Organizing working images, archiving all images, what approach to take?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by nano, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. nano

    nano Guest

    I'm curious to know how others are dealing with long term storage of
    digital images? I'll lay out some of the factors as I see them.

    I'm using a 5D, shooting raw most of the time.
    Primary software is Photoshop CS2 and Canon's Digital Photo Professional
    I tend to use 4gb memory

    There are a lot of large files to grapple with.
    I want to keep all images 'forever'.
    I need to find archived images.
    I would like to view thumbnails of archived images.
    There are many images that are very similiar.
    Some of the images are chosen to process further.
    The images that get attention end up as jpg or tiff.

    My current system is approx like so:
    Return from a shooting session with 2 4gb chips of images.
    Copy each chip to separate folder on workstation's hdd.
    Folder names reflect date and subject/location (2008-01-18 Death Valley)
    Create dvd of each folder, label by date and subject/location.
    Select some raw images to work on, move them to working dir.
    I usually retain the numeric tag that the camera assigns to an image
    through the processing stage of an image, until it gets published. This
    helps me keep track of which raw image was the source.
    Eventually when workstation hdd are crammed, have to delete older
    folders containing raw images.

    It's an ok system. Issues I see are:
    DVD media has limited lifespan so eventually all will turn to dust.
    DVD software/hardware still seem very flakey to me; I'm never sure a
    copy won't be corrupted or somehow unreadable.
    Even if I make 2 copies of images, if one fails other might fail for the
    same reason.
    Once on dvd it's hard to view thumbnails, and thumbnails are important
    when sifting older images for variations on a theme.
    It'd be ideal if thumbnails were available on my workstation for all
    archived images.
    Tried using external hdds for storage but still questions re durability
    etc, aside from cost.

    I'm a programmer so I may be able to write something that could help
    with whatever process I end up using over time, if there isn't already
    such software. But I'm very interested to hear what others are doing
    with image management.
    nano, Jan 19, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. nano

    Paul Furman Guest

    I keep those numbers with all versions. An annotated web gallery makes
    the best searchable thumbnail archive. I also make full pixel crops in
    these galleries which is handy to see if I really had that shot sharp
    enough or it was cropped, etc.
    A pair of external drives. Replace when one fails. DVDs are just too
    much hassle.
    You can extract low quality full size jpegs from all the raw files with
    some command line programs, or even maybe a batch routine for irfanview
    to make smaller thumbnails to keep all the archives on your workstation.
    Paul Furman, Jan 19, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  3. nano

    ____ Guest

    You need a DAM program (Digital Asset Management). After quite a bit of
    research I settled on Light-room. There are a number of others, most
    have a downloadable trial copy. My computer was old so quite a few would
    not function with the about of Ram I had :) I ended up making my
    purchase shortly after buying the new computer. I bought CS3 as an
    upgrade and Light Room for the reasons yo describe.
    ____, Jan 19, 2008
  4. nano

    Ali Guest

    So, you are using a 5D. You are also a programmer who maybe able to write
    something that could help?

    I really don't think so. I apologies if I am being harsh.
    Ali, Jan 19, 2008
  5. nano

    TH O Guest

    I agree. I'd google Digital Asset Management ... you'll find one book
    and a ton of information, much more than we could tell you in replies.
    There's a couple of forums out there too. I think one may be on the
    website of the author who wrote the DAM - Digital Asset Management book.

    Good luck.
    TH O, Jan 20, 2008
  6. nano

    ____ Guest

    Scott Kelby has a VG book on Light room, I forgot to mention- I hve not
    finished the book as of yet-but it is very detailed.
    ____, Jan 20, 2008
  7. I use what used to be iView Media Pro and is now Microsoft (hiss! boo!)
    Expression Media Pro since they bought it out.

    The great benefit of Expression is that after I have prepped each shoot
    or month of files, I do the annotation, keywords, etc in Expression and
    create a modest sized catalogue. These small catalogues are kept
    separately in the folders with the files for a year or so.

