I’m sitting here in the airport in Milwaukee*, off to the beautiful Southern Tier of upstate New York to visit my girlfriend. I spent all last night trying to reconfigure the computers to the new regime, in which I’ll be using the new laptop** docked at home and detached on the road. It’s not easy going from a 2TB onboard drive to a 512GB one.
Here’s the read on disk space for me: the old iMac with its 2TB drive had 800GB free (I’m rounding the numbers a bit). Once all the music and video files were transferred to a 2TB WD Passport drive (and a backup), the main computer said there was 1TB free. After copying the main folder containing the lion’s share of my pictures, the iMac said 1.75TB free. Swinging my formidable arithmetical skills into play, I calculate that I have 200GB of music and 750GB of pictures.
And if you’ve been reading right along, you’ll recall a salient fact that I brought up recently: I’m a light shooter. And another pertinent post was the one in which I asked people about their heaviest shooting days. Which gives rise to a small question in my mind: what the heck do heavy shooters do with all that shooting? How do you archive 10, 50, or 100X the paltry amount of shooting that I do?
I’m curious as to whether people actually keep it. Do you edit heavy shoots and discard everything that’s clearly unpromising? I don’t, or at least I haven’t. I just dump everything in a folder and there it sits. Or do you tend to maintain large numbers of redundant external hard drives?
I think if I do my digital OC/OL/OY project, I’m going to use the opportunity to revamp my habits and bring them up to something like modernistic 2007 standards. I just don’t pay as much attention as I should. (It hurts me when I’m searching for images too. You won’t believe this, but I file everything according to what camera I used to take it. Might not make much sense, but it just happens to be what my brain remembers—I can picture the photograph in my mind, and I’ll remember what lens it was taken with. Then I can deduce that camera and that’s how I go look for the picture. I don’t suppose many other people have such an idiosyncratic filing method. Nor am I recommending it, I hasten to add!)
Speaking of the digital OC/OL/OY, I think you can use any lens you want to—just as I think you should modify the exercise to fit your needs, your capabilities, and your life in whatever way seems to make the most sense to you. We’re havin’ fun here, after all. I could do the exercise with any of the 35mm or 40mm (or equivalent) lenses I have, for example. But my ambition is to do it with the A7 and Zeiss 55mm—that’s far enough away from my comfort zone that it would challenge me. And maybe lead to new kinds of work. As I said before, I really don’t know if I can do this exercise myself. But I’d like to.
This is a working vacation, so you’ll be hearing from me regularly this week.
*Posted later. Speaking of 2007, the Milwaukee airport doesn't have free Wi-Fi.
**It’s a 13-inch MacBook Air with 8GB RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. Good enuff.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Don Davis: "Over a thirty-nine year newspaper career, I always regarded myself as a 'light shooter,' as well. The joke on the staff was: 'You can shoot the end of the world on two rolls of Tri-X.' When pressed, editing endless frames means you can often overlook the right one. Just my two cents."
Tommy Williams: "We are probably on opposite ends of the computer technology spectrum (I have been working in software for nearly 25 years). And yet here is an odd commonality: I still group my photos in my filesystem based on which camera I took them with, too. Even though I have 80K+ photos cataloged in Lightroom going back to my first digital camera in 1997, I still often start by thinking of which camera I used to take the picture rather than using other keywords, or dates, or locations."
Gene Forsythe: "When I am shooting (primarily wildlife and canine sports) I am what you would consider a heavy shooter, so I might address your question on storage and archiving.
"I just returned from 10 days in South Africa, with some 25,000+ images. That will reduce to no more than 200 over the next week or so (first pass cut over 15,000 alone). What happens is this—the lion is in super light, and just waking up, and we are perfectly positioned (for a change) with no obstructions. He looks like he is going to yawn and show his teeth. I start shooting at 8fps, and continue till he is finished, about 45 frames later. Now I am back home and there are 39 so-so frames, three OK frames, two nice shots, and one worth printing. I keep the last three and dump the rest. And so it goes. My master backup is a pair of 3TB portable drives which are currently sitting in the safe. Once everything is edited down to the final set and a backup made of just those shots, I will pull the two portable drives and erase them so I can use them on my next trip."
Doug Plummer: "I'm a professional photographer, and it's not uncommon for me to shoot 2,000+ a day on an assignment. On a day that I'm shooting for myself it can be as few as a dozen or several hundred. I'm very committed to shooting daily (I've had a daily photo blog for more than nine years now), whether I'm working or not. I fill up a lot of hard drives—I have 24TB in a JBOD box connected to the desktop via eSata (I shoot video too, which swamps storage issues as far as still goes), and I backup on my old hard drives as I upgrade."
Ben: "Lightroom and keyword tagging. Try it and you'll never go back."
Adrian Malloch: "I find that deleting photos is the antithesis of creating photos. It completely discombobulates me to choose photos for annihilation. Since I'm a professional photographer shooting 500 to 5000 frames a day that is a lot of raw files to accumulate, but storage is cheap compared to the time taken to expunge the unworthy. After an exhausting day of photography, an exhausting evening of selections, processing and uploading to proof galleries for clients, I am in no fit mental or emotional state to eradicate. That precious time I use to find the gems, the moments, the photographs that cannot be ignored. Lightroom enables me to quickly narrow my selection without distraction of the 'maybes' and the 'nearly but not quite.' and then focus my attention on the frames that I want the client to see.
"After 10 years of freelance work I have 22 TB of photos on external hard drives and over 50 TB of backups. My approach is regularly vindicated by the continuing value of previously rejected photographs. For example, I recently reviewed some older assignments and put together a large collection into a book. Nearly a third of the photographs that are in the book are images that didn't make the cut when first edited."