Extended Workflow: Archiving Images
Let's talk about archiving images and, you know, this seems like we kinda covered this a little bit, but not necessarily. So what does it mean to archive your images? It basically means that you have some sort of software that allows you to input meta data, which we've talked about, keywords, so that they're searchable. So you have captions in those images, you've done all the digital workflow work you need to do on those images, and also, they're well-organized. And also, you can actually find 'em, so a lot of this we've done in Light Room. You can do this in all kinds of different software. You can go to Bridge in Photo Mechanic, Capture One, whatever software you're using, you can archive images. How you find them is a little difficult. There used to be, I think it was, iMedia Pro used to be, it's now owned by Microsoft. I don't even know if it's still manufactured. That used to be the archiving software of choice for a lot of photographers, but I think Light Room has superseded tha...
t. And there's lots of porter photographers out there, maybe that don't use Light Room to work up their images, but they use it to catalog and archive their images so they can find them later on. So they, after they've worked them up in Adobe Camera or Capture One or whatever they're using, they use this software just to keep track of everything. I showed you some of the things earlier about filtering for rankings and stuff, but we didn't really go through all the power of the ranking or the filter in Light Room. You know, in my catalog at home, my main catalog, there's a half million images in there. And that's a truckload of images to go through. But, since I spend the time and I'd say 95, 98% of my images have meta data keywords in there, I can go to the filter and just select all photographs. Type in, you know, I get a request from whoever, Black Diamond, who makes climbing gear, and they want crack climbing pictures, so traditional climbing where you're climbing a crack that goes up the rock, from Indian Creek in Utah. And I can go into my catalog and just type in "Indian Creek Utah rock climbing" or whatever set of parameters I want. Boom! All those images show up. It might take a little while, cause it has to filter through half a million images, but I can even say I only want to see three star images or I only want to see four star images, or whatever parameters I want, and that allows me to pull images for that client super fast. Instead of, you know, in the old days with film, oh my gosh, I used to charge $ just to make a submission to magazines. To the magazine. It was non-refundable, because it was going to take me two hours to dig through 12 giant file cabinets and pull all these images, put it into a thing, FedEx it off to the client. I mean, this is so much easier for the professional if they've got things keyworded and the meta data in there to actually find images for a clients. Or for whatever. Now, either for you, you know, if you were trying to find family images or whatever you're doing, if you're an amateur, it just makes it really easy if you have stuff archived and cataloged with all the steps that we've talked about in this class. So, we've talked about this already. You know, in the archive you've got to maintain the archive, changing out the hard drives every two to five years is part of that. I typically do it every three to five years. As I said earlier, you know, basically you want those finished master copies that we basically at the end of our PhotoShop segment we talked about what I consider my master copies in the Pro Photo Color space with all of the layers. I also when I back up my images, I'm not just backing up those PSD files. I always output a flatten TIFF of that file as well. Because in the future who knows if we're going to be able to read PSD files, but TIFFs are pretty, TIFF and JPEG are the top two formats that are probably still going to be able to be read 50 years from now. And of all the formats that we will consider archival, for digital image files, TIFF is probably the most archival image format there is, because a JPEG is gonna be readable, but it's a compressed file format where information was lost. TIFF, nothing is thrown out, so it's not compressed.
Would raw be the same thing?
