First hour of exploring: I'm really impressed with the ergonomics of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (although Olympus marketing needs a lesson in product naming). If you are the type who loves to customize every button of your camera, you'll love the E-M1. The defaults are reasonable, though, so you don't need to customize if you aren't into that...Read More
I was assembling a collection of underwater images tonight and decided to see what Adobe Lightroom's 2012 processing engine would do to an old image I took at Roca Partida (Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico) back in 2006. Back then, I used Adobe Photoshop to quickly process the picture from raw to a 2000-pixel JPG image for screen viewing. Tonight, I pulled up the raw file in Adobe Lightroom, chose the 2012 processing engine, and did a few minor tweaks using the Develop module. WOW. It's like a different picture.
Have you had pictures take on new life when you've gone back and reprocessed old raw files using new image-processing software? If you haven't, it's time to get started!
Greenpeace International is using my screaming turtle picture without permission nor credit. Most of their feed, for the past couple of days, consists of pictures ripped from the internet and modified with text, uploaded directly to their Facebook timeline...Read More
Timelapse video of the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis taken during the evenings of March 18 and 19, 2013. Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 14mm f/2.8L USM II lens. Shutter speeds from 5s to 15s at ISOs between 2500 and 6400. Music courtesy mobygratis.com.
I went on a fantastic whirlwind of a photography trip to Death Valley at the end of January, 2013, with my friend, Dan Kitchens (of Kozyndan). We spent 2.5 days seeing all of the big sites. I'm an ocean and city person, so I was fascinated and took pictures of pretty much everything. Special thanks to everyone who gave me advice before and during the trip: Alice Kao, Andy Biggs, Phil Colla, Eric Hanauer, Curtis Leo, Mark Braden, James Moskito, Dave Hunsinger, Angela Filose, Merlin W. Phillips Jr., Kelly Raymond Bracken, George Vincent, Jane Call, John Moore, and Phil Sokol. Thanks also to Sue Chen for the use of her car and home, and to Dan Kitchens for his company and ability to act as a catalyst for great imagery.
Last year, I watched Craig Peters, a SVP at Getty Images, nearly get booed off of the stage during his talk at Luminance 2012. He said that Getty was focused on creating the best return for their stock holders, and most photographers I spoke to after the talk were really upset at some of the numbers Peters claimed during the talk, which they believed to be fabrications. On December 6, Google Drive announced that "5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides." A couple weeks ago, an iStockphoto forum post started an avalanche of negative articles after an iStockphoto contributor said that he received $12 for the Google Drive platform licensing deal mentioned in the announcement.
Photographers are hoping that Getty, who owns iStockphoto, and Google release full details about what is actually going on, but photographers are already starting to remove pictures from iStockphoto, in protest. Personally, I'm glad that I never licensed my pictures through Getty. Don't get me wrong—I give away plenty of pictures to NGOs that I support; licensing your pictures for free is something only you can decide you want to do.
My Flickr pictures that Getty editors are interested in licensing
If you don't want to support Getty and are a Flickr user, you can opt out from the entire process by logging in to Flickr, going to your account's "Privacy & Permissions" page, and changing the settings for "Make your photos eligible for invitation by Getty Images?" to "No thanks...".
Select "No thanks" at the "Eligibility for Getty Images invitations" page to opt out
### Can I back up to the cloud?
A lot of normal people (non-photographers) are starting to store their pictures exclusively on the cloud, and while there are some great cloud storage services out there that cater to photographers, none of them are really suitable for storing or backing up multiple terabytes of data. Also, uploading to the cloud is slow. A fairly-fast DSL or Cable connection will probably allow you to sustain upload speeds of 200KB/s (I'm being generous). At that speed, uploading 1TB takes about 2 months. Uploading 10TB would take nearly 2 years, and a mainstream ISP will likely throttle you before allowing you to use that much data. So cloud backup is out.