    Every now and then I copy all work on a large HD, and while I keep the
    files in their folders, I have one master catalogue file which is set to
    auto update and search all folders on the HD. This reads off the
    annotations, making all the images on the HD fully searchable by
    caption, keywords, date, and whatever EXIF data I choose to use. I can
    go to this HD at any time, open the catalogue in seconds, and find any
    file or selection of files out of around 6000 now stored there as 17+
    megapixel JPEGs.

    iView also allowed me to run a script which converted all my early TIFFs
    (getting just too big to store) into Level 12 JPEGs. It will also open
    any file in a designated editor (Photoshop), create web galleries or
    slideshows etc.

    So far it has proved very efficient and the annotations have been
    compliant with other external cataloguing.

    David Kilpatrick, Jan 20, 2008
  8. nano

    nano Guest

    Thanks everyone, those are helpful suggestions. I figured there must be
    some programs out there that help with this issue but had not run into
    the term Digital Asset Management. I've not been hobnobbing with
    photographers much, this issue cause me to poke my head out of my
    shell...I'm glad I did. I'll scope out the options and may post back
    here if I have any questions.
    nano, Jan 20, 2008
  9. nano

    nano Guest

    OK, I'm curious, is there something logically impossible about owning a
    5D and as a programmer being able to write something that helps with
    archiving images?

    Your posting might seem harsh to someone that has a clue what you're
    about, but I'm just puzzled.
    nano, Jan 20, 2008
  10. nano

    TH O Guest

    I'm not the person who posted that but ... it sounds like he was
    implying (not very tactfully) that it is a huge project. I'd look at it
    this way -- you might be able to purchase something for $65 which will
    do what you want. That way you can spend your time taking photographs
    instead of programming.

    I'd look at programs like Lightroom, iView (now owned by Microsoft and
    has a new name), Aperture, and iMatch. I haven't tried a demo recently
    but when I looked at iMatch a year or two ago, it looked *very*
    impressive for a reasonable price. I'm about to reassess the programs
    out there and the first two I would look at today would be Adobe
    Lightroom and iMatch.
    TH O, Jan 20, 2008
  11. nano

    nano Guest

    I'll check out iMatch, thanks.

    nano, Jan 20, 2008
  12. nano

    nano Guest

    One aspect of the various DAMs that I'm not sure of (I've looked at
    lightroom and iMatch now) that is at the core of what might be shaping
    up into a 'plan', is can they create thumbnail galleries, or catalogs of
    any type, for storage that is off line?

    I'm still not sure exactly what approach I'm going to take re the
    physical storage of the files, but the post by Paul Furman makes a lot
    of sense, that is to keep identical copies of the original images on two
    separate external hard disks. There will be more than one pair of these
    disks, and they'd not always be connected. But it'd be ideal to have the
    cataloge or thumgnail gallery available on the main workstation, for all
    archived images, even if the disk is not connected. Can they do that?
    Most of the stuff I've read deals with organizing images, even
    processing them, and that's fine, but my #1 issue is archiving, being
    able to reference those archives in a transparent manner.
    nano, Jan 20, 2008
  13. nano

    Ali Guest

    You own a 5D, so I would presume that you are no newbie to photography.
    Maybe I am wrong, but generally I have found that this is the case with 5D
    users. Of course, this is not always true.

    You are also a programmer, so I would also presume that you are no newbie to

    In addition to this, you are using CS2, which comes with Adobe Bridge, which
    allows you to view thumbnails and organise very easily.

    You are also using a good filing system, for example "2008-01-18 Death

    All in all, a pretty good setup. So when you said that you "may be able to
    write something that could help with whatever process you end up using over
    time", my reaction would be "I don't think so". Why does someone need to
    use additional software, when the OS already does what you want? BTW, the
    same applies even for someone taking photos with just a mobile phone.

