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Workflow (Part II), a Deal Alert and another poll

DEAL ALERT: 

Ben Hendel forwarded me a link on twitter to a Groupon for Canvas Prints……..a pretty good deal that you can combine with coupon code GREEN25 for an extra 25% off.  If you’ve been thinking about printing on Canvas, don’t let this deal pass you up.

 

WORKFLOW, Part II

Last Wednesday I wrote a quick article about Workflow and covered what I do with photos when I’m on a vacation.  In today’s post I’ll finish that discussion up with what I do with the photos once I get home.  Make sure you get all the way to the bottom of the article because we are running another poll.

I will be the first one to admit it that I’m a horder when it comes to holding on to digital photographers.  So please, don’t take what I’m writing as some kind of gospel.  I know there have been many, many discussions on the topic of getting rid of the bad photos in your catalog of images.  I know that it eats up hard drive space and makes backing things up more time consuming.  But I just can’t seem to find the heart / courage to delete large swaths of photos from my hard drive.

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All the photos from this post are from Hong Kong Disneyland.  I know the sky isn’t much to write home about here…..but you have to understand the Smog does not allow for big puffy white cloud and brilliant blue skies like Florida can.

So when I come home from a trip, I take the photos and copy them over to my computer.  In my photos directory on my PC – I have a directory for every year and then a photo for each month of the year – then folders for each day of that month that I actually take photos.  I can hear all of  the Lightroom users out there screaming at me through the internet as I type this post about how I’m doing this the most time consuming and manual way process.  To be honest with you, I didn’t have Lightroom until a year ago and old habits die hard so I haven’t made the switch to catalogs.

I shoot Raw+JPG – I want the JPGs there so I can quickly grab a photo and distribute them to other family members on the trip without having to edit things but I want the RAW for when I want to do the edits.  And I let both files exist in the same folder on my computer – filed by year, month and date.

I will then just use the slideshow viewer built into Windows (or Preview on my Mac if I’m doing work on that machine) to get a quick glimpse of the JPG versions (interestingly enough, Windows 10 can actually preview the RAW files too in that slide show application).  I’ll make notes in my notebook for any particular photos that I want to grab for later editing and I keep a little star list going in my notebook so I know which ones I like the best.

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I’ll bring those photos into Lightroom and Photoshop for further editing.   Remember I’m a horder.  So I’ll save the PSD of the edits as well as the original image in case I want to go back and re-process the shot.  As I learn more about Photoshop & Lightroom I find that I can make better edits and surprisingly you can go back into older photos and give them new life with a fresh round of processing.

So what is your workflow?  Go ahead and leave a comment below (click Read More) and let me know how I’m doing it wrong (lol).

Contributor Alan Rappaport was running a poll on Twitter last week and I thought I would borrow his idea and see if we can get him more data.  If you happen to have already voted in his poll on Twitter, please don’t vote again here.

Since you started shooting digital photos....how many cameras have you purchased

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Also, if you are going to be ordering from Amazon.com anyway, please consider following this link.  It doesn’t cost you anything but we earn a very small commission and it helps support the site.

Around the Web and our first ever Poll

Cory and I had an email exchange last night about what topics we were going to cover in the next couple of weeks.  We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming down the pike that we can’t wait to share with you.  But as I sat down to put up today’s post I thought we should let the community have a say in what topics should be tackled first.  Thanks to the wonders of Word Press there is a plugin available that will allow you to cast your vote!  So here it is, the first Disney Photography Blog Poll.

So what kind of articles would you like to see more of?

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Select as many of the options as you want, but remember if you vote Other, we really want you to post a Comment and let us know what Other means!  So make sure you hit Read More and leave a comment.

In the meantime I thought I would just put up some links in this post to where you can find the team online.

The official Instagram account is here, we just passed 4,000 followers!

Ryan has been killing it on Instagram lately too (surpassing 5000 followers) and you can see his Disney pictures here.  And if you are one of the few that haven’t seen his O Foggy Night II shot (that got re-grammed by the official Disneyland account and got over 100,000 likes) here it is:

Occasionally I’ll put up a picture on Instagram but usually it is a shot you’ve seen on the blog.

