Author Topic: Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)  (Read 4272 times)

Offline Laurie

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)
« on: October 16, 2012, 03:43:42 PM »
Hello, everyone, newbie here.

I’ve been trialling Photo Mechanic for about a week. I really like it. However, there are some things I want it to do that I haven’t been able to figure out from the manual. So I'm here looking for some guidance before I buy. Hoping it’s okay to lump all my purchase decision questions together in one post. If not, I’ll be happy to edit accordingly.

I assume it helps to be specific, so here's some background info and a list of things I would anticipate using Photo Mechanic for. To the extent any of it is irrelevant, feel free to skip directly to the actual questions at the end.  :)

Background Info:
  • I use Aperture 3.4 (Mac OS 10.7.5) with a referenced library of 12,000+ images on an external HD.
  • Some of my images are edited solely in Aperture, others in Photoshop CS5 or other external editors that generate “versions” in the form of new files separate from the original masters.
  • I’m a writer, fine art photographer, and photo restorer. I also intend to start doing some stock photography soon (very narrow subject matter, only a couple agencies), but that’s not my primary focus.
  • Aperture’s UI and feature set are an IDEAL fit for me with respect to the creative aspects of my work. On the other hand....
  • I’m also a compulsive keyworder with an obsession for efficiency  and complete, reliable data. Aperture’s technical shortcomings in THAT respect drive me crazy.
  • I'm looking for a solution to address these deficiencies without having to give up Aperture.
   

I Would Want To Use Photo Mechanic For:
  • Ingesting, culling, tagging and captioning images BEFORE importing into Aperture.
  • Developing and managing drop down lists for all IPTC (Core and Extended) fields.
  • Applying all IPTC/XMP image metadata outside of Aperture (including any subsequent edits after images are imported into Aperture).
  • Applying hierarchical keywords from a controlled vocabulary managed and maintained entirely outside Aperture (which doesn’t know a hierarchy from a hash... although it will readily MAKE a hash out of keywords after one has spent hours organizing them into what only APPEARS to be a hierarchy).
  • “Template” development and management for batch application of metadata.
  • Creation of contact sheets for copyright submission and other purposes.
  • Publishing images to Photoshelter, my WordPress site, and elsewhere directly from Photo Mechanic.
  • Keeping track of which images got published where (preferably in some automated way).
  • Unexpected BONUS: Ability to burn DVDs (an especially frustrating feature omission from Aperture, given its robust slideshow and book creation tools).
   

Questions:
  • I successfully imported my hierarchically organized Aperture keyword set into PM’s Structured Keyword Panel. However, nothing shows up in the “basic” (non-structured) Keyword Panel unless an image already has Keywords applied. Is there an option to make ALL (or, even better, selected sets of) individual Keywords appear in the basic Keyword Panel when keywords are NOT already applied? Or am I thinking about it wrong?
  • On a related note (ahem)... when I imported my Structured Keywords, I managed to overwrite the CVKC sample. Which I didn't want to do. Is there an easy way to get it back?
  • When I first viewed my Aperture library images in the Photo Mechanic browser, none of the previously applied metadata appeared. (No surprise, since the metadata “lives” only in the Aperture database, while the images themselves “live” elsewhere.) I then selected some images in Aperture, applied the command “Write IPTC Data to Original” (under Aperture’s Metadata menu), went back to Photo Mechanic, and refreshed the browser. In SOME test images, the metadata showed up - in others it did NOT. So... before I try to diagnose whether this depends on (A) what camera or scanner the image came from, or (B) what file format the image is, or (C) which version of a RAW+JPG pair Aperture thinks is the “master,” or (D) other random, mysterious factors, or (E) any combination of the above... any ideas on why this would happen?
  • When uploading images from Photo Mechanic to Photoshelter, is it possible to have the Photoshelter image ID automatically: (A) written back to a custom metadata field in Photo Mechanic, and (B) mapped to a corresponding custom field in Aperture?
  • I suspect this next thing is IMpossible, but I’ll ask anyway...
    
Non-destructive image edits made in Aperture consist only of “version” information written to the Aperture database. Accordingly, Photo Mechanic (like any other application accessing the image directly from the Finder) only “sees” the original image, and cannot upload the non-destructively edited version. HOWEVER... since non-destructive image edits ARE fully visible to any application accessing Aperture (or iPhoto) library images via the Finder’s “Media” tab, I'm wondering whether it's possible to make the "Media" tab Photos visible to Photo Mechanic?

