Right now, I need to be able to edit multiple images quickly and efficiently. The reason? 'm working my way through my 2014 photo book, adding in the images from each month. As usual, the photos from the beginning of the year are in perfect order, the it's gradually gets worse month on month - by the time you reach October, (and from there on in) only a few images here and there have been edited - leaving me with a ton of images that I need to get through and edit quickly if I am going to make my - admittedly self imposed - deadline of having the book finished by the end of January. Luckily for me, there are tools in Lightroom / ACR and Photoshop come in handy for this very purpose, so here's my strategy for dealing with situations when you want to quickly edit multiple images.
1) Be Aggressive with culling. When you have more time, you can be a bit more lax (I have been know to edit two photos just so I can see which one I prefer in the end and toss the other out) but when you are trying to batch edit, quite simply, less images mean less processing. Delete, delete, delete. I go through each "session" and get rid of any that are remotely similar.
2) Once I have culled them, I open all the images from each "session" at once in ACR. I use ACR for this rather than Lightroom since it allows me to change my color space to sRGB - when I want to speed edit, I don't want to have to check for clipping and out of gamut colors. However, LR allows you to do more in it without having to take your images into Photoshop, so it's probably equal for speed!It's just my preference to use ACR for this.
3) Then, I work on just one image from the batch I've opened, getting the White Balance, Exposure and overall contrast correct. I also correct any noise and lens aberrations. If I am not intending to bring these images into full Photoshop (a likely scenario with batch editing months worth of images) then I uusually also add a little secondary contrast and saturation / vibrance, and up my sharpening a touch. If they were all in taken in the same light and had the same settings, I only need to do one.
4) This is where the wonderful sync button comes in. Select all the images then press Synchronize. All the images you opened in ACR and selected will have the same edits applied to them. Ta da! Then a very quick check of each image if I think I need it. (exactly the same in LR if you use that)
5) If I am saving these as JPEGS without going into Photoshop, then I simply press the Save As button and save to the same folder. Job Done.
6) Of course, sometimes I still want to take these into PS, so instead of saving, I use the OPEN IMAGES button instead, which takes them into PS. If there is a lot to open, I go and do something else rather than waiting for these to load.
6) Next, I use AUTOMATE then BATCH to run an action on ALL the images at the same time. I have made my own actions for this very purpose (one for colour images and one for Black and white) which are subtle, and I know I won't need to do much, if any, tweaking. I do sometimes run this on just one image first, just to make sure that it is going to be OK, and then do the rest as a batch. Again, I leave this to run whilst I go and get on with something else.
7) Finally, once the action has finished running on all of the images, I use the SCRIPTS then IMAGE PROCESSING feature to batch save my images as JPEG's, and as PSD files at the same time. (LOVE that feature!) You can apply an action (such as print sharpening) at this stage too. Yep, you guessed it, I'm off doing the beds or making dinner whilst Photoshop acts like my personal editing slave and gets on with it.
Apart from tweaking a few sliders on one image, I've pretty much been able to leave the rest up to the computer to do whilst I get on with something else, which is very efficient. Of course, there is a major downside to processing like this, and that is that in the interest of speed, we are sacrificing the ability to make those small adjustments to each image individually that really make it pop, so I only use ALL of these features at once when I am months and months behind with editing like I am now, and am, quite frankly, beyond caring and never want to see Photoshop again.
And there you have it. My guide to editing multiple images quickly!
If you have any time saving tips when it comes to editing, please leave a comment below - I'm always on the lookout for a tip or two that will speed up my workflow!