Landscape Photography 101 Part 3 – Learn from a pro

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Wave - Coyote Buttes North

The Wave – Coyote Buttes North

Backing up your images

Managing your images is can become a full-time occupation, if you don’t have a workable plan.  In the last segment, we discussed basics on moving your images from your camera to your permanent storage, most likely a pc or Mac computer.  In this installment, let’s move on to some basic steps to take in order to make sure you never lose those images, and that you can find them again 3 years later.

First, having just one copy of your images located on a computer hard-drive is a recipe for disaster.   In just the past 12 years that I have been shooting professionally, 2 external hard-drives and one laptop hard-drive have failed without warning.   If I had not created a backup of my images, those images would have been lost forever.

I maintain 2 levels of image back-ups because I do not trust electronic equipment.  When it works, it works wonderfully.  When it doesn’t, you are up that proverbial creek without a paddle.  My first level of backup is to an external hard-drive.  It is a small, portable drive that I can transport easily with my gear that allows me to create backups even if I am away from home.   It is relatively inexpensive; purchased from Costco for about $70.00.

The software that came with the drive allows me to establish one or more back up plans that will run without additional intervention.   I use one backup plan – continuous.  This means that my image files are backed up to the external drive at the moment anything changes.  The software monitors activity on image files in real-time, detects a change to a file, or a new file, and backs those files up automatically.   You can also set backup plans to run at specific intervals; daily, weekly, monthly to meet your specific needs.

So, now I have my images on my laptop, and they are backed up to an external drive.  I’m all set, right?  Not so fast, Batman.  What if your equipment, including that ultra-portable external drive are stolen?  You have not only lost your equipment, but all of your images, including the backup images.  Remember from the last segment how I store images on my laptop – in folders based on the year and month that they were taken?  I create a folder for each year and a folder for each month within that year.   When I move on to a new month, I burn a copy of that previous month’s folder to a dvd or cd disc, depending on the space requirements of the folder.   Now I have a copy of those images in 3 places; laptop, external drive, and on cd or dvd discs.  Of course, it goes without saying that the discs are labeled by year and month for reference, and I do not remove those discs from my house.

That’s it.  There are other options available for backup, such as cloud services, but they can become costly depending on the amount of space your images require.  Most of the major drive manufacturer’s will offer cloud storage, as does Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and others.  Some start with a basic storage level free, then charge according to your specific usage above that level.  So do some research, and based on the number of images in your portfolio, and your personal preferences, establish a consistent method of backing up your work.   I can guarantee that you will need to recover images at some point, and without a plan, it will not be pretty.  For each of the drive failures that I related at the beginning, it was relatively easy to recover all of my images.  It was a minor inconvenience as opposed to a disaster.

Cataloging and Indexing

So how do I locate that sunset image from Canyonlands National Park that I took 6 years ago?  I could try to remember the year and month that it was taken, but with 12 years of image history, and not trusting my memory all that well, that  is not an efficient method.  I use a software product from Adobe Systems called LightRoom.  It has been on the market for about 6 years and is up to Version 5.  Although it costs $150.00 (less for students and educators), it is worth every penny, in my humble opinion.

LightRoom was developed for photographers by photographers.  The primary emphasis for its development is cataloging images.  In other words, it is a product whose primary function is to create a way for a photographer to manage large volumes of images across multiple platforms.  It does not store the images themselves, they still sit in whatever place you locate them when you import from your camera.  Lightroom simply maintains a “catalog” of every image, and allows the user to identify its characteristics in a variety of ways.  For instance, let’s say you have your images in several different folders, and you even have images on an external drive because you lack space for everything in your main system.  By importing the images into Lightroom just once, it creates a LightRoom thumbnail and it knows where the original is stored.  So when you request that image from a thumbnail in Lightroom, it goes out and finds it, then opens the image in its original size.  You no longer have to search for it manually.

As you take additional images, LightRoom will import them from your camera to your specified location, and you can add global indexing information at the same time.   And you can save the processing steps for the next import without going through all of the set-up again.  It is amazingly efficient at this.

In addition, Lightroom allows you to catalog that image in a variety of ways.  Let’s examine that Canyonlands National Park image at sunset.  I can tell LightRoom that it should belong in several “collections”.  It can exist in my National Parks, Sunset, Utah, and Colorado Plateau collections, because it has characteristics for each.   LightRoom creates links from this photo to each of the collections that I specify.   I can also rank the photograph using one to five stars, flag it for some specific action, and add key words to the file that can be searched from the LightRoom main display panel.   If a client is interested in a particular type of photograph, I can find all photographs that meet those criteria in just a few seconds.   If Maggie Sacher is doing a project on The Wave and needs some images for a brochure, I can identify every Wave photograph in my portfolio in seconds, and export that group to a disc, or email the images to her for review, all within a few minutes.

As LightRoom has gone through various release versions over the years, additional image editing capabilities have been added.   I am using Version 5, and it is rare that I need to perform any image editing in Photoshop.  All of the basic image editing tools that I use are now available in LightRoom, with the exception of stitching multiple images to create a panoramic image.  But I can select the image series in LightRoom, export them to Photoshop for stitching, and then return to LightRoom to finish editing the stitched image.

Is this a blatant testimonial for Adobe LightRoom?  Absolutely!  And I don’t even receive any perks from Adobe for this.  The product really is that good.  It has many more capabilities than I have space to describe in detail; Web page creation, printing packages, etc., but the main emphasis for this article is its cataloging prowess.

As always, I encourage feedback, and especially would like to hear about topics that you want to learn more about.   Next time we’ll discuss some basic landscape composition.  Until next time, keep those shutters clicking.

atipp@comcast.net

www.catgraphics.biz

 

 

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