Backing up your photos

With the number of photos I take and many of you also do, it’s very important to have backups. One never knows what could happen, and loosing years of work would be disastreous. So having redudant copies is a must. So here I will show you how I do it, and what I suggest you should do.

What I save

For my photos I save 4 different things:

  • original RAW files, as downloaded from the camera. There are organized by year and date, with each folder named the location or event they are assigned to.
  • edited PSD or PSB file, for all the photos I edited and finished. These tend to be quite big and most photographers don’t keep them, but I like to, as it makes it easy to go back and o tweaks if needed. Also, it makes it easy to show how a particular photo was edited.
  • web sized JPG version of finished photos. This one I added a watermark, and have it ready for uploads to social media or on-line portfolios. This version is sharpened for the web resolution, usually around 1350×900 pixels.
  • full sized JPG version. This one I keep just for convenience. If any of my clients buy a photo, I can sent it to them immediately, as this version is ready. If they do ask for a TIFF or something like that, I have to go back to the PSD file of course.

Not everyone saves everything, and you should decide for yourself what you need. Mostly the RAW and a final edited photos in TIFF or JPG are important, other depends on your preference.

Where to back up

The best goal would be to have a backup copy of all you need in three spots:

  • on site copy. You have a duplicate of everything on an external drive or a local server in your home or workplace. This is for cases when you computer hardware or just the HDD breaks down and is no longer accessible, either to hardware or software failure, like viruses or ransom-ware.
  • off site copy. You have a duplicate of everything on and external drive or server in a second location you either own or have access to (eg. your parents, friends…). It’s best if this location is not in the same building or even better, city. This is for a simple restore in the case of fire, flooding, burglary or similar.
  • in cloud backup. The last backup is with an INTERNET based company, that will backup all you data to their servers. This is great if all you other backups fail, and you need to restore them. This is usually the slowest backup, so it’s best if you need to restore smaller parts, like accidentally deleted file and similar.

How do I backup

Now I will show you how and where I backup my photos. I try to have many redundant copies, and as one says, better safe than sorry.

On site backup

The primary location of my photos is on internal drivers in my PC. With 6, 8 and 10Tb drives available, this is not that hard to archieve, and even after years of taking photos, I have enought space. If this would not be possible, I would use a external drive box for this with multiple hard drivers.

Secondly I use a Synology NAS server with HDDs in a RAID configuration. I use SyncToy program from Microsoft to synchronize the photo folders to a folder on the server every day. Like that I have a local backup of everything without having to do much. I do the sync manually, and its only set to echo (the PC folder changes are copied to the server, not the other way) as I want to have control over it.

Off site backup

For this I don’t backup everything. I have a smaller external hard drive, on which I save all the final photos as 100% JPGs and PSD versions. This is the last rescue for me, so these are the most important photos in my option to keep.

This get updated less regularly, only about once per month or so.

Cloud backup

For clouds storage, you can use a service like BackBlaze or Carbonite. There are many more, but these two seem to be most popular. I right now don’t have an online backup, as I’m in the middle of reorganizing my library, but that will be corrected soon.

These are meant for big backups, that are just there for a case of emergency, not that you access them every-time you need a photo.

I do have a copy of the web sized and full sized JPGs in my SmugMug portfolio. Of course only the web sized are in a public gallery. The full sized, in a private gallery, are great if I need to send one to someone, as I have access from anywhere. This is for quick online access if needed.

I also use few other Cloud accounts, Amazon Drive and OneDrive to be exact, but these are more for sharing and sending out files, than for backup.

Final thoughts

It’s very risky to have no backup. You never know what can happen. It also risky to not have a real structure for how you store your photos. If you don’t know where they are, it’s easy to just delete some accidentally. I still can’t find some of the ones I posted years ago, before I gave more thought into it. And I probably never will. And if you ever need to reorganize a Lightroom catalog, you will quickly find out why that is a very bad idea :)

So keep you files structured, save and backed up, at least once..

How to remove lens flares

How to remove lens flaresI mentioned lens flares in my yesterdays first impressions of the Laowa 12mm lens post, and that they are also quite easy to remove. So today I have for you a short video on how to do it. If you prefer a more elaborate written explanation, head over to my How to remove lens flares tutorial here.

How to remove lens flares in Photoshop

If you want to follow along with the video, you can download the two used images from here. Also please excuse the bit worse sound quality, don’t have my microphone right now, just a webcam.

How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook

If you ever tried to upload a 360 photo that you edited on your PC to Facebook, you may have run into a problem. Facebook will jut not recognize the photos not take by dedicated 360 cameras they support as 360 photos. So it will be just shown as normal photo, in it’s flattened state.

Instead, you want it to be a nice 360 photo in which you can look around, like here:


But the solution here is quite simple. So here is what you need to do:

What to do?

1. Prepare you image
The image has to be in the 2:1 aspect ratio for it to work. If you created a proper 360 photo, it should already be in it :)
Bratislava - Under SNP bridge 360
2. Open it in an exif editor
You can use any editor of your choice, but for this I will use the online service https://www.thexifer.net and just do it through their website. So load the image and choose eXif.me button.

How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook
How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook

3. Change the make and model
Here you have to update the make and model information for something that Facebook supports (here is a list of supported cameras). Let’s use Ricoh as the make field and Ricoh THETA S as the model. This combination worked great for me. Once done, scroll down and choose Go.eXifing. This will return you back to the previous page, where you can download the image with the changes.