Over the years, I've had crazy backup schemes involving multiple computers, multiple software products and services, and custom scripts, all requiring coordinated (but automated) execution to keep my data safe. All of these schemes required that I create flow charts to track how data moved during backups; without that documentation, I might have forgotten how things work, over time.
I'm sick of these crazy schemes, and have finally settled on something much more simple.
### Kinds of data
As someone who collects pictures and video files, I think of my data as living in two different categories. I've had to simplify my thinking a lot in order categorize data this way, but that's OK. It's got to be rough to be simple.
1. **Working data:** all system files, applications, documents, email, and project data (including temporary or intermediate files and final output files) 2. **Raw data:** pictures, video, audio and other media generated by cameras or capture devices
The main difference between the two is that Raw data doesn't really change after it is captured. After a single photography trip, I might have 300GB of pictures and video, which I consider to be Raw data. I may then create 50GB of additional data in project data over time (e.g., slideshows, produced videos, edited pictures saved as TIFs). I consider all of this to be Working data. Even if it doesn't change in a long time, I may decide—at any time—to re-open and tweak a project, which will result in a need to back up again. It also means that I might accidentally screw up a project, so saving multiple versions of Working data is desirable.
### Backup requirements
- **Working data** should be continuously, incrementally backed up in a versioned manner so I can roll back to a prior state for any given file
- **Raw data** should be backed up in a versioned manner as well, but doesn't need continuous backup. I can kick this off manually, but need to have the discipline to do so regularly.
All data also needs to be stored offsite, so I don't lose everything is there is a fire or flood.
### So here's how I've implemented backup:
My main machine is a mid-2010 Mac Pro. Inside, I have:
- 1 x 500GB Samsung 840 Series SSD (boot, applications, fast data) - 4 x [Seagate Barracuda 4TB 7200RPM 3.5" drives](http://refer.ly/r/ajf1/show) in a RAID 0 stripe (16GB volume)
I am currently using 10TB of the 16TB available space, which gives me 6TB of growing room. 6TB should last a long time... unless I suddenly get a RED camera and start shooting RAW video. :) About 9TB of this data is picture / video data (Raw data), and 1TB is Working data.
I connect a [Sans Digital TowerRAID TR5UT+B](http://refer.ly/r/aVJ3/show), which is a 5-bay, USB 3.0/eSATA box that features hardware RAID. The box has 5 x 3TB Seagate Barracuda 3TB drives in it configured as a concatenated array[^1] (15TB volume). Accessed over a single eSATA port (port-multipled), this setup sustains around 90 MB/s, but when using something like rsync, I see transfer speeds between 30-70 MB/s. You can also configure the box to use RAID 0[^2] or RAID 5[^3], if you so desire.
[^1]: In theory, a concatenated array, which the box supports via switches, results in the loss of only a single drive's worth of data if a drive fails. In practice, I've never had to deal with a failure in this kind of array, so I'm just guessing.
[^2]: A RAID 0 stripe is an option as well; I see 130 MB/s from a RAID 0 stripe over a single eSATA port, and real-world rsync speeds of 80 MB/s. This is much faster than using a concatenated array, but you lose the entire set if a drive fails instead of losing only a single drive's worth of data.
[^3]: You should think of RAID 5 as a way to not lose your data if 1 drive fails, but I [wouldn't assume that you can rebuild the RAID successfully](http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/08/10/21/2126252/why-raid-5-stops-working-in-2009) if you have a lot of data. If a drive fails, copy the data off as soon as possible and start over. Considering that RAID 5 performance degrades a lot once a drive fails (by up to 80%, according to stuff I've read on the internet), this may take a long, long time. In my opinion, it's to assume the entire volume is toast when a single drive fails, so multiple backups are necessary. I much prefer newer, proprietary RAID implementations like [Synology Hybrid RAID](http://www.synology.com/support/tutorials_show.php?q_id=492), which are dynamically expandable and allows for 2-drive redundancy.
