New Tutorial – Image File Organization Adobe Lightroom

I’ve created my first video tutorial on “Image File Organization for Adobe Lightroom”,  now available on my YouTube channel.

I’ve been playing around with this idea for a while now and I’ve finally assembled the software and hardware on the PC that allows me to do video productions.

It’s a bit of a learning curve; however, I think I have the fundamentals down.  Something to do over the long winter months. Stay tuned, I’ll be producing more of these in the future.


I Can’t Be Wasting Time Fishing

Work continues here in the office studio.

I’ve been gathering the tools I need to edit and create videos, primarily for creating tutorials on photo editing, but I do need to be able to make movies from the tons of home video I’ve created over the years, so a decent, low budget video editor is going to be needed.

Back in the day when I was a wedding photographer, I created a number of videos for clients. Almost all of that work was done on a Mac Pro using iMovie. Those days are gone, and so is the old Mac Pro. I’ll be starting all over again, though not without some knowledge of the subject and basic skills with editing techniques.

After doing a little research I’ve decided to use a program called “Lightworks“, a free and powerful video editor. This is a low budget operation, so free is the order of the day. But, my initial impression is that Lightworks is quite powerful and chock full of editing capability. It supports 4k video as well, which I’m sure I’ll eventually be moving to when I update the video camera. One has to start somewhere. Perhaps some day I’ll upgrade to something else.

The hardest part of all this is getting motivated to really get in to it. About 25 years ago, I decided to learn how to compose and create electronic music. I bought a nice keyboard/synthesizer and using a PC with a Midi connection and a program called Cakewalk, I wrote and arranged about 30 songs. I got into this fairly heavily and created a couple of albums worth of fairly decent electronic acid jazz tracks. The idea being that I’d use that music as background stuff for the video games I was creating. Yeah, I used to write programs for video games too. I actually made some money with the video games. They were written for the old pre-internet Bulletin Boards (BBS), if you can remember the days of dial-up modems. If I can find the same level of motivation for this new adventure, I’ll be making videos with a good production quality. My music and video game writing days are behind me though, relegated to a different era in my life. I’ve no interest in doing any of that these days. Been there, done it. I was pretty good at it.

Life in retirement. My brain needs to stay active so I take on these new technical challenges. I’ve sorta always been that way. I can’t be wasting time fishing.

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.


May The Rut Be With You

Wild Bighorn Sheep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I haven’t taken a photo in over a month, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not working on them.

This time of year is Bighorn Sheep Rut season. Any other year and I’d be out in the snow looking for new shots, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to spend a lot of energy on them this year. Main reason being that I have thousands of unedited images from previous years and I’m sorta holed up at home now taking care of my convalescing wife. Top that with the fact that where I normally go for bighorn is under a lot of disruption from road maintenance at the moment , well, it’s just not sounding very interesting to me right now.

Today’s photo is a previously unedited photo from 2014, which was a pretty good year for photos. I’m mining through the old catalogs for more additions to the stock photography portfolio and this photograph is one of the recent additions.

Speaking of stock photography, I’m having a good year with sales. I did the calculations yesterday and so far I’ve sold 6,447 images in 2019. Not bad, not bad. I’m not getting rich on them, but it is a steady and reliable income, and the bighorn shots do sell frequently. That’s why I’m mining more from the old catalogs.

Got my cameras out and changed the internal clock time on them. You did remember to do your time changes didn’t you? I knew you did.

This recent blast of January weather in October/November has really put a crimp on things around here though. Fortunately the snow blower is working fine, even if my back isn’t.

Since I’ll be hanging around the house for the next few weeks at the very least, I’ll be sharing some of the “old gold” I find in my catalogs as I mine for more stock photos.

In the meantime, stay happy and stay healthy. The year is winding down and I’m looking forward to wrapping it up and getting on with next year.

We Don’t Need No Stink’n Wind Farm

Calhan Paint Mines
The Calhan Paint Mines. Unique and Colorful Ancient Geological Site in Colorado.

We are in the midst of a winter snowstorm here in the suburbs of Denver at the moment, which gives me the opportunity to spend a day in the office listening to music and editing photos. My winter routine is underway.

I’ve been working through a catalog of images taken at the Calhan Paint Mines, an interesting photographic location about 20 miles east of Colorado Springs.

For a few years some time back, I was hosting private photo tours of the Paint Mines. These days I don’t go there much, mainly because man has encroached on the location by turning the surrounding landscape into a wind farm. You’d be hard pressed to get a decent night photo there now, but in the day, it was a spectacular place to do night photography.

Wind Farm at Calhan Paint Mines
Wind Turbines at the Calhan Paint Mines

I thought I’d share some of my photos, taken before the wind farm became the primary feature of the surrounding landscape. Maybe some day, 50 years from now, they’ll tear down those ugly wind turbines and restore this ancient and unique landscape to what it should be.

Calhan Paint Mines

Calhan Paint Mines

Calhan Paint Mines

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.