How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook
How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook

4. Upload to Facebook
Now when you try to upload this photo to facebook, you will notice the small globe in the corner of the photo, and also the text will mention 360 photo instead of just photo. You still have to choose the default view, so hover your mouse over the photo and click the paintbrush icon, change the view for what you want, and click save (make sure the Display as a 360 photo is checked). Now you can share your post.

How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook
How to upload a 360 photo to Facebook

And that’t how you get your 360 photo on Facebook.

I have been sharing a lot of plotagraphs recently (not only here, but mostly on my Instagram account) and some long time ago I shared also cinemagraphs here. Since the results are quite similar, I would try to explain what the difference between these two approaches to animated photographs are. Let’s first look at plotagraphs.

Plotagraph

With a plotagraph, you start with a single photo. You take this photo, and by moving parts of it, you create an animation. This can be done in Photoshop, using actions, in video editing programs such as Adobe Premier and similar. But probably the simplest way is to use Plotagraphy Pro service. Like this you will end up with a clip, or a gif. There just the areas you animated will move, with all others being static.

The beauty here is, that at anytime you can go back to your older photos and just add movement to them. This can be done to any photo, even the ones you did not plan to animate at the time of taking them. Like this, if you have already an archive of photos, you can create new animated variations at will.

Cinemagraph

With a cinemagraph, you start with a video. On this video, you choose which areas are moving, and what is a static image. This can be done in Photoshop, or one of the many available applications (it’s more popular in mobile apps). So in the end, you will have the clip repeating in a part of the image, with all the rest just being from a single frame.

This is one of my older cinemagraphs. (sorry for the lower resolution, I just could not find the original file :/)

Cinemagraphs are harder to do, as you can’t just go back to your old photos and decide to animate them in this way. You already need a video, that was taken very stable (preferably from a tripod) and that has a nice loopable movement in it.

Even if the results are similar, the way they are done is quite different. They work better for different situations, and the results will also wary a lot.

Today I’m going to show you how Plotagraph Pro works and what are the steps needed to create an animated photo in this software. So let’s get started.

Choose your photo and load it

So the first step is to choose your photo and load it into Plotagraph pro. You can choose any photo, the only limitation is that the file size has to be under 20Mb in size. I like to do photos of 4096 pixels across, as then I can export the result as a 4k MP4 file.

Ploatagraph pro how to

Mask your photo

The second step, is to mask out the areas you don’t want to animate. The easies is to start with automated mask tools. Here you choose either Area to Mask or Area to Animate and draw a red (green) line to define the area. Plotagraph Pro will then try to mask the photo based on your selection.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

It does a quite nice job, but mostly you will still need to go in, use the mask brush and correct the edges of the selection. I did the same here.

Hide the mask

This is an optional step. You can choose layers and hide the mask and the quick selection. You just don’t need to see them once you done with the masking.
Ploatagraph pro how to

Feather the selection

The next step is to feather the selection. There are two feathers here, the background and the foreground. For the background, the stronger you choose, the further away from the mask is the area from where the program tries to pull from, fill in the mask. This is needed if you try to animate around object, like the roofs and towers here.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

The other feather, is the foreground. The stronger you choose here, the softer the transition will be between the masked area and the background. I would not go too high here, as especially with object with hard edge, this will remove all of the edge sharpness and things looks a bit washed out.

Add animation points

Now you can start adding animation points. One can add them and directly drag them to where you want the animation to go, but I prefer a different method. First I turn off the click-and-drag, so I cant directly drag the photos. Then I start adding them to the areas I want to animate. Here I want to animate the water and I want to animate the clouds. So in the water, I will create one line from the points. In the sky, I create multiple lines, as I want to animate the clouds in different speeds.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

You can add more points later, but it good to have a good start, to see a good preview of the animation.

Drag the animation points

Now you can choose the selection tool, choose groups of points and then together drag them to where they should animate. Like this the points in the groups will have the same animations. Here I had one group for the water, and few different groups for the sky.
Ploatagraph pro how to

If I tried to animate this right afterwards, I would get a result like this.


(if you are on mobile or use a very old version of a browser, you may not see the animation)
You can easily see that while the overall animation is already there, there are quite a few problems.

Add anchor points

So you see the problems. The animation is pulling in parts of the buildings, even if they are masked out.Here where the animation points come again. If you put a point down and don’t drag on it to make an animation, it will stay as an anchor point. That means that the area under it will not move at all.

You can have Ploatagraph Pro try and create these for you, just by dragging the generate slider. It will add points to areas it thinks are the borders, but you will probably still have to go around the photo, and add even more points right on the borders.

This changed a bit in latest updates. Now you have a separate selection in the menu under Animations points, called Stabilizer/Anchor Points. You still can do it as before, by creating and Animation point and not dragging it, but you can just use a Anchor point instead.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

From here you just need to correct all the remaining problems. Play the animation and if you see some, go back into the photo, add more anker points to the area or mask it out. It sometime take a bit of trial and error to get it right. Also, if the problems are close to the corners, adding points outside the area of the photo can help. As the animation can extent also there, having a defined movement outside can give you a better result.

And for this photo, after few more tweaks, few more points and a bit of masking, I got to this result.


(if you are on mobile or use a very old version of a browser, you may not see the animation).

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