    I also don't understand why are you using DVD's for backup, when a decent
    Seagate external harddrive will do everything DVD's will do, plus more, and
    is so cheap? You don't need additional software to do this, which is why I
    am so surprised with your post.
    Ali, Jan 20, 2008

  14. If you're on a PC, ThumbsPlus ( can do this.
    It's shareware, so you can try it out first.

    Mark P. Nelson, Jan 20, 2008
  15. nano

    nano Guest

    Ali I'm sure you're way ahead of me in every regard. Strangely, from
    every single one of the responses I learned some good stuff (other than
    from yours). I guess you can mark this up as some kind of twilight zone
    nano, Jan 21, 2008
  16. nano

    Chris Dubea Guest

    Just be aware that the learning curve for iMatch is not trivial. It's
    taken me literally years to get to a point where I feel like I know
    all the in's and out's.

    Chris Dubea, Jan 21, 2008
  17. nano

    TH O Guest

    External HD can be part of a backup plan but they aren't a complete
    plan. External drives can fail, be dropped, be stolen, and be damaged by
    water. DVDs are less susceptible to the above. For live storage of my
    existing photography, I would definitely keep the main copies on a hard
    drive and also have a backup set kept on a hard drive. But there will
    also be DVD backups. For a complete backup, a complete backup should
    also be stored offsite for protection from theft, fires, and natural
    TH O, Jan 21, 2008
  18. With Lightroom, when I do this, I simply delete the actual images. Then
    I have access to HQ previews, keywording, IPTC data, and EXIF. This
    provides great reference, but not access for editing in the easiest manner.
    John McWilliams, Jan 21, 2008
  19. nano

    Ali Guest

    Exactly. Store your photos on either the C drive or a second internal hard
    drive if you can. Then periodically back up to an external hard drive and
    keep it off site.

    Ali, Jan 21, 2008
  20. nano

    Ali Guest

    Ok, let's break it down:
    Use a second internal hard drive to store all your photos on, not the C
    drive. As you are using a Workstation, I am pretty sure that you will have
    spare slots.

    With Adobe Bridge in CS2, you can view thumbnails of all the photos very
    easily and scroll between them. You can also associate keywords to them if
    you want, but I don't personally, as I know where all my photos are. You
    can also make easy selections on what photos you want to compare.

    All your RAW images should end up saved as either 16-bit TIFF's or PSD's.
    You can also convert to JPEG aswell, but not instead of the TIFF or PSD.
    And never delete the *.CR2 RAW image.

    Good, but why copy each chip to a separate folder? Stick them all in the
    same folder, unless there are file name conflicts.

    Starting with reverse date for the name of the folder is perfect and
    something I have used for many years without any problems. What you put
    after the date is up to you and what works for you to identify the photos.
    Occasionally, there is no need to use a date prefix at all though, for
    example, you can just call a folder 'sky photos', because the date isn't
    really important.

    Ignore DVD's. IMO, unnecessary. Get a USB external hard drive and back up
    all your photos from your second internal drive to this periodically. Keep
    the external drive off site. Keep it on-site as short a time as possible.
    If you want to get really serious, then back up to DAT's every day and keep
    them off site. For most consumers, using DAT's are an overkill and
    expensive. Depends on your personal situation though, if you make money
    from your photos, then carry out a risk assessment.

    Why? Keep them in the same folder.

    Sounds good.

    Hard drive space is cheap. There is no harm in selectively deleting though
    because there is no need to store crap. To be honest, I didn't really agree
    with your comment above about keeping ALL images for life, but I didn't say
    anything because this is a personal choice and up to you. For me, I delete
    anything that I consider a poor shot. If there are similar shots of the
    same subject, pick the best ones and delete the rest. There's no need to
    store crap for the sake of it. A crap photo will always be a crap photo,
    unless there is sentimental value to it and there are no better photos to
    take it's place.

    Same as my above comment.

    You will also find that you will replace hard drives as you take more and
    more images and fill it up. So, they will normally get replaced at periodic
    intervals. Your images are never stored for life on them. Look at hard
    drives as disposable commodities. Also, don't just buy the biggest one
    available at the time, buy one that suits your needs for the next couple of
    years and then replace it with a bigger one when it becomes full.

    I don't think so. Why use more additional software when you can already do
    everything you need to so easily? Of course, maybe you are not using
    Ali, Jan 21, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.