Making Copies

Photograph of a bull elk
Bull Elk in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

The computer work continues. Chapter 3 has ended. I’ve finished the hardware upgrades early this week and immediately began working on reorganizing the photo catalogs and backups shortly afterwards.

One thing I’ve come to realize about using Adobe Lightroom’s built in backup function is that it’s not an optimal way for backing up photographic catalogs. One thing, it doesn’t actually back up the photos, but I’ve always known that. It backs up the catalog structure and settings, writing the backup to a directory with a date and time. After doing a number of backups, it’s difficult to tell which directory is which catalog without going through each of them one at a time. My old backups were organized as a massive list of dates. The most recent Lightroom software update also required that all my catalogs run through a conversion process to a new format the first time I opened a catalog after an update. What that does is make all my backups obsolete, as they were all created with the old catalog format. It’s actually much simpler to just copy the entire catalog to a backup drive using Windows explorer. That way, I can simply look at the backup directory and automatically know what each catalog is. This method takes up a little more hard drive space, but that’s the price one pays for having a lot of stuff on one’s computer. I have hard drive space.

So, I went through all of my catalogs, converted them to the new format, synchronized all the images and started copying them to an external hard drive. If a catalog corrupts on the computer, and that does happen from time to time, all I need to do is just copy the backup catalog to the internal drive and I’m ready to go, minus any changes to the catalog since my last backup. I also cleaned out all the old catalogs from the conversion process, which saved me a little hard drive space.

I have a backup program that I’ll load which I can configure to simply backup my catalogs to the external drive on a weekly basis without intervention. I’ll just have to leave the computer on the night those backups run.

This cleanup process also gave me the opportunity to examine the state of the actual catalogs and I found quite a few things that I needed to change in order to maintain consistency from catalog to catalog. Catalogs that I hadn’t worked in for some time were using the “old way” of organizing and everything is now set up using my current and best method to date, same-same from one catalog to another.

So now, I’m back to mining stock photos from those reorganized catalogs and I’ve learned quite a bit about the possible pit-falls of using Lightroom. I see a future article on using Lightroom’s catalogs in the offing. Little tiny thoughts are forming in my brain cells at a rapid pace.

The computer hardware upgrades and file reorganizations have really convinced me that I don’t need a new computer. I just need to stay on top of things. The computer is running better than it has in a couple of years and all this down time hanging out at home while the wife recovers from surgery has been productive.

One of these days I’m going to have to get out and start taking photos again. It’ll happen soon enough.


The Ice is Slowly Melting

Melting Ice On The North Fork Of The South Platte River

Yesterday’s endeavor was successful, I completed the updates to the hard drive configurations in my office computer. Whoopee!

I’m sure you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your chairs and holding your breath in anticipation of this earth shaking news. Myself, I’ve been sitting on the edge of my chair and holding my breath in anticipation of being done with it.

My 8 terabyte NAS hard drive arrived early yesterday morning. It was interesting to watch the Amazon delivery tracking status. This is the first time I’ve seen the Amazon tracking app in action, showing me exactly on the map where my shipment was on delivery day. When I first started tracking the delivery, the van was about 10 miles away to the south with me being the 4th stop on the route. The map symbol updated about every 10 seconds as the delivery made its way towards my house. It drove right by on the nearest main street, into my subdivision, around the streets to the west a few blocks over and finally made it to my culdesac, stopping first two houses around to my right and finally in front if my house. It’s pretty cool, and it’s quite timely with the updated tracking status. I was at the front door waiting for the driver to deliver the hard drive before she could get out of the delivery van.

Installing the new drive went painlessly. I’ve trimmed the internal hard drives down to a single 8 terabyte drive and a single 4 terabyte drive, plus a 1 terabyte SSD for the boot/system drive. That puts the internal storage at 13 terabytes. After some file copying and consolidation, which took up the bulk of the day, I have about 4 terabytes of free hard drive for future use and I’ve managed to remove 4 internal drives for use as file backup drives. The trick here is to have enough backup drive space that equals or exceeds the amount of free space on the internal computer disks. I’ve accomplished that as well. I have 10 terabytes of empty back-up hard drive sitting on my desk now with a 2 and 3 terabyte drive loaded in the docking station and the rest waiting for me to reformat them and get them ready for use. Plus, everything on my computer is completely backed up.

The ice is slowly melting.


Out and About

Scenic Vista From the Top of Mt. Evans, Colorado

Back to winter mode here in Colorado. This week I’m modernizing the office computer system. Being a long standing computer geek and considering that I’m never satisfied with just slapping something together, I’ve decided to review my computer file storage situation as the next installment of my computer hardware upgrades.

