Jaren Wilkey is the Manager of Brigham Young University’s Photography office. He works full-time shooting BYU’s athletics, events, news – and running the BYU Photo Store. BYU sports teams have an active following on Facebook and Twitter, so Jaren is under a lot of pressure to deliver and post images as the action happens. To deliver images in real time, Jaren set up an automated wireless photography workflow. Here’s how he does it.
In the 2012 football season, I had students who ran CF cards full of photos up to the press box in our stadium for processing after every quarter – but it still took 10-15 minutes before the photos were edited and posted online. At basketball games I’ve kept my laptop with me on the sidelines, but I’ve missed many great plays because I was cropping a photo instead of taking one.
I needed to figure how to efficiently deliver high quality photos to BYU’s social media networks while maintaining my focus on photographing the event. So since January I’ve been experimenting with a wireless workflow that seems to have solved the problem.
Here’s how it works:
Sounds simple right? Of course there is more to it, but once you’ve set up a wireless workflow, it’s a piece of cake (scroll to the bottom of this post for a video demonstration).
Let me explain what is happening:
I’ve been working the bugs out of the system during our Men’s Basketball season and Men’s Volleyball season, and our social media managers and fans has been thrilled with the results. The big test came a few weeks ago at the NFL Draft in New York City. Ziggy Ansah was a graduating senior member of the BYU Football Team and projected to be a top 10 pick in the draft. BYU wanted to get a photo of him holding his new team’s jersey with Roger Goodell as soon as possible.
I plugged in my wireless router with an Ethernet cable at my assigned workspace on the floor at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Within 30 seconds of Ziggy Ansah holding up his Detroit Lions jersey, the photo was on the BYU Photo’s Twitter. Our social media manager posted it to the BYU Facebook page within a minute or two.
I’m certain that I beat almost every media organization in getting that photo out of the building. While the other photographers were downloading the photo off their cards, I kept shooting our athlete until he was whisked out of the room to start his round of interviews. That night I sent out about 40 photos documenting the evening in real time, all without powering on my laptop.
This system works best if you have a dedicated wireless network for your camera to connect to, but you could also use an existing wireless network provided it doesn’t have a splash login screen. This has been the problem for most of the venues on our campus, so we usually just take a router and plug it into an Ethernet jack to create our own network. This summer I’m looking into installing permanent private networks at our sporting venues to simplify the process even more.
A few important items to remember:
So there you have it. We call this our push-to-post method and it’s done wonders for our social media usage. For those of you who would like to see the guts of our setup, below are a couple of guides that will help walk you through the details.
Setting up the camera for FTP:
Let be honest, Canon’s user manuals are not all that user friendly. In fact they’ve made many a hardened photographer weep openly. Here is a simple PDF that walks you step by step through the settings needed for your camera to FTP the photos via the Canon Wireless File Transmitter: WFT FTP Transfer – BYU PHOTO.
Setting up the Server Watermark Action:
This looks intimidating, but it really isn’t. You need to have a public folder on a server with FTP enabled. Two folder actions customized with Apple Automator and a Photoshop droplet handle the rest:
The first folder action triggers when a new photo arrives in the public folder. It grabs all the image files in the folder and opens them in our Photoshop droplet. Since a folder action triggers each time new files are added to the folder, we finish this part by moving the images out of the “watch folder” so that old photos aren’t re-processed when new ones arrive.
A Photoshop droplet is basically a pre-packaged action. First, the file containing our watermark is opened, selected and copied over on top of the image. The transform step positions the watermark in the lower right-hand corner. After a few adjustments (re-size, profiling and levels), the watermarked image is saved in a second “watched” folder.
The second folder action triggers when watermarked images arrive from the Photoshop droplet. This action grabs all JPEGs from the folder, and attaches them to a new message in Apple Mail. With a few more commands the message is sent to our Facebook page, Twitter feed and social media managers. Finally, the images are moved out of the watch folder.
Here’s a video where I show all the above working in real time:
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