Learning Photography

For an aspiring professional photographer to prosper in the trade, there are several important aspects and techniques of photography that one has to learn and muster. In fact, to help him/her to improve in photography, one must cover both useful and not so useful in the trade. Examples of these techniques and operations in photography that I have learned in my endeavors to become an accomplished and competent photographer are aperture (depth of field), shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation. I have also amassed knowledge about certain fundamental principles of digital images such as scanning, color theory, basic image adjustment, file management, and printing. Most, if not all of these techniques are quite useful for application in various genres of photography including photography at air shows, wildlife photography, and sports photography among others. This Article is a learning narrative of the various techniques and operations of photography that I have leaned and amassed considerable level of knowledge

Transferring and Backing Up Images
Now that you have a good system set up for your images, it’s time to organize the images themselves. Let’s start from the beginning, when images are first transferred from your camera or digital memory to your computer. Create a folder for the specific day the images were created (if there are several days of images on the folder, split them up into their respective days) as per the instructions above. Then put the folders of images in the corresponding ‘month folders’. Now that the images are on your hard drive, it’s a very good idea to back them up to at least one other location before you empty your memory card. As mentioned above, I have an extra hard drive just for my photographs. For now, I use my C: drive (master hard drive) for backup. A better (though more expensive) system would be to have another dedicated hard drive (possible external) for backup.

If you don’t have a second hard drive for backup, it’s a good idea to back up the images on CD or DVD. Blank discs from reputable companies are so inexpensive these days (~$0.30 Canadian). The best thing to do is to make two (2) copies, keep one ‘on site’ (where your computer is), and bring the other somewhere out of the building – maybe to work, or to a friend’s place whom you trust. Now you’re ready to erase (format) your camera’s memory card. I prefer to do it in-camera for two reasons: first, this makes sure the camera formats the card with a system that the camera’s software will understand; secondly, it ensures that you don’t accidentally erase or format the wrong folder or drive on your computer – stranger things have happened!

Managing Edited Images
There is quite a bit you can do to keep your images organized in the editing process. I will cover Image Tags in the next section, just below. First, when you have edited your photo and go to save it (no matter what file format you choose), I find it best to keep the original file name and file location, but add another name to the end. Ex: DSC_1035 – Water Drops.jpg, or DSC_2846 – Edit.psd, etc. If creating alternate versions, show that in the name somehow. Ex: DSC_1035 – Water Drops.jpg and DSC_1035 – Water Drops B&W.jpg, DSC_1035 – Water Drops crop.jpg, DSC_1035 – Water Drops Resize 20×30.jpg, etc. By keeping the original names and locations with the edited images, it is easier to find the originals for future editing. Also, if you remember the date or name of the event you shot, it will be easy to find all the associated images.

Backing Up Images
How often you do this is up to you (depends on value – either personal or monetary). I do it once I have a full month shot and edited, but I always keep a backup on a second hard drive, and I am ‘only’ an amateur. If this was my living, I’d backup everything every day. Back up onto secondary hard drive (remember, only the originals are backed up on there now!) Back up onto DVD and bring them off site. When I back up my edits, I back them up with the originals again. It makes one more copy, and if my hard drive were to fail, it would be a quick and easy way to restore everything. Another option to the endless DVDs is a portable hard drive. They are getting cheaper all the time, and it would be a quick, easy way to back up your photos and bring them to a secure, off site location. I can’t stress this enough – backing up is cheap! You can get reputable, 250GB, 7200 RPD, SATA hard drives for under $100 Canadian (forget the $200+ futureshop drives – check your local stores!), and DVDs and CDs can be found 100 for $30. Compare this to the film days when a roll of 24 was $5 for the film, and up to $20 for the developing and processing. You can put hundreds of thousands on a hard drive, or well over a thousand on a DVD!

DVD Storage
When blank CDs came out, they were almost $2 a piece – still a great deal for what you could store on them. Then DVDs came out, about the same price – an even better deal! Then the prices dropped – there is no reason not to back up your images onto DVD if you have access to a burner. Buy one, borrow one, do something!

Once you have your images copied to CD or DVD, there are a couple more things you can do to secure the safety of your images. First – and this may be over the top for lighter users – some people back up all their image twice, then on two different brands of DVD. That’s four copies! They keep one copy of each brand where their base is, and keep another set somewhere secure (another building, safety deposit box, etc.). Then, once a year, check the files on each brand on DVD. If one brand looks be going corrupt, they have another safe set. Then they back up and replace all the DVDs of the ‘corrupting’ brand. If your pictures make you money, or mean the world to you, this is worth the effort.

Store DVDs in a cool place, away from direct light. If you have your ‘home base’ DVDs on your desk or a bookshelf, just make sure sun doesn’t get to them. Maybe store them in a dresser drawer somewhere. Keep DVDs in hard cases – not in spindles, and not in the soft cases or CD books.

Keep the DVDs upright. I don’t know the reason for this or the last point, but apparently it makes a difference. Don’t lie them down flat. Keep them vertical, like books on a shelf. Try to use CDs and DVDs from reputable brands only. Just because some off-brand disc is on sale one week doesn’t mean you should trust important files with it. Discs can go bad. Even good brand names can have a disc fail, but it’s less likely. If you’re not sure what’s hot, and what’s not, Google is always a good place to look.

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