Today, with the grace of Amazon, I’ll be installing a new hard disk in my computer system. For some time now I’ve been using 2, 3 or 4 terabyte hard drives in my tower. This has worked fairly well for the past 5 years or so, but one thing that keeps slapping me in the face is the occasional hard drive malfunction. I have about a half million digital image files that I keep on my main system and on external drives as backups. One hard drive failure can wipe out a butt-load of image files and force me to go dig out a backup drive to restore those images once the problem is fixed.

I’ve calculated that with 6 hard disks in the system, my annual failure rate is about 1 drive a year. The new hard drive is a change of strategy for me. I’ve decided to begin replacing the internal drives with NAS SATA drives, which connect and function the same as a regular SATA disk, but are designed to run all the time with a MTBF of something like 1 million hours. That equates to 114 years without a failure. I’m not deluding myself into believing that it will last me 114 years but it should cut down on the failure rate. The new drive, the first of this type I’ll be installing is a Seagate 8 terabyte Iron Wolf/NAS drive. These drives are designed to be installed on RAID systems for network servers that run 24/7. High reliability is the design function. I’ve read that it takes them a little longer to spin up, but once up and running, they consume less energy and can run 1 million hours without a failure.

We’ll see how all that goes today, assuming the new disk drive is delivered on time as promised by Amazon (that’s hit and miss from my experience.)  It should allow me to reduce the drive count in the computer by half on this pass. If all goes well, I’ll order a second drive and will have updated my internal disk storage to about 17 terabytes. That should give me room for another half million image files in the computer. All the old drives will then be relegated to the role of backups.

It’s always good to have something to do in the winter when one isn’t out and about taking photographs. Right now, I’m not out and about.


My Rodents Are Out Of Order

Marmots are common in the Rocky Mountains and are very sociable animals. They are related to squirrels.

In lieu of the fact that I’m not out taking photos this week, I’ve decided to go through some of my neglected image catalogs.

Case in point. Rodents.

Not the most glamorous subject in the photographic world, rodent photos still sell on the stock agencies though I’m not sure why.

My best guess is they are needed to fill out some type of web or print article on the subject, and as such I try to keep a good supply of nice, clear photographic depictions of the critters available for that purpose.

While going through my catalogs, I noticed that my rodent photos were not exactly organized the same way I organize most of my other photos on the hard drive. Neglect pure and simple.

Today, I’m wading through a sea of rodent photos and have been concentrating on getting my portfolio of Marmot shots straightened out.

Here’s one of them. He is now a well organized rodent.

Scenic Saturday

The San Juan Mountains in Autumn
Winding up a very busy past couple of weeks here in Colorado. Summer is in full swing and there is more adventure to come.

I have two moose photography tours coming up, one starts on July 29th and the next begins on August 12th. With a one week break in between, I’ll have enough time to get some fresh moose photos edited and to update the stock catalogs.

I’ve been working steadily trying to get ahead of the curve with my Fstoppers articles. The most recent effort involved me spending a day working at Coors Field with the team photographers for the Colorado Rockies. A lot of planning and coordinating went in to that effort and I do like the final result. I’m looking forward to sharing that effort with everyone.

Today though, is Scenic Saturday. So sit back, enjoy a summer Saturday and try to take in a little scenery if you get the chance.

I’ve Changed The Look of the Blog

Bull Moose Shedding Velvet

If you haven’t already noticed I’ve changed the look of the blog.

I’ve been playing with different themes on WordPress and though the old theme was quite visual, I didn’t like some of the options and it always felt a little too crowded on the screen.

The theme I’m “testing” now, is a little less cluttered I think, so I’ll stick with it for a while.  With a couple of years worth of water under the bridge, I’m still trying to find a better blogging software than WordPress. Google doesn’t like it too much, it’s hard to find my work with a google search and I suspect that’s because I haven’t ponied up cash for all the search engine add-ons.  When I was using a regular web page editor, I could get anything I wanted on a page one google search result.

On the other side of that coin, I don’t really worry too much about what Google wants. Google wants to make money, that’s about it.

All that aside, it is Moose Monday.



Wilson's Mesa, Colorado
Autumn Scenery in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I’ve been hard at work not taking photographs this past week. Sometimes, you just have to spend time in the office and get the housecleaning taken care of.

I’m presently getting things together for the upcoming Autumn Photography trip to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado during the last week of September. A summer’s worth of dust and grime has built up on the camera equipment. Cleaning is underway.

On the digital front, I’m making a few changes to my online footprint. Since I’ve decided to retire from doing active photo tours and workshops, I’ll be discontinuing my Colorado Photo Tours website. It’s mostly an advertising page for my business that only gets updated when I announce dates for existing tours and new offerings. Since there will be no new dates nor existing tours, what’s the point?