**For the 1TB of Working data, I use [Crashplan](http://www.crashplan.com)** for incremental backups to two locations:
1. a Mac Mini, which has a 3TB drive attached to it via USB 3.0 (backup set includes entire boot drive, as well as Working data) 2. Crashplan Cloud (Working data only; no system or applications, nor Raw data). The initial backup seed is still in progress: the Crashplan app tells me it will take 5 months to upload 1TB, so I will likely mail in a drive to seed the backup (a service they offer).
**I backup the 9TB of Raw data to the TowerRAID using a custom rsync script** that supports incremental snapshots (a modified copy of [Mike Rubel's script](http://www.mikerubel.org/computers/rsync_snapshots)). It took about 40 hours to do the initial backup (9.3TB over 40 hours is an average of 64.5MB/s), but successive backups take less than an hour. I keep 4 daily snapshots, 3 weekly snapshots, and 3 monthly snapshots. I may add a semi-yearly or yearly snapshot as well. For those of you who are more technical, the script uses hard links for files that have not changed, which means that I can effectively copy those files to a snapshot without using any additional drive space. Only files that have changed are actually copied to the backup during each incremental backup process.
I actually backup my entire computer, including both Working and Raw data, to the TowerRAID. Why not? I have the space to do so, and it doesn't take that much more time.
### Why snapshots?
Why use a crazy snapshot script to version files instead of just cloning a drive using SuperDuper!? Recently, two of my photographer friends discovered that they had some corrupted pictures. Both their master and backups were corrupted because once the master copy was corrupted, future backups were also corrupted. Luckily, both of them had very old backups that they used to restore good versions of the files. With versioned backups, the backup will notice that the file is different (potentially, corrupted) and make a new version. It keeps the old version so you can always go back.
### Other notes:
1. For much of my active data, I work out of [Dropbox](http://db.tt/dORRNOc), which is a fantastic cloud sync service. All data in Dropbox is instantly backed up, versioned, and accessible to any device. It works very well, and nearly everyone I know uses the service. 2. I use [SuperDuper!](http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html) to maintain a bootable clone of my machine's boot disk. If the drive fails, I want to be able to boot up and be productive immediately. I do this every once in awhile, but am not too rigorous about doing it frequently. If you're a Windows person, try [Acronis True Image](http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/), instead. 3. I actually have two of the TowerRAID boxes, each with 5 x 3TB drives installed. One is configured as a concatenated array (as described above), and the other, as a RAID 0 stripe. One is stored offsite, and the other lives at home. I backup regularly to the box at home, and periodically swap it out with the one that is stored offsite.
There is a full list of all of the hardware referred to in this article [over at my refer.ly page](http://refer.ly/storage_and_backup_for_photographers/c/d8e324e0579911e2b5ab22000a1db8fa). Full disclosure: I get referral fees for many of the items on that page. Feel free to click through from there if you'd like to, but don't feel obligated to do so.
Backups in the field are another topic, which I'll write about at a later date.
What do you use to backup your data? I'm very interested in how other photographers—or people with large data sets—keep their data secure.
Also, Photoshelter is running a [Lytro camera giveaway](http://blog.photoshelter.com/2012/11/lytro-camera-giveaway/) through the end of November. All you have to do is [sign up for their newsletter](http://www.photoshelter.com/luminance/) to be in the running to receive an 8GB Graphite Lytro camera.
I will be on a panel about the future of photography at the Center of Photography Art in Carmel, California, at 10am on Sunday, November 4, 2012. More information at [Exposure: A Weekend of Workshops](http://www.photography.org), or [on the flyer](/journal/wp-content/uploads/EW-post-card-flyer.pdf). Hope to see you there!
