digital workflow

 

off-site data storage & back-up options – File Transporter

If you lose a hard drive or computer, would you be able to bounce back with your data and images intact? If not, then we need to have a quiet conversation here. An urgent conversation. Having a solid workflow and disaster plan in place, is an essential, non-negotiable part of being a photographer.

A single point of failure – if you’re a photographer, than that’s the one thing you really, really, really need to avoid in your digital workflow. Actually, this is true for anyone who works with computers and data. Regardless of whether you just have snapshots of your kids, or whether you’re shooting as a professional photographer. If you have your images on only one device or computer, then you arere bound to be in tears some day.

A single point of failure – it’s most often your hard drive. Hard drives will crash … eventually. They will become corrupted … eventually. So if you’re working on just the one hard drive, and don’t have a system in place where you have at least one back-up, you are tendering for trouble. Costly trouble. Judging by the number of photographers desperately asking for advice on the forums and on Faceboook, it is an easy guess that most photographers do not have a consistent robust digital workflow that will allow them to neatly side-step catastrophic failure.

But a single point of failure can exist anywhere in the chain of your digital workflow. If you have your data and photos on multiple hard drives, but they are all stored in your house, then you still have a single point of failure. Theft, floods, fire, tornadoes – any of these can destroy everything in your house with surprising suddenness. This is something you need to prepare for. No excuses.

A robust digital workflow need not be complicated or difficult to set up. There are easy options that you can set up yourself without having to be qualified as a network systems engineer. Anyone can do this. The tools are there and are easy to use.

And this is why I want to discuss options for off-site back-up and storage – and this handy idea behind the Connected Data – File Transporter (B&H). The File Transporter is effectively your own private 2Tb cloud where you keep your data off-site. More details about the File Transporter on their official site.

So now you may well be wondering why I am harping on about this topic again. Here’s the background story …

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wedding photography: 3 tips to speed up your editing workflow

One of the questions that came up during the Q&A at yesterday’s presentation at B&H, was how long does it take me to edit a wedding. Well, the ideal is that it takes me less than a day. During the peak wedding season around September and October, it is easy to slip behind, but that still remains my goal – to edit a wedding during the week right after the wedding took place.

There are several things motivating this idea:

  • I am more likely to get print orders from the guests at a wedding if the event is still fresh in their memory.
  • In terms of your workflow as a photographer, it is imperative that you don’t fall behind. If you don’t edit a wedding *this* week, then you’re behind because you’re shooting further events.

The best idea then is to edit the wedding in the day or two directly after. Cull, edit, upload, and then you’re done with the immediate workflow. Keep things rolling.

Here are my 3 best tips for a faster workflow. Of course, this doesn’t just relate to weddings, but also to any event where a high volume of images need to be dealt with.

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a band-aid for memory leak problems with Adobe Bridge (Mac)

While I do have Lightroom and Aperture, I have a preference still for using Adobe Bridge to view (and edit) individual images or groups of images. What makes Bridge easy, is that the edits (via the .xmp files), are read by both Lightroom and Bridge.

There has been one problem that has been driving me crazy on my Mac when I use Bridge … the apparent memory leak with Bridge that eventually eats up all the Free Memory on my system. I used a program called iFreeMem to regularly free up memory on both my Macs, but the program worked less well with Mountain Lion. And when I upgraded my iMac to 16Gb of RAM, iFreeMem just didn’t work properly at all.

Then some sleuthing via Google showed me a very simple way of doing this. This is something so simple that any competent software engineer will smirk (and the Linux gurus will fall over laughing) … but I wanted to put this out there as info for photographers who use Mac and Adobe Bridge, and who have been as frustrated with this problem that Adobe refuses to fix. (Or could it be a Mac problem?)

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photographers – back-up plans for disaster

A photographer’s studio in New York state, showing the damage that was caused by unexpected flooding during Hurricane Sandy. For all the damage to photo equipment and computers, no data was ultimately lost!  (Photo used with permission.)