Ben has got great photos over on Flickr.  His fireworks shots are just great and I hope I apply his techniques on my next trip.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Alan’s The LEGO Awakens series just puts us all to shame in terms of his ability to work on his photography skills.  The work he’s putting into recreating Star Wars shots in Lego is just amazing.

Also, if you are going to be ordering from Amazon.com anyway, please consider following this link.  It doesn’t cost you anything but we earn a very small commission and it helps support the site.

 

Backup Strategies

Whenever I talk about backing up photos, I always start with my motivation for backing things up.  A co-worker of mine had his first child at the dawn of digital photography.  He had the same Canon 300D I had and he took tons of pictures of his new-born daughter.  He thought he was on top of things.  He had a server on his home network where all the photos were stored and actually had a tape backup drive that was regularly making back-ups of everything on the server.  Right around her first birthday disaster struck, but he felt assured that everything was ok – he had all of those tape backups to go back on.  After he rebuilt the server and got everything configured right he found out that the tape backup system had stopped actually working over a year ago.  It was always reporting the backups were being completed ok, but there was no actual data on the tapes to recover.  He lost every single photograph he had taken of his daughter.  When he originally came to me with that news, I vowed to never let that happen to me so I began to create my backup strategy.  I might be a little bit extreme in my backups, but I never want to lose everything the way my co-worker did.

Step 1 The Local Copy

When I’m done shooting and have copied all the pictures off of the memory card and onto my main computer, the first step is to make a DVD backup of the photos.  Back when I had my 6.3MP camera this process was much easier than it is today.  I never had to worry about having more pictures on the memory card then I could fit on a double layer DVD.  Nowadays, that isn’t as easy of an assumption and I probably should consider upgrading to a Blu-ray writer.  Once the discs are made, I label them (name and date of the event) and file them away.  Documenting the process here has identified a flaw here in my system.  The DVD copies are stored in a file cabinet near my desk.  Should anything happen to my desk, one of the copies goes with it.  I should probably take the disc copies and move them up to another level of the house.

Step 2 The Dual Hard Drives

Now that the data is on the internal hard drive of my computer (I’m still using my PC for photo work since my 7 year old iMac is bit long in the tooth) and on the DVDs, I move all the files off onto a USB backup drive.  When I started this backup process I bought two identical drives.  One lives on my desk at home and the other sits inside the safety deposit box at my bank.  On the first Saturday of the month, I take the drive off of my desk and swap it with the one in the safety deposit box.  When I brink the bank copy home, I update it with all the new files that have been captured during the previous month.  Running things this way, the most I could ever lose is a months worth of photos.  That’s if something happened to the house and I lost the internal hard drive, the external hard drive, and the CD / DVD copies.

Step 3 Backing Up Online

I resisted online backups for a very long time.  I never felt good about my data living on other people’s servers, and I remember a horror story of one of the early online backup places going belly-up overnight and everyone was scrambling to get their data back before it was gone.,  But travelling to the bank once a month to swap out the drives is growing tiresome and the size of those drives needs to be updated soon as they are starting to grow full, and I hear the Backblaze commercials multiple times a week due to their sponsorship of multiple podcasts I listen to.  I’ve always read their excellent quarterly report cards on long term hard drive performance (you can see samples here) so over this Christmas break I decided to give them a shot.  So far so good, at $5 / month it seems like an easy choice.  I like the idea that – in the event something bad happens – I can order a hard drive with all of my data copied on to it, rather than having to max out my internet connection with getting all of the data back.

Backup strategies are all very personal so I got a second opinion from site contributor Ben Hendel to share some additional thoughts.

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When I worked at Apple, one of my managers had a saying: “There are two types of people in the world: those who have lost data, and those who will.” When he told me this, I was already in the first of those two categories, having had a Dell 20GB hard drive nuke itself on me, and much of the data was unrecoverable. So I back up religiously, in multiple ways.