Today, the general manager of a camera store in Thailand rudely interrupted me as I was introducing the Lytro camera to a few of our Photokina photo walk attendees. He literally walked in between me and the group; the very first thing he asked was, "Where is your manager?" I assume he said this because he is an older Asian guy and I look like a young-ish Asian guy. He must be very traditional. I can respect experience and wisdom, but the automatic assumption of hierarchy due to age is barbaric. Also, I'm American, and I am just not into that sort of implicit relationship (Ren, the founder of Lytro, is even younger than I am). After the rude introduction, he proceeded to brag about himself for a few minutes, making a few demands. I won't go into the details. I did my duty and referred him to our sales team, but I can't say that I was overly enthusiastic in my recommendation to follow up.
The night I arrived in Cologne, I woke up at 3am to get on a Skype call to [co-host This Week in Photo](http://www.thisweekinphoto.com/2012/twip-273-google-acquires-nik/) with Frederick Van Johnson, Nicole Young, and Steve Simon. I really enjoyed getting to chat with them about the photography news of the week! I listen to TWiP every week during my commute from San Francisco to Lytro HQ in Mountain View. If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend [subscribing to the podcast](http://www.thisweekinphoto.com/).
Hello, everyone. Lytro's SXSW 2012 panel pages are online for public voting. Please help us get our panels selected for next year's conference! To vote, [login to (or create) your SXSW account](https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_up) (free—easy to register), and then click on the thumbs up button at each of the following panel pages: - [Building Active Photography Communities](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/4663) (Eric Cheng) - [Mapping Out the Future of Photography](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/170) (Ren Ng) - [Beyond the Buzz: Maintaining Momentum Post-Launch](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/176) (Kira Wampler) - [Turning PhD Concepts into Cocktail Conversations](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5991) (Kira Wampler) - [The Creative Class in High Tech](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/6092) (Victoria Hoyle) - [The Customer Is (Mostly) Never Wrong](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5980) (Chris Macomber) - [Legal Dos and Don'ts From a Startup Veteran](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3228) (Mariana Antcheva) - [Giving Your Product a Passport](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/5910) (Kristen Berman) - [Form v. Function: Rethinking Conventional Product](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/6078) (Dave Evans)
I was in Monterey earlier this week and took a [Lytro](http://lytro.com) shot of [Joe Platko](http://www.flickr.com/people/23948026@N02/) with a tiny little lizard on his hand. Immediately after, [Jason Bradley](http://bradleyphotographic.com/) took a shot with his iPhone. Here are the two shots.
My contact page is a little scary. The message is basically, "Don't email me if you haven't done your own research, and don't ask for free pictures if you don't ask the right way." Many photographers get really angry when they are asked for free pictures, but I do not. Instead, I evaluate each request, and decide based on the information the requestor gives me. I received an email from Todd S. the other day for a request to use a sperm whale picture on a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina. It's the PERFECT request—it gave me enough information to be able to quickly decide whether or not I was interested in donating a picture (I was, and I did). Thank you, Todd!
I may use Todd's email as a template for a new "free image license request form" of some kind.
> Thanks for your willingness to offer usage of photography for free to non-profits (under the right circumstances). I'm hoping my request qualifies! I am a designer building a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina (
> 2. image:
> 3. The image will be used on a page dedicated to a recent project of the program. They have rearticulated a sperm whale skeleton (now hanging in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC). I want to use the photo in a slideshow/animation to be featured on the page. The animation will fade from your image, to the image of the skeleton shot at the same angle as your whale image.
> 4. Size of the image will be roughly 900x500 pixels.
> 5. The image will not be used in any print materials!
> 6. There's not quite enough funding in the program to cover all the website work that's needed. They haven't updated the site in over 10 years! They do great work to encourage conservation, educate the public, help whales as part of the NC marine mammal stranding network, and they work to prevent injury to marine animals by creating and sustaining North Carolina's Fishing Line Recycling Program. All good stuff!
> I work with photographers on many commercial projects and understand the work, dedication, and artistry that goes in to a great shot. Photography has real value and I appreciate your willingness to entertain my request.
