Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Backups, for those awkward moments when…

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

As I have been busier in my work life, I have also had less time for photography and photographic management, which meant that my generally doctrinal adherence to organisation and naming got a bit lax over the last year or so. And this nearly came to bite me last week.

I’ve don’t name my imported files only the ones that are ‘keepers’. Keepers being defined as having 1* and above. The next level is Portfolio which would be 4* and 5* images.

Once Keepers have been defined, I rename them in the catalog, convert to DNG, and copy them to a different drive (in Lightroom). The naming structure of these is:


The Keepers folder is normally synched overnight to another drive using Chronosync (with file verification). Somehow this must have stopped happening without me realising, and last week the Keepers drive went kaput.

The cold sweat of worry slowly enveloped me as I realised what had happened. And then it dawned on me that I had one extra trick up my sleeve and that is that my Keepers folder had been backed up to the cloud since April.

I have been using Amazon Web Services with some software on the Mac called Arc $39.99, which manages the process of backing up and restoring. (There is a PC equivalent of Arc called, Zoolz.)

Sure enough there was a full backup of my Keepers folder on the cloud. All I needed to do was find what I needed to restore, click a restore button and wait overnight (in this case) until everything appeared.


The Economics

Using Amazon Glacier is cheaper to store than the full S3 service, the downside is that there is a 3-5 hour delay to restore, but that should be fine for most cases. If you need faster restores then Arc can also handle using S3. Here is the basic difference between Glacier and S3:

Glacier S3
Price $0.01/GB per month $.095/GB per month
Retrieval Delay 3-5hrs 0hrs
Restore Fees $.05/GB per request insignificant

My storage fees have so far averaged at $7 per month, but that has included some other data that I stored on the cloud for a time as well. More recently it has been about $5 per month. All of which means I am storing 400GB for $60-90 a year.

The equivalent Dropbox fees would be a fixed 500GB for $460 per year! I’d have instant access wherever you are, but that isn’t something I need for that price! The next tier up is the business tier which is $760 per year for 1TB.

The Remedy

So with the rather drastic warning from the loss of a drive, I have amended my backup system. Not only have I restored the nightly sync of the Keepers folder using Chronosync, but I have also selected its option to email me when it has performed the scheduled sync. So every morning I get an email with a nice coloured background to tell me details about the backup.

I will add more sychs over the next couple of days, to ensure that other drives have copies of the data too. I’m guessing that verified copies on 3 separate drives, and a cloud backup is a good starting point!

The Moral(s)

  • Always check your backups
  • Have multiple backup strategies
  • Think about Cloud Storage
  • It is not a question of if a drive will fail, but when

The Nik Collection by Google

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Google recently bought Nik Software, primarily, it seemed, for Snapseed, the iOS photo editing app.

Today they announced that the Nik Collection by Google is available, and there is a dramatic drop in price over the old Nik Software suite. The entire set of plug-ins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture are now $149 (previously $499). Current users will get a free upgrade, and customers who bought the software in the last 30 days will get some sort of a refund.

The Nik Collection contains

  • HDR Efex Pro 2 – for HDR Photography
  • Color Efex Pro 4 – filters for color correction, retouching and creative effects
  • Silver Efex Pro 2 – for black and photography
  • Viveza 2 – adjust the color and tonality of your images
  • Sharpener Pro 3 – pro sharpening
  • Dfine 2 – noise reduction

15 day trials are available for all the products.

Hipstamatic Landscape Photography

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

I recently contributed an article to Great British Landscapes, an online magazine published by Joe Cornish and Tim Parkin, mainly focused, although not exclusively, on British landscape photography.

Hipstamatic Landscape Photography looks at the possibilities of using this iPhone app for more than quirky shots of coffee (although it is great for that too!).

You’ll need to register on the site to read the full article, but I recommend  you do for the non-subscription content you get. Otherwise the site is subscription based.

Flare and Presets

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

As some of you will remember, this site started as a Lightroom Preset site. Presets being a handy way to apply effects that you commonly use or to provide a look for a photo. There are numerous sites out there which offer or sell Presets (I rarely think it is worth buying a Preset, it is just a set of instructions that you can create yourself, and most of them are starting points as they are unlikely to be completely right for your image) so they are popular.

In fact so popular that many other applications now use Presets in some form. The latest of these is a Mac OS application Flare from Iconfactory, a neat image editor which offers Effects in an editable format (PLIST which is similar to XML).