First and foremost, owning a MacBook Pro, I use Time Machine to back up to an Apple Time Capsule device.  Mine is older, but it is a 2TB hard drive baked into a wireless router.  My computer automatically backs up to it hourly.  Because I started to outgrow 2TB of storage, and I wanted more redundant automatic backups, I’ve plugged my Time Capsule, via USB to a 5TB Seagate external hard drive as a secondary source.  In addition to that, for offloading old Lightroom Libraries, and creating backups of photos as I travel, I have a 2TB Thunderbolt G-Drive that lives in my travel bag.  Finally, for backup systems current in place, I also keep a 1TB Hard drive backup at my parent’s house out of state to use as off-site backup, because I’ve suffered a house fire and know how easily data can be lost from inside a house, even if its redundantly backed up.

Again, I’ve lost data before, and I’m paranoid about it happening again.   So I’m also looking at getting a NAS drive for my network as a tertiary way of automatically backup up my data.  And I’m looking at getting an off-site backup solution as well.  Look, in my opinion, you spend thousands of dollars, sometimes tens of thousands on taking your photos.  You should spend more, rather than less, to back up those pictures once they’ve been taken.

Conclusion

Do you follow one or more of these plans?  I know everyone has their own system.  A buddy of mine sends me a bare hard drive every couple of months when he finishes a big project so I’m his offsite backup plan (no, I’m not taking on additional drives at this time, lol).  Chime in in the comments and let us know how you back up your Disney photos.  Hit the read more button below to leave a comment.

Also, if you are going to be ordering from Amazon.com anyway, please consider following this link.  It doesn’t cost you anything but we earn a very small commission and it helps support the sit

P.S.

The image above is of the Hollywood Hotel sign in Hong Kong Disneyland, if you want to see more Hong Kong Disneyland photos, check out my older post here.

Start to Finish – Matterhorn and Monorail

Happy Monday! For today’s post, I would like to take you all through my editing process for one photo from start to finish. I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland this past September to check out the 60th anniversary, and one thing I never really had a shot I was proud of was the lagoon area in Tomorrowland with the Matterhorn in the background. So, on my first night out in California, I had the tripod with me and used my 14mm lens to capture a wide, nighttime scene. This is what the original RAW file looked like:

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When I first saw this in Lightroom, I liked what I saw, but it was definitely clear that it needed some work. There is a buoy two thirds of the way down the right hand side of the frame, as well as a guard rail in the bottom left corner. Interestingly enough, when I applied the Lightroom profile for the 14mm lens that I was shooting with, it took care of both of those, which was nice. Once that was taken care of, my next pain point was the color balance. When you’re in a Disney park, there are lots of lights. Those lights tend to cast a warm temperature on the image and make things look more orange than I like them to. So, I lowered the white balance a bit to cool things off.

From here, I felt like the image was pretty dark. Thankfully, with today’s sensor technology, we have some pretty serious parameters to work within when it comes to exposure. Since this was not an HDR image and comes from only one exposure, I was able to boost the exposure to +.65 in Lightroom to make it bright like I wanted it to be. Since I ended up doing that, I also had to pull the highlights down quite a bit to balance out some of the lights and the smooth silky water. Big assist to the breeze that night for helping make that happen.

Since I had upped the exposure so much, I really didn’t need to pull the shadows up too much, so from here, I basically just lowered the black level to -51 and the contrast up to +22. I like the crunchy textures on the mountain itself, so I added some clarity as well, and then moved the vibrance slider up to 24. I love the vibrance slider because it boosts the color, but not in a completely global fashion like the saturation slider does. It only applies it in places where it thinks it needs to go.

From here, I went in to the HSL tab and selected luminance, just to tone down a few of the colors that I thought were a little too strong, mainly blue, purple, and magenta. Then it was just time to sharpen the image a tiny bit, as it was pretty sharp already from being manually focused in Live View on a tripod, and we have the final image here:

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It’s a pretty big change, and an edit that took really no more than about 10 minutes in Lightroom. I love the motion and energy of this area, with a monorail skirting through the image as well as the subs from the Nemo Submarine Voyage. For those curious, this shot was taken with the Sony a7 and the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens, both of which are available at Amazon. Thanks for reading!