My DAM

This post is about the SOP I follow to I manage my pictures. It is work in progress, particularly step #4. This SOP does not refer to what I do outside digiKam in programs like UFRaw and GIMP. That would be covered on a separate post.

1. The first step is transferring the files from the storage media to the computer.
To do that I use digiKam’s file transfer utility. As I transfer the pictures to the computer I rename the files.
The renaming scheme I use is yyyyMMdd_OA_####. This scheme allows to quickly organize the files in chronological order. It also prevents duplicates when the camera internal counter reaches its maximum and restarts back at 0000.
I dump the files in a folder called 01_landing_cr2. The cr2 part is because I use a Canon camera, the RAW file extension is cr2.

Metadata counter: 1 – filename is personalized.

2. Next step is converting the cr2 files to DNG (digital negatives).
Once the files are in the 01_landing_cr2, I use the Adobe DNG Converter.
I set up the DNG converter so that the DNG files are written to a different folder. For the conversion, for no specific reason, I choose DNG with compatibility with PS CS 5.4.
The folder containing these newly converted DNG files is called 02_surge_dng.

I make the conversion to DNG because it is an open format. If Canon ever decides to stop supporting cr2  (a proprietary format), or moves on to a new format, the DNG files will be readable by many other programs. DNG support Exif metadata, XMP metadata, IPTC metadata, CIE XYZ coordinates, ICC profiles, and JPEG.

Linux note: I run the Adobe DNG Converter under WINE. I tried digiKam’s plug-in DNG Image Converter (version 1.3.0), but I did not like it. I will keep using the Adobe free utility for the time being.

3. Copyright info.
Now that I have all the pictures as  DNG files, I can apply the copyright information to my pictures. I use digiKam to apply a pre determined template with my name and other relevant information to the pictures’ IPTC metadata. If you use digiKam, make sure the information is written to the images.

Metadata counter: 2 – IPTC metadata is personalized.

4. Backup the DNG files.
This process is still in development. I haven’t decided if I want to keep ALL the DNG files or the ones I consider worthy for posterity (the day I review them). The worthy for posterity concept is part of the next step.

5. Ranking and tagging.
The ranking is in my opinion one of the most important steps of the DAM. I take a lot of pictures, a lot. I know that I will not do much with the majority of them. But how do I decide? I use the stars-ranking system of digiKam and the Rating/Ranking technique explained in the digiKam handbook.

I am not sure yet what ratio I use, but my stars-ranking system works like this:
Stars
Meaning
zero                To be thrown away – not worth for posterity
one                 Undecided, to be reviewed – default rank
two                 To be uploaded in facebook, shared with friends
three              Flickr, blogfour                Printing (never done yet)
five                 Have to work on, there is a lot of potential
This ranking system is dynamic, it could change over time.
Before permanently deleting the pictures with zero stars, I review them one more time. I use digiKam filtering feature to see “zero stars” only.

At the same time I am ranking the pictures, I apply tags. These are some of the tags I use these days: kid, animal, dog, duck, bird, red deer, edmonton, closeup, portrait, PPSOP,…..
I make use of digiKam’s hierarchical system of tags, for example I use /location/edmonton; location/red deer; /location/calgary or /element/line; element/color and so on. Another thing that I do is to never use UPPERcase or regular plural forms. I do this to avoid trouble later on when searching for pictures.

After doing the ranking and tagging I always make sure that this metadata information is written to the files.

Metadata counter: 3-4 – Rank and tags (both as keywords on the file’s EXIF metadata).

6. Captions.
I only apply captions to some pictures, normally the ones make me remember something in particular when I see it. I also apply captions to the pictures I know I will submit to either an online contest or online assignments/projects.
As for the ranking and tagging, I make sure that this metadata information is written to the files.

Metadata counter (when used): 5 – Captions (as captions on the file’s IPTC metadata).

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digiKam allows you to enter geolocation of the picture (geo-tagging). I do not use this feature. I do not use the digital watermarking either.

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2 Responses to My DAM

  1. Phil Hill says:

    Hi – enjoyed your write up of your DAM.

    I notice you say you utilise the Adobe DNG Convertor rather than adopt the Digikam DNG conversion plug-in. Would you mind telling me what the difference is that has led you to doing this as if it is beneficial I will look at possibly doing so myself.

    Regards.. Phil Hill – Perth, Western Australia

    • ozzyprv says:

      Hi Dear,
      At the time I wrote the post I wasn’t happy with the results from digiKam’s DNG converter. The .dng files were significantly different form the original cr2. I tried both: opening the .dng (and .cr2) with the default RAW converter in digiKam and with ufraw.
      I have to try again….. it has been some time.

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