This month do :: or :: diso turns its attention to a single piece of software: Photo Mechanic. Simply, Photo Mechanic is LIGHTENING FAST. With it, you can move photos from your CF / SD / XQD card to your hard drive and then review the photos as fast as you can hit the “Z” and the “T” keys on your keyboard. All of this speed enables you to determine which shots are your best. Then, you can import those best shots into Lightroom, do some quick edits, and the best images are ready in a flash for the web. This article is intended to give you a straightforward introduction to the PM magic. For this discussion, all images are shot, ingested, reviewed, straightened, and brought into Lightroom, in Raw. It is best to print out this article and then follow along step by step with both your PM trial version and LR opened.
PM Software: Developed by Camera Bits, a small company whose founder, Dennis Walker, started his mission to marry photography and coding for Super Bowl XXX. Download it at the Camera Bits website. It costs $150, but is worth it.
Why buy it and use it:
LR is wonderful, but not fast. If you take 800 shots at a softball game, import them from your storage card into LR to cull and find your best images, you will see a lot of the “Loading . . .” message. If it takes LR 4 seconds to render each image, it could take you a whopping 53 minutes to cull through all of them! By contrast, PM will help you quickly power through the images (perhaps less than 14 minutes for 800 images), and identify the 20 or so best shots, the ones I call the “Keepers.” You will spend less than a second on each image with which you are not happy and thereby use your precious seconds to identify, enhance, and distribute the Keepers.
The Four PM Goals: The Four Goals in PM that matter to me:  Ingest (getting the shots from your storage card to your computer),  instant review and tags to identify the Keepers,  straighten / crop the Keepers, and  get the Keepers to LR to touch up and finish. If you explore the Camera Bits website and the many articles written about PM, you will see it can do many things in addition, but these are the 4 bigs. Here are the 9 steps to get you through your images, two of which never have to be repeated.
Step 1. Folder for ingest (a one-time step). Wherever you store you images, add a folder simply called “temp ingest.” When you make the following settings, PM will save ingested files in “temp ingest” automatically.
Step 2. Settings (again, a one-time step). Make the following adjustments to the PM and LR settings. Start with PM, open preferences and make these adjustments starting with the “Preview” preferences and moving through the screens as follows:
Then, go to the PM File Menu, click on Ingest, and make these Ingest setting adjustments:
For the primary destination, make it your new “temp ingest” folder. The file rename and sequence setting, circled above, looks like this:
You can set the name of the file depending on how you typically label your files during import, and PM will sequentially number the files with these settings.
You are now done with your PM setting. Next, open LR, click on the Lightroom menu, open the Catalog Settings, click on Metadata, and make this adjustment.
Now you are ready to rock and roll.
Step 3. Ingest. This is what PM calls the process of importing from your storage card to your hard drive. Open PM, and click on File Menu and then “Ingest.” Slide your storage card into the reader and it is recognized by PM. Set up a name for the files (as described above) and PM will sequentially number the ingested files. And then click Ingest.
The photos will quickly be added to your hard drive in the “temp ingest” folder you created without the typical delays occasioned in LR because unlike LR, PM does not catalog the shots, or render the raw files. Rather, PM displays the images as jpgs using the preview jpg embedded in the raw file by your camera.
Step 4. Preview Screen. Go to your PM tree, double click on the temp ingest folder
and a new screen opens called the preview window with the thumb strip. Images are displayed.
Step 5. Zoom, Tag, Crop & Straighten. Here, you will learn “what speed do” as you search for the in-focus, good composition, good action and emotion, Keepers. Toggle your “Z” key to zoom and see a blow up of parts of the image to check for focus. Hold the space bar down and use your mouse to move the image around. If it is not in focus, or if you don’t love the image, use your right arrow to advance to the next image. If you love the image, click on the crop button and crop and/or straighten the image. When you have finished, dotted lines will remain around the image to show your handiwork. Then, hit your “T” key and a tiny check appears in the box on the lower right hand of your image. Congratulations! You have now tagged your first “Keeper.” When you tag the image, if you have followed the above settings, the preview screen will automatically advance to the next image.
Step 6. Dragging. When you have blazed through your images, close the preview window and you are returned to the PM main screen. At the top, change the setting from “All”
Only your Keepers now appear.
Step 7. Drag to Destination Folder. Select all of the tagged images displayed. Drag them from your “temp ingest” folder to wherever you would normally store them – for me, in my sports photo tree of folders where I set up a folder for each game I shoot based on the sport (along with my shorthand for the teams and the date of the game).
Step 8. Back to LR to Sync and Import. Then go to LR and in the Library Module, find the folder where you dragged the Keepers. In LR, they will not yet be displayed. Right click on the folder.
Click synchronize, and LR will recognize the new images and move to an import screen. Click import and LR will import, recognize, add to the catalog, and display the Keepers. LR will recognize straightening and cropping performed in PM because of the settings you made above in Step 2.
Step 9. Final Touch Ups. In LR, use the Library or Development Module to perform the major, quick adjustments: exposure, some clarity, noise, shadows and perhaps a touch of Vibrance.
This process will take a fraction of the LR time to import all of your hundreds of images from your storage card to your hard drive. And, all of your non-keepers are still in the “temp ingest” folder for further review at a more leisurely pace. For this month’s diso slideshow video, visit my Vimeo page. Images in the slideshow were culled in Photo Mechanic.
Next month, do :: or :: diso covers Tennis, the Sport of Kings.