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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Phoenix, Arizona
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    158

    Default Back Up Your Pictures!

    Roads trips and photography have gone together like peas in a pod since the moment when photography was first invented. There's simply no better way to share your adventures, and to prolong your memories, than to bring home some great photos of the great things you've seen. There are still a few purists out there using film cameras, but for everyone else, digital is the name of the game, and advances in the technology come at such a furious clip that it's hard to keep up. The bottom line is simply this: there has never been a better time to be a photo bug.

    These days, you can divide photographers into three basic groups:

    1.) First, and least numerous, are the professionals. Those who are making a living from photography, or at least being paid for their work. Professionals favor the high end equipment that costs more than the average car, and they usually have quite a lot of it.

    2.) Next, and most numerous, are the amateurs, the polar opposite to the pros: amateurs take snapshots. Amateurs love to take selfies (the more, the merrier), and most use their smart phone as a camera. (This group includes practically everybody, so please don't be offended--I'm really not being critical). For amateurs, it's more about the subject matter than it is about the composition and the quality of the light. (See that blur to the left of my head? That's Niagara Falls).

    3.) Last but not least, and somewhere in the middle in terms of their numbers, are the serious amateurs. Their equipment runs across the spectrum, but the equipment is less a factor than their attitude: they're serious about their photography! They still take snapshots, and they still take selfies, but their goal, regardless of equipment or subject matter, is to come away with high quality images that are thoughtfully composed, properly exposed, and sharply focused. Modern cameras make all that pretty easy, so the main difference between a pro and a serious amateur isn't so much about the quality of their shots. It's what I said before: the pros get paid.

    Regardless of which group is your group, there's a universal truth that applies to all: nobody wants to LOSE their precious photos. Your picture taking device, be it a phone, a point and shoot, or a digital Hasselblad, might get stolen. Or dropped in a river. Memory cards can get damaged. They can be defective. They can be accidentally erased! What can you do about that? Plenty, as it turns out.

    If you're in the phone camera group, you've got it made. Store your photos in the cloud, or send them to your email account, or post them on Facebook. Once that's done, it doesn't matter what happens to your phone. Your pictures will be safe.

    If you have a camera that uses a memory card (which is most cameras): first off, bring plenty of spares. Even the large memory cards are cheap these days, so there's no need to erase and re-use your memory cards, at least, not while you're still on the road. Once a card is filled, treat it like a roll of exposed film, keep it somewhere safe and dry, and avoid temperature extremes (like the inside of your car when it's parked on a summer day. And avoid strong magnetic fields)! And then there's the feature that makes digital memory truly superior to film: you have the ability to make back up copies! And because you can? You should! If you're serious about your photography, backing up should be a daily ritual. If you travel with a laptop, it's a snap. Simply download your images from the card to the computer, or to an external hard drive connected to the computer. Do this as often as seems practical, because it also gives you a chance to review your images, to make sure you haven't accidentally changed a camera setting, or picked up some crud on your lens or your sensor. This is a great system: you have two copies of everything, one on the memory card, another on your computer or your hard drive. Is it foolproof? Well, no, because hard drives can fail! What if you have a defective memory card, and your only back-up is a dead hard drive? Horrors! Personally? I DO worry about that, so I carry two hard drives, and I make two complete backups of every memory card. But that's just me.

    If you don't travel with a laptop, there are still options: Western Digital makes terrific portable hard drives (called Passports), and they have one line with built in wi-fi. The drive itself has an SD card slot, making it a snap to back up your memory cards without need for a computer, and it will connect to any wireless device within range (laptop, iPad, tablet) so that you can view the images or make additional backups. They start at about $150 (or less) for a 1 TB drive.

    Back in the days of film, I once lost an entire year's worth of work in one fell swoop. I was shooting Ektachrome slides, and I had accumulated fourteen rolls of 36 exposures each (500 photos altogether). The pictures had been taken over the course of a year spent traveling in South America. I didn't trust the film labs down there, so I saved all of my exposed film until I got back to the U.S., then took all 14 rolls to a professional lab in San Francisco. Didn't want to take any chances, right? All of my film was processed in the same batch. A lab employee made a grievous error and the entire batch was destroyed. The employee lost his job. I was given 14 new rolls of film (since that was the extent of the lab's liability).

    That could never happen again, but it helps explain why I'm such a nut when it comes to back-ups!

    Rick
    Last edited by Rick Quinn; 05-19-2016 at 02:58 PM. Reason: Rearranged text

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,053

    Default ...three redundant back-up systems for our photos

    Rick,

    Great advice.

    I've been a member of all three groups of photographers -- serious amateur, professional and casual amateur. These days, as you can tell from the vaguely out-of-focus images I have posted I am closer, once again, to a casual amateur -- but I have the advantage of shooting thousands of images and a working knowledge of composition in all sorts of light conditions.

    I use three redundant back-up systems for our photos.

    Hated to read that story of the Ektachrome slides caper!

    Thanks for the reminder and the post!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    158

    Default

    Mark:

    You're welcome! I've been a "serious" amateur photographer for more than half a century, at this point. I wrote a little something in my blog about my personal photographic philosophy. Click here if you'd like to read it:"You Can Find Beauty Close to Home".



    Photo taken in Granada Park, in Phoenix (my neighborhood park) click here for more photos of my park! (It's a nice spot).

    Rick

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,509

    Default

    Back in 2012, we had hard drive failure on the way home from our trip. I thought that my photos of Arches were all gone until I remembered that I had uploaded the vast majority (the good ones) to Flickr. So there's another possible way to lose your photos, and another way to "save" them.

    The rest, I had already saved to DVD. Now I save to my external hard drive. (Thanks for the timely reminder - I need to upload more to my external drive!)


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    158

    Default

    Donna:

    You were wise to switch from DVD's to an external drive for storing your photos. DVD's, the writable variety, are not a permanent medium. They're made differently than the commercial discs used for the movies that you purchase. Home made discs degrade over time, and even if you buy more expensive brand name blanks, there's a good chance that they will eventually start losing data (after five or ten years, possibly even less).

    Rick

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    You should see how some of our slides from the 60s and 70s have faded. Sad, really.



    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    158

    Default

    That's another advantage to digital photography, for sure--the pictures will never fade!

    I have slides that were taken by my Dad back in the 1950's that were in bad shape, but I was able to restore them. A good scanner did most of the work by removing dust and scratches from the image and correcting the color. With a little skill and the right photo editing software (and a fair bit of labor) most of them came out almost as good as new. I suspect it would be expensive to have that sort of thing done for you in a lab, but if the pictures are important enough it might be worth it.

    Rick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,509

    Default

    One of the jobs I haven't taught my retired husband to do: scan slides onto his computer. He has the time to do it, but as a working teacher, I don't. The problem is, though, they're my slides and some of them were hand-mounted by my dad, so they don't have that "this side faces screen" marking on a cardboard mounting. So you have to know your subject to be able to figure out which side is the "correct" way. I figure, right now they are in one of those protective type boxes, out of light, rather than inside a Kodak Carousel slide reel, which will keep them from further fade.

    Thanks to your timely reminder, I just transferred a bunch of photos from the past year, to the My Book. (Generation previous to WD Passports were My Books.) The My Book does not go directly from the camera, to my knowledge, so we'll still have to upload photos from camera to laptop to WD My Book.


    Donna

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