After returning from a Wedding, the first thing I do is import the RAW images from each of my cameras into Lightroom.
I create a new Lightroom catalogue for each Wedding as I don’t like having thousands of RAW images in one catalogue.
Once the catalogue is created, I use the import dialogue to import the RAW images directly from the compact flash card, onto a folder on my hard disk.
Once all the images have been imported, I select the first image and go into the Develop module by pressing ‘D’ and I go to the bottom panel and set the Camera calibration to ‘Camera Standard’. I use two Nikon D700 cameras and I find that the built in camera calibration is a close resemblance to the JPEGs that would come out of the camera if I were to shoot JPEG.
After setting the calibration for the first image, I switch into grid mode by pressing ‘G’, and select all images. I then sync the calibration for all images with the first image, so they should all now have the ‘Camera Standard’ calibration applied.
The next step is to narrow down the number of shots that I have for editing. On a typical wedding I will have between 700 and 900 RAW files to choose from, and my aim is to give the Bride and Groom a choice of around 200 to select from for their Wedding Album. So to get down from 700 to 200 quickly I do two things.
Firstly, I create a Smart Collection and set the criteria to include any images that have a flag of ‘Pick’. Alternatively you could do this by setting the rating on each image, but I stick with the pick flag to keep things simpler.
The next thing to do is to enter grid mode again by pressing ‘G’. Now I want to be able to see around 8 photographs on the screen at once, so I get rid of the left and right side panels by pressing SHIFT + TAB, then I will increase or decrease the size of the grid view images, either by using the slider in the bottom right of the screen, or by using the + and – keys until I have 8 photographs lined up along side each other.
Now I am ready to pick the images I want for my selection. I do this by using the arrow keys to highlight each image in turn, and press ‘P’ for pick on the ones I want to use. They go automatically into my smart collection as this is set up to include all photographs with a pick flag.
Once I have gone through every image I have take I am left with a collection of around 200 photographs which I will then edit.
I do this in an iterative approach, firstly going through all images correcting exposures, then another pass to crop any images I want to resize.
Finally I will then go through each image and apply contrast, white balance, clarity and saturation where required. At this point I will also create virtual copies of any images I want to convert to black and white by pressing Ctrl + ‘, and I will use one of my custom black and white presets. If I don’t like any of my black and white presets I will convert from scratch.
And that’s pretty much it. If there is any cloning, healing, dodging or burning that needs done, I will use the custom bushes in the develop module to do this. For any large areas I need to clone out, I will edit them separately in Photoshop.
The whole process takes around 4-5 hours. I will then import my final selection of images into the Web module where I will upload them to a proofing gallery using a Turning Gate web plug-in for Lightroom to create the gallery. The bride and groom can then select which pictures they want for their album from the proofing gallery. This sends me a comma separated list of filenames which I can the copy and paste directly into the text attribute field of the Grid view. I now have the images that the couple have picked and can create a new standard collection and put all these images in it. I can then import these for use in whatever album design software I will be using for their final Wedding Album.
The whole process is very automated and painless.