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!

Santa Fe Workshops: Fine Art Digital Printmaking, Feb 28 to Mar 6, 2010


February 28 – March 6, 2010, Santa Fe, NM

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR MORE DETAILS AND REGISTRATION

Our third year! Make your photographic vision come to life in this Advanced Photography Experience/Digital Lab workshop.

Join two accomplished photographers and fine art printmakers, Jack Duganne and David Saffir for this exciting, hands-on journey from a photo shoot on-location in the Santa Fe area, through high-intensity classroom sessions in image processing and editing, all the way to printing your new color or black and white images on brand-new state-of-the-art HP pigment-based inkjet printers.

We will spend most of our time in the digital lab, and travel out for a photo shoot or two during the week.

Topics will include, but are not limited to selecting vantage points and times of day for shooting, options in image composition, use of on-camera controls to enhance image quality, choice of digital file formats, importing and evaluating your images, processing images to maximize quality and artistic impact, and creating exhibition-quality color and black and white prints. We will wind up our week with an image critique and discussion of preparing for success in print competition.

On the last day, we have a festive evening reception and dinner – AND prints from the class will be shown on exhibition.

This is a work-group style class, with frequent one-on-one work. This limits the workshop to a dozen or so participants, so enroll early and reserve your spot.

Prospective students are requested to bring an open mind and their film or digital camera for a week of exploration and learning. Use of a camera tripod is strongly recommended. Film processing and scanning will be available. Applicants should have a working knowledge of Photoshop. Bring a portfolio box too, because you’ll want to take these images home.

About the Instructors

David Saffir is an internationally-recognized, award-winning photographer, author, and printmaker. He has taught in many venues, including the West Coast School Super Sunday, WPPI, Clear Focus Studios, the Hasselblad PowerPro Tour, HP Dreamcolor Seminars, and the Arles Photo Festival in France (Recontres d’ Arles).

He is also the author of Mastering Digital Color”, published by Thomson Course Technology. He is one of the principals of the Artists’ Showcase of Santa Clarita, and past president of the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association. He has written numerous articles for Great Output, Rangefinder, AfterCapture, Professional Photographer, Digital Imaging Tech, and others. http://www.davidsaffir.com

Jack Duganne is an internationally-recognized photographer and a world-renowned fine art printmaker. He is one of the founders of Nash Editions, and now heads Duganne Atelier in Santa Monica, California. He has taught advanced classes throughout the US, and in Europe. His web site is http://www.duganne.com.

Join us in Santa Fe for a week of photographic creativity and camaraderie!

Best regards,

David and Jack :)

Link to Santa Fe Workshops Registration

or telephone: (505) 983-1400 ext 11

My Web Page

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!

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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.

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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.

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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

Camera Test: Mamiya 645AFD III Camera and the Leaf Aptus DL-28 Digital Back

I recently received a Mamiya 645AFD III medium-format camera to test, accompanied by a Leaf Aptus II DL-28 digital back, and several lenses. 

 

I’m going to report on my experiences with this camera, starting with an overview and first impressions in this post. In subsequent posts, I’ll cover a variety of shooting situations (in studio and on-location), image quality, and the Leaf Capture software and its performance. Note that this is one of the cameras we will be using on the upcoming Focus 09 Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction Seminar Tour October 2-21.

 

The camera arrived in the original packaging, which is well designed, protecting the camera quite well.

 

Ergonomics are top-notch; the camera is well balanced, and controls are logically placed and fall easily under one’s fingers – in short, it just feels good. 

 

Camera, lens, and digital back build quality is excellent. This is clearly a pro-level camera, robust materials and construction.

 

In the next image, basic features are marked by the numbers. Number 1 is located next to the shutter release, and shutter controls: single, continuous, mirror-up, and lock. Number 2 shows the settings screen, which indicates battery life, aperture/shutter speed, and the like. Number 3 shows the dial which controls shooting mode – Aperture priority, shutter priority, program/auto, manual, X, and custom function. Number 4 indicates the digital back, 5 the stylus used to activate controls on the back.

 

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Controls on the front of the camera include depth of field preview, and a focus mode selector (single, continuous, manual).

 

The camera is powered by AA batteries, which is a plus in terms of cost as compared to camera bodies which require more expensive 123 batteries.

 

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Mamiya lenses have a strong reputation for build and image quality. Focusing rings are well-dampened, and autofocus lenses are quick and quiet.

 

Some specs on the digital back: 28MP, which produces a >150MB file @ 16 bits. The sensor size is 44x33mm, and offers  ISO ratings of 50-800. Pixel pitch is 7.2 microns, which is larger than, for example, the Nikon D3x which features 5.9. Dynamic range is reported to be 12 stops.

 

So far, I’ve used the camera mostly in-studio, with a couple of short sessions outdoors. To this point, the in-camera meter has been accurate, handling high-contrast situations accurately. More to follow on this topic.

 

The camera may be used shooting to a CF card, or tethered to a computer. The days of using an attached hard drive are gone. The battery mounts underneath the camera back, which I find convenient as it helps balance things when using longer lenses.

 

The digital back shoots at 1/fps. It has an excellent, bright viewing screen, 6x7cm, which has very good contrast and color. It can be viewed outdoors, but direct sun is a challenge. In-studio it is, in a word, stunning.

