Can you believe it’s 2013 already? Where does the time go?
This month’s issue celebrates the New Year and, with it, the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. Our feature this month provides a roadmap to help guide you through organizing and backing up your digital photo library so that you can find your favorite images and feel confident they are properly protected. We have also included some tips for winter weather shooting and experimenting with panoramic photography. For those who have dreamt of test-driving a photography dream job, we have some tips on how to make that dream a reality.
Plus, if you’ve ever wondered what the graph is on the back of your LCD screen, we explain what it is and how it can help you improve your images. Add in a few quick photo tips, and this month’s issue is complete.
Remember that we’re standing by if you need help with any of the topics we’ve discussed. We can assist with anything related to imaging, and we look forward to helping you with any project or dilemma, regardless of size. Just give us a call or stop by the store!
New Year’s Resolution:
Organizing Your Digital Photos
The New Year signals a fresh start, a chance to start over or begin a new project. Unfortunately, when it comes to managing our growing digital photography libraries, it seems the only thing we know to do is simply buy a larger hard drive. The idea of sorting and organizing photos can seem a daunting task, but you’ll find that once you have a strategy and get started, it’s a pretty simple process.
If you’re thinking that there has to be a better way, you’re right. We’ve got a plan designed to help you tame and organize your digital photographs so that you can find your favorites and free up some well-needed hard drive space. The steps below are designed to be done on your schedule. You can even break them up into different time slots, such as one step per week. Just make sure to finish the job so you can enjoy the reward of knowing you can now find those favorite images on a moment’s notice.
Step One: Hunt & Gather
Most families have multiple compact cameras and camera phones scattered about, and many of those devices are full of photos yet to be transferred to a computer. It’s time to get everything in one place, including additional memory cards, USB drives and any other media containing photos. You may not want your kids’ camera phone images but ask them if there any special photos that they’d like to have included in your master library. They can simply email or text those photos to you.
Step Two: Create a Master File Structure
Keeping photos organized means having a file system in place that can be easily duplicated and maintained over time. For example, many people choose to create sub-folders for each year under the master Photos folder. From that point, you’ll need to decide if the subfolders for each year should be monthly, seasonal, by event or a combination. There’s no right answer here. The only right answer is what works for your particular situation and habits. Don’t try to force something that you feel won’t fit your lifestyle. As an example, your file tree may resemble My Photos>2013>January or My Photos>2013>Winter or My Photos>2013>Family Retreat.
Some software programs will automatically create a folder system for you but you still may need to create subfolders to keep images organized. Otherwise, they will be placed in one large master folder, which can become difficult to sort through down the road.
Once you’ve made a decision, make sure you have a folder established before transferring additional photos to your hard drive. To keep the system working, your photos need a place to land in advance, even if you create the folder immediately before transferring.
Step Three: Mass Photo Exodus
This step may take a bit longer so consider carving out a little more time for this task. Settle down with a cup of coffee, play some music and get ready for a trip down memory lane.
When moving photos from multiple devices, you can handle this in one of two ways: you can either transfer all the images into a master folder and them sort and organize, or you can organize them as you go with each device. If you’re short on time, it’s better to transfer everything into one location first, but this may draw out the process and take more time down the road to manage.
Some digital cameras may have months of images while others may have images from a recent event, such as a birthday party or holiday. Start the process of sorting the images and putting them in the proper file folders. As you go through this process, check the images and consider deleting duplicates, blurry images or photos that are too similar to others. Each image can take several megabytes of space on your hard drive, so editing and deleting will not only free up space, but the ‘image clutter’ will be eliminated so that you can more easily find your favorite shots.
Repeat with each device. Once you’ve finished the transfers and verified that the images were safely moved to your computer, reformat your media card using your camera’s format function. Reformatting your card a few times a year will help maintain the card’s efficiency and reliability when handling future photos.
Many of us also receive photos from loved ones via email, so check through your inbox and saved folders to see if any significant photos need to be included in this process.
Step Four: Tagging, Facial Recognition & Favorites
This is an optional step, but one that many photographers find extremely helpful in locating pictures of specific people. Most image editing programs have a tool for marking favorite images, and this can come in handy when you need to create a slide show, a scrapbook or other project. Some programs such as Picasa, iPhoto and others have features that use facial recognition software, and once it’s set up, it does a pretty good job. It’s much faster than tagging each photo individually and you can always correct any mistakes.
As you’re going through the images, use the opportunity again to delete duplicates. After all, you really don’t need ten images of the kids on the park bench when one or two will do nicely.
Step Five: Back Up Your Entire Library
Once your images have been imported, edited, organized and tagged, take that finalized library and copy the entire master folder to a high-capacity external hard drive. If you don’t have one, you can also copy the images to DVD-R but it may require spreading the files among several discs. Today’s external storage media is relatively inexpensive and you’ll get a great deal of storage for the money. To help you select a make and model, you can check reviews and related information on a number of reputable tech sites such as Cnet.com, Techradar.com or pcmag.com (PC Magazine).
