Posts Tagged ‘gear’

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Life’s good when you have a (hard drive) backup plan!

December 6, 2010

I recently had an interesting experience that illustrates why I’m always bugging my students to create a backup plan for their computers and their photography files, and be diligent about keeping up-to-date. I know this doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject, but believe me, without a backup plan I would have gotten rather excited.

Here’s what happened. While shooting some models for a jewelry client, with the camera tethered into Lightroom, I think I must’ve gotten a bit carried away and shot too fast for the camera’s buffer to manage. Lightroom got sort of locked up and I was facing the spinning beach ball. I tried to quit Lightroom and when that didn’t work I glibly shut down the computer altogether. That’s when things started to get worse. When I relaunched Lightroom and tried to shoot into it things locked up again and I had to crash the computer again. I tried again, and again with similar results. I did manage to get through that shoot and it seemed like things were okay. However, when I reviewed the files many of them were reported as damaged in Lightroom and they had some pretty strange looking patterns all over them. Then the whole hard drive started to behave strangely. When I restarted the computer, the hard drive wouldn’t mount anymore. I tried disk repair (a Mac utility for repairing hard drives) but no luck. The drive directory had a fatal error, probably due to my having crashed the computer a couple of times.

Of course this is the drive that contains all my photographs both personal and client work, so I was more than a little disturbed. After trying a few more repair tricks to no avail I decided to simply turn to my back up system. I completely reformatted the faulty drive (that was a scary moment), then I used my recently updated backup drive to restore all my photos and files! SilveKeeper made it very easy to do, I just had to plug in my backup drive, launch SilverKeeper and click restore. It took a couple of hours to copy over all the data but when it was done by drive was totally back in order with all my photos intact and recognized by Lightroom. Big sigh of relief!

Fortunately, all the shots from the days shoot were safely intact on the camera cards so all I had to do was import them into Lightroom and everything was good. Now that I’ve told you my little horror story, I thought I’d share my actual backup system so you can easily see how it works and how you can implement it for yourself (Here’s a PDF you can download):

The key to this system is having Off Line backups of your drives, that are not plugged in when you’re working.  That way, if something gets corrupted, as happened to me, your Off Line backup gallops in to the rescue!

Okay, so I know this is a bit mundane as a subject, but it just saved me from a whole world of pain and anxiety! And now I hope it will save you from the same.

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My Hard Drive is Full!…. What Now?

September 2, 2010

I just had an interesting experience dealing with one of the inevitable hassles of digital storage. My external hard drive (750gig) which holds all my photography was filling up! So off I went to a local computer store (Canada Computers on College Street) and bought a big spacious 2 TB drive (For a mere $109). I bought just the bare drive, as I was planning on putting it in the enclosure which houses my current drive.

So now my question was how to get all the photos and some various other stuff I stored on the drive onto my new drive. No big deal, except that I didn’t want to break all my connections in Lightroom and have to go through the process of getting Lightroom to find all my photos again. Since I have a few different catalogs (mostly for teaching purposes) on this one drive it would be a pain to have to reconnect all the Lightroom catalogs.

I thought about migrating all the photographs through the Lightroom interface, but this would involve doing each catalog separately and then copying over the remaining bits and pieces of data that I have on the drive. I didn’t like that idea!

So I decided to try a different approach. I placed the new drive in an enclosure that I happened to have lying around (this is where one of those drive docks would come in handy!). When I mounted and formatted the new drive I was careful to name it exactly the same name as my existing photo drive. To my surprise, both drives showed up on my desktop even though they both have the same name!

I then used a really handy little free program from Lacie (SilverKeeper) to create an exact copy of my very full hard drive on the new drive. The advantage of using a program like SilverKeeper to do this exercise is that it makes an exact copy of your drive, including any invisible files and directory information. The copying process took a while, so I ran it over night while I was sleeping.

In the morning I came down and unplugged both drives. Then I switched the new drive into the old enclosure. (This isn’t really totally necessary step, as I could have left it in the enclosure it was in. However I wanted to use the FireWire 800 enclosure that I had been using, since it provides faster read times than USB) after the switch I plugged in the new drive and launched Lightroom, with my fingers crossed. To my delight, Lightroom found its catalog and all the photos, no problem!

I was very pleased to save myself the hassle of having to relocate all those photos in all my different catalogs. I guess the secret to the trick is to have the new drive named exactly the same name as the old drive so that Lightroom gets tricked into believing that the location hasn’t really changed.

By the way, the ultimate solution to this issue is to purchase a Drobo. These are multi-bay hard drive enclosures that hold four, five, or eight drives. The cool thing about the Drobo is that it combines all the drives into one volume, and it does it in a way that you can actually switch out smaller drives for larger ones without losing any data. It also protects you in case of one drive failing. For those of you who shoot large quantities of photos and or video, the Drobo is a really good idea!

I just thought I’d share this solution with you, since it’s inevitable that one day you’re going to fill up your drive and have to migrate your data, and this method works well with Lightroom.

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What Lens Should I Buy?

March 21, 2008

This is the question most often asked by my students. So I thought I should take this opportunity  to set down my thoughts on lens choices.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Interesting new photo site

February 4, 2008

I just came across a new site by veteran photographer Joe McNally.  It’s a brand new blog, where he generously shares his know-how and insights.  Looks like one to watch!  Here’s the link:Joe McNally’s Blog 

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