I'm happy to report that SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe worked like a charm, in the end, on my accidentally overwritten SD card.
To recap: I had a few travel shots I wanted on a 32 GB, 30 MB/s SanDisk Ultra card, but when I did the speed tests on the new UHS-II card the other day, I reformatted and made new shots on the beginning of the older Ultra card not once but several times—before downloading my latest shooting. Oops.
When I reported this, readers recommended data recovery apps in a quick flood of comments. After checking several of the apps out, I decided I could really only test one, so I chose the app made by the maker of the card, and bought the "Deluxe" version; my reasoning was that if I was going to fail, it would be better to give the app its best chance, and fail with the turbocharged luxury version.
Note: TOP Tech. Ed. Ctein tells me that different toolz have different skillz. So if one recovery app doesn't work for you, another might...even on the same lost data. (He also noted that it's a good idea to lock the card you're recovering data from before you insert it in the card reader or SD slot, which I hadn't done.)
At first the app didn't seem like it was working. It appeared to make progress for a little while and then choke. So I read the instructions, and watched a YouTube video showing how to proceed, and started over again. The progress report seemed wonky—for "time remaining" it was giving me numbers as high as 2,000 minutes, and progress was stuck on 34% for well over twelve hours. All in all the program took about 36 hours to run on my laptop (an early 2014, 13" MacBook Air 1.7 GHz core i7 with 8 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD). After seeming stuck for a day or so, the "time remaining" began to plummet and the remaining progress percentage rose steadily until...
...Voilà. I got back all the pictures I wanted...
...Most of which were of this strange atmospheric phenomenon I saw out the airplane window. Ctein, many of whose best photographs in my opinion are of the atmosphere or what's beyond it, informs me that this is called a "glory"—a full circle rainbow of restricted circumference that sometimes happens when you look into water vapor from the exact same direction the sunlight is coming from. Glories (they're sometimes called "the glory of the pilot" because they're most often observed from planes) have an angular size of 5° to 20°. That depends on the size of the water droplets in the clouds. The shadow of the airplane often appears inside the glory, as here, and the glory "follows" the plane like its shadow.
Ctein says, "the physics of it is actually pretty complicated, and interesting if you find physics interesting."
The SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe recovered a great deal from the card, I must say—not only what I was looking for, but at least most of the last six or seven shooting sessions I used the card for, going back more than a month and half. Note that the pictures I wanted were the first forty or so shots on a "clean" (formatted) card, and that I had reformatted the card and reshot at least three batches of more than 50 shots on top of the pictures I wanted. The recovery app got them back anyway.
As for the glory, it seemed more vivid to the eye than to the camera; the plane's windows were unfortunately both dirty and noticeably scratched up and damaged. It was one of those old jets that had a cloth label stitched to the back side of the headrests that read "Seat bottom cushion may be used as a flotation device." As I quipped to my girlfriend, I'm glad I didn't have to rely on it for that, as it wasn't even working very well as a cushion.
Wikipedia says, "In China, [the glory] is called Buddha's light. It was often observed on cloud-shrouded high mountains such as Huangshan Mountains and Mount Emei. Records of the phenomenon at Mount Emei date back to A.D. 63. The colorful halo always surrounds the observer's own shadow, and thus was often taken to show the observer's personal enlightenment." I'd say if you need a sign in the clouds to signal your enlightenment you're probably not enlightened, but seeing your own shadow inside a glory must be glorious indeed; the unusual sight does seem tinged with a touch of magic, and must have seemed more so before the age of traveling above the clouds made it more common.
(Thanks to Ctein)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Matt: "The reason your shots, and many others, were still around, is a thing called 'wear levelling' which basically makes the card overwrite the oldest files on the card first. The memory only has a certain number of uses, so without this technique, the cards wouldn't last nearly as long.
"This is done on the bit level, not on the level of files, but the effect is the same, since we're not randomly flipping bits in files, but writing large blocks of information at the same time."
Arne Croell: "The glory is also known as the spectre of the Brocken. The Brocken is a peak in the Harz mountains in Germany, which is often shrouded in fog; it is also known as the mountain where the Witches Sabbath happened in Goethe's Faust."
Jim in Denver: "Glory (and I'm a jet pilot professionally, so I'm more than somewhat familiar with the phenomenon).... Essentially the airplane is the 'lens,' not dissimilar from a drop of water, and that makes a rainbow directly in-line with the shadow of the airplane. The cloud is just something to see it projected on. The glory gets bigger and smaller depending on the distance you are from the cloud. It only exists (viewing) with your back to the sun. They actually happen without clouds, but are much harder to see—but next time you are coming into land, it's a clear,sunny day, and you are on the down-sun side of the airplane, you can sometimes see it on the landscape rushing by as you get fairly close to the ground."