Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dealing with Digital Images Part 1

A good friend of mine had a glitch the other day while moving around some digital photos and lost them.  That is just about the worst feeling in the world!  These days we are all using digital cameras.  We have photos on our phones.  But apparently not everyone knows what to do next. I keep hearing about people just keep buying more memory cards because they are afraid to download their photos!  Pictures are no fun when they are on a memory card.  They need to be displayed and seen! 

I am pretty passionate about photography and memory keeping.  I come from families that took LOTS of photos.  Now that I am the guardian of all the family photos I have a whole room in my basement filled with boxes of loose photos and photo albums.  Although these are a treasure trove of memories, they take up a lot of space, they are hard to enjoy, and they are hard to share.  Now we have all gone digital.  I take a couple thousand photos a month with my Canon 7D.  I also have a Canon Power Shot that I carry when I need to just grab a couple of snapshots.  And then there is the phone.  Sometimes my iPhone is the only camera available to take a photo of a really important moment.

So. . . how do we deal with all these photos?  What is the best way to preserve our memories?

This three part series will cover Downloading and Organizing Your Digital Photos, Storing and Backing Up Your Digital Photos, and Preserving Old Family Photos/Using your Photos.  For the sake of this tutorial I will assume that you are using a Windows based computer and that you are just taking regular old photos (not RAW).

The Download

Your computer may have a slot where you can insert your memory card and download the photos to your hard drive.

If not, you need to purchase a card reader.  The photo below is the one I use. 
I need to read CF cards and SD cards so this one is perfect for me.  They are inexpensive (under $20) and they use a USB port to attach to your computer.  As soon as you attach to the computer you will probably have a box pop up asking what you want to do.  If not, you can click on the Start Button (the circle in the lower left hand corner), then on Computer, and then find the drive that you are using.  Mine show up under hard drives or removable storage.  Click on that icon and then you will be able to transfer the photos. 
If you can plug your phone into your computer, it will usually prompt you to make a file of your photos.  You should do this every few months.  Otherwise, you will need to e-mail your photos to yourself to get them onto your computer so that you can save them.  This will take a lot longer, but if the photos are good, it is worth it.

Organizing Your Photos

It doesn’t really matter HOW you organize your photos as long as you are consistent.  I have always organized my photos by date.  I make a folder for the year and then a folder for each month.  A trick to naming these folders is to use the number of the month, for example “1 January 2014”, “2 February 2014”.  The reason that I do this is that it keeps the months in order.  If you just use the name of the month, the computer will arrange them alphabetically.  Inside those month folders I have event folders that tell me what the photos are, such as “Colby Graduation” or “Trip to Maine”.  This system has worked very well for me for many years.  Even if there were two events on the same day, I will generally separate the photos into different event folders- not just by date. 

NOTE- If you have a photo editing program such as Adobe’s Lightroom, you need to make sure that you understand how to use the program to organize your photos and you should always move photos INSIDE the program so that you don’t lose links.

My organizational tree would looks something like this:
              1 January 2013
                        New Year’s Day
                        Lewis and Clark
                        Birthday Party
             2 February 2013
                        Tibble Fork


Come back tomorrow for Part Two: Storing and Backing Up Your Photos

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