My own family was very fortunate in that we weren’t hurt or sustained damage to our property. The worst we had to endure were the four days without power. There are so many heart-rending stories of lives lost and lives disrupted with the storm, that it just highlights how lucky most of us in the North-Eastern USA were during all this.

With the news so vividly fresh in everyone’s mind, I would like to use this moment to speak urgently to photographers … and anyone who has data that is important, whether personally or for your small business.

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Get it right in camera? … sure, but on occasion some post-processing helps

This photograph of the outdoor wedding venue gives a great sense of what it looked like there at the time. But the original image looked a lot more dull. There just isn’t a way to capture the deep shaded areas and the bright sky with a single capture, in camera .. without some post-processing work.

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photography workflow – back-up plans (update)

A previous article, photography workflow – back-up plans for your main computer, dealt with two ideas:

  • safe-guarding yourself against catastrophic failure or loss of your computer
  • preparing yourself for when your hard drive crashes.

I do think the ideas there are solid – making sure you’re not vulnerable to a single point of failure in your system. The comments from others supported this and also offered a lot more advice and other possibilities. With that, I slightly adapted what I was doing:

  • my bootable clone hard drive is now a fire-proof & water-proof safe made by ioSafe
  • Back-Blaze as an off-site / online duplication of my files
  • Using the PackRat feature of Dropbox

With all this in place now, I think my back-up plans are very solid, especially with some extra redundancy thrown in there …

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photography workflow – back-up plans for the main computer

The photograph above was shot with my iPhone while I was waiting for a corporate photo shoot to commence. The sky over lower Manhattan was grim and rainy. You can see the reflection of the fluorescent lights inside the room. This gave the city scene a Blade-Runner-esque feel. And with that, this image is perhaps suitably Apocalyptic for this topic – what are your plans for catastrophic failure of your main computer?

The idea for this article comes from a discussion with another photographer – she cringed every time I mentioned, “so what happens to your business if your house burns down and your computer is gone?” My other remark that her computer’s hard drive most likely will fail at some point, didn’t seem to lift her spirits either.

So with that, let’s look at those two points:
1. Safe-guarding yourself against catastrophic loss of your computer.
2. Preparing yourself for when your hard drive crashes.

The solutions are fortunately quite simple and elegant …

Learn more inside…

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Adrian, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, (better known as the ever-helpful Trev in the Tangents forum), has the guest spot this week. Adrian has expanded on his explanation of the actions that he mentioned in the comments section of the recent article on Selective Sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as two downloadable actions as well.

Photoshop actions to help with Post Processing after RAW conversion (free download)

Intro:

The following downloadable actions with the instructions on their use can save some time and grief on getting a good result after RAW conversion. Even using your RAW converter may not get a fully desirable end result and these very easy to use actions will help in that regard. They are not complicated and you don’t need any plug-ins to achieve a simple lift to your final image.

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Photoshop action – selective sharpening (download)

Jim McGuinness, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, has made available a tutorial on how to do selective sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as a downloadable action as well.

You can download the action and the instructions on how to use it, from here.
Right-click & save-as, 2 of the files files:
- the action as either Windows / Mac compressed file
- the instruction as a PDF

Expand / uncompress the sitx file. You’ll get a Photoshop icon.
Drag your image onto the icon, and photoshop will run it.

I’ll let Jim follow up for any questions that may crop up.

[ Jim McGuinness is an Adelaide based wedding and family portrait photographer ]

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a RAW workflow – the first step – changing your default settings

As a bit of a forward nudge to those who are entirely new to a RAW workflow, or who hesitantly moved to shooting in RAW – here’s the next step forward – changing the defaults for your RAW file.

Before we even get there, shooting in RAW is very much part of the serious photographer’s environment. Shooting just in JPG is rarely an option. As I have mentioned, there are few occasions where shooting in JPG might be an advantage. So with that in mind … RAW it is. And has to be.

Now, some notes for the newcomers to shooting in RAW.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind:

Learn more inside…

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