People bred with digital photography can hardly imagine how difficult it is to select the better images with a magnifying glass from a negative, store the precious film, or find photos after a few years and thousands of used films (negatives). However, I must admit that storing and sorting digital photos also has its own landmarks. For example, in digital photography is quite easy to delete precious photos accidentally or worse – to compromise the entire hard disk that stores your complete collection of materials.
And since I speak from personal experience, with this post I will try to spare you unnecessary risks or brain wrecking as how to devise an effective process of storing and sorting photos.
Translated by Maya Golemanova
It’s very important to have enough memory cards for your camera, even on your busiest day of shooting. Normally, one main ultra fast 16 GB (70 MB/s) card can deal with the usual traffic. You should also have 1-2 medium fast 16 GB (40-60 MB/s) cards at hand for “longer” days. Another standard 32 GB (15-20 MB/s) card completes the memo cards set. I’ve had some very busy shooting days when I have been unexpectedly left with no free space on the cards. I resorted to JPEG shooting or sorting files on the spot. In this way I missed valuable moments, some of which I haven’t been able to shoot or see again in the wild nature.
Having tested various options, I’ll share with you the most suitable way for me to store photos. At the end of the day, the first thing I do is upload all the photos from the memory cards onto an external hard drive, and then disconnect it from the computer. 1 TB shock-resistant 2.5″ external HDD costs about 150 BGN to date. Images are collected in a single folder with a specific date, name of the place of filming and the names of the three birds species that were shot the most. Therefore, the folders are sorted chronologically and eventually they can be easily found through the search engine of the OS.
Then I examine the RAW files on the camera zoomed to 100% view and delete the obviously bad (very soft) shots or those with motion blur. I do this first check on the camera simply because in this way I can view the RAW files very fast and easy. It is even impossible to do an initial preview of images captured with high MP cameras like D800/D800E and sort out files directly on the computer because this requires an extremely fast computer that I don’t have.
I upload the remaining files on the computer and put them on the local hard drive in a folder with the same name, the one I used for copying the images on the external hard drive. Then once again, I analyze the photos. Knowing that the available images are all good in terms of sharpness and exposure now I can delete the similar images and those that are not correctly framed.
All this is possible with a quick preview of images. This is essential in the cases when you shoot with a high MP camera such as Canon 5D Mark II/III, Canon 7D, Canon 60D, Nikon D3x, Nikon D800/D800E, Nikon D7000, etc. This allows me to manage large databases of files on my humble laptop with an old model dual core processor. If I accidentally delete a photo, I can always restore it from the master copy – stored on the external hard drive.
From the moment of the initial copying of photos on the first HDD, until the final step of sorting the files out, no more than 20% of the photos usually remain. This is so because I usually shoot in series (as long as the camera shutter doesn’t bother the animal) as to be sure that eventually I could choose the perfect shot. Once I’ve deleted all unnecessary frames, I copy the rest on second external hard drive. It contains the entire database of my images since day one. Since the photos that have remained are reduced to the minimum, my database rarely exceeds 20-40 GB a year. Over the past two years, I’ve been using also Time Machine software for automatic backup of data and images from the main drive. If possible, it’s better for you to keep a copy of your database on a different physical location – in the office, etc.
Before I built this system, I successfully wiped out valuable files, which subsequently have repeatedly been subject of interest for purchase both with limited copyright and full ones. I hope this would never happen to you and that your photos will always be safe.