Rethinking my Digital/Analog Workflow

You spent months to get your gear. You spent money to fund it. You have a Leica film and digital body and two fine lenses to go along with. You have a Mac and Lightroom, which didn’t come for free at all. You have a scanner, because wet printing is too expensive and you develop your film at home for the same reason.

Sounds good, you’re practically set up… I sense a “but” coming….


You live in two different countries (don’t ask why, it’s a long story) and you cannot have double of everything…

That’s my story, and why I needed to rethink my photo workflow. My scanning system is in Italy, my Mac is in France and I travel a lot between the two countries. Sometimes film stays in my fridge for weeks before I can develop it, and often it takes even more to scan it. I cannot afford neither another scanner nor another Lightroom license (Adobe is already sucking my wallet dry).

Once I decided to find a proper solution I laid down on paper all my issues and analyzed what could be done to solve them. It’s still a work in progress, yet it seems to be fine.

Here’s what I thought to do.

First, I duplicated my developing setup. That’s cheap, as I stand develop with Rodinal, which comes very cheap, and Fomafix, which lasts longer than Ilford or Kodak fixers (and it’s cheaper!).

Then I changed all my digital camera settings to save both dng/raw and jpeg files. Then I got 100Gb of cloud storage setup (Google Drive was the cheaper option – it came with a €200 chromebook).

To avoid X-Ray issues I develop immediately my rolls, then I store them safely and when in Italy I scan and upload to the cloud storage.

Digital files are stored “in-cloud” as well, waiting to be imported in Lightroom when I’m in Paris. It still takes a while to get pictures available, but at least I can work on my files while on the road. At the moment I use Flickr for mere storage (I’m still debated as I don’t like JPEG compression and optimization they apply on upload) and easy access for wordpress publishing.

The point is that I can write and publish on the blog even if I don’t have access to my Lightroom setup. I don’t care much about picture quality on the web, as it’s ridiculously low, I keep my work private anyway. All images I publish are mostly OOC, with basic DNG->JPG conversion.

This blog is not intended to show my work, it’s for sharing my experiences and opinion about photography. One day my work will be published in a nice printed book. For the time being, I will share only what’s related to my articles. I have some images on 500px, but that’s mostly because I feel the need to share something with friends and 500px is amazing to create online portfolios.

When I post to WordPress, I link images from Flickr and that’s it (Flickr is really good for that, and 1TB of space helps).

Whether it’s a V600 scan or an M8/X100 file, there is a version on Flickr I can publish at all times. When I have access to my calibrated Mac, I load DNG/TIFF files into Lightroom and perform my adjustments. I never use Photoshop, as I don’t feel the need. I don’t like to add much enhancement/retouching to my pictures, but that’s my style.

Then I sort out my photos, marking the best candidates. If there is anything worthwhile, I can upload it to 500px and share it with my friends for comments. If not, well, I still keep everything. You can always learn something from your bad pictures 🙂

In any case, I never erase my SD cards until they are full (which occurs rarely, as I shoot digital the same was as film – just a couple of rolls a day, which is about 72-74 shots).

As I said, I’m still working on it, but this workflow seems to work. I still have a few doubts, but I think I’m on the right path.


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