Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Approach to Backing Up My Photos

I had a great question posted to my YouTube profile asking how I backup my photographs. Now before answering it, I would like to say that as usual, there are many methods to handling files which may be better or worse than how I do this. Nonetheless, I've personally found that my approach works quite well and allows me to quickly find photos that I've backed up, whether recently or years ago. Bottom line, feel free to read what I've posted and modify the system to suit your situation or style.

Let me begin at the point where I've shot some pics and I'm ready to download them into my system. I use a card reader, but depending on your preference many cameras can also be hooked up to the computer via USB cable. If you use that method, be mindful of how much juice your batteries have left, or use the AC adapter for your camera if you have one, to avoid running out of power part way through the copy and having to recharge and do it all over again.

Ok, so I'm almost ready to copy. In the "My Documents" folder I have a another folder called "Photos" and yet more folders that each represent the camera models I own. Within each camera model folder I have folders representing the year, and within each year folder is where I create the folders that store the image files. I name these folders using the following convention: mm-dd-yyyy - description of shoot

For example, a folder would be named "04-25-2010 - Macro of budding flowers". And I prefer to repeat the year even though it sits in a folder that already represents it, because I find that on occasion I do copy entire folders from my backup drive to my computer system in order to edit and work with the photos, thus the full date helps me clearly identify where it belongs when I return (and update) the files to the backup drive. Here's a more visual representation of the file structure I use:

My Documents
                    01-02-2010 - Snow storm
                    03-20-2010 - Falcon on tree
                    04-25-2010 - Macro of budding flowers

Speaks for itself, but at this point I copy the image files from the memory card and paste them into the appropriate folder. Again, this is a personal choice, but I've never been a huge fan of using the software that comes with the camera to manage the copying of files.

Backing Up
My choice for storing the files is to use external USB hard drives, of which I have two that I keep mirrored in case one of them fails. I use no special backup software and merely drag and drop the pics from my system to each of the drives. Thankfully I'm very religious when it comes to this activity, so this turns out to be very little effort for me to upkeep. Once the files have successfully copied, and assuming I no longer require them to take up space on my PC, I delete the files.

And there you have it. It's certainly a fairly manual process, but perhaps the programmer in me likes the level of control I have this way.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

RAW vs. JPEG Part 2 - Photography with Imre - Episode 19

I have to say that I'm quite happy with the way Part 2 of RAW vs. JPEG turned out! For the supplemental post I have quite a few things I'd like to share, so keep a look out for that coming in the next few days.

And my 20th (!!!) episode will be a remake of Episode 1; more detail, more photo coolness there! After that, some "trick" shot how-to videos.

Click here for the Photography with Imre episode index!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Supplemental Blog Post Index for Photography with Imre

For convenience, here's a page that can be bookmarked and which I'll update when I have a new supplemental blog post written for the Photography with Imre series that I do on YouTube.

Photography with Imre
Episode 28 - Image Size, Resolution, and Cropping - Part 2
Episode 28 - Image Size, Resolution, and Cropping - Part 1

Episode 27 - Landscape Photography - Part 2
Episode 27 - Landscape Photography - Part 1

Episode 25, 25A, and 26 - HDR Photography - Supplemental Post
Episode 26 - HDR Photography - Part 2
Episode 25A - HDR Photography Addendum - Part 1
Episode 25 - HDR Photography - Part 1

Episode 23 and 24 - Infrared Photography - Supplemental Post
Episode 24 - Infrared Photography - Part 2
Episode 23 - Infrared Photography - Part 1

Episode 22 - Lightning Photography - Part 2
Episode 22 - Lightning Photography

Episode 21 - Aperture Revisited - Part 2
Episode 21 - Aperture Revisited

Episode 20 - Zoom Trick Shot - Part 2
Episode 20 - Zoom Trick Shot

Episode 19 - RAW vs. JPEG Part 2 - Part 2
Episode 19 - RAW vs. JPEG Part 1

Episode 18 - RAW vs. JPEG Part 1

Episode 17 - Flashes Part 5: Fill Flash - Part 2
Episode 17 - Flashes Part 5: Fill Flash

Episode 16 - Flashes Part 4: Slow Sync Flash Modes - Part 2
Episode 16 - Flashes Part 4: Slow Sync Flash Modes

