Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

December 2005

Question of the Month

Why Must you have AT LEAST two backup Digital Files?

Digital is wonderful. Immediate feedback, immediate joy of seeing your results, the ability to share images seconds after the shot or that evening after a long, productive day of shooting. Digital is wonderful - no time for socializing; all available time spent at the computer either compulsively editing images, batch renaming, and backing up .....

On our last Kenya trip one of our participants literally wore himself down to exhaustion as he copied his laptop's images to two external hard drives and to DVDs he wrote, nightly, to back up the hard drives' images. By the last two days of the trip he was beat tired -- and one had to wonder if his excessive dedication to backup was a bit excessive.

It wasn't.

Even as I write this I am copying onto our main computer server our ONLY copy of our first of two Kenya Fall Photo Safaris. Mary and my procedure is to download our files, the images we make each day, onto our laptops into a Super Folder that we partion into the various days unedited images. Later, but not always the same day, we copy those files onto 250gb external hard drives. Provided our laptop's hard drive doesn't fill up we're left with three copies of all of our files, which, we hope, will be reduced in file size as we edit and delete material as we have time.

Both of us carry small laptops, and both of our laptop's hard drives reached capacity before the end of the second safari. Since we had copies of the first safari on two external hard drives, we deleted 'safari one' from our hard drive. Having the files on two externals virtually assured us that we'd have backup. We did not take the time to write DVDs -- which truly seems to take forever.

As I began copying files today, downloading our images onto our main server, I discovered, with horror, that all of the carefully labeled folders identifying the first safari's shoot were empty! Every one. No reason why, and I don't have a clue what happened. I must admit I panicked when I saw this, as there were some truly great images from that trip. Worse, I'm 'the computer guy' responsible for my work and Mary's, and I was looking for the stout rope I'd use to hang myself if I lost her stuff. Figure ... I may as well as do it myself before she got the chance!

Net result - for our first safari we returned, unknowingly, with one set of files. That HD could have failed to, or broke, or encripted. We dodged a bullet this time, but I'm not sure what route I wish to use to provide a THIRD or FOURTH backup. Frankly, I dread the thought of writing DVDs, and I've had those fail, too. I think, instead, I'll be ordering TWO 80 gig Epson 4000's - meant for downloading in the field, but handy and hardy hard drives, too. I'll keep you posted!


Previous Questions of the Month




 Camera Techniques

 In the Field

 What is our Digital Workflow in the Lab?

Who should go Digital,
and when?

What is our initial Digital Workflow?

Is Shooting in the RAW format worthwhile?

 Can you match the Histograms?
 How do I keep track of Digital Files?

  Is Digital Manipulation - a benign alternative to interacting in the natural world?

What is DEC? 

How can you capture a sharp image and angel hair on a windy day?  

 Is the Mark II the ultimate wildlife digital camera?

  Does the Visibledust cleaning system really work?

What do we really think about digital photography?

 What do we think of the Canon D30 digital camera?

How long will film be around? 

  The Sunny 16 rule -- is it worth knowing today?

 What is the Difference?

 How do we meter White?

 How can you save your shoulders?

  How do you shoot silhouettes?

 How would you meter these challenging images?

Why should you know Manual Mode? 

How would you meter these images?

 What is the best season to do a photo safari in East Africa?

Which Mountain Park is better for wildlife - Denali or Torres del Paine?

What is the best Car Window Mount? 

  How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?

 What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?

 What is the Big Lie?
Tfhe truth about Kenya's Tourism--it is SAFE!

 Which binoculars do we just love to use?

 What is the best
Game Caller?

 What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?

 How Easy is Whale Photography?

  How do we carry our film when traveling?

What Film Lab do we use, and why? 

 How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites? 

How can you reduce contrast and the effect of wind for flower and macro photography?

 Is an L-Shaped Camera Bracket worth the Money?
You bet it is!

 Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

 What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?

  Reciprocity Failure

 What is the Best Composition?

 Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?

 Hyperfocal Distance

  How do you determine distances?

 Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 Flash and Tele-flash Techniques

 What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?

 What the heck is a Plamp?

 What is the best flash for closeup and
macro photography?

 How do you shoot high-speed action images?
 How did I photograph that flying wasp?

 What is the Fotronix's
Flash System?

What is the Most Important thing you can do before a Workshop?

How did I shoot the gliding Sugar Glider?
 Is NANPA for you?  What is NANPA and how will it benefit me?

 Is it time for a summer NANPA Summit?

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