Help with Darkroom

  • 08-09-11

Darkroom Software - (Formally Express Digital) allows Event and Studio Photographers to streamline their workflow and gives the user a single program that performs all the tasks they are likely to use from capture to print.

However, many photographers are initially looking for a simple way of using Darkroom to give them an easy and efficient event photography workflow before moving on to the extensive and comprehensive features (such as green screen and magazine covers) that the software offers.

Starting with installing the printer, this article will take you through setup, capture, viewing and printing so your photographs can be imported, viewed and printed quickly and easily at a typical event.

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Installing a Printer

Having installed Darkroom on your computer, you must firstly install your preferred Photo Printer. This is done in the usual way by loading the driver disk and following the on-screen instructions.

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Once the printer has been installed and is recognised by your computer, you can open the Darkroom software.Select the ‘Setup’ tab and go to ‘Printer Options’ in the left-hand sidebar. Select ‘Add Printer’ from the right-hand sidebar. Highlight 'Windows Printer' then click the 'Add Printer' button at the bottom of the window. Select your installed printer and click ‘OK’. You should then set your preferred print size in ‘Properties’ (varies with printer), set ‘Bleed’ option to 30 pixels in ‘Advanced’ and set your preferred print size again in ‘Page Size’ and ‘Arrangements’. Clicking ‘OK’ completes the installation.


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Setting up the print options for Event Photography

Select the ‘Setup’ tab and go to ‘Fulfilment Options’ in the left-hand sidebar. The only item that needs to be ticked here is the top box, ‘Automatically Print Orders…’

Next, go to ‘Products & Services’ in the left-hand sidebar and click on ‘Package Groups’. Select ‘New Group’ in the left-hand sidebar and give the new group a name (we would suggest your printer designation such as 9550, D-70, P510S etc). Click ‘OK’ to create the new package group – this automatically creates a print package (called ‘Package 1’ by default). Click on the new Package Group and select ‘Set Default’ from the left-hand sidebar. This makes this package group the default group for all printing.

Now go to the printing package itself, select ‘Edit Package Info’ from the left-hand sidebar and rename the package to your preferred print size and price (for example, 6x9 and £10.00). Select the ‘Quick Print’ box and click ‘OK’ to confirm. Re-select this package, click on ‘Add Local Print item’ from the right-hand sidebar, select the print width from the top drop-down box and the print size from the bottom drop-down box and click ‘OK’

Finally go to the ‘Orders’ tab at the bottom of the screen and select ‘Auto Print’ at the top of this page.

Creating a photo group for your event

You will need a ‘home’ folder for the photographs from your event and Darkroom keeps these in a standard folder tree in the 'PhotoLibrary' where there are a series of pre-set ‘Photo Catalogs’, one of which is called ‘Events’.

You should create a new folder or ‘Photo Group’ for each event you cover and to do this, you select the ‘Events’ catalog then click on the ‘New’ flag in the tool bar at the top of the folder tree. Select ‘Add Photo Catalog’ (this actually means add a photo group) which opens an information window. The ‘Type’ should be set for ‘Event’ and you just have to fill in the name of the event (eg. Downtown School Prom) and any further information you wish to include to create the group. Selecting ‘Finish’ creates the group and brings up a ‘no images to import’ warning window which, when closed, opens up a window looking for the destination folder for imports. You can cancel this.

Transferring images to the computer

You can transfer photos into your computer in a variety of ways.

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Copying the images from your camera card into a folder on your computer is the most straightforward. You can also Tether your Camera direct to your computer with a USB cable, or transfer the images Using your Camera Wirelessly. Darkroom can import the images direct from the card, from any folder on your computer, direct from a tethered camera or from a wireless ‘hot folder’


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Working with the images at the event

Having created a photo group for your event, you are now ready to import and print your images. If you choose to work in the PhotoLibrary itself, you should click on the ‘Add Photo’ flag in the toolbar at the top of the page, then navigate to the folder where your photos have been imported and select ‘Import All’. This gives a photo-viewer type screen where you can select images for your customers to view. Double clicking on an image will open it full-screen and you can then use the left-right arrows to move between images. Pressing the ‘Esc’ button on your keyboard will return you to the PhotoLibrary viewer screen.

Many photographers choose to work in the PhotoWorkshop tab as it gives them the immediate ability to make quick corrections and enhancements to the image. By default, the images are displayed as a ‘filmstrip’ to the left of the screen with the selected image showing full page. There is also a ‘multiple’ option (top left of the page) which shows the images in a viewer mode. If you are shooting tethered, the images come direct into the PhotoWorkshop.

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Printing the selected photo

To print an image, simply press the number 1 key twice. This links to the setup you have already carried out above and effectively selects Package 1 and 1 print. Keying 1,3, for example, would select Package 1 (your default print size) and 3 copies. Your workflow at this point is therefore, simply, to show the images to the customer, take the money and send the selected image to print by keying 1, plus the number of prints required.

Darkroom can be as simple to use in the event photography environment as the setup and workflow outlined above. It can also be as comprehensive as you want it to be as it offers an infinite variety of options including built-in green screen technology, magazine-style covers, automated production of limitless print products and much more.