> Todd S., designer
I've been shooting the Sony NEX series APS-C mirrorless cameras for about a year now, and the [NEX 7](http://refer.ly/r/ab07/show) has practically replaced my [Canon 5D Mark III](http://refer.ly/r/ab0v/show) as my default camera. Although I still use SLRs when I need to be practical and productive as a photographer (and, underwater), the NEX 7 is small enough to fit in just about every bag I carry around, which means that I'm more likely to have a NEX on me than I am a SLR[^1]. I have been enthusiastically recommending mirrorless cameras to my friends for the last year because of their performance to size ratio. A [Panasonic GF3](http://refer.ly/r/ac0b/show) with kit lens can be had for around $300 when there are sales, and an upgrade to a larger sensor can easily be had (for more money) by going Sony NEX (~$600). It takes $400 to buy a Canon S100—the current king of small-sensor point & shoots, and a GF3 will shoot circles around it (but won't fit in a pocket).
[^1]: I have and love my NEX 7, but think I would have been just as happy if I had just kept the 5N. But this is because I have more than one camera. I think the Sony NEX 5N is the perfect second or third camera, but if I were choosing a primary advanced camera, it would be the NEX 7. Does anyone want to trade their 5N for my 7 in exchange for the difference in price? :)
All of this has changed with the release of the [Sony DSC-RX100](http://refer.ly/r/acDt/show) point & shoot camera. The Sony DSC-RX100 is the single (non-light field) camera I've been most excited about in years. A lot of my friends want cameras that produce fantastic pictures, but other than flipping to aperture priority every once in awhile, they don't really want to think about the camera when taking pictures. The 1" sensor combined with a wide-open aperture of f/1.8 (at lowest focal length) means clean pictures and the ability to produce a shallow depth of field comparable with what mirrorless cameras can do with their standard kit lenses (the lenses most people buy when they go mirrorless). The RX100's sensor is smaller than the sensor in a M4/3 or NEX camera, but the lens' aperture is larger in relation, which makes up for the difference.
What's huge to me is that the RX100 will fit into my pocket without making my look like a pervert—and, it does this without sacrificing much image quality. The best camera is the camera you have with you, and the RX100 is the first digital camera that performs more-or-less at large-camera image quality while still fitting in your jeans pocket.
The single downside is the price. The RX100 [retails at $650](http://refer.ly/r/acDt/show), which is more than many M4/3 kits cost, and about the same price as a Sony NEX F3 kit. Most people won't be used to paying that much for a point & shoot camera, but I think it's absolutely worth it. I will likely have this camera with me at all times, even when I'm not carrying a bag, and that is worth a premium.
For more opinions about the Sony DSC-RX100, check out these reviews:
- David Pogue calls the RX100 "[the best pocket camera ever made](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/technology/personaltech/a-pocket-camera-even-pro-photographers-can-love-state-of-the-art.html?pagewanted=all)." When I talked to him about the camera in person, he said that he basically couldn't take a bad picture with it. - Luminous Landscape says, "[the new Sony RX100 is hands-down the most appealing pocket-sized digital camera yet](http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/sony_rx100.shtml)." - EOSHD says, "[the RX100 is definitely a viable replacement for a DSLR with kit zoom](http://www.eoshd.com/content/8499/sony-rx100-review)." Read their review for notes about the camera's video performance.
My Sony RX100 arrives on Friday; once the box is open, I suspect that my Sony NEX 7 will start to collect dust.
Referral link: [check out the Sony DSC-RX100 on Amazon](http://refer.ly/r/acDt/show)
**A quick note for underwater photographers:**
I still believe that underwater photography requires the use of a SLR for productive, "normal" underwater photography. A second underwater mirrorless rig (w/tiny dome port) could be very useful for free-diving and strobe-less, wide-angle shooting. If you're swimming with a pod of dolphins, you will likely be more producive with a tiny housing than will with a large SLR housing. This 2-camera setup is what I would shoot with if I were still traveling 6 months a year for underwater photography. Lytro has forced me into a 6-week a year shooting schedule, so I'm (at the moment) content with a single SLR setup.