Ideally, it would be best to take this external drive and place it safely in a separate location to guard against a catastrophe such as fire, hurricane or other natural disaster. Some people place their backups with loved ones or in safe deposit boxes. If you live in an area that is subjected to intense weather conditions, consider securing your backup drive elsewhere.
Online backup is also an important part of your long-term preservation strategy. There are several companies to choose from including Carbonite, Amazon, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft Sky Drive and others. When choosing the right service, a flat rate is best as photos take up substantial space (and videos demand far more). Consider a company that has a stable reputation and check the FAQ section on its site to learn more about the specifics of the process.
You may also want to consider printing your favorite photos because a printed photo won’t crash! In all seriousness, a printed photograph is often overlooked as back-up option but it is a reliable one and very easy to complete. Just upload your favorite images to our site or bring them on a media card and we’ll print high quality images for you. Better yet – order two sets – one for your personal library and a second set to keep in another location with your discs or secondary external hard drive.
Once you’ve completed this organizing project, you’ll find it much easier to keep up with the images throughout the year as the process has now been established. This project takes a bit of discipline but will pay you numerous benefits as you move through this year and beyond. If you have any questions about this process, drop by the store, send us an email or call us. We’d be happy to help you!
How Histograms Can Help Improve Snowy Shots:
If you’ve ever wondered what that little graph is on the back of your camera’s LCD screen, it’s actually a very useful tool called a histogram. A histogram can help determine if your photos are underexposed or overexposed. A histogram is a graph of the exposure of each image. You’ll find the ‘white’ illustrated at the far right of the graph and the ‘black’ on the far left. A well-exposed image will generally show points close to both ends. Each histogram graph tells a story about the exposure of the image and can guide you in making adjustments so that images are properly exposed.
For winter shooting, a histogram can be very useful in showing if bright white snow is spiking your exposure and causing your image to appear ‘blown out’ or overexposed. If this happens while you’re shooting, you can trick your camera by adjusting your +/- compensation button to adjust for this situation. And, if you’re shooting in RAW format, you’ll have the ability to adjust your highlights and mid-tones in post-processing if necessary. That said, it’s a lot easier to get the shot the way you want it the first time as opposed to having to make corrections at a later time.
Test Drive Your Dream Job
Do you find yourself dreaming about what it would be like to turn your passion for photography into a career but worry about making the leap? If you like the idea of a full time photography gig but realize that it may not be practical at this point in time, you have some other options. For example, a photography internship can be an excellent experience. It can help you better understand the realities of being a working photographer while allowing you to keep your day job.
Many of us think of internships as they relate to college requirements, and it’s true that there are many of these internships available. For example, National Geographic Traveler Magazine offers photography internships two to three times a year to coincide with school semester schedules. However, if you’re working full time to support a family, a traditional internship may not work for your schedule.
There are other internships that are designed to help people hoping to learn more about photography as a profession, and they vary in range in terms of requirements and schedules. An internship is typically not a paid position but it is an opportunity to gain valuable professional training as well as giving you a glimpse of what it would be like to earn a living behind the lens.
Consider going local for your search by reaching out to area working photographers and studios. A photographer may not usually offer an internship arrangement but might consider one if he knows you are willing to work a few weekends or evenings in return for work experience. Make sure to be honest about your schedule and availability and, if you make a commitment to be an assistant for a wedding, honor that commitment. Working without pay doesn’t mean that that attendance is optional. Creating a strong intern partnership requires your dedication to learning the craft, regardless of whether that means you will be mailing invoices or helping in the studio. It is the close up day-to-day experience that is valuable; it may not be as exciting as you imagined, but this is the reality of any business. Hands-on experience will give you the opportunity to decide if the reality of the career is worth the effort you will expend to pursue it.
You may also want to contact any local universities in your area to ask about potential internships. They may know of a professional photographer looking for help or they may need help with a campus-related endeavor. The experience might be a bit different than working in the field but can open your eyes to other working possibilities. There are job opportunities in higher education and also in new media journalism, commercial and architectural photography and also in private business. You can also call our store – we might have a professional photographer or studio looking for additional help.
Landing an internship will require a willingness to reach out to local businesses and the ability to add a new commitment to your schedule if an internship is offered. However, it is a small price to pay for an opportunity to test drive photography as a career.
Shooting outdoors in a winter wonderland is even more fun when you can experiment with techniques such as panoramic photography. Panoramic images allow you to showcase more of your environment and the format adds artistic flair certain to garner attention. If you’re interested in panoramic shooting, consider adding our ProMaster Digital Auxillary Wide Angle Lens to your camera bag. This special lens broadens the normal field of view when used with your standard zoom lens. This wider field option is fantastic for outdoor panoramic shots and can also help when photographing indoors where the current view is limited. Learn more here: http://www.promaster.com/DAUXLENS