Friday, March 27, 2009

my backup

I have had a few readers asking me about my backup strategy. What hardware do I use, how many backups do I make, is there some trick to making it easy, etc. Before I dive into my way of doing things it is important to understand that the key is duplication. If you are duplicating your files in multiple locations on multiple media and you can manage it you are doing alright.

I am going to take you from camera to archive here so hang on for the ride and refer to the map below.

  1. Captured images in the camera get transferred to my laptop on location. While the images are being imported to the laptop they are also being copied to an external hard drive. This insures that on location I have three copies. [1 - memory cards 2 - laptop 3 - external hard drive]
  2. When I get home the backup images from the smaller external drive are moved to a larger desktop drive and erased from the one that lives in my camera bag.
  3. I do my major editing on the laptop. When I am done I export high resolution JPG files for building the album, uploading to pictage, etc.
  4. Once the edits are done the image files are moved from my local drive into an external hard drive on my desk. Once a week I sync that drive with another external drive that lives at a friend's house any time I am not using it.

That's it. Nothing magical. I really like David's idea about keeping 5 star DNG files on your local laptop drive. Makes sense - I never thought of it before. I know what I will be doing on the next 2 days off I have. The key to it all is that I have a process. More importantly, I follow the process. Any images I have been paid to capture are stored on three drives. (1 - Original data from the shoot 2 - edited coppy on my desk 3 - edited coppy off site should something bad happen)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

just one more copy

PixelatedImage Blog - Backup Strategy from David duChemin on Vimeo.

I thought I was crazy about backup... David duChemin from the Pixelated Image blog goes over his "basic" backup strategy that is anything but basic. I can't say this enough - if you aren't backed up you are asking for trouble. Drives fail all the time. If you believe differently go work for a retailer selling computer hardware for a few weeks and you will quickly change your mind.

I live entirely on a laptop so I am grappling with what this backup stratagy would look like on my system. Any ideas out there? What are you doing - would be interested to hear from you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

treat yourself to HDR

For those of you who love rocking great desktop backgrounds I have a treat for you. A co-worker reminded me of this site a few days ago and I have been all over it. There are so many "background" and "wallpaper" sites out there that are just filled with ads and blah. The images over on are anything but blah. Many of the images are HDR; however, there is a good assortment of amazing imagery.

Some of the images are better than others - but it is a community so the great images tend to rise to the top. You could seriously get lost for hours on this site just enjoying the images. They even have an iPhone application available that gives you the ability to download the images and use them in a format that is friendly for your iPhone or iPod touch.

This is a great place to find some fresh new ideas and get inspired. Check 'em out at

note: images in this post were downloaded from I do not own the images or stake any claims on them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anaheim Califorina Day 4 (Santa Monica)

Just off the bus, I was a little frustrated because the sky was overcast. No blue skies. First day we have been in CA that the sky hasn't been blue. No worries though - I used my powers for good and not evil. Grey sky ... I can work with that.

Ashley and I ate a wonderful meal on the Santa Monica Promenade. The meal was great and part of the experience was a street musician. A highlight was when some girls sitting at the table next to us commented that he should try out for American Idol. I'm pretty sure there is a firm age limit... sorry dude. Anyways, I captured this image to remember the day.

Come on - you have wanted to do it... admit it. Take pictures while on a roller coaster. And just so you know... looking through the lens while on a coaster multiplies the feeling of weightlessness so be cautious when doing it. The scenery on the Santa Monica pier is amazing so it felt appropriate to shoot this shot.

Ashly is not much of a fan of carousels so it is a wonder that I got her on it - but the view was well worth it. Ocean and the coast in all directions makes a normal carousel seem less exciting. Great time - I hate that we have to leave tomorrow but all good things must come to and end.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Protector

Those of you outside Best Buy will not understand how huge this is - but for those of you who do... I GOT TO MEET THE PROTECTOR! Very cool opportunity. When he saw my camera he said, "HOLY COW, that thing is huge how many maga-pixels is that?" I replied "8." To which he said, "that's it? Are you serious?" I smiled and said - "it's not the quantity that matters it's the quality." And he came back with (in a deep serious voice) - "That's what I always say!" ... it felt like a good time for a "that's what she said moment." Anyways - Ashley and I are having a blast out in CA. Thank's to Nathan for taking my picture.

Anaheim Califorina Day 2

I spent most of the day at a Vendor show getting tons of swag - you can cry for me later if you want. Anyways, after the glad handing was finished Ashley and I headed over to Downtown Disney (which was a farther walk than we anticipated).

On the way there I saw this image as I looked up at the horizon of blue (I love dusk on the west cost). I loved the composition and snapped this one as we walked.

On the way home we were walking down the boardwalk under some palm trees like the day before. However, now they were wonderfully lit by some up lights so I stopped for a moment and took it all in.

By the way - all images on this vacation are hand-held. I am not on the trip to take photos I just happen to be taking them as I go. I didn't really have room in the suitcase for a tripod based on my purpose for the trip. Anyways - I hope you enjoy the images.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

spring - 2009

Camera: Canon 20D 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 w/macro attachment
Settings: ISO 100 1/80 @ f/11 Aperture Priority

Spring is at the door. Literally... I looked out the sliding glass door of my studio and the tree outside was blooming (pictured above). For some spring is exciting because of new cloths and better temperatures. For others spring is a pain because of all the pollen and what not that reeks havoc on the sinus'. For those who have found medication (as I have) the former is true of the season. I get so excited when I see things start to bloom. I see engagement shoots outside and June weddings under the sun. I see my dog chasing after squirrels and ducks every time we go for a walk. Now is the time to be watching the plant life around you for amazing images.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anaheim Califorina Day 1

John Wayne America: Outside the Orange County Airport this statue towers in front of a grand American flag with the afternoon sun. Before I hopped on a bus to head to the hotel I snagged this shot. I got way down on the ground to frame the flag behind the statue - good start!

