Managing your photos
PEOPLE who lived through the age of film will probably remember a time when photo management was a much simpler activity.
In those days, you’d shoot a roll of film – good for 24 or 36 shots – and take it to a processing service for developing. Then you’d have to come back and choose from a bunch of negatives which photos you wanted printed. In the end, you’d get your prints organized in a free album, plus your negatives in a paper sleeve so that you could file them away, in case you wanted to order more prints.
Now that may sound like a lot of hassle to the Instagram set, but film did have one virtue. Because it was pretty expensive, you didn’t shoot mindlessly at just about anything, and you wouldn’t take 10 or 20 shots of essentially the same scene. Nor would you print everything in a roll, selecting only those shots that were in focus and properly exposed.
The offshoot of this stinginess – or discrimination – was that your photo collection was pretty manageable. If you didn’t like the cheap giveaway albums, you could organize them in fancier ones that seemed designed for coffee table browsing.
All this changed with digital cameras. These days, people armed with camera phones will shoot at anything. Just go to any restaurant and you’ll find someone gleefully taking pictures of his food before devouring it. And do you really need the 20 shots you took of that great sunset you saw at the beach? It may not have cost you anything to take that the photos, but the images are taking up space in your camera or on your computer.
The price of digital convenience is image bloat. Here are a few tips to help you better manage your photos.
1. Download photos from your camera and phone often. Once the images are saved to your computer, delete them from your other devices so that you won’t make the mistake of downloading them again at a later date and create duplicates on your hard disk.
2. Each time you transfer photos create a folder for your new images. Use a combination of the date the photos were taken and a descriptive phrase when naming your folders. So instead of typing “Christmas 2012,” you could name your folder “2012-12-25 Christmas.” Sticking to this convention will make it easier to find the image you need among years of photos.
3. Find a utility that lets you easily rename a batch of photos from one occasion all at once. Digital cameras use a sequential number to identify the photos you take. But when you’re searching through multiple folders of images, the nondescript filenames DSC0250 or IMG_6750 won’t be any help. You could rename the files one by one, but that would be too tedious. On the Mac, I use a free utility called Rename (http://www.pathossoftware.com). On Ubuntu, Renamer does essentially the same thing.
4. Backup your photos. Years ago, I learned the hard way that hard disks die. Since then, I’ve taken to periodically backing up my photo collection on an external hard drive as well as blank DVDs. You might also consider backing up your photos to an online service.
5. Choose a good photo management application to help you organize and manage your photos, and delete any duplicates that you find. If you’re on Windows, you could use Windows Live Photo Gallery. If you’re on the Mac, there’s iPhoto. On Ubuntu Linux, the default photo management application is called Shotwell. On the Mac, I use Picasa by Google because it’s fast and easy to use, and doesn’t A cool experimental feature is the ability to find duplicates, which can help you recover hundreds of megabytes of hard disk space. If you sign up of a free account, you can also upload photos to the Picasa Web Albums service and store – and share, if you want – your images online. Unfortunately, Google never really did a serious port of the program to Linux, and announced earlier this year that it would no longer support its Linux version, such as it was. Linux users, however, can use other programs such as Shotwell to organize their photos and upload them to Picasa Web Albums.