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Selecting, archiving and backup

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Selecting, archiving and backup, testo e foto by Juza. Pubblicato il 05 Novembre 2014; 1 risposte, 4796 visite.

If you are seriously interested about photography, you will soon end up with hundreds or thousands of photos, and ordering and cataloging them become a necessity. There are various good systems to organize your images, and you have to choose the one that fits better your way of work. A simple and rational cataloging strategy can really improve your work, avoiding waste of time and energy; personally, I prefer to avoid file-cataloging programs, and I use a very simple system of naming and folders.

The first step is to make a selection from the photos that you have taken during the day or during the trip. Often I came back home with hundreds of photos: after downloading them from the camera, I check the photos with Adobe Bridge. Bridge is a very nice file browser supplied with Photoshop; the latest version has many useful features, in particular, a "magnification" tool that allows to check the detail of every photo at 100% magnification, without opening the file.

I immediately delete the photos that are clearly unusable (out of focus subject, blurred photos, and other photos that can not be recovered), and I make a selection between similar photos: I often take many similar photos of the same subject to select the best one when I'm back home. After this first selection, I make a second selection, to eliminate the photos that are so-so, or the photos that are very similar to images that I already have: this time, though, I don't delete the photos, I just move them into an "Archived RAWs" folder, where I archive the RAWs of the photos that I don't like too much, but I still want to keep. It is likely that I'll never give again a look to the photos stored into this folder, but knowing that they won't be deleted forever helps a lot to make an "harsher" selection, without being too kind or emotional towards my photos. Other than that, sometimes I have post processed and rescued old photos with the new techniques that I have learned.

When I've selected the photos, I rename them according to my file numbering; I use a very simple six-digit code (e.g. "012685") and once I have finished to rename the photos, I note the name of the last image on a "memorandum" text file, to avoid duplicating the names next time that I have new photos. With Adobe Bridge, it is easy to rename large numbers of files: select all the files that you want to rename, then click on the menu Tools>Batch Rename. I always recommend to rename your photos with your own naming scheme, instead of relying on the numbering of the camera that is far from reliable, in particular if you use various cameras (remember that the camera numbering restarts from 0 after it reaches 9999).

Adobe Bridge is my preferred file browser. I use it to select, rename and order my photos.

I post-process the photos that I've selected and I save them as TIFF, with the same number of the RAW file. For example, if the RAW file is "016024.cr2", the processed file is "016024.tif". The last step is to order the photo inside a system of folders. I have five main folders (Flora, Macro, Wildlife, Landscapes, Various), and every folder contains various sub-folders about the different places: for example, into the Wildlife folder I have the sub-folders "USA", "Italy", "Tanzania", "Costa Rica", etc. Into each sub-folder, I store both the untouched RAW files and the processed photos, saved as TIFF.

The TIFF file format

I always shoot in RAW format, but I save the post-processed files as 16-bit Adobe RGB TIFF (of course I keep both the RAW and the processed TIFF). The TIFF is, in my opinion, the best format to store image files; it is a widely compatible format and when you save a photo as uncompressed TIFF, you do not lose any information. You can re-open the file, edit it and re-save it as TIFF, without any problem; JPEG images, instead, accumulate artifacts every time that you save them. Since TIFF files are not compressed, they are very large: a 21 megapixels image creates a 120 megabytes 16-bit TIFF.

Storage and backup

The storage supports have changed a lot with the advancements of technology. CD, DVD or Blu-Ray discs are not a good option because they have very little space for today large files; USB pen drives does not have enough capacity, with the exception of some extremely expensive models as the Kingston Datatraveler 1TB.

I never keep files for more than few days on the disk of my computer, since it is the most unsafe place for your files: a computer can easily be broken, stolen, corrupted by a virus.

Hard drives are currently the most easy to use and cost-effective solution: I recommend 2.5", portable hard drives, since the slightly cheaper 3.5" drives are much larger (physically) and they need a lot of electrical power (so they have two cables, one for electricity and another for data transfer), while portable drives have only the USB cable, that is used both for power and for data transfer. There are countless hard drives, personally I have used with satisfaction the WD Elements Portable 2TB USB 3.0, that costs less than 100 € and it has huge capacity.