Ashley and I went for a walk after checking in to our hotel room and as we walked down the boardwalk I looked up and HOLY COW what a view!

After Lunch Ashley and I dropped by this new shop called Lush. They make fresh hand-made soaps that smell fantastic; however, they look kinda like cheese. Anyways - I snapped a shot of a stack of the stuff with some cool light through an adjacent window.

easy pano

Yesterday I posted about the Harris Brothers. Today I want to share this image with you from the event. Perfect example of how much Photoshop's Pano stitch has improved in CS4. In CS2 (the first version with built in pano stitch it was rough. You could do everything right and it would still come out all choppy. Now when I say right here is what I mean ... camera on tripod, manual exposure mode, manual focus and overlap your photos 20% or more. Kinda a pain. CS3 added some better blending but a tripod was still a must. Today in CS4 everything has changed. This image was taken in Aperture priority - exposure was just whatever the camera said it should be. I was hand-holding the camera and I was only roughly making sure I had a decent overlap. I pivoted on my center and hoped for the best.

Night and day from what we used to have to do! I don't consider a pano to be my bread and butter by any stretch of the immagination. I guess what I am trying to articulate is ... Panoramas are so easy to shoot now I usually pop one off in about 15 seconds that I can stitch together later. I am not counting on it as a shot (If I am counting on it I will usually take the pano three times doing it slightly different each time just to be sure). It is just a nice shot to have. Great for backgrounds and web galleries. A pano just looks cool. So go out and shoot some panoramas and have FUN!

Monday, March 16, 2009

do hard things...

Sunday I got an amazing opportunity to photography Alex and Brett Harris giving a talk to our Church's youth group. Super sharp guys. Weather you are a religious individual or not it is amazing to here these guys talk about breaking the current American culture that says the teenage years are just for goofing around and that your life doesn't really start until after college when you get a real job and start out in the real world.

At 17 they competed for an internship with a prestigious law firm - something normal reserved for pre-law students in college. They have spoken to millions of teens across the globe and continue to draw huge attention with their blog "The Rebelution."

They are even tight with Chuck Norris ... I don't care who you are. If you are friends with Chuck Norris you are pretty awesome. By the way if you were wondering... Chuck Norris doesn't have an email address... he reads your mail!

Photographing these guys was a ton of fun mostly because I got to hear them speak at the same time. I shot totally available light and rocked ISO 800 for most of the day. You can check out Alex and Brett Harris on their blog as well as on twitter @therebelution.

emulate first

EMULATE–verb (used with object)

  1. to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass: to emulate one's father as a concert violinist.
  2. to rival with some degree of success: Some smaller cities now emulate the major capitals in their cultural offerings.
You've heard it said that we have to walk before we crawl. This holds true in so many ways - probably why it is considered a cliché. Sometimes as photographers we need to emulate before we can innovate. Sometimes we have to go out and copy someone else before we can step out on our own and be confident enough to create something unique. Foundational excellence is not derived from coming up with a cool new way of doing photography. Solomon said it best when he said,
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)
Perhaps we should spend less time attempting to come up with a new way of looking at the world and exchange that time for viewing the world as others have seen it. Learn from their mistakes first hand. Put our eyes in their camera. Every serious photographer has a photographer he or she admires or aspires to be. My encouragement to you today is to build your foundation. Find someone who is creating foundationally excellent images and try to copy them. Start by copying a style and soon your own will glean the nuggets of excellence from that photographer. Soon copying will turn in to an influence. If you ever sit down with an older master of any craft they will tell you of people long gone who were instrumental in shaping their style. Who shapes your style? Who influences your images? Important questions ... but how you answer them is up to you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I am a control freak - ok, I went out and said it. I like having complete control over all I do professionally from meeting with the client to shooting the event to proofing and communicating after the wedding. But I am getting tired. I am getting worn down. This week I had something drop in my lap. I was sitting next to a co-worker and he was looking at his friend's wedding photos from the previous month online through a company called pictage. I was impressed at how the images were organized and like the structure. The browsing experience looked fantastic and my co-worker was having a blast on his laptop looking at these images. Fast forward to Tuesday of this week. I was in the studio working on a few things and I started listening to TWiP (This Week in Photograph). This week they interviewed Jason Kiefer - founder of Pictage and he gave an amazing interview. I went and poked around the site, took a look at their services, and I am completely sold on their service! Take a look and listen to the interview over at

CORRECTION 3/15/09: TWiP photo link has been corrected.

Monday, March 9, 2009

paint with light in lightroom 2.0

A few weeks ago I posted an article entitled "wait for it...". I took a look at an image I had initially dismissed while doing a photo walk that ended up being a pretty cool image after I got over my initial reactions and frustrations with the day. Today we take a look at how I shaped the light in this image and how to ad drama, depth and dimension to any image using a few simple tools in Lightroom.

CORRECTION 3/15/09: Holding the "o" key not the zero key but the letter "o" while in the brush or gradient tool brings up the red mask. Thanks so much to reader s_erez for sharing that tip.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Like so many of you out there I GO GO GO GO GO until eventually I have to crash. We push our selves to run at 120% like there's no tomorrow. I have felt sickness crouching at my door for about a week and just continued truckin' along. Eventually your body just makes you stop. I have spent the past two days sleeping, coughing, sneezing, and just being miserable.

Even though I feel like death warmed over I wanted to pass along a great new site I ran across: DTownTV. It is hosted by Matt Kloskowski and Scott Kelby from Photoshop User TV and Kelby Training. It is geared toward Nikon shooters but the tips on HDR and image stabilization in the first two episodes universally apply to all SLR cameras. You should check it out.