Image Storage, Protection, and Photography

Every six to twelve months, I have to upgrade the size of my storage system to hold all the image files and related documents and web pages I generate. Being on a budget (like so many people) I developed a workaround that provides speed in storing information, and reliability in backing it up.

I’ve also developed a short checklist for maintenance that may prove useful to others.

Keep in mind that although I use a Mac most of the time, I do own two Windows boxes (gasp!) and many of the ideas and practices described here help in the Windows world, as well.

Hard Drive Storage

I don’t use a RAID setup, or even one of those new-fangled RAID boxes. They’re good, but also expensive.

Instead, I use a pair of 1TB external hard drives made by a reliable manufacturer. Lately it seems like the Lacie is one of the better ones, offering a 1TB, 7200 RPM drive incorporating four connector types (eSATA, USB, Firewire 800 and 400), and a three-year warranty. All this in a metal case, all cables, for about $150. Not bad at all. (by the way, I won’t buy a drive that has less than three-year coverage).

I have these two new drives connected via an add-on eSATA PCI card, which gives the 7200 RPM drives room to breathe at up to 3GB/sec speed. On my Mac tower, the eSATA card is an add-on, for about $45 – and increases throughput speed dramatically as compared to Firewire or USB.

Drive A is the new primary data drive, absorbing all my photo shoots, galleries, new web pages, and the like.

Drive B is the backup drive. Rather than use a RAID setup, I’m most comfortable with using a backup utility like Silverfast (many others like this around) that, on a regular, set schedule, will copy all new files/information from Drive A to backup on Drive B. This creates a virtual clone of the A drive, without any attention from me at all – which means it will get done every day!

What about off-site storage? There are a number of options; I can upload critical image files to my iDisk or to Amazon’s new data storage service, burn them to a reliable metal-based CD and store them in a bank vault, or copy large numbers of files to another drive and store it in a fireproof safe. The idea is to get the information in a protected place away from your main place of work. Another building will do, if only to help protect against fire or theft.

I’ve found this system to be very reliable. I’m pretty sure that in the past six or seven years I have not lost any images to equipment failure in storage. If one drive fails, the backup is there to “protect and serve”.

Not bad for six to twelve months’ protected storage – for just over $300!

On the maintenance side:

At least once a week, if not more, leave your computer on overnight – it runs important automatic maintenance routines in the early morning hours while you are sleeping.

Using Disk Utility, run “repair disk permissions” at least once a week on each drive that you use regularly.

From time to time, use a utility application like Tech Tool Pro and check the condition of the components in your system – memory, video, drive controllers, etc. A down to earth user interface makes this pretty easy.

Create an extra admin-type user account (system preferences>accounts) so you can still access your desktop and other important files if your primary user name becomes unusable. This little tip recently saved my bacon!

Create an extra boot drive, essentially a clone of your home boot drive. If your main drive goes south, you can still boot from here and, hopefully, make repairs.

Here’s a link to a related article on Tom Hubbard’s (PMPN)  on the archival nature of CDs and DVDs. It’s a good one!

PPS – see this link for my 3rd annual digital fine art printing workshop, Santa Fe Workshops, early 2010!

Boston, Galleries, and Partnerships

In Boston yesterday and today for discussions about partnerships in a number of areas. More exciting, starting to move forward toward representation from one or more galleries here in the Northeast, and the the Southern US for my work in scenics and images from the natural world. We’ll see how it goes!

Offshore Breeze, San Simeon Sunset

Offshore Breeze, San Simeon Sunset

Upcoming Seminar: Fotoweek, Nov 9, 2009, Taking Your Photography and Business To The Next Level

Tools of the Trade:  Taking your Photography & Business to the Next Level, Sponsored by HP and MEI Computer

Monday, November 9th at VisArts (Rockville Town Center) 155 Gibbs Street, Suite 300, Rockville, MD 20850

9:00-10:30 – Studio Planning & Set-up, Physical Environment and Ergonomics, Lighting, Display/Monitor Selection.Discover the latest software and hardware the pros use to manage workflow and achieve consistent results. 

10:30-12:00 – Getting the Most Out of Your Inkjet Printer. Camera to printer workflow:  selecting a printer, accurate color previews, printing from image editing software.Media selection. Printer troubleshooting, print correction, archiving. 