Episode 15 - Flashes Part 3: Red-Eye - Part 2
Episode 15 - Flashes Part 3: Red-Eye

Episode 14 - Flashes Part 2: Sync Speed (X-Sync) - Part 2
Episode 14 - Flashes Part 2: Sync Speed (X-Sync)

Episode 13 - Flashes Part 1: Introduction to Flashes - Part 2
Episode 13 - Flashes Part 1: Introduction to Flashes

Episode 12 - Pre and Post Composition Checklist - Part 2
Episode 12 - Pre and Post Composition Checklist

Episode 11 - Neutral Density Filters - Part 2
Episode 11 - Neutral Density Filters

Episode 10 - 3D Photography - Part 2
Episode 10 - 3D Photography

Episode 9a - Color Polarizing Filters
Episode 9 - Polarizing Filters - Part 2
Episode 9 - Polarizing Filters

Episode 8 - UV Filters

Episode 7 - White Balance - Part 2
Episode 7 - White Balance

Episode 6 - Metering and Exposure - Part 2
Episode 6 - Metering and Exposure

Episode 5 - Lenses (focal length, crop factor, macro lenses)

Episode 4 - Composition

Episode 3 - Sensitivity (ISO) - Part 2
Episode 3 - Sensitivity (ISO)

Episode 2 - The Shutter - Part 2
Episode 2 - The Shutter

Episode 1 - Aperture

Videos Related to the Photography with Imre series (e.g. viewer responses)
My Approach to Backing Up My Photos

Viewer Q & A - FL-50 Tutorial / Camera in Manual - Part 2

RAW vs. JPEG Part 1 - Photography with Imre - Episode 18

Finally, the long awaited RAW vs. JPEG episode is live on YouTube. I had quite a long script for this one, so I decided to break it into two parts. The second part should be finished in a few days after I've completed some additional graphics for it. After that episode I'll be remaking my very first episode on aperture, followed by a few shows on various shooting tricks. So lots of goodies on the way (and I haven't forgotten about some of the music videos, but those will have to wait little longer).

And I must say, the research alone for this (and the second part) took quite a while to conduct. Indeed, the list of web resources is quite large and I know there are a few I haven't even included. But for those of you who really like to explore the intricacies of every topic, you've got a good starting point to keep you busy for the next few hours.

Overall, this episode pretty much speaks for itself. My intention here was to give a high-level overview of what happens when you take a picture starting from the processing of light that falls on the sensor to the saving of the file in either RAW or JPEG format. In regard to the sensor, I decided to stick with the Bayer color filter array as the example, as it's currently the dominate type used on imaging chips. But yes, there are many other varieties out there. Foveon's X3, for example, stands apart from many others in that each photosite on the chip records a full color value. Feel free to Google Bayer vs. Foveon for some articles arguing about which is better/worse.

Quick note: when I showed the raw data off the sensor, I separated the red, green and blue pixels so they could be seen more easily. Really, there would be no black spaces or pixels present and the image the camera "sees" would look more like the picture on this website; scroll down a little and you'll see the two photos of what appears to be a decorative spire of a building.

I'll have some more to write about when I release the next episode, especially as I'll be discussing some of the pros and cons to the RAW and JPEG formats, along with exploring when one should be used over the other.

Web Resources – Gamma and Tone Response

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Part 2: Viewer Q & A - FL-50 Tutorial / Camera in Manual - Photography with Imre

Well I would say it's about time that I wrote up the supplemental blog post to this video! I've been a tad busy lately with "life" things, but luckily those things are calming down.

Now the Olympus FL-50 tutorial video was quite specific in that I fairly directly answered a viewer's question about using the FL-50R with the camera, an Olympus E-620, in manual mode and with the shooting done indoors. By the way, not a huge difference between the FL-50 and the FL-50R other than the "R" version has wireless and slave capabilities. Anyway, I have to admit that for what I thought would be a simple and quick video, really turned out to be a complex topic and a video length of almost eight minutes.

But I believe the point was well made that you can indeed use the flash in TTL Auto mode, even though the camera is in manual. Actually, this turns out to be quite a simple method where one can more or less concentrate on shooting without much fussing around with the flash. Since the camera and the flash unit can communicate with each other in this case, the camera's metering system can determine what power output the flash should be fired at for each photo taken. This is a great bonus because as a photographer moves around an area and changes his/her distance between the subject(s), as long as the flash is in range (along with reasonable exposure settings; i.e. the aperture is not so tiny as to require a burst of light beyond the power of the flash) the photos should turn out quite well.

