Brief Notes on My digiKam Workflow

Every now and then, I get questions about an optimal digiKam-based workflow. It’s rather difficult to give general advice, as a lot depends on specifics. So I thought I’d share my photographic workflow for managing and processing photos in the hope that it answers some questions and provides a few starting points for users who want to use digiKam as their primary tool for working with photos and RAW files.

Preliminary note: I shoot both RAW and JPEG, and I usually do all adjustments on the JPEG files. Sometimes I process RAW files manually for better results, but usually I simply store RAW files as source files.

digikam-workflow-import-rename

Renaming rule in the Import tool

I use digiKam’s Import module to transfer files from a storage card to the production machine. The Import setup is configured to rename incoming files on the fly using date and time data from EXIF metadata using the following format: yyyyMMdd-mmhhss. While digiKam makes it easy to see the date and time of each photo, having these data in the file name helps to manage photos outside the photo management application.

All incoming photos are transferred into a dedicated album in digiKam called INCOMING. Once the photos and RAW files have been transferred, I enable the MIME Type filter that displays only JPEG photos and quickly prioritize them using picks. I assign the Accepted pick to photos that are worth keeping and processing, and I use the Pending pick to mark photos that have potential but I don’t plan to process immediately.

After the photos have been prioritized, I move the accepted images and their RAW files into the appropriate target albums. I prefer to organize photos by camera model, so I have separate albums for each of my current and previous cameras. To process the added photos, I enable a filter that displays photos flagged as accepted. Once the photos have been processed, I tag them and add a brief description containing the camera model, lens, and other info I might find useful.

digikam-workflow-group

Expanded stack of grouped photos

Each RAW file and its accompanying JPEG files are then grouped using the grouping feature in digiKam. This way, each stack contains a RAW file, an original JPEG from the camera, and a processed JPEG — with the latter being on top of the stack. It’s possible that a similar approach can be implemented more efficiently using the Versioning functionality in digiKam, but I prefer to do this manually.

digikam-workflow-color-labes

Color labels in action

Color labels help me to keep track of the current status of each photo. I use the following system:

  • Red labels mark processed photos ready to be uploaded to Flickr.
  • Orange labels are assigned to photos uploaded to Flickr but not shared on social networks like Google+
  • Magenta labels and/or star ratings are applied to photos that have been shared
  • Green labels are used for a few selected photos that are published on Mejiro.

That’s all there is to it. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the Comments section.

Tech writer covering Linux and open source software

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9 comments on “Brief Notes on My digiKam Workflow
  1. Phil Hill says:

    Thanks for giving us the chance of seeing just how you manage your workflow, it is always handy to check other peoples methods as there is almost always something that will catch the attention. Thank you very much once again for excellent article

    …Phil Hill

  2. tuxflo says:

    Thanks a lot for the arcticle!
    One question left: how do you reject or delete the shots that are not usable at all (underexposed, jittery…) do you delete the RAW and corresponding JPG files by hand since digikam,as far as I know, does not support operations like delete for a group.

    Greetings,
    Flo

    • Dmitri Popov says:

      Well, that’s easy: I simply delete all remaining files in the INBOX album after I marked the photos I like using the Accepted and Pending picks. I use a filter to show files without any pick assigned to them, and then delete the resulting set. Hope that this makes sense.

      Best,
      Dmitri

  3. kie says:

    Interesting, I prefer to use darktable though.
    http://www.kitamura-studios.com/free_software_workflow.shtml

  4. mash says:

    Well, i do it in a similar manner, but with the help of a script I wrote at the very beginning.
    The script does some renaming for the JPG and RAW-files, adds a default Copyright message as EXIF- and JPG-comment.
    The actual name contains usually the location and a description of the object in the image.
    Then the files are presorted in a folder. After that I use digikam to tag the files.
    Optional processing (contrast, brightness and more) follows.

  5. Steven Tyrer says:

    Thanks for a interesting article (again :-)
    I do much the same but only use RAW. All editing is done in Darktable and then Gimp for cloning etc (pitty gimp is still only 8bit).
    Keep posting the articles
    Steve

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