Everyone knows that in the digital world, you need 3 copies of your data for it to exist. This makes the need for back up solutions imminent, especially for professionals whose reputation and bottom line are on the line when it comes to data loss! It’s a very serious situation. But surprisingly, there aren’t many easy & convenient ways to solve this problem.
I have a Thunderbolt Lacie 2 bay drive enclosure configured to RAID 1 for data redundancy. This setup gives me 2 identical copies of my photos. But 1 more is still needed. Most people will suggest that it should be an offsite solution, such as an online cloud backup service. The problem I have with that solution is: 1) it’s a pain to upload that much data (several terabytes) unless you have very fast internet speeds. 2) it continues to cost you money as a subscription. And 3) it’s a privacy/security risk to have a 3rd party in cyberspace in control of your data.
The way I’ve addressed the 3rd data copy is to buy another external hard drive, in my case a 4GB Seagate USB 3 drive, and store it in a fire safe. You can easily take said safe and move it to another location and bring it back when you need to synchronize your working data.
But this process itself has always been cumbersome at best. There wasn’t an easy way to synchronize the updated data. I wanted a simple and elegant solution like Apple’s Time Machine. But unless your photos are on your local drive, Time Machine isn’t going to work for this process. You can buy additional software to do it but who wants to spend more money?! I’m too cheap.
Enter: terminal & rsync.
I’ve recently been exploring the terminal in Mac OS X and it is one seriously powerful tool. Everyone is used to the graphical user interfaces while text terminals are scary at best and for computer nerds at worst! But if you, fellow photographer, will get your nerd on a little bit you will find the solution to your back up woes.
What this command does is synchronize two folders of data. You have your source: your photos, your lightroom catalogues, your business files, whatever you want, and you have your destination: a backup hard drive where you want the data to be copied. But it’s not merely a data copy function. Rather what makes rsync magical is that it will synchronize your folders. Meaning that after the first backup you do, it will synchronize only the changed data from source to destination. So you’re not re-copying reams of data, only the changed bits. This makes backing up your precious photos and data super easy!
You can checkout this YouTube video for a good tutorial on how the command works. Before trying it on your pictures, I suggest trying it out on some non critical data to get the feel for the command line and how this command works.
After you get the hang of it, the sure awesomeness of the backup workflow will knock your socks off! It’s ultra convenient to hook up your drive, run the command and then kick back and relax as your data is totally synchronized and safe. You don’t have to wonder if you copied these files or those files, they are all there. If you want to get ultra nerdy, you could even write a script and automate the process even further. Check out this video from 8-Bit Guy to see how to do it.
As you can see, it’s not overly difficult. Once the Terminal is demystified, you can harness its awesome power for your photography workflow. Losing data sucks. Losing photos REALLY sucks. It’s a pain, it’s inconvenient, it’s costly. Using a few simple lines of terminal code can really save you a bunch of hassle and keep your data nice & safe. 😎
Cameras are truly amazing things, they have the ability to capture time forever! In the old days, it was stored on film but since the digital revolution, it’s stored in bits and bytes, zillions upon zillions of 1s and 0s. RAW is the format that can capture almost as much information as film. RAW is exactly what the camera sees and saves when you push your shutter button on your camera. The files are enormous but they give you the most options in the universe for editing. JPEG locks you into a specific format that still looks great, takes up way less space but is limited.
I shot JPEG forever because RAW was scary to me. I didn’t yet understand the amazing potential that existed with it. After I saw the light, I switched to shooting solely RAW and have been blown away by what can be accomplished when editing photos in RAW – far more than JPEG! But, I’ve also watched my hard drives fill up with images – lots of junk images that I know I will never develop any bigger than a 4×6 or maybe an 8×10 (and should probably just be deleted all together). 😐
Enter my new workflow revelation. Shooting RAW+JPEG! I have come to believe this is THE way to go. You always have the RAW file to work with, but you also have smaller JPEGs that process quicker, look great out of the camera, and take up way less hard drive space. I set my camera to take RAW and Medium sized JPEGS with Fine compression giving me a file size that is 3216 × 2136 (6.9 MP) which works out to ±3megabytes.
It’s time to be realistic. Hardly ever do you print photos bigger than 8×10. And you can print that from an 1800x1200px image. So why do you need anything bigger? A JPEG image that is 3216 × 2136 is plenty sufficient. And, if you make a great photo you want to blow up to 20×30 or 40×60, you’ve got the RAW file to do that from. And here in lies my new “Best Workflow Ever” procedure.
I’ll be totally honest, I came across this concept first in a Photoflex episode (80:7, 2010) by Gary Box. He’s a professional photographer based out of Oklahoma. He shoots RAW (as everyone should) then generates 1500px JPEGS from which to edit for his clients. The computing power needed to edit small JPEGS is minimal in contrast to RAW editing, supercharging the editing workflow to notches unknown to mankind. Everything is quicker with JPEG than it is with RAW. It allows him to fully edit a photo in about 60 seconds, which is mighty quick.
The second advantage is in the importing process. When you import your images into Aperture or Lightroom, importing a few thousand small JPEGS takes no time at all. It’s fast! The processing is über quick too. But you still want the RAW files incase you get a hot photo you want to blow up. And herein lies the best part. You can import only the RAW files you want in a simple two step process. I use Aperture 3 and it makes this super easy. I’m sure you can do it with Lightroom too though.
The first thing is import your medium size, fine compression JPEGs (JPEG files only). Go through them, making your selections (stars, flags, colors) of good/keeper images. Some of the images will be complete junk (blurry, exposed wrong, test shots, etc.) – you know you don’t wanna blow hard drive space with RAW files of that crap. Even if you are diligent and delete them all later, you still have to import them all and sift through them. With smaller JPEGS, you can keep all the crap you want at a far less hdd space & time cost!
Then, once you’ve got your basic “gooder” selections done, you go back to the import dialogue and import the RAW files that match your selections. This way you only keep the RAW files for the best of your photos. You’ve got the full options if you ever want to make a big print later. Both the RAW and JPEGs import as matched pairs and you can access which ever file you want by right clicking on it and choosing either RAW or JPEG as master.
This workflow is fast, efficient and takes up considerably less room and time than just going RAW all the time. And it provides you with the best editing options because you’ve got the RAW files for only your best images. It’s truly the best workflow ever because you get the best of both RAW+JPEG worlds! 8)
Hat tip to Rob Boyer for the technical heads up on this import process. 😀