I seem to be having conversations lately about processing workflow: on jobs, at block parties--I wouldn't be surprised to be chatting with someone about workflow on a bus soon. Here is how I handle my daily torrent of images. This is a platform neutral approach.
I shoot only in RAW. I wouldn't know how to handle a jpg capture. I'm not a good enough photographer to have my exposure, color balance and dynamic range pitch perfect on every exposure. RAW gives me a ton of wiggle room. I process my pictures to match what I saw, or imagined, at the time.
I capture on CF cards (my newest ones are 8 gb), and I do my best to keep my cards clean and formatted. It's bothersome to have yesterday's shoot show up in today's ingest. The hands down best app (program) for ingest and initial review is Photo Mechanic. It fires up when you insert a card, and downloads the images into a dated folder (I keep a folder on the desktop labeled INBOX where these go). While the ingest is proceeding, I view the images full screen, and I do my initial edit. Unlike some photographers, I delete what I don't like, mostly the technically awful and out of focus stuff. Shots that I go, “hmm, that's odd,” I keep. It might be a harbinger of a future style I don't know I'm doing yet. Shots that I go “wow” get an instant star rating. That the first look.
Before I do anything else, I rename the images, with a date and sequence code (e.g., 20090806_001). I also add my metadata template with my credit, copyright and contact info. Then in big gulps I'll caption gangs of images that are of the same thing (a simple caption, usually the location--”University of Chicago,” or “Garden”). Some photographers will need/want more detail in this field. All this is done in Photo Mechanic. I used to do these tasks in Bridge, but PM is ten times faster.
I close out Photo Mechanic and fire up Bridge and aim it at the new folder. Once the thumbnails are loaded (watch the progress at the lower left), I select all and right click and apply a preset of RAW processing settings to the batch. I created this recipe in the Adobe Raw Converter, and saved it as Default. These settings (the ones different than the ACR defaults) are:
Color Temp: 5400
Defringe: Highlight edges
Lens Vignetting: +25
The camera bodies that I've calibrated using the DNG Profile Editor will have a camera profile automatically attached at this point.
I then open up batches of similar images (right-click, Open in Camera Raw), and do the next level of Raw corrections. I work on the first image (usually starting with color balance, and working down the list under the Exposure tab), then sync the rest of the images to it. A handy shortcut is to select the set of images, and click Synchronize while holding down the Option key. This will sync the set to the last setting under the Synchronize menu, and saves the step of opening up that dialog.
After I've corrected the images, I will look at them in Bridge, one at a time. This is now where I rate the work, and star the ones that I think are the best of the day. I am stingy with my star ratings. The best shots, maybe 5%, get a one star rating. If there are a lot of similars in that batch, I might do a second sort and give one or two of them two stars. There is no need for more degrees of sorting than that. I'll make my pick for the Daily Photo, and then I'm done for the day. More later on how I catalog and archive the work.