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Of Backups and Archives

I remember back when I got my Nikon D800 DSLR camera. 36MP. THIRTY-SIX! Enormous! YUGE FILES! Now we have cell phone cameras with more resolution. LOL The more resolution the better, right?! From a quality perspective, perhaps. But from a storage perspective, this massive amount of Data Hoarding has become a nightmare to manage. Let me explain.

In the digital world, we have many enemies to our data. The number 1 is storage media failure (ex: hard drive dies). People don’t seem to understand that it is a matter of “when” not “if.” Mechanical hard drives will all die eventually and we don’t know when. 5-10 years? 1-2? Hard to say. Even with premium drives, they still all die. So people have devised that backing up the data is essential. This has led to the 3-2-1 principle that states 1 is none, 2 is one and 3 is two, meaning that unless you have 3 copies of your data, it doesn’t exist digitally. All people should follow this practice. However, when you start managing Terabytes of data, this management gets more and more expensive. But the priceless family memories are … priceless! So what do we do for ourselves and our photography clients?

We start doing the math on storage cost per Terabyte. Hard drives are by far the cheapest means of backup. Here’s a quick list of Nov. 2019 CDN pricing on Amazon for 7200 RPM drives:

The sweet spot is either 2TB or 8TB drives in cost per TB, although they are all pretty close. So that’s easy then. Just buy the size of drives you need x 3 and be done with it. This works best for a backup (redundancy) solution. The only hang up is, these drives, when placed into cold storage (ex: in a box in your closet or fire safe) are still susceptible to failure both mechanically with the drive mechanisms (they are best used spinning not sitting) and also magnetic degradation (the platter the data is stored on degrades over time resulting in data loss). So this is not ideal either. What options are left for the archive solution?

You can go with a cloud solution and/or with an optical media solution. Services like Amazon S3 Glacier are now more affordable than ever (like $0.0018ย per GB for their Deep/Archival solution [$1.80 per month per TB]). You have the advantage of your data being protected against our other enemies: physical theft and physical destruction by catastrophe like fire or flood. But, someone else also has access to your data in the cloud. It is more susceptible to digital theft as hackers can also steal it, despite locked down and secure systems. And, you have the added time/cost of the bandwidth to upload all your files.

So that leaves us with the final solution for archiving data. Optical Discs. Word on the street is that archival quality DVDs are the best in longterm cold storage options. However, at only 4.7GB per disc, it becomes unfeasible for archiving lots of data. One TB saved on DVD would take ~213 discs and cost a whopping $490 dollars!

This is where archiving to Blu-Ray becomes the only practical option in my mind. For shelf-life, the M-Disc option is being promoted as King by lasting 1000 years! Chances are none of us will be around to verify that claim! Blu-Ray manufacturers claim that these discs could/should last 100-150 years. Not too shabby. This means that under ideal storage circumstances, your data should be safe 10-15x longer than on hard drives alone.

I’m thinking that the Blu-Ray option for archiving will be the way to go. The advantages outweigh the cons. Stick them in a fire safe at home or in a safety deposit box and Bob is your dad’s brother. Massive data centre entities like Amazon & Facebook have gone this route. Many will say that optical media is a dying medium. While it may be less popular/convenient than other methods of handling data such as a RAID or NAS, for archiving I’m leaning heavily to going with this option for a long-term, data archiving option. It’s about an $18 per TB premium over buying more hard drives and still cheaper than the $21.60 for an Amazon deep glacier cloud service (per TB, per year).

To wrap this up, using Blu-Ray as the third member of the 3 fold Data-Safe Strategy is a good way to go. It’s a bit more costly per TB than hard-drives, but offers far greater longevity, making them cheaper by the year. With digital assets, nothing is fool proof. But this strategy will go a long way to keeping your data safe and accessible for years to come. Kick Murphy our of your digital life! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Claybank in Black & White

I love Black & White photography. I also love colour. But every once in a while, B&W is the way to go. The family was recently out at Claybank, Saskatchewan the site of an old brick factory that has since been converted into a museum/heritage site. The textures of this place scream Black & White! So, I shot that way with my trusty XPro-2 and the good ol’ 23mm lens. This is a build your own film simulation setting that seeks to mimic an old Tri-X film from back in the day. Really punchy, really contrasty. I added a bit of grit/clarity in post to make the images more crunchy. It’s a cool way to use light and make memories. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Grad 2019

Time for a long overdue High School Grad blog update! I love shooting grads, it’s probably my favourite genre photographically. It incorporates such a variety of styles from headshots to detail shots to environmental portraiture to off camera flash to natural light, the whole gambit. And, 99.99999% of the time, the grads actually want their photos taken. So they cooperate! ๐Ÿ˜Ž This goes a loooooong way to making awesome lasting memories for the client. This gallery has a few of my fav images from this past grad season.


Spruce Woods, MB – A Photo Essay at 35mm

Our Family took an extended May Long Weekend to go to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba. It just so happened to be only 2.5 hours from where we live so no big deal, even with the near 1 year old baby in tow. I brought along my Fuji Film XPro-2 and all three “Fuji Cron” lenses (23, 35, 50 ~ 35, 50, 76). But I shot the whole trip with only the 23mm (35mm) lens. Mainly because I am used to that focal length from my X100s fixed lens camera. But also because I believe that 35mm is the most versatile focal length for travel photography.

