Sports Workflow as 4-24-2020

Much of my activity is sports related and in 'sports' mode I find I go back and forth several times between Photo Mechanic 6 (PM) and Adobe Lightroom CC (LR) in order to take advantage of the differing attributes of the two programs. I export final output from LR to specific size JPEG and finish with captioning in PM. I use sidecar XMP files to capture and update as I move between the programs. In ‘sports’ mode as a standalone product, LR is comparatively glacial in full size rendering in Library or Develop modules..

Workflow Specifics:

1. Equipment:

a. Cameras: 2x Canon 1Dx, Canon 5DIII, Canon 7DII

b. Lenses: Canon 24-105mm f4 IS, 70-200mm 2.8 IS II, 100-400mm 3.5-4.6 IS II, 300mm 2.8 IS II, Extender EF 1.4x III, 2x II

c. Monopod: ReallyRightStuff MC-34 Monopod, Three Legged Thing 'Alan' Monopod

d. Cards: 10x Lexar 32gb 1000x

e. Rain Covers: ThinkTank, Canon

f. Bags: Multiple ThinkTank- Airport Security 2.0, Airport Navigator, Glass Limo,…

g. Locks, cables to secure bags and PC at the event.

h. Rentals: Borrow Lenses for what I don’t have

2. Camera settings for ‘sports’:

a. Manual (M); Adobe RGB, Full size RAW capture; AWB

b. Auto ISO (limited to 6400 max); Note- If bright outdoors, keep an eye on ISO as when Auto ISO gets down to 100, captures may be over exposed. I try to keep it around 100-125 by increasing shutter speed (which is never a bad thing)

c. Tv at 1/800 to 1/1000 (preferred);

d. Av at 2.8, 3.2, 3.5 or 4- depending on the sport; At 2.8 FoV gets pretty short but sometimes needed in dim arenas.

e. Custom settings including Back Button Focus ( )

f. Setting 'lock mode' on back of camera to avoid unintentional settings changes- Q button still works for tweaks…

3. Other useful software tools and plug-ins.

a. Bulk Develop Plug-In - This Jeffrey Friedl plugin allows you to apply certain noise-related develop settings automatically, in bulk, based upon the camera that created each image, and each image's ISO sensitivity and Lightroom exposure boost. It works in Lightroom 6/CC (and older versions as far back as Lightroom 3, though some features depend on the version of Lightroom). ( ). It is basically a cool way to programmatically set Luminance and Color Noise sliders in LR based on the images ISO without specifically setting the sliders image by image. It also somewhat oddly sets the Sharpening Mask slider (which is essentially immaterial) vs the Sharpen Amount slider. And I haven’t been able to get him to change…In any event as you will see, we preset Sharpening in LR with a preset. The same download works for both Windows and Mac.

b. Smart FTP – Basically the best FTP client on the market IMHO. But not free. (

c. PM6 (and prior) have an FTP client but I got used to using Smart FTP and I am reluctant to change.

4. Before the Event:

a. Set-up unique LR Catalog and folders structure for the event or project.

i. ‘0-Original Cards” are for Import side for all RAW still, videos or other images imported from the cameras.

ii. All ingests go to the ‘_Auto Ingest’ Folder

iii. For Hockey, I set up 6 additional folders labeled as follows:

1. _Extras

2. _For Import

3. 1st Period

4. 2nd Period

5. 3rd Period

6. Game

iv. ‘2-jpg proofs’ is the folder for the Export ‘Picks’.

v. Other folders pretty self-evident,

1. ‘7-Autoreplace’ for the Code replacement files

2. ‘8-XMP’ for the IPTC data unique to this event.

3. ‘Lightroom catalog’ is the Lightroom Catalog for this event.

b. Prepare Code Replacement file for the event for PM either Jason Watson’s ‘Code Replacements’ or through custom Excel SS.

c. Prepare PM Ingest locations in PM ingest dialog.

i. Set-up incremental ingest only.

d. Prepare IPTC for specific client and fill relevant details- save in PM Stationery Pad

e. Select apply Global for IPTC stationery.

