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Home > Tips and Hints > Keeping it Simple > Backing up and storage systems for photos and documents

How valuable are you photos and records?  Backing up and storage systems

To ensure no digital photos are accidentally lost, I have follow a practice that there must be at least three different copies of the photos before I blank or format the camera memory card.  I carry a number of memory cards in my camera bag, with none of these being large capacity as there is a danger than if the card fails, a lot of photos will be lost.  It is hard to get memory cards smaller than 2 mb now, and that will store a lot of photos and maybe a few weeks travelling to get them.  I prefer to use smaller cards, or download more often. 

 

1.       Every few nights I download photos to the lap top, which doesn’t have room to keep them all, so the laptop as back up number one is not permanent.  This gives me a chance to list what all the photos are while it is easy to remember.  If not downloading, I view the photos in the camera and write up the list at the end of the day.  Often I am so keen to see the photos in larger size so I download them that night. 

2.       A quick second back up to a USB drive via the laptop, which is very quick to use and takes no additional power source.  This also serves as an immediate ’off site’ back up as I take the USB drives into the car during the day, so if something happened to the caravan at least I will have my photos. 

3.       When there is time I back up all photos to a terabyte external hard drive.  This requires mains power or equivalent, and we have plenty of power to use an inverter.   Only when I have three copies do I format the memory card ready for re-use. 

4.       Periodically I burn the photos to DVD or CD (depending on what burner I have available in the laptop), making two copies; one to keep with us and another to post back home.  At this stage the photos can be removed from the laptop if necessary as the USB drive, external drive and DVD are now my three different copies.  

5.      Use an internet storage site such as Flickr, Picasa or Photobucket as another media for ensuring you do not lose you photos.  Many such sites are free but for a lot of storage you may have to pay a membership.  Wikipedia has listed some but not all such sites.

 

If not travelling with a laptop, it is cheaper to use public access computers and burn to DVDs than take your card to photo shops where you will receive only one copy anyway.   

 

When I return home, the photos are backed up onto a second terabyte external hard drive, and the USB drives can then be blanked ready for the next lot of photos. 

 

My terabyte external hard drive also contains copies of important documents from my home computer that may be needed or referred to while travelling.  One external drive comes with me and one stays at home. 

 

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After a climb of over 1,000 steps, you wouldn't want to lose your photo of the view.  Taken at the mouth of Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland from the Boolimba Lookout.
While canoeing to Indarri Falls in the Lawn Hill Gorge I took only a cheap second camera which I use to take on small boats or if wading through water.  Having heard of a fellow traveller losing his camera and all his holiday photographs when his canoe overturned in the Lawn Hill Gorge, I was extra cautious.  The back up camera is also available should the main camera fail and I have needed the second camera at times like this also.    
Memories too precious to risk losing: Up close with elegant Giraffes at the Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. 

These hints are as useful for keeping copies of important documents and travel diaries while travelling as they are for photos.  They are simple without needing back up software, and you are in control. 

 

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While thinking about backing up your photos, how will you keep a record of which photo is of what?  Prior to digital photography, I used to keep a notebook in my camera bag and write a list of photos taken otherwise I couldn’t be sure of exactly where some of the photos were taken after I had them developed.  Digital photography has made recording so much easier.  Although I sometimes takes notes about a subject at the time, such as facts and figures from signage if this is not easy to photograph, I usually wait until the evening then either flick through the photos on the camera or download to the laptop to view them, and write the date, photo number subject and in a notebook.  I often leave the laptop on, with the day's or most recent photos as a random screen saver so we can relive the day’s or week’s sightseeing and watch the photos during our evening meal. 

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Keeping a written record of your photograph subjects

Editing Digital Photographs

Digital photography has made it so easy to take photos in adverse conditions then improve them on your computer.  It the day is dull, you can brighten the photo so it appears to have been taken in sunlight.  You can adjust the contrast, enhance colour or change colour emphasis, remove marks, crop to bring out a distant object or make a better balanced picture, or use special effects.   

 

While there are many comprehensive digital photograph editing programmes, and in addition most cameras come with one of their own, the following are free and ones I find far simpler to use for different purposes than the comprehensive software packages.  Being simple to use, there is no learning required to use these photo enhancement programmes.

 

Autostitch  

 

This is an easy to use and effective programme available free as a demonstration programme, or through a number of other sources as shown on their website.  Simply select the images which are adjoining or overlapping and Autostitch will match and combine them ready for you to crop the rough edges in your photo editing programme. 

 

Autostitch

  

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Picasa from Google

 

Picasa has many editing functions, but my favourite is straighten.  As I often get sloping horizons, Picasa is the easiest and the best software I have found for tilting the photo the way it should be, using a grid to make sure it is true and automatically trimming it to fit in original picture dimensions.  There is also an on line gallery option. 

 

Google has discontinued this useful programme however it is still available for Windows XP, Vista and 7 from Old Version.  I have no personal experience on how these will work with any later versions of Windows such as 8 or 10.  However there are instructions such as How to Install Picasa on Windows 7, 8, 10 as well as a number of other resources found by an internet search. 

 

 

Easy Thumbnails

 

Want to reduce the size of a selection of photos in one move?  The freeware programme Easy Thumbnails does it to your specifications quickly and easily.

  

Easy Thumbnails

  

Irfanview

 

This free programme has many editing functions, including placing text on images.  There is also a download for making thumbnails or reducing a group of images to your specified size. 

 

Irfanview

  

Microsoft Paint (not free, but part of the Window package)

 

If you are running Microsoft Windows, Paint has a lot of options to repair problem areas on images by painting out, changing colour, or copying from another part of the photo and overlaying a smudge or what ever you want to hide.  You can also change file type between Bitmap, .jpg, .gif, .tiff and .png

 

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Hard to get a straight picture on a rocking boat.  Sloping horizons on ocean at left straightened at right using Picasa, but some of the picture is lost in the automatic trimming.
Photo at right has been "Greyscaled" to give the appearance of the era with Irfanview, and text added
For privacy, registration plate has been blanked using Microsoft Paint
Read more about digital cameras here
Microsoft Photo Editor or Picture Manager
 
If you are using Microsoft Office, you may have one of these photo editing programmes.  With simple to use tools for adjusting brightness and contrast, colour and intensity, cropping, red eye removal, and resizing the image.  Microsoft has discontinued photo editing prorammes as part of office, however it can still be retained by downloadingShare Point Designer 2007 which includes the useful Picture Manager.
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