workflow

… in the making 🙂

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As it’s the end of the month I thought I’d ask your opinion – Are backups important?

For me, the answer is twofold:
1) Can I afford to lose any of my data? [No]
2) How long do I want to spend repairing/recovering any missing data? [As little as possible]

For many people backups aren’t important and they don’t care about re-building their PC or MAC now and again when it get’s screwy.

As a photographer I’m fairly paranoid about my data (both business and pictures), but I’m fortunate to come from an IT background so I thought I’d share with you my backup procedure as part of my workflow.

If I’m on location then I’ll no doubt have my laptop with me, so I’ll transfer data from my memory cards to my laptop before I head back. The Laptop has an SSD so the data on it is pretty safe 🙂

Once back in front of my Editing PC I’ll import all the cards into a folder [yyyymmdd_client] and I won’t erase the cards until they’re about to be re-used, which ensures an extra level of recoverability.

I’ll immediately backup all the untouched RAW and .XMP files onto DVDs (which are stored off-site) and at the same time kick off a copy to my on-board secondary data disk and also to my server.

That’s 3-4 backups already and I haven’t even seen the files yet.

In addition to the DVD, local and server backup, I also have an external RAID box which I back up to when I’ve either finished editing and/or at the end of the day. There are 2 disks in there which mirror each other (RAID0). Every month I rotate out the second disk with a third disk which I keep in a top secret off-site location (my mums :)) and with the fresh disk in it’ll automatically re-build the Mirror.

When these disks are full, all 3 go into storage and are replaced by 3 brand new ones 🙂

So all in all I have 5-7 backups of my data. If the primary source fails then I have multiple redundancy methods to recover what I need 😀

My Laptop (which I use mainly for business use and an emergency editing PC) is backed up weekly to the server plus 1 extra external disk.
At the end of the month I have 3 off-site disks which I do another set of backups.
If that wasn’t enough I also run a Ghost of my system drive every 2 months, so if I get a virus or some new software or an update breaks the laptop, then it’s easy to re-install the last image and get back into action pronto.

So far I’ve had to recover the Laptop twice from rubbish applications messing up my system, but the Ghost recovery takes literally about 10 minutes, which is no-time at all compared to a complete re-install from scratch.
If my SSD was to go kaput, then I have spare disks at the ready and I can be up and running in 15 minutes flat.

Worst case scenario – all my machines are attacked by ninja squirrels and trashed beyond repair.
My data is still safe in the HDD backups I keep off-site as well as the DVD’s which I can use as a last resort for recovery should I need them.

In the future I see data being stored in a Cloud System, but current DSL is still too slow to upload at a decent speed 🙁

So, do you back up or don’t you believe it’s worth taking the time to do it?

A little while back I made a call out to various car forums offering a free photoshoot. I was looking to take some shots of some hyper exotic or rare cars to add to my portfolio and I had a good response.

The advantage of doing this was that I could pick and choose the cars I was shooting …. and one of these cars was this… the KTM X-Bow owned and driven by Richard Hallam of RRH Autos.

While this car isn’t an exotica in the same way as a Pagani Zonda or Ferrari F450, it is extremely rare. Even more rare is Richard’s BDM:300 which is stoooopid fast (0-60 in under 3s).

On the day of the shoot we were losing light fast. I was hoping for an extra hour of daylight, but over the winter time it was in short supply.

We borrowed a neighbours garage to do some of the shots and then headed into Guildford to do some of the tracking shots. Pics below

 

 

 

How easy is it to just point, shoot and print?
Thanks to new technology advancing rapidly, it’s becoming easier and easier to take pictures and create usable images.

But what technology can’t do are the 2 most important parts to make an amazing image.

1) Know/create what you want to shoot, compose it and light it. (the bit before)
2) Once you have your image, post-process it properly to maximise it’s impact (the bit after)

If you have your camera in auto mode like most point and shoots then it’ll try to figure out the right exposure and white balance for you. This is almost never the creative’s option (at least not for me) as you have virtually no control of the results.
What it will do is make a guesstimate and give you something to look at, although it may not be what you had in mind.

Below is an example of a point and shoot image which I processed into something usable

Image courtesy of Andrew Winton

This image was taken by my dad on a recent winter holiday. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve 🙂

He requested that I print it for him on a large canvas for his birthday (via Canvas My Art) and on initial viewing it looked like I could make something of it. It had interesting compositional elements, but it wasn’t lit so well (nothing a reflector couldn’t fix) and the JPG file I was given was big enough to work on to minimise loss of quality during editing.

It’s easy to see the difference that my simple changes made in post-production. It’s often the area that people overlook or assume it’s not important, but as you can see it can really make or break an image.

As a professional image maker I’ll try to get it right in-camera so that the (sometimes hundreds of) images I edit only require minor adjustments. The quicker we can edit the quicker we can get out there and make more images.

But, no matter how far advanced or (in)expensive our camera are, only having skill and vision in all areas will consistently return quality results.

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