After Action Report for Autumn in the San Juans

Mt. Sneffels at Sunset

I experienced another great trip to the San Juan Mountains for autumn photography this year.

For the second year in a row, the skies were clear and blue. A challenge, photographically speaking. One learns to shoot small and keep the overwhelming bright blue to a minimum, but still, it makes for interesting photography once the compositions are found.

My trip almost ended shortly before it started. While driving along the highway near Cimarron, Co, a group of deer jumped in front of my vehicle while doing 50 miles per hour. Deer scattering and darting around in traffic with no warning as they were obscured behind an oncoming semi-truck until they leaped into my lane. I managed to get to the side of the road quickly, but unfortunately one deer slid under my front left wheel as I was coming to a stop. I’m sad to report that my front tire crushed one of the deer’s front legs above the ankle. She hopped off into the sage brush, but I knew she wouldn’t survive long with that injury. As for me and my vehicle, all I suffered was minor damage to the faring on the front left of the SUV and a broken heart knowing that there was nothing I could have done to have prevented it. The incident still weighs heavy in my heart and makes me cry to think about it.

Having made it through that incident, I tried to focus (no pun intended) on the upcoming task of a week long photography trip with Jon Steele.

Jon was hosting a workshop out of Ridgway this year. My original intention was to photograph the mountains around Crested Butte this year, but one of Jon’s clients backed out at the last minute and we worked out a deal where I would work with his photography group.

It was sorta fun not being “in charge” for a change and I informed Jon on many occasions to consider me just another client. Still, I think it worked as a win-win for everyone, even though I’m not teaching and hosting workshop/tours any longer, my experience and knowledge of the area seemed to be of use to Jon and his group.

There had been a lot of noise on the internet and in the news about autumn color change being delayed by at least two weeks, due mostly to a much warmer than normal August and September this year. That wasn’t really the case, at least not in the Ridgway area, as color change seemed to be about normal if not delayed by a half week or so from normal.  In fact, color patterns this year felt more normal than the past couple of years, so I have no complaints.

We worked mostly on the North side of the San Juan range and along the Million Dollar Highway where color was peaking right on schedule. We also had one day in Silverton to photograph two trains of the Durango and Silverton NGRR.

Based on previous trips to the area, I was hoping to get at least two dozen usable stock photos for the portfolio. That effort was a success as I haven’t finished editing all the images from the trip and already have at least 26 photographs on the stock agencies.

It was a dusty week. Jon had rented a Chevy Suburban for the workshop and in all honesty, it wasn’t very well sealed from the deluge of dust and dirt churned up on the forest roads. I’ve never seen so much dirt in my camera bag. It took me several days to get the gear and camera sensors cleaned upon my return.

We found a great bar & grill near the hotel called the “Full Tilt Saloon” for several of our meals. One of the big challenges in the San Juans during autumn photography trips is finding restaurants open later than 8 pm. Full Tilt’s chili was excellent, the burgers were tasty and the beer was cold. Plus they were serving food until 10pm. What more could a fellow ask for when trying to cut a day’s dust?

The weather was warm and clear the entire week, until our final day on Friday when we woke up to cloudy skies and fresh snow on the peaks. If only it had occurred a day or two sooner. We did manage a dramatic morning shoot on our last day.

The six hour return trip to Denver that afternoon was a beautiful if not tiring drive back along the Collegiate range through South Park.

Within 30 minutes of arriving home, I was sound asleep in my king size bed with both dogs curled up against me.

2019 is in the books.

Shifting Gears

Autumn in Colorado – The Crystal River With Chair Mountain as a Backdrop

After a marathon of moose photography this past August, I’m taking a few weeks off from photography. I’ve been editing a large number of moose images from the summer, uploading stock photos, and doing much needed office work. The thought of photography isn’t all that enticing at the moment. Not to worry though, I’m in the planning stages for my Autumn photography trip the first week of October.

I have to deal with the question of where to go every year. Colorado has numerous locations for great fall foliage, but the two main areas that keep bubbling up are Crested Butte and/or The San Juan Mountains.

Crested Butte has a lot of beauty; however, the actual choices are limited by location and what time one wants to go there. The east side of Kebler Pass normally comes into color before the west side of the pass, and the dining situation is not that great. Most of the restaurants in Crested Butte are part-time at best and the general attitude of the locals is slack at best.

So I’ve decided to make this year’s trip to the San Juan Mountains. I know the San Juans like the back of my hand. Been there many times and the photographic variety is far better than Crested Butte.

First things first though. I’ve put my Ford Explorer in the shop for some much needed maintenance. 9 years of bad road has taken a toll on the front suspension so it is time to drop some money on getting it back in good working order.

In the meantime, I’m back in the office and working on things that have gone ignored for most of the summer. I’m looking forward to the heat wave breaking and some cooler, even wetter weather. I think we had about 20 days of 90+ degree weather and .35 inches of rain in August and September is starting off where August left off with record heat and dry conditions.

It’s time to shift gears from wildlife to landscape photography. As much as I like moose and other wildlife, it’s Autumn photography that I most look forward to each year.