Raw, long term, may or may not be archival. Like we talked about when we talked about DNGs. If you have in the DNG format, that might be more archival, but the raw is not a finished master file. So it may not have your polish on it, like we've gone through, so the raw is still great to have. I definitely have all those raws when I back everything up, but you want to have your masters, which are over there, PSDs and TIFFs and raws is typically what I do. And those TIFFs are not 16 bit files, they're just 8 bit files that I send out to clients. The PSDs are always maintained in 16 bit format for the highest possible quality. Did I say TIFFs? I said the PSDs are always 16 bit. Excuse me there. But you definitely want the raws, and as I've told you before, I keep the raws in the Nikon in hasselblad format and then on the cloud. My best images get saved as DNG files, so that I have both. As you've probably figured out by now, I'm totally nuts about all this stuff. And at the bottom here is basically reiterating what I was saying about TIFF. So, again, here is this array of my back up solution. These two drives, they go to the safety deposit box, are the archive drives because they're written to only once. In terms of for each shoot, and then they're added to only once. There's no going back in there and deleting stuff and adding new stuff to it. Something about hard drives, you may have heard this word "defragging" hard drives. Basically, that means that you're reordering the stuff so it's a clean write all the way through. Cause what happens if you have a hard drive, you write something to it, and then you delete something off of it and write something new to it, imagine, you know, a checkerboard here. And this is not exactly how it works in the hard drive, but this is a good analogy. And each little box in this checkerboard is a certain size and they might need different sizes, depending on the size of the file. So you're creating, you're writing this box, this line of boxes, and if I take out this box, which is small, and then I delete it, and then when I start writing back to it, I might try to stuff a bigger box in there, and then it doesn't have enough space to write all of it there, so it has to write part of it over here. And then part of it over here. And this is what happens on memory cards, just as much as it does on hard drive. What happens is that hard drive can go bad because it loses track of where it put all the extra stuff that didn't fit into the box that you deleted. So, if you, defragging a hard drive is basically reorganizing this so all the information is written in the place it needs to be and there's no places that are all over the place. They're in their own box and they're basically cleanly written to the hard drive without any gaps or having the parts of the information in different places on the hard drive. This is also when you're reformatting memory cards, make sure you do that in the camera and don't delete too many. Did I just answer your question, Jeff? I mean, this is a thing. How do memory cards get corrupted? It's usually because you deleted too many images off the card, and this is something people do all the time on vacation if they only got one memory card. They'll go and they'll delete 100 of their 2,000 pictures and then they tried to take new pictures and they don't fit where the old pictures were because the data's a little bit bigger, a little bit smaller, this, that, or whatever. And then the chip on the memory card loses track of where it put all the data. Then it's unreadable. It's usually recoverable with software, but you know, it's the same thing with hard drives. It can get lost in space here and not be able to figure out where it put all the data if you deleted a whole truckload of stuff off there and then rewritten new stuff on there and done that 20, 30, 50, 100 times. So, those archival drives, archival, archival drives are written to once, very cleanly, and if I'm buying new drives and replacing them, I'm going to do the same thing. Just write out all that information at once, put it on there, and maybe I'll add new information down the road to it, but I'm not like deleting it and adding it, deleting it and adding it. And that just keeps those hard drives in a more pristine state. Getting super geeky here on the hard drive stuff, but as I said in the printing... Oh, go ahead, sorry Tony.
Yeah, just defragging hard drives. Is that something you recommend and do you recommend using the Mac tool, or?
