Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Raise your hand if you have ever lost digital image files.

Email: brqyvn@gmail.com

Hi Photographer friends,

I have been taking photographs since I was a kid. That's a long time and a lot of photographs. Of course, my early pictures weren't all that good and most are long gone. I have to say though, I still have some of those images tucked away in some shoe boxes after all these years. 
I don't look at them very often, maybe every few years or so. It's always nostalgia 101 for me, and even if it brings back good memories, it has a way to make me reflect on the years gone by...but that's for another post.
I turned to digital in the mid 90's and I was blown away with the ease of use and the possibilities. At first, I wanted to print every images, and I did for a while. It didn't take long to realize that it was costly to print them and started to use floppy disks to save my images for future needs.  Gradually, I updated computers, and as the technology evolved, the media changed as well. I went from floppy disks to CD's, to DVD's, to hard drives, to ever bigger hard drives, to portable hard drives, and recently, to the clouds.
Well, with all that fantastic technology, I lost about 60% of my pictures. I had hard drives crashes, updated computers and forgot some images saved in some folders, changed and updated software, etc. Whatever the reason, some files a gone forever. Strangely enough, I was able to recuperate some images by Googling on images under my name.
Most digital cameras currently use SDHC  cards, at least all my Pentax cameras do. In the early days, film was expensive. A roll of 36 pictures, including processing would cost you around $20 bucks. Now, with memory cards holding anywhere from 200 to 500 "RAW" files and costing between $10.00 to $25.00, I am thinking that  memory cards are cheap enough to take pictures until a card is full, (that's after deleting the bad images), and to file lock the card so it cannot accidentally be overwritten. There is no need for shoe boxes anymore. A small 3" x 3" x 3"box can keep hundreds of cards, each holding hundreds if not thousands of images.  Images can be in RAW format (DNG is a good way to go since it's the closest to a universal RAW format. It is the Adobe standard. 
Saving images in RAW means that in the future, as software becomes even better, you might be able to bring back older images and use more advanced software to process them into  better images than the originals. That is a fact, as I already brought old files and make them look better than the originals.
I still save my images within my Adobe Lightroom folders, as well as in the clouds, but I do not erase files from my SDHC cards anymore. I label them, slide the little tab on the card to prevent overwriting, and save them in a small box.
The memory cards are still much cheaper than film and negatives, and unless I lose the box, I retain all my images. Of course, they are also saved on my computer a few times, on separate hard drives and in the clouds, but I can guaranty you that hard drives will crash, clouds saving will be tampered with by hackers, and computers will be upgraded. 
You only have one life to live and you can't go back. Save tomorrow's memories now.
Thank you for reading,
Yvon Bourque
p.s. I still am you rare source for Pentax e-books. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

It's worth being aware that the data stored on Flash memory will not last forever, it's still a charge in a memory cell. Manufacturers were recently quoting retention of up to ten years.
You might also want to look up 'bit rot' - if you're not taking precautions to make sure your stored data is unchanged, you may still have problems in future (modern filesystems such as ZFS, btrfs, and ReFS are intended to deal with this)

f11 said...

Thanks for sharing this! I have personally been doing this since I went digital in 2006 and have every image that I have ever shot still on the original memory card. It's nice to hear someone else that has the same idea!

Unknown said...

To anonymous:

Thank you for your technical info. I assume storage will continue to be cheaper, and when they come up with an alternative to the current memory cards, with longer longevity, I guess I will then transfer all my images. I just don't trust computers and cloud storage. I would rather keep my memory cards just like I used to keep negatines.

Unknown said...

To f11:
The idea became more viable to me in the last year as I saw memory cards prices going down. It's the modern negative.

Anonymous said...

To Yvon :

That's a reasonable strategy (I've done something similar with DVDs in the past), however it's still leaves you vulnerable to bit rot if you're not verifying the files are unchanged. I think the chances are low, but if you're archiving, you want the chances to be as low as is possible, and you want to spot the problem as soon as is possible.

Patrick Dinneen said...

I lost some photographs, which could have been great ones recenlty and blogged about it http://www.photoblog.ie/2012/10/30/buy-cheap-buy-twice/

On Guinness Arthurs Day I went to O Connell’s pub in Eyre Square, Galway to see and photograph Alabama 3. I met the band and they even posed for me offstage.
For the small gig I was about 4 feet away from the band...but lost all the photos; memory card started to give an error message for some images.