What makes Spruce Woods awesome is that it is a gorgeous sandy desert . . . that happens to have an incredible forest of Spruce, Aspen and Juniper trees growing out of it! As I surveyed the landscape, I was bombarded with “How can this place exist?” It seems like a twilight zone time warp walking around there! We took a Belgian horse drawn wagon tour which was really neat and then did some hiking the next day around the dunes. The two main natural attractions are the dunes and the little spring fed lake called “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” But the whole place truly is something to see.

Back to the Fuji kit. The XPro2 is my fav camera of all time. So compact and versatile in and of itself and when coupled with the little 23mm lens offers a perfect mix of portability and capability. I shot primarily in JPG as I always do with Fuji because the files are THAT good. I switched to RAW for a couple shots where I wanted extended dynamic range if I wanted to make a print later. But the JPGs are so brilliant I usually only shoot that format. There’s quite a bit of latitude for editing even the JPGs but I nearly never have to do anything to the files. They come out of camera so, so sweet. Colours are amazing. Detail is crisp and clear. What’s not to love?

So 35mm. It’s truly a versatile place to live when shooting travel (especially with kids in tow). It’s a ‘pretty wide’ way to the view the world without being toooooo wide, although if you were going for straight landscapes you’d want to be wider perhaps. I’d highly recommend this one lens/one focal length approach for your next trip. See what the restriction brings! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Wild Turkeys

We’ve been super fortunate to have this pack of wild turkeys hanging out at our place. They come right into the yard, struttin’ their stuff. They’ve been around for quite a few years but this year they have been really quite prevalent. It made for some sweet photo ops early this morning. I took some shots through window glass and then stalked them out into the back prairie. I was able to get within 10-15′ of the birds which was pretty sweet. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Spring hath Sprung!

The Crocuses have once again returned to the prairies. I saw the most perfect one ever today out back on the prairie and I went back to get a couple macro shots.

Here is the hi-tech lighting setup. Full noon day sun through a reflector scrim. Really nice wrapping and soft light. Nikon D800 with the 105mm macro lens.

1:1 Crop

They truly are a magnificent aspect of prairie life! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Sundog Fundog!

Hey! When winter time rolls around, my cameras basically never see the light of day. If they get any use, it’s all indoors. I’ve got some posts coming up about indoor macro work I have been doing but in terms of getting outside, forgetaboutit! It’s way too cold and miserable for me to mess around with gear.

That said, I couldn’t help myself yesterday. There were the most incredible sundogs I’ve ever seen! It was -50 BillionยบC but I ran out with the D800 and 16-35mm f/4 lens. There was this “double rainbow” sundog that I’ve never encountered up above the complete ring around the sun. It was worth freezing my baguettes off! ๐Ÿคฃ


They were impressive enough in the landscape orientation but even with 16mm I couldn’t get in that top reflection so portrait orientation won the day! โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿถ


Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my clients, friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully photo-filled 2019! All of God’s richest blessings! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜Ž

๐Ÿ‘‰  Photo Credit to Tatum Duryba of Paper Moon Photography. 


X-Pro2 50mm Window Light

So my newborn is like 5 months old. Where did that go?!! And, because she is the 4th child, I basically have no photos of her. LOL. The first kid always has 50 billion photos and the subsequent kids grow up to think that nobody loves them! ๐Ÿคฃ But rest assured baby number 4, we do love thee!

I grabbed the Fuji X-Pro2 and the trusty 50mm f/2 lens and took some candids in the window light. ย All of these photos are completely unedited, other than the resize for the blog. Fuji absolutely nails skin tones. Every. Single. Time.

I shot all of these images in JPEG and used the various film simulation modes. The warmer ones were Astia and the cooler ones are Classic Chrome. I think the warmth of Astia is a little bit nice for a baby especially one as doughy as my Esther. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I was having some weird focusing issues with the 50mm earlier in the year. It seemed to back focus quite a bit/randomly. I was happy to see that this shoot seemed to nail focus pretty good, yielding some super sharp results at 100% crop. The Fuji face/eye detect setting works surprisingly well and is no gimmick. I’ll be using that setup forever when shooting this lens wide open.

FujiFilm 50mm f/2 at 100% ~ ISO 800 f2.2 1/200

The other thing I love to death about the film simulation modes is ACROS. This yields such glorious black and white images it’s scary. To think that you can get this kind of look in camera with no extra editing? It’s just awesome. I’ve always been a huge fan of ACROS and the really nice “filmic” type grain it has. I setup my Q menu settings with NR -2, Across with a Yellow filter (makes skin glow a bit), Highlight & Shadow Tone -1 and Sharp +1. It seems to yield pretty nice results.

For another look at the various filter effects with ACROS, look at this page.ย It has some really good side by side comparison. The green filter would be better for character portraits to flatten out the skin a bit. But for doughy babies, yellow is where it’s at! ๐Ÿ˜Ž ย 


Macro Snow

So we had some really neat chunky snow flakes the other day. I ran out early in the morning and nabbed a few macro photos while the wind was low. The trusty 105mm Nikkor and the stalwart Nikon D800 were the weapons of choice for this hunt – maximum resolution and resolving power! 

It’s incredible to see the intricacies of frozen water up close like this. I have included a square cropped image here of the larger picture to see more of the detail. 

It’s pretty wild stuff to see!

The “ball” images above here are frozen chokecherries. They are almost the same image, the only difference is lighting. On the darker blue image I lit the chokecherry with a flashlight in close  and feathered a bit to give the image some shape and specular highlights – which we didn’t get with the flat cloudy ambient light. #Sparkle ๐Ÿคฉ

In this block of images you can see the crops of the above. The creative genius of God on display for our viewing pleasure! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™