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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Photography

We have had much more snow this year than usual. It has let us get out on the weekends and take snow pictures. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, be prepared. Have your batteries fully charged, as they dissipate quickly. Don't keep cameras or lenses in the warm moist areas and then go out in the cold, as they will fog or ice up. Keep your camera out, not inside a parka. Dress appropriately. Too many people overdress. Figure out if you are going to be stationary or moving for the most part. I try to wear layers of wicking fabric, either base layers and then fleece, but not cotton. Cotton traps water and sweat and makes you colder. I try to dress in layers, and use a parka as a shell. I like a hood so that If I get cold I can pull it on. I have snow pants over fleece long underwear, and wool or poly socks. I wear base layer gloves of poly under fleece mittens. I found convertible mittens at EMS which have half fingers, and the mitten and thumb covers pull back and lock with magnets. Warm and you can use your fingers. I wear medium weight boots (Columbia) which are big enough to wear with socks. I had a pair that were too small, and got a touch of frostbite on a small toe.

I love to snowshoe. I have not had much opportunity in the past two years, but this year has been great. You can get on trails or off trails. It is as easy as walking, and I don't take poles. I carry my tripod over my shoulder, and have used it extended a few times to balance me or push me out of deep snow. I use a carbon fiber Gitzo tripod, and it is nice to carry and hold in the cold. When you snowshoe, don't over dress. You will build up sweat. My parka and my pants both have zippers to vent out sweat, and I often leave it a bit open when exerting. When I stop to shoot, I zip up and pull the hood over if I am going to stand to wait for a shot.

Here are some pictures from this weekend. I love going to the Morse Estate in Poughkeepsie, as the trails are left ungroomed, or just packed by a snowmobile for the cross country skiers. You can leave the path and go in powder, or stay on the packed trails. Great streams, ice, ponds, and light.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 has arrived

As the New Year is ushered in, we face an extended College Bowl Season (what happened to New Year's Day?), a Winter Classic (a great idea for the NHL) and a series of resolutions. I think at this time of year it is necessary to plan for the coming year. We had snow, but it has gotten warm, so there are not a lot of great shooting opportunities now. So here is a plan.

First, edit the meta data template and make it 2011. I found with Windows 7 the copyright symbol can cause issues. Instead of alt 0169 Ā© to create the symbol, use (c) if it causes problems. Found this to be a major issue with Image Ingester, and now it works fine for a preset. If you haven't looked at this piece of software, it is great. You can download all of you images, make two backups, convert to DNG, add place location, make buckets for archiving, add keywords, and include all of your own information. I know many use a preset in Lightroom, but this organizes your files, backups and information in a much tidier fashion. Check out

Second, backups. I know, no one wants to do this, but you have to get control over your backups. This is more than just adding an external drive. If you can, move your image collection off the hard drive with your OS on it. Separately back up the OS and make an image so you can restore from that point. Back up your OS. Use a scheduled backup program. This applies to a Mac or Windows rig. I let Windows back up my OS, but also image with Acronis for bare metal restoration. I tested that on a laptop I wiped clean it is amazing how it saves all of your settings and updates. Dedicate an external drive for the OS backups, and store a copy of the image of your computer there. Make an optical restore disk so you can boot your OS when you have a crash.

Third, plan a back up system for your photos. Note, I do not include this in the other backup for a reason. Planning will help you figure this out without getting disorganized. It is too easy to get multiple copies of the same images, and then your hard drives bloat to an huge size where you are not sure what is useful. Look at Peter Krogh's DAM System Book, updated in 2008, which is a great road map on how to set up your archives. Make one drive your working drive, and have a daily back up of that drive (a mirror is a good idea for this backup as it follows your changes). Keep a second external for a weekly backup, and power that down and take it off site. If you can, have two such weekly off site drives, and hook one up when needed, make a backup, then swap it with the other. Remember, these are just temporary backups of your working files. They should include your catalogs for lightroom or expressions media.

Fourth, plan an archive system for your photos. Peter Krogh does a great job of describing the worth of this organization. You can find your files, and save time from searching. You can manage backups, know what is backed up, and have some assurance that it is safe. This includes a 3-2-1 backup plan. This is three backups, in two different medias, and at least one off site. It is not as difficult as it sounds. One hard drive can be the archive, make a copy of that and update it as you move files to it, and take that drive off site. Taking it off site has two benefits. It is not subject to power failures, viruses, or other on line threats when powered up. It is off site, so it cannot be lost in a fire, a flood or a theft. We all do not want to experience that, but like insurance, we do it to prevent against such catastrophes, I use a small fire safe by Sentry to put my drives in and take it to work, where the building has a fire sprinkler. Lastly, make optical back ups. They won't have issues with viruses or hard drive failures. That clicking sound can be the end of your files. I went to Blu Ray to save space on making disks. These are my fail safe backup, if everything else fails. Make sure they are good copies, and you may want to add validation to your plan.

This is daunting to start and implement, but go methodically. Get extra drives. I like external drives in multiple drive bays, and set them up as individual drives in a JBOD set up. I have set up a small server network, with each computer having its own job. A photoshop desktop with lots of speed and memory, a calibrated wide gamut monitor, and many hard drives. A server computer to keep the archive active. A laptop to take on trips or shoots, which can serve as an ingestion computer. You can use old computers to do the backup and server tasks. It is easier, however, if all are on the same OS.

Go to for more information and recommendations. emember, a plan is best to start with, and plan your additions such as drives or computers.