Regarding point & shoots underwater: I'm not convinced that any point & shoot on the market right now can work as well as an SLR, underwater (including the Sony RX100). Most of the productivity in underwater photography is afforded by good ergonomics. We shoot primarly manual exposure—and often, manual focus— which can be difficult to accomplish with point & shoot ergonomics, especially when you have 100 sharks around you or are swimming against a strong current. Note also that all of this might change quickly. Mirrorless cameras and point & shoots are getting better very quickly, while SLRs are on a flatter improvement curve. In a few years, we may find that electronic viewfinders are better than optical viewfinders, and that pro-level ergonomics are also available. When this happens, my opinion will likely change.
"I find your lack of faith disturbing."
The recent [Dropbox](https://www.dropbox.com/iphoneapp) update on iOS (version 1.5.1) includes a new feature that automatically uploads all photos and videos taken with your iPhone or iPad to Dropbox. Various camera apps and social network apps like Facebook's Camera app and Google+ have started offering automatic sync to their respective photo albums, but I want my pictures to sync to my computer, not to an online service. Apple's iCloud service also offers Photo Stream sync of your last 1,000 pictures, but this works best if you're an iPhoto or Aperture user. **Dropbox Photos and Video Sync**
When I upgraded to Dropbox 1.5.1, the app stopped responding altogether, so I had to remove it from my iPhone and re-download it. Once I did that, the first-use wizard connected my account and asked me whether I wanted to automatically sync photos and video to Dropbox. If you have gigabytes of media on your iPhone, be sure to tell the app to only sync new media; otherwise, you may find yourself trying to upload a lot of data over Wi-Fi—or worse, over your mobile carrier's data plan.
Once you're set up, you'll find a new folder called "Camera Uploads" in your Dropbox folder. Initial tests worked very well. Bringing the Dropbox app to the foreground will start the sync process, and when I launched the app and left it running in the background, it continued to upload (once I had kicked it off by launching it); to avoid uploading huge amounts of data over your mobile data plan (if you're not on an unlimited data plan), you may want to [keep Dropbox closed](http://bit.ly/N2KmOm).
**Syncing Instagram to DropBox**
I also like to sync my Instagram feed to a folder on my computer. To do this, I use a free web service called [Instadrop](http://instadrop.appspot.com/).
Instadrop connects with your Instagram account and automatically pushes new pictures to a Dropbox folder. It works very well—so well, in fact, that it continued to work even after I forgot how I had set it up originally. If you want to stop syncing, you can revoke access to Instadrop by going to *Dropbox->Your Account->Manage Applications*.
Once you revoke access to Instadrop, the Dropbox sync will stop.
Remember that any app you authorize to talk to Dropbox will have access to every file you have hosted on the service. I don't like this, so I use a second Dropbox account for my mobile apps and share folders to my main Dropbox account. I also use an encrypted sparse bundle within Dropbox to store all of my sensitive information. Since Dropbox and most other cloud-based file storage services are insecure by design, you need to protect your sensitive data yourself.
Internalizing Lytro light field photography techniques can take time and practice, but there's an easy one that you can master in no time at all. Get a friend to hold an interesting object out in front of him and take a picture, holding your camera really close to the object. We call this picture "the present" (as in the verb, not the noun). Here's a living picture of Alex, one of Lytro's handsome designers, presenting his friend's band's CD:
Here's a picture of me taking that shot. I'm zoomed out all the way (full wide), and the front of my camera is about 4" away from the CD. Note that 4" means 4"—not 6", 8" or 12". I've had Alex tilt the CD so it takes up less of the frame.
You can shoot from further away and still get great refocus by moving backward and zooming in. Here's a shot taken at about 2x zoom (just over half zoomed in everyday mode).
Here's a picture of me taking that picture. I'm zoomed in just over half way in everyday mode (about 2x).
Mastering "the present" gives you an easy way to take highly-refocusable living pictures of your friends. Give it a try!