Oxford School of Photography

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Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

World Back Up Day?

I found an impassioned article about Other World Computing, on the excellent Pixiq site, seems they are the proverbial dogs ….. over there, but they do international shipping, anyway as good as OWC maybe, that is not the point of this except that they were the source via Pixiq. Here is that article

“Don’t Be an April Fool and Backup for World Backup Day.

This time last year, we introduced you to “World Backup Day,” wherein you’re supposed to double-check your backups or establish a backup plan if you haven’t already.

Okay… for some of us nearly every day is World Backup Day. Generally, once you’ve had a hard drive go bad on you, you tend to get a little paranoid about backing up important data. Since all of us here at the OWC Blog have had a hard drive go out on us at one time or another, World Backup Day is probably our second-most favorite “alternative holiday” next to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Fortunately, OWC is your one-stop shop for everything you need to make sure your computer’s data is backed up and safe.

Since good backups involve multiple copies of a file, each on a different drive, a second hard drive is a must. Fortunately, we’ve got a wide range of external Storage Solutions, one of which is bound to be perfect for your budget and needs.

The next thing you’ll want to do is determining how you want to back up. Some people prefer to drag and drop their files manually, but automation is usually easier to do frequently. Automated options vary from a mirrored RAID of all your files to “cloning” software to Apple’s default Time Machine software, to other third-party software like the Novastor NovaBACKUP and Prosoft Engineering Data Backup software packages included with all our external storage solutions. While any of these methods are good singly, they’re even better when doubled up. Using Time Machine? Try using it with a NewerTech Guardian MAXimus; your backups will then, themselves, have two copies.

Once you’ve set up your software and hardware to make regular backups, the only thing you’ll want to do is double-check to make sure it’s doing its thing and that there are no problems with your setup. Believe me, the worst time to find out that your backup software stopped working months ago is when your main drive fails and you need that backup.

So, check it periodically. Boot to that cloned drive; use Time Machine to find some random files. Just make sure that it’s working, and the more important/irreplaceable your data is, the more frequently you should do it, be that weekly, monthly, or once a year on World Backup Day.”

I think the point made in the last sentence is the relevant one, you should back up as often as you download your images, if you need to be reminded to do so once a year you might have missed the point about digital being fallible. Our advice in class to our students is back up often, I tell my class “When people are asked what they would save if their house were on fire, some people say their children, some the dog but everyone says their pictures” You might not need a fire at home to lose all your pictures. What are you going to do about it today?

I download into my Lightroom library, this is an external 2gb hard drive that immediately backs up to a second external (nothing is perfect, I used to use internal drives until a bad experience with a burning smell from the cpu rendered them useless) externals may not be any better but at least they only have one purpose. When I have processed the images and exported them and sent relevant copies to the client I burn a disc with the prepared images. I understand discs are not a long term answer as in say 5 years all the cds I have of work over that last 10 years might be unreadable either because of disc failure or the fact there might be now cd readers anymore. Think about it, how would you read data from one of those 3 in square floppies (that weren’t that floppy) let alone the 5in floppies (that were floppy) of a few years ago? At least in terms of commercial work most of it has a life of less than 5 years, people move on, products change, hell the world changes, I wonder what happened to all those desk tidies that held pens, paper clips, erasers, post it notes etc are now. I photographed many in the years gone by. I digress, so back to my back up, I have recently started to use a cloud service to back up the most important images I have so in the worst case scenario the images I care about are somewhere other than on my electronics. Is this fool proof, well obviously not but I do manage to sleep at night.

So do we need another day to tell us what to do, I wonder sometimes that all these days are just a symptom of bad memory, ours not the computer, do we really need a day to remind us to be nice to our mothers? Well if you do only back up once a year make this a date in your diary, you could put it just below the reminder to have a bath.

Oh and given that OWC are Mac resellers and this article is almost exclusively Mac orientated (except for my central point that back up is a universal problem) no matter what piece of other than Mac junk you use back up your pictures now.


Landscape Photography For the Serious Amateur

This really interesting article is By on Lightstalking

This is a guest post by New Zealand landscape photographer, Chris Gin. Some of you might recognise images from Chris’ Flickr stream that we have used in our collections before.

“I’ve been into landscape photography for a couple of years now. It’s a fantastic hobby and hugely rewarding, but also has a bit of a learning curve. While I would not consider myself anywhere near a pro at this stage, I’ve picked up on a few useful things here and there. Below are some tips which I hope others who are just starting out in the world of landscape photography will find useful.”

  • Avoid clutter. Only include things in the frame that you want to present to the viewer. The best photos are clean and simple. If there are unwanted items in the way, such as power poles, cars, roads, buildings etc, try a different angle to hide them from view. Small things can be cloned out in post-processing but larger items will just distract the viewer.”

Simple composition example

Focus Stacking in Photoshop: How to Get Pin Sharp Macro Shots

This article by   is on Lightstalking

The HDR trend has come and, for many, gone, but what came of it is the easy-to-digest concept that creating one photograph may actually require several images, then blend them together.  For HDR photography it’s the need of multiple exposures to compensate for what a digital sensor cannot do on it’s own – properly expose both highlights and lowlights in an wide range photograph without sacrifice.  With the same concept, focus stacking is also possible.

Like HDR, focus stacking comprises of two main components;  series of photos of the same subject and some creative post processing.  That’s about where the similarity ends. 

focus stack by SFB579, on Flickr