    
The reason I ask, is because it would be TOTALLY AWESOME to have a single workflow process capable of handling ALL image uploads from within Photo Mechanic without any workarounds (such as having to open an image in Photoshop for no reason other than to generate a separate TIFF (identical to the non-destructively edited version) just so it can be visible to PM.
  • And last but not least... I would love to hear any and all insight from other Aperture users on how they use Photo Mechanic in their workflow - and ESPECIALLY how they managed the process of converting their existing libraries' IPTC data source from Aperture to Photo Mechanic.

I'll stop now. Thanks so much for reading, and I will be grateful for any advice you may have.

Laurie


Offline Kirk Baker

  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Camera Bits Staff
  • Superhero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22279
    • View Profile
    • Camera Bits, Inc.
Re: Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 04:25:02 PM »
Laurie,

Questions:

  • I successfully imported my hierarchically organized Aperture keyword set into PM’s Structured Keyword Panel. However, nothing shows up in the “basic” (non-structured) Keyword Panel unless an image already has Keywords applied. Is there an option to make ALL (or, even better, selected sets of) individual Keywords appear in the basic Keyword Panel when keywords are NOT already applied? Or am I thinking about it wrong?

The Keywords panel accessible from the IPTC dialog shows the keywords for the current photo.  There is no "ALL" keywords mode that shows all the keywords that PM has ever encountered.

Quote from: Laurie
  • On a related note (ahem)... when I imported my Structured Keywords, I managed to overwrite the CVKC sample. Which I didn't want to do. Is there an easy way to get it back?

There is a way, but it isn't really simple.  Have you added any other keywords after you did your import?  If not, then you can delete the current Structured Keywords file and PM will copy the sample back for you.  Otherwise, one can open up the application to find the sample file, and then copy it outside to some accessible place like the Desktop and then Merge that file with your current Structured Keywords.  Please let me know what situation you're in.

Quote from: Laurie
  • When I first viewed my Aperture library images in the Photo Mechanic browser, none of the previously applied metadata appeared. (No surprise, since the metadata “lives” only in the Aperture database, while the images themselves “live” elsewhere.) I then selected some images in Aperture, applied the command “Write IPTC Data to Original” (under Aperture’s Metadata menu), went back to Photo Mechanic, and refreshed the browser. In SOME test images, the metadata showed up - in others it did NOT. So... before I try to diagnose whether this depends on (A) what camera or scanner the image came from, or (B) what file format the image is, or (C) which version of a RAW+JPG pair Aperture thinks is the “master,” or (D) other random, mysterious factors, or (E) any combination of the above... any ideas on why this would happen?

Are these all RAW+JPEG pairs?  There is a setting in the IPTC/XMP settings in PM's Preferences dialog that lets you tell PM to use the RAW or the JPEG as the file to get metadata from.  You could try changing that setting to see if that makes a difference.  Otherwise I'd need some sample files to look at to see where the expected metadata is stored.

Quote from: Laurie
  • When uploading images from Photo Mechanic to Photoshelter, is it possible to have the Photoshelter image ID automatically: (A) written back to a custom metadata field in Photo Mechanic, and (B) mapped to a corresponding custom field in Aperture?

No, neither is possible to my knowledge.  It may be possible to get that information back from Photoshelter during the upload process, but I know for certain that if it is available PM currently ignores it.

Quote from: Laurie
  • I suspect this next thing is IMpossible, but I’ll ask anyway...
    
Non-destructive image edits made in Aperture consist only of “version” information written to the Aperture database. Accordingly, Photo Mechanic (like any other application accessing the image directly from the Finder) only “sees” the original image, and cannot upload the non-destructively edited version. HOWEVER... since non-destructive image edits ARE fully visible to any application accessing Aperture (or iPhoto) library images via the Finder’s “Media” tab, I'm wondering whether it's possible to make the "Media" tab Photos visible to Photo Mechanic?

I am unaware of any method that would allow PM to directly access these adjusted image versions.  Are there any third-party applications that can do this already?


-Kirk

Offline Laurie

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 09:26:07 PM »
Hi Kirk, thanks so much for the quick response. Very helpful.

The Keywords panel accessible from the IPTC dialog shows the keywords for the current photo.  There is no "ALL" keywords mode that shows all the keywords that PM has ever encountered.

Okay, good to know.

.
Quote from: Kirk
Quote from: Laurie
  • ... when I imported my Structured Keywords, I managed to overwrite the CVKC sample. Which I didn't want to do. Is there an easy way to get it back?

There is a way, but it isn't really simple.  Have you added any other keywords after you did your import?  If not, then you can delete the current Structured Keywords file and PM will copy the sample back for you.  Otherwise, one can open up the application to find the sample file, and then copy it outside to some accessible place like the Desktop and then Merge that file with your current Structured Keywords.  Please let me know what situation you're in.

