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Let’s talk about photographs

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36 comments on “Let’s talk about photographs”

  1. After 50+ years as a pro photographer.. and seeing how my vocation take a quality dive… how can I start a “back to TRUE photography, and get rid of this=here digital quality push button junk” ???

    • Apart from learning how to use the new technology, photography really hasn’t changed. Composition and lighting are still essentially the same art form. You could almost make the same argument with an SLR camera that it’s only a matter of pushing a button. The hard part is still the same.

      • The thing that bothers me is that everyone wants to look like a pro. There are so many people out there with DSLR cameras but they only ever use the Auto settings on the camera? Why are they wasting so much money on a camera that they’re going to get the same quality of a photograph that they would get if they had a digital point and shoot camera.

        I suspect that someone with 50+ years of experience would get some pretty amazing shots if they used a DSLR camera since they know how to make all the adjustments needed to take a great picture.

      • I have a mirrorless DSLR equivalent which in many ways I use like a sophisticated “point and shoot” although I’ gradually learning to use its myriad features. The major benefit for me is that I can take experimental photos and try things out in a way I never could have with film. I can see the results instantly rather than waiting for the D&P process.

        Also I see my photos a lot more frequently as I have many many of them set as rotating wallpaper on my various PCs. It is also much easier to share photos with friends, even those in other continents (via facebook) and those friends can view as many or as few as they wish in their own time. I would hate to go back to film.

  2. Like you, I go overboard with backing up important files, including digital photos.

    I use Dropbox, OneDrive, Flickr, Photobucket, Google Drive and Google Photos. Additionally, I also store everything on multiple DVDs and flash drives. I think I’m covered. :)

  3. I take most of my photos on my Samsung Galaxy 5. As soon as I get in WiFI range they are automatically uploaded to Dropbox and subsequently my home computer which is then automatically backed up nightly. I keep my home computer on even when I travel for a few months, mostly in case I need to open Team Viewer to get a file from an external drive. If I use my camera, I’m unprotected for a few hours till I get to my computer.

  4. This article has really got me thinking…

    There was a time I was religious about backing up, especially backing up irreplaceable photo’s. Since being left as a lone-parent though, those back-up plans have fallen by the wayside a little: At a time when those pictures are probably more valuable now than ever before – pictures of my children.

    Whilst I do have a smartphone, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and is no longer compatible with the latest software releases of apps for OneDrive and such like. I do copy the pictures to my computer…sometimes, but I would stand to lose a lot if my phone just gave up the ghost right now.

    This podcast has just given me a much needed kick up the rear end in getting those photo’s (photo’s, at least) backed up again!

    Thanks Leo!

    • I have the Dropbox app on my phone which automatically uploads all my photos. I’d be surprised if your smartphone couldn’t run that app.

      • Thanks Mark!

        Based on your suggestion, I just had a look in the App-store, and whilst Dropbox is listed, it’s incompatible with my phone…

        Incidentally, my (smart)phone is an iPhone 3GS – not as ‘smart’ as it once was! I’m sure you don’t need telling that the latest OS revision for my phone is iOS 6.x, but Dropbox, amongst others require iOS 7 or above.

        Many thanks for taking the time to contribute though. I guess it’s just time I upgraded, or/and pulled my finger out and performed a backup to my computer more often than I have done recently!

        Thanks again for trying to help though – every suggestion is appreciated, whether it bears fruit or not.

  5. Lilly, if you’re serious about your photos being important to you, back them up now. As I said above, I have multiple backups of my photos.

    Allow me to tell you a story. My sister has an older Samsung Galaxy. On that phone are hundreds of photographs. Unbeknownst to me, she wasn’t backing up those photos anywhere – they existed on the phone only. A couple of weeks ago her phone started randomly turning on and off by itself. This went on for a few days. Suddenly the device went into a boot loop.

    I have tried everything I can think of but haven’t been able to restore her phone to a working state. She picked up a new phone last week but that doesn’t solve the problem of the unretrievable photos on the old phone, which at this point is nothing but an expensive paperweight.

    The point of my story is, every computing device WILL fail at some point. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones. It will fail. If you’re photos are important to you, back them up. Now. :)

    • Thanks Len!

      Like you, I used to go overboard on backing up myself, especially with the more important files, like those irreplaceable photos.