5. Overall flow:

a. Capture the ‘event’

b. Use inactive periods to ‘chimp’ to ‘Protect’/Tag key shots & delete blurred or other losers.

c. During significant breaks, swap cards and begin the ingest process.

d. Use PM to scan through the images and confirm best images are tagged.

e. If time is short and a quick upload needed, set-up view ‘tagged’ only.

f. Zoom in and out as required cropping and straightening if time permits.

g. Select all tagged pictures and assign a color- e.g. I assign red for 1st period, Yellow for 2nd and Green for 3rd.

h. In PM view selected, select all and drag from ‘_Auto Ingest’ folder to ‘Game’

i. Select ‘Game’ folder, select ALL and drag into LR Library main window (sometimes ‘ctrl-E’ works out of PM if LR set as external editor in PM but I prefer dragging and dropping)

j. LR Import window appears, select add, Standard Previews, and apply an import preset with the following corrections:

i. Camera Profile & Camera Calibration ‘Camera Standard’

ii. Auto Tone, Punch (Clarity 30, Vibrance 15), Sharp 50. For Hockey at SAP center I also set WB correction to 4400.

k. While the import is happening in LR, back to PM, select all remaining ingested photos and move to ‘1st Period’ folder or as appropriate for the 2nd or 3rd period. These are your backups in case you need more or what you tagged initially wasn’t good enough.

l. Back in LR in the Library, all the imported images in the ‘Game’ folder should be visible w. corrections.

m. Select all and apply Bulk Develop settings.

n. At this point the images are all in LR, with a set of cookbook presets applied for Exposure, Punch, Noise Reduction, Camera Profile Correction.

o. Select all and ‘Save Metadata’- Ctrl-S and switch back to PM, and the ‘Game’ folder.

p. Open the preview window and scan through the hopefully 20-40 images (and no more) you have for a hockey period and begin to select the ‘pick’ images to be exported for upload to whatever service you are a slave to:

i. Make sure via zooming in (‘Z’ toggle in-out in PM) that the images are tack sharp.

ii. Apply or fix cropping.(‘X’ toggle on-off in PM)

iii. Mark it with a star rating. I typically give 3 stars for “might be great” and 4 stars for “I want this one for sure” and 2 stars for duplicates or other views. (in my set up alt-3 is 3 stars)

q. Back to LR. In the Library Window ‘select all’ in Grid view in the ‘Game’ folder. Shortly the Exclamation point will appear in the upper RH corner of the frames you modified in PM. Select the ICON and the dialog box appears that says the Metadata has been changed outside of LR. Select the Left Hand button to have the new metadata (your edits in PM) overwrite old data in LR. Magically all of the star ratings will appear, the crops will be refined but all of your develop edits and sharpening remain the same.

r. Select the 4 star ones and quickly scan through to make sure all is well- typically in hockey I need to check to make sure that the Whites aren’t blown out (turning the warning in the Histogram is a good idea) and when players wear dark jerseys, sometimes I tweak the Shadows up a bit.

s. ‘Select All’ Save Metadata- Ctrl-S

t. Export with a Preset- I have an Export preset that had the following settings:

i. Specific Folder and I select a sub-folder of ‘2-jpg proofs’

ii. Add to this catalog

iii. Rename- Set up the rename style of your upload service. e.g. TAH1701310xx_Blackhawks_at_Sharks.jpg where xx is the image number.

iv. Start Number- I usually use 2 in case the best image isn’t the first image so I can rename a later image to be #1

v. Image format JPEG, I limit it to the size specified by the image service- say 3.5M

vi. Set sRGB or AdobeRGB depending on the image service requirements again. vii. Metadata- All Except Camera and Camera RAW Info, remove Person Info, Remove Location Info

viii. Open in other application: Set it up to open in PM and click Export.

u. Shortly the exported JPEG’s open in a PM window in the specified folder.

i. Select all and open the previously setup Stationery Pad.

ii. Edit the Stationery Pad to add the score or whatever else needed for all images and apply to selected.

iii. Now select each individual image and using the Code Replacement help customize the captions to match the action in the particular image.

iv. Once done, I typically scan through one more time to make sure the formatting looks correct and then close PM.

v. Back in LR, select all in the exported files folder (remember we added to this catalog) and again see that the Exclamation point will appear in the upper RH corner of the frames that you modified caption data in PM. Select the ICON and the dialog box appears that says the Metadata has been changed outside of LR. Select the Left Hand button to have the new metadata (your edits in PM) overwrite old data in LR. Now everything is in sync and Metadata matched.

w. Open SmartFTP, I have it preset to connect to my upload service. I search for the images in ‘2-jpg proofs’ folder tree, select all and drop into the upload window for my service.

x. While uploading, I head on the field or to the arena again or, if the game is over, begin to pack up to leave.

All my Sports images are on Zenfolio at

If a reader would like me to elaborate in more detail on using PM6, drop me a line. Happy to do so if of interest.

Areas for Improvement:

It would be great if PM could read the develop updates (specifically WB and exposure) from LR but my workflow is acceptable without that capability. LR reads crop and straightening from PM no issue.

I would really like a ‘macro’ capability in LR- Enhanced Preset capability to remove some of the repetitive keystroke activity.