things over and over, find a way to automate those actions. Some programs allow you to create or record macros. Typically, a macro stores a sequence of actions that is activated by a macro key that you assign, such as Control+F12. In top-of-the-line programs such as Photoshop, you can create “actions,” which are essentially macros. Instead of selecting a menu, then a tool, then a setting, and then applying that setting, you can press one macro key to do all of those actions together. If you have several changes, you can do those as well.
If your program does not support macros, you can buy separate macro programs that can work with your program. Some macro programs work better than others, so try several shareware programs that let you try before you buy to find which work best with your existing software. Sophisticated macros will even pause and allow you to input or change data before continuing with their sequence of actions. This means that if you have to do the same basic action to each photo but would like to tweak each one a bit differently, you can do this and still use macros.
If you have taken a series of pictures in the same situation and under the same light, most of them will require the same digital darkroom settings. Therefore, spend time to get the first one exactly right. After you have completed the first one, you can apply the same settings to the rest of the series in rapid succession.
There are a variety of ways to create or record macros. Some can record mouse actions or key combinations that bring up menus and submenus. Some will let you edit the macros after you have created them to fine-tune them. You can assign a name to each macro and just click on that name.