There's certain software that you can buy. It's not on your computer, you'd have to buy specific software designed for defragging a hard drive. And it can take a significant amount of time. I don't necessarily do it, because of the way I write it onto my hard drives. It's not really an issue. On my live work drive, I replace those drives every three to five years. That's the drives that are really getting the deleted and added, deleted and added. But I also in the live work drives, I have a 12 terabyte array of hard drives. I'm only using three to four terabytes of that space, so it's not creating much of an issue. This is also the issue is if you jam pack images onto a hard drive or onto a memory card, then you know at that very end, when you start shooting images and it says you've got three images left, and you keep going and you put 10 images on the memory card, you're in massive danger of things going wrong because it starts to write information between the images here there and where ever. Little tiny bits of information, just to do what you were telling it to do. And then it might lose all the information of where it stored all that stuff. So here's another little tip: Don't shoot your memory cards until they're massively full. Leave 10, 20, 50, 100 images off the card and just change cards, cause memory cards are pretty inexpensive these days compared to the early days of digital. You know, when I shot 9,000 pictures, it just coming back to the shoot in January, I had to go back to the boat from the jet ski four times that day to change my 128 gb cards. And I wasn't going to do that on the jet ski, cause I don't want to pull the camera out while I'm sitting on the jet ski and like accidentally get it wet with sea water. So I went back to the boat that we had with us, changed the card out, jumped back, put it back in the housing, and then went back out. And especially when you're hammering down at nine frames a second, shooting sports, you gotta keep an eye on that counter on the top of the camera to make sure, cause, you know, at nine frames a second I'm gonna hit the end of that card fast and I might add 20 images to it that could have some issues with the card. This is still unlikely that you're going to corrupt a memory card, but just the do's and don'ts, you know, general rules here. Did that answer your question, Jeff? And that checkerboard example that I gave you was actually told to me by a Lexar sales rep. And I was like, "Wow, that's brilliant." You know, that really helps us understand what's going on the card, even though it's not technically 100% accurate. Visually, it helps us understand. And most archival method is still ink on paper, as I said, in the printing phase. I am technically in the process of printing all of my best images and printing multiple copies of them. Maybe three to five copies of each image on 17 by 22 inch sheets of paper. Ilford gold fiber silk, my paper of choice. Storing them in archival boxes and putting them in the closet, dark storage. And that's just for the future, you know. Cause that print might be the one thing that lasts. Who knows? If I died, you know, I'm not gonna say a day, cause that would jinx myself, but you know, if I died next week, who's going to go into my hard drives and dig out and who's going to know what I think are my best images if they're not sitting on my website in my portfolio? And who's going to dig out those high res copies and actually do anything with them? But if I have prints, I mean, look at the art world for the last thousand years. You know, we're still going to the Louvre in Paris to look at the Mona Lisa and this, that, whatever, but those were paintings that have survived. And, you know, they've done studies to know that these prints, if they're well, could last 200 to 250 years. So, that's way more archival than my hard drives are ever going to be. It's not like I'm going to print every single image I've ever made, cause that would take forever, but if I print, you know, a couple hundred of what I feel are my best images, and I died, then people taking stuff out of my office are like, "Wow! Well this is, must be what he thought was good, you know, because here they are." And then they can be framed, they could be sent to where ever. I know some photographers, my buddy Jamie Stillings, who I was talking about yesterday, he sold a bunch of images to the Library of Congress from his bridge project. And, you know, not only does he know that they're special, but they saw that they're special, and they're recording a moment in history. I mean, lots of these images that we have now that we know really well, like D Day, you know. Robert Capa's image of D Day, he's long gone, but these are in the Library of Congress. These are stored elsewhere. These are prints of these images that are actually circulating and we can photograph those prints, or somebody still has the film I'm pretty sure there. So we still have those images for historical record. And you know, the funny thing with some of my adventure sports images that I'm realizing these days is while you're shooting, you have no idea how important your image could or could not be in the future. And I'm not necessarily saying that my images are important in any way, but I realize that I've spent years in Patagonia, Tony's been on some of these trips with me, photographing glaciers and traversing the Patagonia ice cap. And with global warming these days, these aren't going to be around in the next hundred years, and my pictures of us hiking or climbing on glaciers could be complete oddities a hundred years from now, when we're like, "What is that?" You know, for kids growing up like, "Well, there used to be glaciers on the planet." You know, so there's stuff like that that I'm not even aware of when I'm taking pictures, historically could turn out to be pretty remarkable or interesting at least to somebody if those pictures are still around. So this is reason number 22 to print your images, if you care about them and want them to last. And also, you know, I'm 22 years into this thing. I'm in my 40s, I'm starting to think of legacy, which seems really weird, you know, but if I kick the bucket, and trust me, as an adventure sports guy, I didn't expect to live this long. I was pretty sure I'd be outta here by 40, so I'm still glad to be here, but you start thinking about like, "Well, what's going to happen in the future? Does anybody care about these images in the future?" And printing them is part of that.