My Digital Workflow (Part 1)

I use the following simple workflow, starting with taking pictures, storing it on my computer, processing it and making backups. It works for me and might work for you.

Transferring files from Camera to your Computer

In the past I use to plug in my camera to laptop by using USB cable, power camera up and then transfer files from camera to laptops hard drive. In my opinion it is not the best and easiest way to transfer files, so now I just pull the SDHC card from the camera, plug it into SD slot on my computer and transfer files to computer directly from SDHC card. It is fast, I don’t have to use additional cable and no worries about starting or shutting down the camera while connected to the computer.

Where to Store Images

My laptop is couple years old, it is powerful, but it has only about 140GB of space. A few month back I switched to shooting everything in RAW format and I’m experimenting with HDR. Each RAW image is about 12-13MB in size, I take 3 bracketed photos for every HDR shot, so on average for every photo I use about 40MB of hard drive space. This adds up fast. I was quickly getting low on hard drive space on my laptop. To get around it I purchased 2 external drives. One is 500 GB for primary use and second is 1TB for backup purposes. They are both pocket size drives and fit in my laptop bag without taking much space. When you buy external drives you need to make sure they are fast enough to work with large files. At first I was going to use 1TB drive as the primary one, but soon discovered that is not very fast, so I got another one with better I/O to use as primary and now use slower drive for backup purposes only.

I moved all photos from my computer C: drive to the 500 GB drive and use it as my primary storage for all photos. I usually synchronize once a week (or as needed) all files from the smaller drive to the bigger one. You can use Windows Explorer to copy files but it is not the best way to syncronize files from different directiores. I like to use little nifty syncronization tool, which comes with Windows 7 OS. The little nifty tool is “robocopy.exe”, just open command prompt and run it like this: ‘robocopy SourceDirectory DestiantionDirectory /E’, for example ‘robocopy g:\pictures e:\backup-pictures /E’. It will syncronize source to destination, quick and easy.

Here is the quick video showing how I do the initial transfer of files and backups. For best viewing experience expand it to a full window and enable High Definition (HD: On) or view it by clicking on this link:

4 thoughts on “My Digital Workflow (Part 1)

  1. I was doing the very same thing for some years now for the exception that my cam doens’t have the card, i plug it directly to a comp (my older cam had the card). How often you change hard drives to a new ones? They won’t last forever. What is the exp time on the files that you store on them? Do you buy new every year, two years? How often you transfer all files to a new one?

    1. Before I started shooting in RAW and playing with HDR, I didn’t use exteranl drive at all (back ups were done to another computer). But with RAW and HDR the storage requirement increased dramatically. I use my current workflow for about 5 month now. 500GB will hold a lot of data, so it should last me another year or more. Then I’ll upgrade to faster and bigger drives. I like to keep entire collection on the same drive so I can get to anything I need from the same place.

      1. I was under impression that the external drives are getting… old, worn out, and need to be changed after a year of so. In other words – that we need to transfer all the files to a newer one every year or so.

        Is that true?

        For how long we can keep the files intact on extended drive til they start deteriorate?

  2. Not really, you can have them for years. I have couple from 3-4 years ago, they are not of large capacity but they work just fine. Since now you can buy failry inexpensive drives with 1TB+ capacity you can probably consolidate all your older drives on couple of those.
    Also, I use external drives because I travel a bit and need to have access to all my stuff on the road (not really, but I like to have it), don’t come back home every night and can’t backup or sync it to some other storage. I don’t want to pay to ‘cloud’ storage providers. If I was stationary at home, I’d setup a standalone storage system with redundant drives and syncronize it on daily basis. I’d have Windows Home Server for that purpose –

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