That worked. Just to clarify, I saved my active Structured Keywords file to the desktop, renamed the version PM was using, relaunched the program, opened the "fresh" version of the file, merged my saved file into it, and now life is grand.

.
Quote from: Kirk
Quote from: Laurie
  • ... I selected some images in Aperture, applied the command “Write IPTC Data to Original” (under Aperture’s Metadata menu), went back to Photo Mechanic, and refreshed the browser. In SOME test images, the metadata showed up - in others it did NOT. .... any ideas on why this would happen?

Are these all RAW+JPEG pairs?  There is a setting in the IPTC/XMP settings in PM's Preferences dialog that lets you tell PM to use the RAW or the JPEG as the file to get metadata from.  You could try changing that setting to see if that makes a difference.  Otherwise I'd need some sample files to look at to see where the expected metadata is stored.

It's mostly Raw+JPG pairs, but there are also some single JPGs, and a load of scanned TIFFs, and some other TIFFs generated by Photoshop and other external editors, and a few PSDs. With respect to the Raw+JPG pairs, I suspect not all of them are set (in Aperture) to use the same file type as the "master." I'll mess with this a little more and see if I can either fix it or identify some repeatable behavior.

.
Quote from: Kirk
Quote from: Laurie
  • When uploading images from Photo Mechanic to Photoshelter, is it possible to have the Photoshelter image ID automatically: (A) written back to a custom metadata field in Photo Mechanic, and (B) mapped to a corresponding custom field in Aperture?

No, neither is possible to my knowledge.  It may be possible to get that information back from Photoshelter during the upload process, but I know for certain that if it is available PM currently ignores it.

I used to use SmugMug, and was totally spoiled by the SmuginPro Aperture upload plugin. It automatically generated four custom fields - ImageID, GalleryID, ImageUrl, and GalleryUrl - and populated them with the data whenever an image was uploaded. It was just one nice feature among many other thoughtful features in that plugin, which is well worth taking a look at. (Truly, it's AWESOME - while I don't miss SmugMug, not a day goes by when I don't miss that plugin.) Anyway, as a fallback....

The PRIMARY thing I'm looking for here is for exported images to be automatically marked so that I can easily identify, select, and sort them later. Is that possible in PM? Right now, every time I upload a photo to Photoshelter or my blog, I manually put an "x" in a custom field that I created in Aperture. Or, rather, that's what I do... when I don't FORGET to do it. Which is pretty much all the time.  ::)

.
Quote from: Kirk
Quote from: Laurie
  • ... since non-destructive image edits ARE fully visible to any application accessing Aperture (or iPhoto) library images via the Finder’s “Media” tab, I'm wondering whether it's possible to make the "Media" tab Photos visible to Photo Mechanic?

I am unaware of any method that would allow PM to directly access these adjusted image versions.  Are there any third-party applications that can do this already?

Oh, yes! This is seriously cool. It's a surprisingly little known feature, but ever since Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard), ANY third party application can access images directly from the Aperture/iPhoto library through the third party application's "Open" dialog box. Aperture doesn't even need to be running. There's a media browser in the bottom of the left sidebar of Open dialog boxes where you can click on "Photos." From there, you can navigate to any project or album inside the Aperture library and select an image. It works using Aperture's "Preview" function to generate the files, and is a REALLY handy feature. There are a couple of limitations to be aware of; for example, you can only select one image at a time, it's JPG only (because that's what the Preview files are), and the image size and quality depend on what the user's Preview settings are. If the Preview size is "unlimited" and the quality is set at "10", you'll be accessing a high quality, actual size image.

Here's a link to an article on the Aperture Blog that explains it very simply:  http://theapertureblog.com/2011/02/07/access-your-aperture-library-from-any-application

This link from the Applescript Blog is a bit older, but it offers more in depth information and some good screenshots: http://www.macosxautomation.com/applescript/aperture/indesign/index.html. The interesting thing in this article is the idea (which I hadn't previously considered) of using the Previews to generate "placeholder" images that can be automatically updated with the high quality "real" version on export.

I just went back to PM to check, and there don't appear to be any of the Mac "standard" Open dialog boxes. Maybe this functionality could be built in to the various upload and send options, in a way that would allow item(s) selected for upload in the PM browser window to be linked to their corresponding non-destructively edited Aperture library files - with the Aperture library versions actually being exported. Something to consider.