      I’m sure if I had an up-to-date device, I would install all the latest cloud backup apps and have it happen seamlessly. As I don’t though, and it does come down to manual backups (at the moment), I couldn’t say whether it’s just not being able to find the time, being a single parent, or whether it’s just pure laziness on my part, but I do need to pull my finger out before it gets burned, and I learn the lesson the hard way.

      Bite the bullet and upgrade, or find the time to back up, before I get my fingers burned? I think I know which I should choose!

      Now to just find the time to get upgraded!

      Many thanks for taking the time to respond though.

  6. A co-worker of mine recently lost every single photo on her phone by doing something she didn’t mean to do. Dozens and dozens of photos she’d never bothered to transfer and back-up. I already have a reputation as the office “have you backed up today?” nag, so I didn’t say anything to her except that I was sorry to hear that had happened. What would have been the point of saying, “I told you so”?

  7. I don’t think I go too far. I keep pics on the original memory card (until l have done all the below). 1. I copy them to two different drives on my PC. 2. I burn them to a CD to share with family. To share I make a copy of the CD and keep the original as another backup. My parents are 88 so they don’t/can’t get them from Google Pictures, instead they put the CD in the DVD player and watch the slide show. 3. I store them on “MYCLOUD”, my personal cloud. 4. I put them on Google Pictures. 5. If anyone wants a “photo”, I print it/them. 6. Then I delete the memory card copy for reuse.

    See, I don’t go too far. LOL.

    • That’s a great backup. I give copies of all my important photos to my family. Those gifts can be great backups if everything else is lost.

  8. On the topic – I have a looseleaf binder on a shelf beside me holding tens of thousands of 35mm negatives. It’s obviously vulnerable but I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve scanned a number of the most valuable family photos, but it’s time consuming and laborious.

    Images made over the years with my various digital cameras are uploaded to my computer and the camera’s drive reformatted. When we’re travelling they are uploaded daily to my laptop and copied to the desktop on return home. On that hard drive are thousands of digital images, recording the last 20 years or so of my life including my loved ones, living and passed on. They are backed up continuously with Rebit but only to one separate hard drive. Maybe one day somebody could be curious enough to look at them. They should also be saved to a separate drive that I could keep elsewhere. Maybe even in a bank deposit box. Ideally carrying a full system backup….

    I need to get a round tuit. This article could stimulate it.

    • Ray … My paranoia, even with all my digital backups, is a burglary or house fire. For your negatives, consider a fireproof safe, this should protect against both. Fireproof actually means it’ll stand a certain amount of heat for a certain period of time, there are lots of options. If you don’t have a fireproof building near your house you might consider an “in-ground” safe … dig a hole, insert safe, fill with concrete, cover with a steel plate. I don’t know anything about film negatives so you’ll have to check the melting point when researching a safe and how hot it gets inside. The theory behind this is that house fires burn through a room in X minutes then move on and the safe should withstand that burn time.
      Good luck.

    • I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer with a couple of TBs of data. As I live in a rural area and only have an extremely restrictive bandwidth cap, the cloud simply wasn’t an option (backing up would have been bad enough but, had I ever needed to restore all my data, it’d have cost hundreds of bucks in overage charges and taken months).

      I decided to start rotating drives offsite but my good intentions never actually translated into actions. I just never seemed to find the time (or maybe I was just too lazy to actually make the time!). Then a neighbor’s house burned to the ground and that finally spurred me into action.

      The solution I settled on was a fireproof and waterproof hard drive. Yes, such things do exist and they’re surprisingly affordable! To supplement this, I copy my most valuable files – those I absolutely could not stand to lose – to a separate folder and sync that to Dropbox. It may not be a perfect solution (is there such a thing), but it works very well for my needs.

    • My dad picked up a flatbed scanner that allowed you to put the negatives on the scanner bed and it would scan those negatives with sufficient quality that you could use them to print photos. You could then also back them up. Similarly, you could put slides on bed and it would scan the slides.

  9. I must say that I’m not quite as OCD as your talk on backing up photos, but maybe I should be. My biggest loss was when I was backing up photos by burning DVD backups. I discovered that a DVD burner can fail to burn a DVD and you be clueless to that fact. I failed to check every DVD backup and at a later date when I was going through my DVD’s looking for specific pictures, I discovered that the DVD burner had failed to write.

