by Yvonne Berger
If we were to look at the history of photography we would see that unlike other artistic mediums, photography has undergone many transformations. The biggest change that we have seen is the transition from film to digital technology.
The digital age has changed photography in a plethora of ways. Some of the changes have been amazing and have opened up so many opportunities for photographers today. However, one of the complications that has come with this new technology is the storage and archiving of all these files.
The first issue that we encounter is that we are taking many more pictures than we did when we were shooting film. As a result we wind up with an abundance of images that need to be organized, condensed and archived (see article “Clean House”)
Once you have organized your files you need to back them up somewhere. There are many options each of which has their pros and cons:
Keep the files on the SD or CF card and just keep buying new ones.
Burn images onto CD’s or DVD’s.
“Cloud” based backup.
External Hard Drives
I have been doing photo restoration for over 10 years. I have fixed photos that are over 100 years old. There are all kinds of medium that I see, glass negatives, tin type negatives, polaroid, fiber based papers, 110 negatives, Kodachrome slides and the list goes on. All of which are now obsolete. These damaged photos and negatives can be torn, stained, cracked and faded and I can scan them and put them into Photoshop and restore them and make them look as good as the day they were made.
However, what happens to a digital file if it becomes damaged or the technology becomes obsolete? It's actually just gone and that's it.
In my opinion the printed image is still the best way to present and preserve our images. There are so many options for printing digital files that are readily available and easy to do. Printing at home on a photo printer has never been easier and the instant gratification can't be beat. So consider your memories and start printing your images. Sitting around the coffee table and passing around the family photo album will never be obsolete.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me
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Lightroom is an Adobe product that is a powerhouse of an organizer, processor and output solution.
This a program that was designed with the professional photographer or serious amateur in mind. Like other editing software programs it gives you the ability to download and organize your files. In addition, you can further catalog your photos into collections, rate, label, flag and keyword tag them. If you are shooting a lot of images ,especially RAW format, this is the program that is really going to streamline your workflow. The following is a typical workflow scenario:
Let's say you go out and shoot a job, or just go out shooting for fun or even a vacation. You come home with a few hundred RAW files. After you download and sort out your images using Lightroom's flagging system you can select the 'picks' and the 'rejects'. You can then take the ‘picks’ and further rate them with Lightroom's rating system. So hopefully you have knocked down that file count to something more manageable.
You still have a hundred or so files that need to be 'developed'. Chances are you may have taken several photos in a row that may require similar adjustments. Lightroom allows you to make an adjustment to one file and then 'sync' those settings to any other files that would need that adjustment.
Next you have all of your files edited but they are still RAW files. Lightroom has a powerful export dialog box that will allow you to specify the criteria that a file needs to be exported as. For example, your client may want low res versions of those edited RAW files. You can create a low res preset and Lightroom will resize and apply all the export options to all the files you have selected including watermarking. You can then burn them onto a DVD, or email etc. Additionally the Print module in Lightroom has a lot of great templates and allows you to streamline your workflow there as well.
For all the power that Lightroom has it does not replace Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS6. Although Lightroom has a couple of minor retouching tools in the Develop module it does not compare by any stretch to the retouching tools that Photoshop has. So if you are looking to remove or add things to photos or any other retouching work you will have to take the file from Lightroom and continue to edit it in Photoshop. The good news is, after you are done editing the file in Photoshop when you save it, it goes right back into Lightroom.
Generally speaking if Lightroom becomes part of your workflow solution you will probably spend about 85% of your time working there. The other 15% will be spent either using plug-in programs or editing in some version of Photoshop.
Which images are the ‘keepers’ ?
The reality is when you go out to shoot something, whether it’s for work, vacation or your own pleasure, how many of the files are really great shots? Probably about 5%...if you are lucky.
Gone are the days when you would go out and shoot something and come home with a couple rolls of film. Two rolls of 36 exposures=72 shots. These days people are shooting hundreds and thousands of images and coming home and just sticking them on hard drives. I have classes where people have accumulated libraries of 30,000+ photos and they aren't shooting professionally and they have only been at it for a few years. Something’s gotta give-usually it’s the hard drive. Space is cheap and online cloud storage both give us more reason to say ‘I will just keep it all.‘ I am saying let’s clean house-delete some of those files! Now, generally when I say this in a class full of people-it gets real quiet.
First let’s look at our lives and how we photograph them. There are images of babies’ first steps and birthdays where they just look so cute we have to have them all-ok keep them all, but please delete the obvious mistakes. If it is very under or over exposed or out of focus, it’s got to go.
Then we have vacation images, we traveled far and wide and we need to keep all the documentation of our journey, ok keep them, and delete obvious mistakes. These are your ‘record’ shots.
We also have images from snowy days, or macro shoots, or sunset landscapes, etc., where we take a hundred or so images of the same or similar shot-this is where you have to be tough on yourself.
The reality is, that no matter what your skill level is in photography or how long you have been taking pictures, when you do these types of photo shoots there are a lot of shots that just aren’t good enough. Something isn’t correct in the image, whether it’s the focus, the composition or the exposure-it just didn’t all come together. Then there are shots (there are only a few), when everything falls into place, and it’s as perfect as it can be. Those are the ‘keepers’-delete the rest. Maybe you can’t decide between a few of them, that’s ok-they can hang around. I can guarantee you if you didn't think it was an amazing shot today you won’t think it is next week either.
I understand that the idea of deleting images feels uncomfortable to most-including myself. If you start to look at your library, which no doubt has thousands of images already, the task can seem daunting. It’s like trying to clean out a closet that’s been neglected for years-you just don’t even want to look at it. It’s something you are going to get to when you have ‘time’. The truth is we don’t even want to find that time!
You have to start somewhere-so lets start fresh and work our way back..
After you go out and shoot something when you come home and download images-go through them and force yourself to delete the files that are never going to be anything else but space on your hard drive.
Next, use your editing software to go through them again and rate the images. Most programs like Lightroom have some sort of rating system that you can at least 5 star the images that you love, and maybe 4 star the ones you aren't sure of. Then delete anything that didn't get a star. Finally, back up those files, there is no point to keeping backups of files that are getting deleted.
Streamlining the digital library is something that needs to be incorporated into everyone's workflow. If you can do at least a rough edit on import it will not become overwhelming and you will also spend less time searching through superfluous images. So clean house...your hard drive will thank you.
If you don’t have editing software that will help you organize and rate files-now is the time to get one and start making it work for you.
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