Month: April 2012

The Back Up Plan

Do you have a back up plan? No, not the kind where you and your bestie pinky-swear that if neither of you is married by the age of 40 you’ll marry each other. I’m referring to the more attainable kind where you protect your images from becoming trapped in the cellulose nether reaches of a fried and nonfunctional hard drive.

Here’s the deal. If you only have your images stored in one place, it is a recipe for disaster. You are, simply put, asking for trouble. If you haven’t had a hard drive fail on you, you simply haven’t had a hard drive fail on you yet! Now, I didn’t go looking for actual statistics, but I’m sure that one in every two people polled would say they have had a hard drive fail on them and they lost valuable documents/photos/videos, etc. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! Back up your photos! Gone are the days of being able to take the negatives back to have more printed. If you lose your images due to hard drive failure, well, to paraphrase Jack Handy, “It’s like dropping your keys into a river of molten lava… let ’em go, because man, they’re gone.”

There are a few ways to go about this, but the most common process is first:

  • External hard drives are relatively inexpensive (I just bought a fast, brand name, 3 terabyte drive for $200 yesterday), and are easy to install. Just plug them in and voila(!) extra storage or back up ready to use. So there is really no excuse for not doing this.
  • The Cloud is still a little too esoteric for a lot of folks to truly embrace. A mystical area in cyberspace where all of your files are redundantly kept in case of a catastrophe. My biggest issue with it would be the overage fees from my service provider for uploading terabyte upon terabyte of information.
  • CD/DVD for back up is becoming less and less viable with the larger megapixel (i.e. larger file sizes) cameras of today. You can only fit so much on to each one, which makes cataloging a chore.
  • Memory Cards are a simple alternative to having to back up at all. Although I don’t recommend it, I know people that buy inexpensive memory cards then simply keep them as their back up after they have downloaded the images to their computer.

Beware the Pretty Little Liar…

…On the back of your camera… AKA: Your LCD screen!

This applies to all camera LCD screens, not just Nikon. Please don't sue me.

First of all, I recommend shooting in RAW and developing in Lightroom to just about every student that takes one (or more) of my classes at Henry’s School of Imaging. The amount of information that is retained in a RAW file is staggering in comparison to the alternative; jpg.

The other night I had a comment from a student who had attempted to shoot RAW when they first purchased their camera, but promptly switched back to jpg. They complained that when they first took the picture, it looked amazing on their camera’s screen, but when they imported said picture into Lightroom, it suddenly changed and became bland and boring, leaving them with their work cut out for them when developing their image.

The reason this happens is that with every RAW image you capture, a jpg preview is created along with it. This jpg preview has the same processing that the camera would have normally applied, as if you were shooting in jpg to begin with. The reasoning behind this is so that you can preview your RAW images using any number of programs, even though they can’t necessarily edit the raw data. For instance, on a Mac, you can see your RAW images using Preview, even though you can’t actually edit them using that program. Think of it as a large thumbnail preview.

Simply put, you should always try and get the exposure right in camera; even (especially) when shooting RAW images. How do you do this effectively? By using your histogram, of course.

The moral of the story? Your LCD screen is a compulsive liar and can’t be trusted, but the histogram never lies!