 

A feature of the Aptus digital back is it not only provides a preview and histogram of the image – it is a touch-screen controller for the camera, controlling quite a few functions.

 

In short, one can set up the parameters of the shot, from color space to pre-sharpening to pre-set camera profiles – all with a tap of the included stylus.

 

Now some have criticized this for being “too complex”, or “too fancy”, and I just can’t agree. It is much quicker than push-button driven controls, and the menus are clear and pretty easy to follow.

 

For example, one can set up the camera to provide a simple image preview, image preview with histogram in the corner of the image, or histogram overlaid on the image. Quite flexible and useful.

 

 

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RAW file format is now compatible with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. I applaud the company’s approach to open architecture – makes it much easier to work in a variety of circumstances and locations. We don’t always have control of the resources available to us in the field!

 

Image quality is excellent. Although the camera provides ISO settings up to 800, as a practical matter image quality begins to suffer at 400, and has significant color and luminance noise at 800, even in bright light. To be fair, this camera was designed for lighting-controlled situations – ie, ISO 50-100.

 

I used the camera in studio to capture some macro shots of an orchid. We used the new Westcott Westcott TD-5 lights with daylight-balanced fluorescent bulbs installed. (a check with a spectrophotometer shows these to be dead-on at 5500k).

 

The macro lens is a 120mm f/4 model, updated with a 16-bit CPU. The focusing ring is smooth, perhaps a little heavy to turn. I’d like to see a little less pressure needed, and a better turn ratio for close focusing – after all, this is a manual focus lens. Having said this, I had no trouble at all focusing the lens. (There is a very accurate focusing indicator in the viewfinder).

 

Image quality is superb. On macro shots, I recommend using a sturdy tripod or studio stand, and mirror-up mode for maximum clarity. 

 

The image below shows an orchid photographed in-studio, with a cutout at 100% to demonstrate sharpness. The white “fuzz” you see isn’t sharpening artifact, it’s part of the flower!

 

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I’ll be photographing a number of subjects this week, including some acrylic paintings for a fine art reproduction project that just came in. More to follow!

 

 

*****

 

We’ll be working live with this camera, among others, at the upcoming Fine Art Printing and Fine Art Reproduction seminars in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. These one-day intensive sessions start at the beginning of October 09. For more information, go here.

 

 

 

 

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.

Focus 2009 Tour and Seminar Series, Fine Art and Photographic Reproduction

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:

  • A full-day workshop which covers the complete scope of work involved in producing reproduction of fine-art watercolor, oils, and acrylic artwork. We begin with art selection, proceed to planning workflow, image capture, processing, color management, output devices media selection, printing, edition management, certificates of authenticity, print finishing, and more.
  • A Tech Expo which provides an opportunity for hands-on experience with a number of printer manufacturers’ equipment, color management, displays, and more.
  • A bonus summary session which provides real-world, practical building blocks for running your own business and achieving profitability in the Business of Fine Art Reproduction and Fine Art Printmaking.

We will have the summary business session the evening before the main seminar event. The main event, held the next day, runs from 9 am to 5 pm. In Denver, for example, we will have the Tech Expo on October 2, summary business session on the evening of Oct 2, and the full day seminar session on Oct 3rd.

The schedule:

Denver, Colorado

Friday, October 2nd Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Saturday, October 3rd Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

Location: Denver Pro Photo Studio Complex,

235 S. Cherokee St. – Denver, Colorado

 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Monday, October 5th Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 6th Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

Location: Glenwood Recreation Center,

100 Wulfsohn Road – Glenwood Springs, Colorado

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Thursday, October 8th. Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Friday, October 9th. Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Holiday Inn-Santa Fe,

4048 Cerrillos Road – Sante Fe, New Mexico

 

Flagstaff, Arizona

Monday, October 12th,Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 13th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club Community Center

3605 So. Flagstaff Ranch Road – Flagstaff, Arizona

 

Phoenix, Arizona

Wednesday, October 14th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Thursday, October 15th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Hampton Inn & Suites ,

16620 North Scottsdale Road – Phoenix, Arizona

 

Tucson, Arizona

Friday, October 16th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Saturday, October 17th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Sheraton Four Points University,

1900 East Speedway – Tucson, Arizona

 

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Monday, October 19th, Tech Expo and Summary Business Session

Tuesday, October 20th, Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Seminar

LOCATION : Holiday Inn & Suites Airport,

1501 Sunport Place S.E. – Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

This schedule may be subject to change. PLEASE BOOKMARK or subscribe to this page to keep up to date.

For registration links, go to the Digital2You.cc here  or CALL FOR DETAILS 303-934-2777.

New Fine Art Printmaking and Art Reproduction Tour

FINE ART PRINTMAKING & ART REPRODUCTION SEMINARS, DAVID SAFFIR, OTHER INSTRUCTORS

7 CITY TOUR IN OCTOBER 2009, APPROX DATES OCT 1-15

This will include:

  • studio setup
  • lighting
  • digital capture
  • capture and digital asset management
  • image editing
  • color management
  • printing
  • print finishing

…..and more!

 Call for details and registration,  303-934-2777 or go http://tinyurl.com/nbupma

ALBUQUERQUE, SANTA FE, PHOENIX,  TUCSON, 
SEDONA, DENVER, GLENWOOD SPRINGS