As mentioned though, this doesn't always mean perfect exposures, so you may have to tinker a little with the light intensity setting to increase or reduce the power output. I personally believe this is easier than using the flash in manual mode, where you would certainly have to be aware of the power its set to and the flash to subject distance; not to mention if you make changes to the exposure (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) then you would have to take that into account. In environments where there is some action present, there might not be enough time for a photographer to quickly figure out what settings s/he needs.

In the future I'll very likely be doing more of these tutorial videos. Come to think of it, after I've completed the RAW vs. JPEG episode and the a redo of Aperture, I'll be creating a few shows on specific effects you can do with your camera, and those will pretty much take the form of tutorials. Alright, back to work on the next episode!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Viewer Q & A - FL-50 Tutorial / Camera in Manual - Photography with Imre

Alright, so I managed to finish up this nifty video tutorial about using the FL-50/R flash with the camera (E-3 and E-620) set to manual. I'm terribly sick, so off I run to bed; will write more later!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Response to Question about Stacking Filters

On episode 11 I had a viewer post a question about stacking ND filters and I wanted to address that. Really, this post could more or less apply to stacking almost any type of filter.

To begin with, the viewer asked about stacking potentially three and wondered if getting filters with a larger diameter than the lens would be worthwhile. In my opinion, the short answer is yes, because if you're shooting with wide angle lenses and stacking filters that equal the thread size of those lenses, then vignetting could occur. It speaks for itself, but larger diameter filters could help avoid that problem. However, there is a longer answer as well...

The vast majority of materials I've researched and even some advice I've gotten from more experienced photographers is that stacking several filters is generally not a good idea. Some of the downsides include loss of image quality (depending on the quality of the filter(s) this could vary from slight to very noticeable) to getting unsightly internal reflections due to the addition of reflective surfaces (e.g. ghosting, flaring). If you decide to invest in higher quality filters, then usually these artifacts are minimal, but costs can go up quickly.

For interests sake, I would like to present a couple of suggestions that could be considered. If the desire is to block out a lot of light, then perhaps getting two very dark ND filters may work. At least there's one less filter to help avoid some image quality issues, and you may get away with using smaller filters which are usually less expensive. The downside is that if you ever needed a lighter one(s) or you still have the need to stack more than two filters, then you either don't have one or have to buy one anyway.

Another option is to get a couple of polarizing filters and stack those. By rotating one over the other you can vary how much light passes through. Here's a more detailed article on this topic:

So I hope this helps make a decision for those looking to stack filters. Sometimes too this comes down to personal feelings; some people are against it and say it should be avoided at all costs, other people love it and say it can add another level of creativity and photographic options, even if some cons lurk.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Episode 1 Errata and New Videos on the Way

Thanks to a sharp eyed person, some miisstteeeks were found in Episode 1 of my photography series. First, when giving an f-number, the correct notation is f/# (e.g. f/22 or f/5.6). Notice the "/" (forward slash)? It may seem like a small omission, but unless some viewers read through the websites I listed in the supplemental post to this episode, then the fractional nature may have been missed. Another way of writing an f-number is 1/4. So, in my video I've said that the larger the f-number the smaller the aperture. But, f/22 (or 1/22) is smaller than f/4 (or 1/4); we shouldn't just be considering the denominator. The fractions do make this easier to see. And, I misspelled the word "aperture" in a few places throughout the video! 8^P

As time has progressed, I feel Ive improved my videos and indeed looking back at the early ones I can see the difference. A few weeks ago I contemplated doing new versions of some of the early shows, and on the drawing are Episode 1 and 2 thus far, which will also include better diagrams and perhaps some animations to more thoroughly explain the topics. I want to ensure that my videos are indeed accurate, so if you wonderful viewers out there do spot something that is off, please feel free to fire off a message to me.

Lastly, another user ok-ed me to do a flash tutorial using the Olympus FL-50 based on her questions, so hopefully either Saturday or Sunday you'll see that episode go live! RAW vs. JPEG is coming along nicely too; you'll likely see that one in a week or two. For those of you who get a long weekend, have a great one!