12:00-1:00 – Lunch With featured printing demonstrations.

1:00-2:30 – Fine Art Printmaking plus Fine Art Reproduction.  Create Fine Art and Decor Prints for other photographers and galleries.  Learn price points, media types, how to work with galleries and organizations.Fine Art Reproduction, tools for Fine Art Reproduction 

2:30-3:30 – Succeeding in Print Competition  Avenues for Success: Choosing a competition, understanding print comp terms and conditions,  Selecting images, printing, what the judges want to see, and more. 

3:45pm-4:30PM Fine Art Media for Limited Editions. Matching Media and Client Needs, Media Types for Social Photography Commercial/Fine Art/Other Purposes   

4:30-Finish: Q&A & Printing. Participants are encouraged to bring a high resolution digital file to print.

For more information and registration please visit MEI Computer’s web sign up page.

Home At Last

Back home after four weeks of traveling. Been to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, and now back to California. I feel very lucky to have met so many interesting and talented photographers, artists, business people, curators and archivists, and others. The Tour 09 events hosted by a range of manufacturers (Canon, HP, Epson, Mamiya, and X-Rite, among others) and Digital2You taught many lessons, which I’ll share soon.

Pro Photo East was a bit smaller in scope than last year – but I’m sure that the number of photographers I talked with during various activities increased – and the intensity of interest in digital imaging and new developments has not diminished in the least. The HP exhibit was absolutely packed on every day – breaks were few and far between. I particularly enjoyed the evening session on Friday, where we heard presentations from photographers Joel Meyerowitz and Thomas Hoepker, and Eileen Gittens, president and CEO of Blurb.

Lot of new developments seen and experienced, and I will be posting info about these in the coming week. Some of the things in the hopper include print finishing, canvas mounting, new cameras, imaging software, a cool new printing rip, latex-based printers, medium format imaging, raw processing, and color management.

Last night our plane sat on the runway for almost four hours, waiting for a break in a very intense rainstorm.  I was quite glad to touch down at the LA airport later that night, however late, and return to Santa Clarita.

More to follow!

Tour 09: Fine Art Printing and Fine Art Reproduction Update

We’ve been having a great time. We held our Tech Expo (day 1)  and Workshop Session (day 2) at the Denver Studio Complex and Denver Pro Photo. This was the first of seven events planned, ranging through Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The Tech Expo featured wide format printers from Canon, Epson, and HP, color management tools from X-Rite, displays from Eizo, cameras from Mamiya/Leaf, papers and print finishing products from Premier, lighting from Westcott, Eizo, and more!


The Tech Expo was very well attended, and we had reps from a number of companies present.

Dennis Halley (digital2you) was the primary host. During the course of the day, we fielded questions regarding inkjet printing, color management, print finishing, art reproduction, media selection, medium format cameras, and displays from Eizo.


We also had quite a bit of original artwork on hand, and print reproductions of many of these examples.

On day 2, we held our workshop on Fine Art Printmaking and Fine Art Reproduction. The session was very well attended; we had approximately 20 students in attendance.

We not only covered the “how to” aspects of fine art printmaking, we also got into the details of the business model for fine art printmaking, using your wide-format printer to make prints for other photographers, art reproduction, color management, print finishing, and more.


We had a complete fine art printmaking setup, and of course a studio setup for fine art repro:

I encourage you to attend one of the next sessions. We will be in Glenwood Springs, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, and Albuquerque.

To register for the workshop session, please go to the Digital2You web site here or CALL FOR DETAILS 303-934-2777

New Blog Announcement: Focus 09 – Digital Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction Seminars

New Blog Announcement


Focus 09: Digital Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction Seminars

Focus 09: Digital Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction Seminars

Instructor: David Saffir

In October 2009, we begin a new tour and seminar series: Fine Art Printing and Photographic Reproduction. This series provides an in-depth review of the subject from several viewpoints: first, for photographers wishing to make fine art prints, and second, for curators, galleries, and other organiztions in dealing with artists and their work in the context of creating open- and limited reproduction editions of their artwork. Third, for artists who wish to expand their marketing efforts and created editions of their work for exhibition and sale.

Beginning October 2, 2009, and continuing through October 20th, the Tour covers seven cities in three states (Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico).

Designed for photographers, artists, galleries, printmakers, students, and organizations this series provides a number of learning experiences:        read more.