Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I have eliminated some of the necessary Evils of Digital Photography and learned a valuable lesson.

Hi Pentaxian friends,

Yesterday, I ranted and raved about the necessary Evils of Digital Photography. I was upset about the whole thing. I don’t think I lost any files, but it will take a while to straighten things out. Thank you for the dozens of emails you sent me, and the few published comments. It helped a lot.The good news, as someone commented, is that I now know what I will be doing for the rest of 2009!

Seriously, it will take me a few weeks to get back to where I was. This horrific experience gave me a chance to examine my workflow and the file archiving process a little closer. When I had my first digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix 995 @ 3.31MP, it was easy to save my good images on CDs given that the files were relatively small. I still have those files and they are safe. As a bonus, the newer post-processing software allows me to retrieve the images and make them look better than the original ever did. The archiving process was similar in many ways to the shoebox archiving method. The file did not reside on my computer and they are still easy to find, after all these years.

Today’s files are much bigger and since I shoot strictly in RAW format, it is very difficult to preserve these image files. You can have all the hard drives and back-up drives you want, the images are still at the mercy of your computer. You all know that Mr. Gate’s company produces the best operating systems in the world. You know that your PC never freezes up, that you never get error messages, and that you never get audacious messages like “This program is not responding”, followed by “Report this problem to Microsoft” like they really care!

For a paid monthly service fee, there are on-line archiving systems, that supposedly have dozens of different back-up systems, some located in different buildings in case of fire or other disaster. It’s all fine, but what if they go bankrupt or simply close their doors? Impossible you say! Just look at out banking and mortgage system. Look at our Automobile giants. Look at the global economy as a whole. Do you really think that someone out there really cares about the safety of your files?

Apple is a good alternative as far as the operating system is concerned, but archiving is based on the same principles.

What I learned is that I will go back to archiving my best RAW files on DVD-Rs. I have a box of them right here beside me and I read that they can save 4.7GB of data. There might be some with more capacity, but 4.7GB is enough to save about 150 of the K20D RAW files. The key is to save the B-E-S-T files only. Soon, Blue-Ray Discs will replace the DVD's with 25GB to 50GB of storage capacity, all being able to reside in a shoebox. I will continue to use Lightroom and save my files on my hard drive and my back-up drive, but when importing files, I will burn the content of my SDHC cards to DVD-R first (or Blue-Ray), and then proceed as usual. That will only add a few minutes to my workflow, but I will feel safer.

I can still use shoeboxes to keep my recorded files. I feel much better now. I just need to buy more shoes!

Thank you for reading,
Yvon Bourque
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