My Gray Photography web site will see further integration with Image Colorado over the next year. The blog is seeing an increase in web traffic, however, I’ve never really put much effort into maximizing the SEO of the page. I don’t know that I’m too worried about the search ranking on Google. Google prioritizes search results for those who give them money and I’m not giving Google money so I don’t get much search priority.

As Mark Twain was once quoted as saying. “Obscurity and a competence – That is the life that is best worth living.”

I’ve experienced a bit of increased notoriety over the past 10 years but to be honest, I’m becoming more enamored with the concept of people not knowing who I am unless they know me and I know them. Of course, it’s difficult to remain obscure if you have an online presence. I leaning towards agreement with Mr. Clemens.

I’m also working on getting two more Stock Agencies up to date with my stock catalogs. There are the big guys and the little guys, so I’ve saved the little guys for later. Later is now. One of these days, I’ll have to write an article on doing Stock Photography. I know I mention it from time to time, but I’ve never considered myself a significant source of knowledge on it. The problem is the notoriety thing keeps coming up so I’m almost feeling compelled to start talking about it in greater detail.

As for this blog. I’m tapering off on the frequency of posts a bit. For one thing, there just isn’t that much to talk about right now. A couple – three a week seems to be the happy spot at the moment. I can’t bring myself to yammer on about gear-head issues and new camera releases and pursuing pseudo advertising shtick that provides no actual benefit to the discussions of photography. I find fan-boyism extremely boring. I’m more of a view of the road kinda guy, even though I secretly study all things technical. I just don’t care to ramble on about it.

I think I’ve trimmed down my Facebook stuff to a suitable level for now. Facebook is what it is. A lot of my readers are FB friends and associates and it’s hard to migrate that following to something different. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I’ll keep my FB page, but Google+ and Twitter are worthless. I’ll probably remove myself from those platforms. Google isn’t used by anyone to any great degree and Twitter has become nothing but a political shout box. We all have our political/social viewpoints. I don’t see much point in adding to the noise.

Your mileage may vary.

My World On A Friday Afternoon

Mule deer doe watching the sun rise.


This has been a quick week for me, despite having done much of nothing. I managed a mountain goat day trip with my friend Merlin. I took a one camera one lens combo this trip. The Nikon D7200 with the 70-200 f/4 VR. It took a bit to get used to it, as I seldom shoot with the D7200, despite the fact that it’s a pretty good small DSLR. It worked out fine.

In my slack time, which has been most anytime, I’ve been consolidating my photography articles to the Image Colorado Blog. The WordPress blog is slowly taking shape and I’m certain that by the end of this year it will begin to be my main entry point into the internet for things I like to blither about. Facebook is a hard habit to break, as a lot of folks follow me there.

I have republished one of my articles, A Primer for Achieving Sharp Focus With Telephoto Lenses.

I’ll keep pecking at it.

Doobie and I are bachelors this weekend. Trudy is in Red Feathers with her mother. I’m pretty boring to Doobie. There is a routine to our co-existence. We have a large yard so I make it a point to get him at least 30 minutes of high intensity running around like a crazy dog activity each day. All I have to do is go sit in the shade of a tree and watch. Doobie does all the work. He’s a heck of a dog. Nothing like sitting in the Summer shade with a Doobie.

One thing I hate about bachelor days is how I eat. I don’t cook for myself unless it’s a very simple and unhealthy meal. I don’t eat fast food either. That’s on my list of things to quit doing. I’m 95% successful, and it’s really a question of my self discipline. I have none.

I managed to get a half dozen stock photos up yesterday, taken on my singular photo day this past week. I’ve got a little print making to do sometime this weekend. That’s good, the printer has been idle for a few weeks.

Today’s photo is an old shot. I think I took it with a Canon EOS 5D and a Sigma 105mm Macro Lens. Yeah, a wildlife shot with a macro lens. It was early in the morning and a friend and I were walking over the ridge on Mt. Falcon to get wildflower shots. Thus the macro lens. As we peaked the ridge a group of mule deer ran in front of us in a line. It was a perfect setup and I just raised the camera and framed each of them as they passed through. I liked this one for the deer stopping long enough to look back in the direction of the sun. One of my personal favorites as it was totally by surprise and I had less than 5 seconds to get it all with no warning. The old Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro is a discontinued lens now, but without a doubt one of the best macro/prime/telephotos optically that I’ve ever seen. Sigma replaced it with an image stabilized version and ruined it. Good luck looking for a used copy, as people who have them don’t want to let them go. When they do come up, they aren’t cheap. They were less expensive brand new.

That about sums up my word on a Friday afternoon.