Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The necessary Evils of Digital Photography.

Hi Pentaxian friends,

There are no doubt that digital photography has surpassed the film era with image quality, ease of use, instant dismay or pleasure (depending on your photographic aptitudes) and overall cost per image. Long gone are the wait for your slides or prints to come back from the Photo Lab. I guess it’s hog’s heaven for photographers all over the world.

Not so fast, I say! We all have to deal with the necessary Evils of digital photography. Shoeboxes full of prints and negatives have disappeared (I still have mine and they are chuck full of memories all cramped within the perimeter of my shoeboxes). Our images are now trusted to the “not-so-reliable” computers, hard drives and software, all destined to fail eventually.
(The cartoom character looks like Larry King, doesn't he?)

Case in point; it was the night before Christmas...when I had the brilliant idea of purchasing a new 320Gig hard drive. My photo station is a Dell computer with Dual processors running at 2.80 GHz and with 4 GB of RAM. I run Windows XP Professional with service pack 3, and use Photoshop Lightroom 2.2 and Elements V.7 for most of my post processing. I have an external 500GB hard drive for backup and the computer came with an 80Gig hard drive. It sounds like I know what I'm talking about, but I don't. I just know the lingo.

My decision to upgrade came after my computer slowed down with the main hard drive being at about 90% full. It got harder and harder to defragment the drive. I needed another drive so that my images could be stored on board the PC, on another drive than the "C" drive, and were quickly accessible. After all, the external hard drive is really just for security back up.

For those of you that use a Dell computer, although excellent machines and priced very competitively, you know that just about everything you purchase to upgrade should really be purchased from Dell, for compatibility. So I purchase and received the 320Gig drive and was excited to proceed to its installation. Surprise! I purchased the drive as a slave and wouldn’t you know, Dell forgot to send a SATA cable along. I drove to my local BEST BUY store. The sales person, was quick to tell me that they didn’t carry those kind of cables. I was walking toward the exit door when I questioned myself about the knowledge of the young lady. Wouldn’t you know it, there were several cables hanging on the pegboards, just waiting for the picking. After the physical installation, I had to format the drive, which took about two hours. There was my first night gone.

The following night, I transferred all of my image files from the “C” drive to my new “M” drive. That was a snap. I Started Lightroom and surprise again; my Catalogs were not right. There are no way, to my limited knowledge, to upgrade catalogs with new file locations. Lightroom was still looking for the files onthe "C" drive. It will not do a global search of all image files and catalog them automatically, at least not to my knowing. I’m certainly not a computer geek, I’m a photographer for goodness’ sake. So I had the stupid idea of doing a search for *.DNG files on all the drives. (I shoot RAW files only, saved in Adobe .DNG format) It gathered what I thought were all of the DNG files. I loaded them in Lightroom using “Import from drives”. Everything looked good, and I was able to see thumbnails of the files. The problem, as I switched from Library to Develop, remains that the software returns the following message: The file named “yada yada.dng” is offline or missing. I tried to import from: “Get photos from Photoshop Elements” which has all the image files tagged and cataloged. Here’s the message it returned. As you can see, it's really straight forward!

This has been going on for four days and who knows how long it will take to fix everything. I believe that I did loose some files along the upgrade and they were from the snowstorm we had, here in Sunny California, that comes by every thirty to forty years. In the meantime, I keep clicking with my Pentax DSLRs and getting new images.

It makes me cherish my Shoeboxes. I never had any problems with them. Oh, by the way, while reinstalling Lightroom to see if it would help, I got sucked into upgrading to the newer version 2.2. That’s another $99.00 down the drain, with no overall fix on the horizon. As I said before, I’m no computer geek, I’m a photographer, and a frustrated one at that.

Well, thank you all for being my sounding board. I was either going to write a blog about it or put my fist through the monitor. I’ll turn it off now and go to bed. Tomorrow’s another day. :-(

Yvon Bourque
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