DIGITAL DATA MANAGEMENT
Photographs captured with a digital camera are saved onto a memory card. This information is called data and depending on the capacity of your memory card or the internal memory of the camera you are able to capture hundreds of images before you have to transfer the images to a computer.
Transferring of information is generally done only when we no longer have space on our memory cards or when returning from holiday. When we do transfer our images, we generally don’t sort through them which results in a sea of image files and thumbnails on our computers. It is thus imperative to have a proper digital workflow of downloading, managing and backing up of your images.
Getting your images onto the computer
There are two basic methods you can use to transfer your images from your memory card onto your computer. Firstly you can connect your camera directly to the computer, using the downloading cable that is provided when you buy your camera. This direct connection allows the images to be copied onto the computer. If possible make sure that the camera is plugged into a power supply. It can be disastrous if the battery runs dry in the middle of copying images, and files are lost or damaged.
The second method is to use a card reader – preferably a multiple card reader that can handle a variety of card types – is an easier and slicker option all round. It draws the power it needs from the USB socket that it plugs into on the computer. When the computer detects that a card has been plugged into the card reader for the first time, a window will open up asking you what program you´d like to use to access the images on the card.
The easiest way of managing the process properly is to select the option of displaying the folder contents. There are different views that can be used, but in essence they all display the image files currently in that folder. It is now possible to either select one file, several files, or all of them, and to copy or move them to a destination of your choice on the computer. We would recommend using the COPY option, because if something goes wrong during the process, the original files will still be available on your memory card.
Several shortcuts will help the process:
Ctrl + A is used to Select All images in the folder
Ctrl + C is the short cut for Copy
Ctrl + V is the short cut for Paste
Basic directory structures and folders
The location where you save your images on your computer is a matter of personal choice. The most obvious method is to use the default folder provided by Windows.
C:Documents and Settings/My Documents/My Pictures
However if you copy all your images into this folder it will become more and more difficult to find images. It is therefore a better option to create sub-folders under this folder and save your images into these folders.
You could create a sub-folder for the month in which you captured the images (for example February 2010). Under this sub-folder you can create additional sub-folders that would be named after the event at which the images were taken (School Soccer, Kid’s Party etc).
An important part of your post camera workflow is to create a folder of original images that you NEVER save over. A digital image is extremely easy to erase, or save over and once this has been done it is very difficult to reverse the process. So each event above would have two sub folders created, one named “Original” and a second named “Edited”. Once the images have been transferred from the memory card into the Original folder, select the images you would like to edit and copy them into the Edited folder. These are the images that you will edit in Photoshop and save over.
Backing up your data
Unlike film negatives that were stored in files or boxes under the bed, digital images are electronic files that can easily become corrupted. It is therefore imperative for the photographer to have a system of backing up image data, a system that must be followed religiously. Images transferred to a computer, and not backed up to a secondary device are at risk. Power surges or theft are just two of many factors that could compromise the safety of your images. And once these images are lost there is generally no way of retrieving them.
One method of safekeeping your images is to back them up to more than one medium, and then keeping these media in physically distinct places. One of the better options for backing up data is to use an external Hard Disk drive. These are one of the more reliable back-up media, and they often store more data than your computer’s hard drive! Over time these external drives have become more affordable. Look for an external Hard Drive that does not require a power supply, these use power directly from the USB port.
Your data should be backed up on a continuous set time period basis. Depending on how often you upload images to your computer you may decide to backup your data monthly, fortnightly or even weekly. Whatever time period you decide on, stick to it as deviating from this plan could easily end up in disaster.