    My current regimen is to copy my pictures to a Flash drives which I keep in a fire proof safe. I make these backups to the flash drive as soon as I have processed the photos and I have both the RAW picture files and my processed pictures files saved. I have considered cloud storage, but it will be expensive for me to maintain cloud storage since I’m currently keeping around a tetra byte worth of images on hand at this time. I have also taken family pictures that I have dating to the early 1900’s and scanning them to digital files and archiving them also.

    At this point in time, I have a full image backups of my system and my flash drives with the photos and separate flash drives with my documents.

    • You’d be better off using an external hard drive as they are more dependable than flash drives. That being said, an external hard drive in addition to the thumb drive is even better. Maybe even keep a backup set away from home. When it comes to backing up, OCD is a not a bug, it’s a feature.

  10. Hey Leo.

    So I’m reading through your latest news letter, and to my utter surprise and great joy I see that you are going to share some “Corgi” pics!
    Wow, really!??

    So I click on the video and listen to your explanation about the importance of backing up pics, then I see the first Corgi pic…sigh
    Here’s me thinking “hey, a fellow collector! Die cast brethren! And it’s not Corgi die cast, it’s Corgi the dog…hmmph.

    John Von Bronzesnake
    Keswick, Ontario, Canada
    on the south east shore of lake Simcoe

  11. I used to teach a course in beginning digital photography. Once in a while someone came to me with a problem of lost digital photographs. Usually they have accidentally formatted the card in the camera. In several cases I was able to recover the lost photographs using a commercially available program called “Recover My Files”. As long as they had not written on the card since formatting it there was a very high probability of successful recovery. I experimented on my own camera by taking pictures, deleting them, taking more pictures and deleting those I found that I was able to recover nearly all of those photographs. I even recovered images taken some months ago on the same card. The point is that it is not hopeless if someone accidentally deletes photographs either on the computer or while still in the camera.

      • TestDisk 6. 14 Release – CGSecurity
        It takes a bit of learning, but it is the absolute best free software that will allow you to many other things besides recovering photos and the such from a memory card.
        Don’t give up too fast, it will blow your mind at first, but once you learn it, you will swear by it.

  12. For the raw pictures …
    Camera is downloaded to PC1 about once/week unless an event which is done that day.
    This folder is copied to PC2 and a NAS box, camera contents are deleted.
    That nite the scheduled Macrium backup creates a third copy.
    When (about) 4Gig of photo folders have accumulated I make two copies on 2 DVDs.

    iPhone & iPad photos are grabbed via Dropbox and backed up the same way.
    These are included in the DVD backups mentioned above.

    Traveling is twitchy. If we have a laptop we’ll drop them there, daily, and burn discs. If we’re around friends or family we’ll drop there and upload to Dropbox then grab all when we get home. If they don’t have and don’t want Dropbox we’ll burn discs. For long jaunts away from civilization with no laptop we roll the dice, even extra memory cards can’t protect against loss. Anyone have a suggestion for this? Thanx in advance.

    Photos are the most precious data we have, we keep the DVDs and Macrium backup drives (3 month cycle) in a fireproof safe in a steel outbuilding far from the main house.

    I’m still concerned about the long term viability of optical storage.

  13. As an avid believer in backing-up, my laptop runs an automatic back-up every day at 12:00.

    But for me, that is not enough, I have a 1TB external hard drive and the daily back-up runs to a partition on there. The main partition of the external hard drive has all my important stuff on it, which in turn, is copied to MediaFire Express to automatically sync with the MediaFire Cloud.

    As if that isn’t enough, I also copy the external hard drive main partition to another external hard drive.

    I think and hope, I’m covered and would recommend others to take note of your mantra: “If it’s only in one place, it isn’t backed up”

  14. Doing a quick reading of the comments, I don’t find anybody cautioning about storing things long-term on a flash drive. As I understand it, unless something has changed, flash drives contain a small capacitor that acts as a battery to retain the data on the drive. Early drives (around 1996) had a notice saying that the drive should be inserted into a powered-up USB socket at least every few years to recharge the capacitor to save the data. In that light, putting images on flash drives and storing them forever in a safe is NOT a form of back-up.

    • Nowadays, flash memory doesn’t need to be powered up like that, but even so, they have a shorter life span than magnetic media, and have a limited number of writes. They are a poor medium for backups. I use them for data transfer, filling them up with diagnostic tools and now as bootable installation media for Windows and Linux. But I’d never trust my backups on flash media.


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