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Monday, 01 April 2019


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So true. How is the TOP editor doing in regards to prints, using that nice Epson P600?
For myself, I’m working through the catalog, printing some 4x6 test prints, flagging the 5 stars, and creating collections for either prints or books (using Blurb). The print on demand books are a great way to make small books in lieu of the shoebox storage, and offers the added benefit of printing multiple copies for family members on demand. No more worries about who gets the prints whan the time comes. The hardest part is staying on task.

Still, do you store the prints in a fire proof safe? Off site? The feelings of risk exposure vary with each of us and our endless. Redundancy is the best bet, but there's no perfect guarantee either. (I print too, it's fun, but still prints are just as at risk to a house on fire as anything).

I've got two HD's alternating doing time machine back ups. But even so, I have all my documents and files in Google Drive syncing with "the cloud." It's pretty slick in the sense I can access those documents from other devices, although I rarely (i.e. never) do.

I also upload all my photos as high quality JPEGS (i.e. 16mp images) to Google Photos. Mostly because it's free, but it's also an easy way to share photos too. Google Photos is my worse-case scenario, but at least I'd have those 16mp images should every disk drive I own catch fire and blow up. I suppose Google Photos is my "box of prints."

I'm not confident in services like Backblaze due to security issues that are afflicting the internet and our society. I'm not even 100% sure my computer at home is safe from that.

What do you think about the longevity of Blurb books, Mike? I'm thinking of doing a book of my 100 best photos.

So every thing is hunky dory. Congratulations!

There was a great segment on digital archiving today on NPR. It was very thought-provoking especially for folks like us that are perhaps a bit more acutely aware of the risks of data loss.

The segment seemed to be prompted by the MySpace data loss announced this week, but really shed light on the entire silicon valley model that really has no plans/regulations in place for what to do with data if and when companies fail?

Do we just assume that Facebook, Google and Amazon will be viable, and backwards compatible, for decades to come?

And regarding on-site hardware archives, it seems obvious that the archive needs to migrate to current platforms at least every few years. My DVD archive that was my "safety" is very outdated at this point. That was active and viable only 5 years ago. Firewire is gone. USB? Lightning? JPG? PSD? Tif? Nikon NEF? Sony ARW? Lots of moving variables to consider.

Like "baseball" in Field of Dreams, we keep coming back to photographic prints! Probably more likely to stand the test of time.

Much of my work flow in B&W involves Tri-X film. The negative is my archive. I have silver halide negatives made in 1969 which are still as good as the day it was made.

It can be used to make prints in the darkroom (which I still do), and scanned into digital to make inkjet prints or viewed on screen.

So has the TOP editorial team done a review of desktop printers suitable for enthusiasts that aren’t married to Hungarian heiresses, where said printers rarely clog and don’t consume copious quantities of exhorbitantly priced ink in self-cleaning cycles?

In the end, you come up with a plan for protecting your photos and hope for the best. Every plan will have its fatal flaws that might never have occurred to anyone at the time it was made.

Lots of examples but this one always comes to mind https://www.wired.com/2001/12/jfk-camelot-pics-lost-in-wtc/

A box of prints is not backup for the image files. The image files are backup for the box of prints.

The best backup is to print a couple thousand books and distribute them around the world.

Sigh I started to wriite this after the last “prints are the only archive column” I disagree, nothing against prints but there are valid alternatives

I made the decision recently to “Marie Kondo” my store of images. I have literally hundreds of large format transparencies of professional work that I want to “save” but I neither want prints of them nor expect anyone will want to sit by a lightbox and review even the mounted transparencies from my portfolio.

And then the personal images! I have thousancds of 35mm slides taken over 30+ years - no one wants to sit for a slide show of these now (if they ever did!). Add to this the family “snapshots” stored in 4x6 inch prints that no one sees...

So I’m back to photographing the big transparecies with my 24MP camera and scanning the 35mm transparencies and 35mm and 2 1/4 B&W negatives. This last is going to take quite awhile. When complete though, I’m throwing the originals out - they bring me no joy :-)

All of this then goes up on the web where, surprisingly enough my kids, wife and extended family look at all of it! Now an argument can be made that much of this is not the photographs as art than much of this discussion is about but for this exercise I don’t make much of a distinction as all are equally important.

I have a few select prints framed in my house and a few in digital printed photo books. I also have, a very few prints stored in archival boxes to be framed some day, I think.

So pints (or transparencies) are not my real archive. My accessible archive of everything from work to projects, travel, family is on the web, which also has a two separate disk backups as well as a backup on my host. In addition by digital photo library sits on 3 different disks that are duplicates - I used to maintain 1 of these off site but then it was not usually in sync.

The one thing I don’t really worry about is the inability to read these in the future - they are constantly maintained and all images are stored redundently as Jpeg, Tif and RAW (if applicable). In the digital world I’ve probably had just about every variant of storage that good money could be thrown at - but before I got ride of the last bernouli, floppy (8, 5 1/4 and 3.5in) tape drives, syquest (44, 88, 105, 270MB) dozens upon dozens of Hardrives (my first 300MB drive was $1500) Hmm print archiving is starting to sound like the economical alternative!

Just yesterday I was reminded of my need to have proper backups!
While in use my MacBook froze, and wouldn’t restart. I had the flashing folder icon. Apparently something went wrong with the flash drive. I was ready to reinstall the OS, but the drive was not even available for formatting!
Just 8 months ago I lost many files to grapics card meltdown. But because of that I knew I didn’t have many mission critical. Files on my mac. As a last resort before taking to the shop, I popped open the hood, cleaned the dust, and disconnected the flash drive. After putting it al back together. It worked!
I immediately backed up my most recent files. Now I’m ready. Drive failure is not an if question, it’s a when question!

Every argument that muses about old digital media becoming obsolete and unreadable (5 1/4” floppies, anyone?) is both correct and missing the point. You don’t archive the media, you archive the data. A career in IT sought me that the only archives and backups worthwhile having were live, online and accessible. Physical media is just that: physical. It breaks, wears out, becomes obsolete. Good archival processes continually migrate the data to current media, which is regularly accessed to prove it’s still good.

I have data archives going back decades, but no media more than a few years old. I have data archives originally created with no-longer available apps and formats, but the data has been migrated to current formats (my old Managing Your Money data, originally on floppies, now lives in Quicken 2018) and copies exist on a variety of hard drives, SSD, and cloud storage.

Prints are lovely. Prints are great. But prints are the jpeg: a way to view the data. I’ll keep my raw files and migrate them as needed, as I have, for as long as I can.

Do you have any recommendations for custom printers? This is the sort of thing that is impossible to search for because of the ambiguity of the word printer. I’m not looking for a machine to print, I’m looking for a great person to wring out the best my images have to offer. Is there a good way of finding those people? There should be.

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