Nik Software coming to Lightroom

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Nik Software, makers of Viveza, Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro have announced that they are adapting their photographic filter plug-ins to work with Lightroom. Viveza, which controls light and colour using U-Point technology, is available now, and others are to follow.

<via Rob Galbraith DPI>

Photowalk London

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

This is a quick post to mention PhotowalkLondon which will take place on 10th January 2008.

The first meetup will be outside of Giraffe (a restaurant on the South Bank) near Waterloo at 1pm, and will wander along towards the Millenium Bridge.

For more info follow PhotowalkLondon on Twitter.

iPhone and Geolocation

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Recently, I have become interested in Geotagging images for use in Lightroom. Lightroom supports images that have been Geotagged but not ‘official’ in app Geotagging (Note that there are Plug-ins to assist with this from Jeffrey Friedl and Jeff Barnes). Before spending money on a proper GPS device, I decided to investigate what could be done with the apps and devices I already owned.

HoudahGeo for Mac and RoboGeo for Windows are highly regarded GPS tagging software apps and these offer a connection to Google Earth, so you are able to locate where you were when you took the images to Geotag. Obviously, the main drawback with these apps is that a) you have to remember where you were when you took the images and b) it won’t be as accurate as a proper GPS device.

Both also accept files from GPS devices and after a bit of reading on the subject, I saw it was possible to use the iPhone as a proper GPS device. To facilitate this, I downloaded Trails which was recommended on the HoudahGeo website (apparently for a $1.99 app it is more accurate than a $200 Garmin device!). Once loaded, you set Trails to run while you are on a photoshoot.

It is worth mentioning that Trails needs to be running all the time, so you will want to ensure your battery is fully charged or even have a backup battery, and to turn off your Auto-Lock in settings. You will also save time if you can align your iPhone and Camera clocks, so there is no time offset to worry about.

In the Settings screen I set it for Hiking (which was the nearest I could think of to a photoshoot!) and entered my email address, which is needed to email the files Trails creates.

In the Main screen I setup a new ‘track’ called Forty Hall, and set it to Record. Then as with normal GPS devices, it locks onto a signal and starts logging GPS information.

Once you have finished, then you ‘slide to stop tracking’, this lets you view your journey, as a list, as a road map, as a satellite view or as a terrain view with or without the altitude.

To use the GPS location information you email the .gpx file to your email address and align this information with the images you took.

I use HoudahGeo on the Mac, so my workflow is to:
1) Save my current Metadata in Lightroom, this ensures I have all the other edits made (such as Keywords and Copyright info) in the file.

2)Drag the images to HoudahGeo and they appear in the main window.

3)import the GPX files. (using the Load GPS data from file button). Houdah Geo supports GPX, NMEA, CSV, and Sony LOG files. Tracks saves its data in the GPX format.

The images get the correct GPX data added – it works out when the photo was taken – the guesses it makes seem accurate but you may want to double check to make sure.

Once you have done this and saved the GPX data to the DNG files, return to Lightroom, select the images you have added the GPS information to, select Metadata > Read Metadata from File…


This will read the updated Geolocation metadata, and Lightroom will display the link to the Google Earth Map and the GPS information. If you Option/Alt click the link you get sent to Yahoo Maps.

Lightroom EXIF information

The Trails website also has an article on this subject.

Instant JPEG from Raw

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Michael Tapes in Scott Kelby’s Guest Blogger spot announced “Instant JPEG from Raw”, and application that allows you to extract a JPEG from the Raw file at lightning speeds. Read the article and download the software for free.

Photoshop CS4 and CS4 Extended announced

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Adobe have updated Photoshop to CS4 and CS4 Extended. New features for Photographers include:

  • Adjustments panel
  • Masks panel
  • Auto-blending of images
  • Extended depth of field
  • 360-degree panoramas
  • Fluid canvas rotation
  • Industry-leading color correction
  • Better raw image processing
  • Improved Adobe Photoshop Lightroom workflow
  • Efficient file management with Adobe Bridge CS4
  • More powerful printing options
  • File display options
  • Higher performance on very large images (Windows only)
There are many other features too, but the ones of most interest to Lightroom users will be the update to Camera Raw 5 and the improved workflow with Lightroom.

Fashion Workflow with Patrick Lavoie

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Inside Lightroom preset contributor Patrick Lavoie has written an article on Fashion Photography Workflow for (via John Beardsworth)