Offline Kirk Baker

  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Camera Bits Staff
  • Superhero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22279
    • View Profile
    • Camera Bits, Inc.
Re: Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2012, 09:32:11 PM »
Laurie,

The PRIMARY thing I'm looking for here is for exported images to be automatically marked so that I can easily identify, select, and sort them later. Is that possible in PM?

No, not currently.  For reasons of safety (keeping user from causing themselves harm), PM copies all images to be uploaded to a different folder and the uploaders work with the copies.  The uploaders do not have access to the images in their original location.  So they cannot update the original images.

Quote from: Laurie
Quote from: Kirk
Quote from: Laurie
... since non-destructive image edits ARE fully visible to any application accessing Aperture (or iPhoto) library images via the Finder’s “Media” tab, I'm wondering whether it's possible to make the "Media" tab Photos visible to Photo Mechanic?

I am unaware of any method that would allow PM to directly access these adjusted image versions.  Are there any third-party applications that can do this already?

Oh, yes! This is seriously cool. It's a surprisingly little known feature, but ever since Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard), ANY third party application can access images directly from the Aperture/iPhoto library through the third party application's "Open" dialog box. Aperture doesn't even need to be running. There's a media browser in the bottom of the left sidebar of Open dialog boxes where you can click on "Photos." From there, you can navigate to any project or album inside the Aperture library and select an image. It works using Aperture's "Preview" function to generate the files, and is a REALLY handy feature. There are a couple of limitations to be aware of; for example, you can only select one image at a time, it's JPG only (because that's what the Preview files are), and the image size and quality depend on what the user's Preview settings are. If the Preview size is "unlimited" and the quality is set at "10", you'll be accessing a high quality, actual size image.

Here's a link to an article on the Aperture Blog that explains it very simply:  http://theapertureblog.com/2011/02/07/access-your-aperture-library-from-any-application

This link from the Applescript Blog is a bit older, but it offers more in depth information and some good screenshots: http://www.macosxautomation.com/applescript/aperture/indesign/index.html. The interesting thing in this article is the idea (which I hadn't previously considered) of using the Previews to generate "placeholder" images that can be automatically updated with the high quality "real" version on export.

I just went back to PM to check, and there don't appear to be any of the Mac "standard" Open dialog boxes. Maybe this functionality could be built in to the various upload and send options, in a way that would allow item(s) selected for upload in the PM browser window to be linked to their corresponding non-destructively edited Aperture library files - with the Aperture library versions actually being exported. Something to consider.

Interesting.  PM does use standard OS-supplied file/folder dialogs, with the exception of the Open dialog.  Photo Mechanic browses folders of images, not just single images, so it never presents the Open file dialog.

-Kirk

Offline Laurie

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Workflow and Other Baffling Questions (New User, Trial Period)
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 09:51:43 PM »
Thanks for your responses, Kirk. I can see from reading around in the forum how busy you are right now with feedback on v5 and the new builds.

Regarding that issue I mentioned in my first post about PM not seeing existing keywords and other metadata from Aperture in some but not all images.... I seem to have it working now. Here's what I did - maybe someone else will find it useful:
  • I thought all the Raw+JPEG pairs in my Aperture library were set to use the Raw file as master, but it turns out a bunch of them were using the JPEG. So the first thing I did was go to the top level of my library, select EVERYTHING, and apply Aperture's "Use RAW as Original" command.
  • In PM, I set the view to "Combined Raw + JPEG"
  • In Aperture, I selected a batch of images and applied Aperture's "Write IPTC Metadata to Original" command.
  • That worked - the Aperture metadata from all those images showed up in PM.

So far, so good. Next I made an IPTC Stationary Pad (that variable feature is SLICK, by the way - REALLY nice!), applied it to a couple hundred images in PM, went back to Aperture, and found... no data. Grrr. But it worked perfectly after I changed my IPTC/XMP settings to this:



Specifically, checking the "Add embedded metadata: XMP and IPTC" option seemed to be what made the difference. If you see anything I should worry about with these settings, please tell me.

As for my other issue (automatically marking uploaded files), I'm trying to come up with some workaround that I could just incorporate into my regular workflow using the Stationery Pad feature. Or possibly something using the labels. I don't mind having to do it manually as long I can batch apply it to the whole group of images while I have them selected pre-upload. And of course I want it to appear in Aperture as well - which may be problematic. We'll see.

I would REALLY love to find some other Aperture power users who are also using PM. There must be at least one or two hanging around this forum. Hmmm... perhaps they will respond to bait. I mean, who DOESN'T love sugar and chocolate: :o



Edited to add: I have no idea why the attached images are at the bottom instead of inline. But no doubt everyone here can figure out which one is which.  :-)
 

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 09:55:00 PM by Laurie »