Cloud storage has made huge improvements in the latest years. In the past it was extremely slow and expensive; nowadays we have faster inter connections and the price of online drives has become very affordable: Microsoft OneDrive offers unlimited space for 69 euro/year (that is the price of subscription Office 365 Personal, that includes OneDrive space); Google Drive offers 1 TB of space for 120 euro/year (but it will likely get in line with the Microsoft offer next year). Since 2014, I have moved all my files on Cloud storage: I use Google Drive as main 'drive' and Microsoft OneDrive as backup.

Of course, no storage solution is completely safe: there is always the risk that virus, software problems or hardware failures result in loss of files. I highly recommend to make a backup copy of your files!

When I used hard drives, I had all my files on a external HDD, and the second HDD was an exact copy of the first HDD. Once a week, I updated the second HDD with the latest version of the content of the first HDD: in this way, even in the worst case I would have lost no more than six days of work. I did not use RAID systems, nor backup software; in my opinion they are not necessary, it is enough to be precise and to remember to copy the files to the backup drive once a week. A thing you have to remember is that you must not keep your main hard disk and the backup copy in the same place, otherwise in case of fire, earthquake, theft, etc. you may lose all your files. I recommend to keep the HD with backup copy in your office or in the house of a trusted friend for additional safety! In alternative, if you use cloud storage as backup you already have your files in a different location.

Working with cloud storage

Using cloud storage as backup of an hard disk is very easy: subscribe either to Google Drive or MS OneDrive, download their application and select the folders that you want to copy in your online space. The application will upload all the files and will update them when you change something on your main, physical drive. This is the easiest solution, but it requires a very fast connection if you have large files and you update them often.

Personally, I have chosen a different solution: cloud storage both as main drive and as backup. It is not the best solution for everyone: let's see how it works and who is for.

For everything except TIFF and RAW photos, I work directly on the cloud: the disk of my computer is completely empty. Text files can be read and edited online exactly as if they were on your computer thanks to the cloud applications offered by Google and Microsoft; mp3 and videos can be played online, and the same holds true for jpeg photos (I save my snapshots and 'family photos' as jpeg).

The photos, instead, are post-processed with Photoshop on my computer, then I save them as TIFF and I upload the tiff and raw files to Google Drive (I don't use the application, I upload them directly with my browser). Usually I never edit again these files, but if it is necessary to edit something I download the files, edit it and re-upload it.

The photos takes about 95% of my disk space. When I upload them to Google Drive, I also upload on MS OneDrive, so I have exactly the same files on both online drives. The remaining 5% of my space, taken by snapshots, small videos, mp3, text files and so on, is upload or created only on Google Drive, but every 1-2 weeks I download it and copy (upload) it to MicroSoft OneDrive. Since this is really a small part of my files and it takes few GB of space, downloading and re-uploading it every 1-2 weeks it is not a problem, even with my less-than-stellar Internet connection.

I am really happy with this solution, but I recommend it only to those who have a similar workflow: large photos that are archived almost permanently and only few GB of other files that requires more frequent updates; if you have different exigencies, hard drives are still a better choice.

Cloud storage and safety

Cloud storage, as already said, requires backup, exactly as hard drives: for this reason I have chosen two cloud storages from two different brands; I don't recommend to create two accounts with the same brands because the files may end up being stored on the same server, so if the server fails you may lose everything. Of course, both MS and Google already do their backup, but if you want to be truly safe you must have two copies of the files on two different services.

A strong password is essential: avoid easy password as the name of your pet, your birthday, ect; I recommend to create a strong password by choosing a random combination of letters, numbers and symbols and to change it often - I change all my passwords every two-three months. Even so, it is not 100% safe: to make sure that nobody has access to your files, I recommend to activate two-steps verification. Two-steps means that you download an APP (supplied by Google or Microsoft) on your smartphone; this app creates single use codes that you need to enter when you log-in, other than your password. This way, if someone want to enter in your account he must have both your password and your smartphone.

Someone except, of course, governments, CIA, NSA and similar entities: these organization does not even have to bother breaking passwords, they have direct access to everything that is online; privacy has some meaning only between citizens, but it is does not exists (even if if should) for these organizations. So, if you have something that you want to keep really secret, never, never, never put it online. Personally I don't care too much since my drive contains nothing secret/illegal/compromising, but everyone should make his considerations :-)

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inviato il 26 Marzo 2015 ore 19:08

Really good article, the things abiut cloud store are very usfule! Thank you! :)



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