After I finished writing last week's post, I thought about how the digital darkroom has replaced the wet lab that once turned normal households into hazmat zones waiting for superfund status. OK, while that may be a mild exaggeration, the mystery of post-processing has continued; in fact, it has grown to epic proportions with digital technology. Today, computers and photo-editing software have replaced the developing tanks, enlarger, trays, chemicals, and paper of days gone by. While general computer use is no longer a mystery to most folks, using photo-editing software may seem more complex than having to unravel the Gordian Knot. In addition, that little ol' hard drive fills up pretty quickly with mega pixel files. Next thing you know, you need more storage (or you have grown a server farm in your spare bedroom and you are trying to understand what RAID is and why you need it.)
Sooner or later, you will experience the phenomenon that I like to call the big "Oh Shit"moment when your hard drive fails and, while you really were going to back it up, that didn't happen. Yeah, that one hurts. A decade's worth of family photos -- gone. Why? Because not only didn't you back up your drive, you don't have negatives and you barely make prints any more. Too bad you didn't have a shoe box full of negatives, like the good old days. (The little "Oh Shit" moment is similar, but it only involves the failure of the giant memory card you put into your camera. The one that holds several thousand images that you really, really meant to transfer to your hard drive last year).
If you use a handy-dandy cell phone as a camera and as your post-processing device, you actually double the chance of losing everything. "Why?" you ask. If your phone is lost, stolen, or dropped into a bucket (you know what I mean by "bucket"), everything is gone. While I would not shed too many tears over the loss of mostly unnecessary selfies, chances are you had some other, not to be repeated moments captured. Pity that you did not have them backed up onto another device or in a cloud somewhere. Those are the type of cell phone images that I tend to hold dear.
Yup, ain't technology grand?
Here is what I recommend:
1) Learn how to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (on your PC or Mac) and Snapseed (on your cell phone or tablet). Purchase Scott Kelby's excellent book on Lightroom 5 and invest the time to understand what the Lightroom software does, why you should use it and, finally, how to use it. Enroll in a local course to get hands-on experience and to build your confidence.
2) Back up your hard drive to an external source every time you add photo files to it. Download photo files from your camera or cell phone every day you shoot. Every day. Then back up your hard drive on your computer. Do I need to repeat this?
3) Plan to add a file server file to your home system. Why? Because, sooner or later, you are going to get tired trying to figure out which computer has the photo files of the holidays or your favorite uncle's birthday and, if you think remembering to back up one computer is difficult, how about remembering to back up every one of your devices? Finally, who doesn't want or need 16 tera bytes of storage in a RAID system?
Now, wasn't that easy?
Thanks for reading.
See ya next week,